Aaron Rodgers

The real deal

If anything positive can be taken out of the Green Bay Packers debacle in the desert – a 51-45 loss to the Arizona Cardinals – it’s the certifiable arrival of quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

Those of us who have watched Rodgers all season know he is a solid performer, but his 422-yard, four touchdown performance on Sunday put the rest of the NFL on notice, starting with the Cardinals defense.

“Let me tell you something – that dude is scary,” Arizona free safety Antrel Rolle said of Rodgers. “We have a great defense, and we were up on him and ready to pounce, and he found ways to tear us apart.

“I don’t ever want to face him again in my life. I am dead serious. I’ll face Drew Brees any day of the week before I face him again.”

Added Pro Bowl strong safety Adrian Wilson: “Hey, nobody ever said the guy was a bad player. But to have him actually do what he did to us in the second half was unbelievable. He was on fire. The whole half. The guy was just amazing.”

The Cardinals’ star wideout, Larry Fitzgerald, was equally impressed. “Aaron Rodgers threw for about, what, 700 yards today?” he asked, laughing. “You’ve got to tip your hat to the Packers. Those guys – let’s just say we wouldn’t want to play them again. And he is a special, special, special talent.”

The National Football Post’s Matt Bowen says the game vaulted Rodgers to elite status.

Rodgers does belong in that mix of elite NFL quarterbacks — right outside the “big three” of Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Drew Brees.

Although the Packers season is finished, there is a bright future in Green Bay. Rodgers is only 26 and the numbers he’s put up in his first two seasons as a starter are actually superior to his predecessor – one Brett Lorenzo Favre.

Take a look.

Rodgers: 691 completions, 1,077 attempts, 8,472 yards, 58 touchdowns, 20 interceptions, 64.2 completion percentage, 523 rushing yards (9 touchdowns)
Favre: 620 completions, 993 attempts, 6,530 yards, 37 touchdowns, 37 interceptions, 62.4 completion percentage, 414 rushing yards (2 touchdowns)

It may be hard to take any positives from such a tough playoff loss, but in Aaron Rodgers the Packers clearly have one, and the rest of the league knows it.