Extra Points: Rodgers stands alone

(SportsNetwork.com) – Name your quarterback.

Old timers swear by Johnny Unitas and those whose wheelhouse is the 1970s
might wax nostalgic about Terry Bradshaw, Roger Staubach or Fran Tarkenton.
For me Joe Montana is the best of all-time and others love the pure passing
skills of Dan Marino or the all-around talent of John Elway.

The numbers say Peyton Manning is the best regular-season quarterback ever and
Tom Brady belongs in any G.O.A.T (Greatest of All-Time) conversation.

No matter who you like, however, understand no man that has ever walked planet
Earth has ever played football’s most important position at a higher level
than Aaron Rodgers is right now.

The presumptive 2014 MVP leads the league with a 118.6 passer rating and has
thrown for 32 scores against just three INTs, captaining a team that scores
31.7 points per game, the best mark in pro football.

He’s even better at home, throwing for 20 touchdowns without an interception
at Lambeau Field.

A-Rod and the Packers took another step toward what would be a franchise-
record fourth consecutive NFC North title in Week 13 when they outlasted the
New England Patriots, 26-21, in a game that could have foreshadowed Super Bowl
XLIX.

Rodgers was 24-of-38 in the game for 368 yards and has now thrown 360
consecutive passes with 31 touchdowns since his last interception at home,
which was over two calendar years ago, as he outdueled Brady and Co.

His next test is against Atlanta on “Monday Night Football” and Falcons coach
Mike Smith understands what he and his charges are up against.

“It’s a big challenge for us this week with Aaron Rodgers,” Smith admitted.
“No doubt, he’s playing the best of any quarterback in the NFL right now. He’s
got a number of weapons he can get it to.

“He’s played extremely well at home. I don’t think he’s thrown an interception
at home this season, and I don’t even want to talk about how many points
they’ve scored.”

The answer to that is 40.9 points while more than doubling foes 245 to 106 at
Lambeau.

“I don’t know that there’s been a quarterback that’s had a stretch like he’s
had in the history of the NFL,” Smith continued.

Rodgers finished November with 1,233 yards passing with 13 touchdowns and no
interceptions for an NFL-best 128.1 passer rating. And more importantly a 4-0
record.

“No disrespect to any quarterback in the NFL, but right now he’s at a level
that is much higher than anybody else,” Smith said. “When you look at his pure
statistics, they’re phenomenal.”

The key to Green Bay at home has been blitzing people out of the starting
blocks. The Packers have outscored their opponents by an amazing 79-0 margin
in the first quarter of their last five home contests. That number expands to
151-23 at halftime and 14 of those 23 points were scored by the powerful
Patriots last week.

And Rodgers has been the very definition of greatness, a player who makes
everyone around him better. In his case, the All-Pro even elevates teammates
he’s not on the field with by putting them in desirous situations.

Packers opponents have been looking up and finding the score 14-0, or in the
case of the Pats 13-0, minutes into the game and that has enabled a flawed
Green Bay defense to excel as teams become more one-dimensional.

Despite some talent issues on the defensive side Green Bay has allowed just
17.3 ppg in its current four-game winning streak.

One NFC scout described Rodgers’ greatness to me like this: “The Packers are
the only team in football who you actually want to run their offense.”

What did he mean?

With other quarterbacks, you strive to get them off their spots and disrupt
things as much as possible. With Rodgers, you are hoping things don’t break
down and descend into sandlot football because if he extends the play, his arm
talent and accuracy down the football field are awe-inspiring.

So you take the lesser of two evils, say a 7-yard slant to Jordy Nelson
instead of watching your coverage break down as Rodgers eludes the pass rush
with his eyes downfield, searching for the kill shot.

“When you watch the tape, it’s even more impressive,” Smith said. “(Rodgers
has) got a great grasp of how to attack defenses. He’s extending plays. If he
can extend the play and when the play gets off schedule, he can make the
throws. He’s been very accurate.”

Elite is the term most often used today to describe the great quarterbacks
currently playing in the NFL whether its Manning, Brady or Drew Brees with
perhaps Andrew Luck the latest to join the group.

It’s time to coin a new adjective for Rodgers, though. “Elite” just isn’t good
enough.