GREEN BAY – It’s the furthest thing from his mind at the moment, as he looks to get the Packers on track and make good on the assessment this week that he feels the offense isn’t “far off.”
But it is worth paying attention to some of the history quarterback Aaron Rodgers is making, and is about to make, heading into Monday night’s clash with San Francisco.
Last Sunday, just one day before New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees broke Peyton Manning’s all-time record for passing yardage, Rodgers eclipsed 40,000 career passing yards. He’s currently ranked 20th, with Brees now at 72,103 and counting.
While that’s eight more 4,000-yard seasons away, at least, depending on how long Brees keeps playing, Rodgers is about to pass two Hall of Famers on the all-time list, one of whom was a childhood idol in northern California. (Just for clarification purposes, all statistics and records referenced here are for the regular season only.)
At 40,074 yards, Rodgers is less than 200 yards from surpassing Johnny Unitas (40,239) and less than 500 from none other than Joe Montana (40,551), who was winning Super Bowls when Rodgers was in elementary school. Interestingly, Rodgers also is less than 100 pass completions from moving by Montana (3,409 to 3,319) on that list as well.
Getting back to passing yards, Kerry Collins at No. 17 (40,992) would be next, and then, depending on how the rest of the season goes, perhaps another Hall of Famer at No. 16 in Dan Fouts (43,040) is within reach this year.
Most significant for Rodgers is that in reaching 40,000, he became the fastest quarterback to achieve both that mark and 300 career touchdown passes (which he hit early last season), doing so in 154 games, three fewer than both Manning and Dan Marino.
In that respect, the 70,000 stratosphere thus far eclipsed by only Brees, Manning and Brett Favre (though Tom Brady is about 2,500 yards away now) isn’t out of the question, but it’ll take good health and continued success for the number to enter the discussion sometime next decade, if the soon-to-be 35-year-old Rodgers is still going strong into his early 40s.
“Numbers like that, like Favre used to say, it’s about longevity,” Rodgers said. “When you can stay healthy, string together years of consistent play, you’re going to put up some numbers. That’s Drew. He’s had a fantastic career, been healthy for the majority of his career, and put up a lot of numbers over the years. Pretty good list there with him and Peyton and ‘Favrey.’”
So, while we’re exploring these topics, are there any major categories Rodgers might sit atop whenever he hangs it up? He currently possesses the best ever passer rating, and it’s not close. Rodgers’ 103.7 is almost five full rating points better than No. 2 Russell Wilson (98.9), with Brady (97.5) and Brees (97.3) right behind them.
The best reflection of that stat is this rather neat one, courtesy of the Packers’ public relations department and its weekly “Dope Sheet.” Earlier this season, in Week 3, Rodgers attempted his 5,000th career pass. At that moment, he had 319 touchdown passes and 78 interceptions, the highest and lowest totals, respectively, in those categories for anyone in history at his 5,000th attempt. Unitas had 284 TDs and Donovan McNabb had 107 INTs. Again, not even close.
Rodgers is now at 323 TD passes, and that all-time mark might be a little more realistic than passing yards. He’s currently 10th, with five of the nine in front of him still active, led by Brady (500) and Brees (499). It’s hard to believe it was only 11 years ago that Favre was passing Marino’s mark of 420 at the Metrodome in Minneapolis, and now Marino is fifth, with Manning (538) and Favre (508) at 1-2.
If Rodgers finishes strong this year and gets to around 340-345 TDs, he’ll need roughly 5-6 more years of 30-plus TDs per to be closing in on Manning, though Brady and/or Brees could set the mark higher by then. In any event, the numbers get mind-boggling no matter how they’re looked at.
The only number that matters to Rodgers right now, though, is three – as the Packers seek their third win of 2018 on Monday night before heading into a bye week and coming back to a gauntlet of four tough road games in a span of five weeks.
If there’s such a thing as a must-win game in mid-October, this might be it. But if there’s one thing known about Rodgers, none of the numbers will matter to him if wins don’t come along with them.