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Is Aaron Rodgers a system QB?

Updated on April 11, 2015

"Discount double-check" this out.

In 2014, Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers took home the NFL's most prestigious individual award, the MVP trophy.
And it's easy to understand why.
As impressive as over 4,300 yards and 38 touchdowns are, the big reason that Rodgers was considered the most valuable player in the league this year was because he only threw 5 interceptions.
That's incredible!
For comparison, Andrew Luck and Peyton Manning, the two quarterbacks with more touchdowns than Rodgers, threw 16 and 15 interceptions.
And Drew Brees, the guy who threw for more yards than anyone this year? He threw 17!
Only 5 interceptions.
And all the while, leading the Packers to a 12-4 record, another division title, and a first round bye.
So, what makes Rodgers so great?!
At a glance, Rodgers easily passes the eye test.
Though he's not as big as your prototypical QB, he doesn't lack the arm strength or accuracy you'd want in a starter, and you could talk for days about how "surprisingly" athletic he is.
That goes without mentioning what I believe is Rodgers' best skill, the crazy touch he can put on a ball.
You never see an Aaron Rodgers pass waffle around like a wounded duck or skip off of an open receiver's hands.
Rodgers can make all the throws, and he can make all the throws look good.

Having said that...
The answer to the title question is Yes.
Yes, I do believe that Aaron Rodgers is a system QB.
Read on to find out why!
Or don't...
I'm not your mother.

What is a system QB?

Good question.
In fact, it is the loose definition of application of this term that is the focus of this piece.
The internet defines a system quarterback as "as american football quarterback who flourishes under a particular offensive system, specifically one that focuses on passing."

See? That doesn't sound so bad, does it?
If you think about it, every good signal caller in the NFL is a system QB!
So, sure.
If Aaron Rodgers plays well in an offensive system, then he's a system QB!
Then why the negative connotation?
Well... The socially accepted definition is a little harsher than that.
If you asked any ol' NFL fan what a system QB was, they'd probably tell you that a system QB is a guy who "needs the offensive system or surrounding talent to make him look good."

You can see why you wouldn't want a QB to be referred to as a system QB.

Here's an example.
RG3 during his rookie season.
The read-option offense that RG3 ran during his rookie year facilitated his success. The offense gave Griffin 2 quick reads. If the two reads weren't there, he had a choice to go to his check-down or to scramble with the ball. This worked because it limited bad plays. Instead of forcing a pass that may have been incomplete or even intercepted, Griffin would scramble for a few yards. Turning several negatives into positives! Unfortunately, his frame wasn't built to endure that kind of punishment and it eventually lead to his injury. The next year, when the Redskins tried to make RG3 run a more pro-oriented offense, it didn't go smoothly. He threw fewer touchdowns, more interceptions, and took more sacks. He wasn't able to get open for big runs and became a non-factor as a runner and only won three games.

So, if your franchise player is a quarterback, you wouldn't want someone saying that they're a "system QB".

Helping Hands.

I bet you're wondering just how the hell I'm supposed to justify what I've said here.
After telling you exactly why I thought Aaron Rodgers was almost perfect, how do I justify saying he needs his offense to be good?!

First off, I didn't say that.
You did. -.-
Secondly, while I would have to be a fool to say that Aaron Rodgers needs help or a system to be good, I do believe that he gets more help than people give him credit for.

What do I mean by that?
Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, Davante Adams, Jermichael Finley, Greg Jennings, James Jones, Donald Driver, and countless other names ring a bell?
To say that Rodgers has ever had a shortage of weapons would be a lie.
Even when guys got hurt, they had extremely talented guys pop up.
Hell, over the last couple of years, he's even had a stud runningback in Eddie Lacy!
This tells us one of two things.
Either A. Rodgers makes those guys good.
or B. The Packers draft extremely well.
Allow me to entertain both ideas... Starting with B.
The Packers are one of the NFL's elite, yes?
Are you aware that only one player on their roster was drafted by another team?
And that player?
Is Julius Peppers.
So... To say they know what they're doing... Pretty safe bet.

But the other argument.
I know how it goes.
I tell you that Rodgers has had a plethora of stud receivers and you claim that they're only good because they play with #12.
But I don't quite get that reasoning.
Sure, their stats will be better playing in a pass-first offense with a great quarterback, but tha doesn't necessarily make them better, does it?
Take Jordy Nelson.
Jordy Nelson is 6'3, 218 pounds, and runs a 4.45.
While 4.45 doesn't sounds particularly fast, you have to realize that's standard receiver speed... in a giant heavyweight body.
If you look at his stats over the last four years, the guy has been phenomenal (when healthy).
So, people claim he's a product of Rodgers.
If you sent him to New England, would he still be good?
With Brady? Absolutely.
How about Denver? Indy? Dallas? San Diego?
All of those guys are happy to have him.
What about somewhere like Oakland?
Unproven QB, questionable coaching, iffy pass protection?
Do you think he fails?
He probably sees his numbers go down, but if you think he becomes any less of a stud, you're out of your mind.
What's obnoxious is that when I try to make this point, I get the same damn response.
"Well look at what happened to Eric Decker when he left Denver"
I hate you.
If that's the first thing that came to your mind, congratulations, you are the problem with this country.
"Uh, we're talking about a big white receiver, right? Let me compare him to the other big white receiver..."
Decker is not as talented as Nelson.
He's purely a deep-threat. He doesn't work as well over the middle of the field or out-muscle corners like Nelson does.
You're aware that despite going from Peyton Manning to Geno &%@$ing Smith, Decker only caught about ten fewer passes, right?
Decker did okay with Tim Tebow at QB.
Case dismissed.

In Oakland, is Jordy any shorter? Slower? Less talented? No.
Having a QB like Rodgers might mean your stats are better, but it doesn't change how talented you are.

But that's the thing, you don't care about actual ability, your entire argument is built around stats.
Because God knows we can't talk about rings, right?
I'm sure you want to talk about Greg Jennings and James Jones right?
Neither of them have sniffed 1,000 yards since leaving Green Bay. It's because they're without Rodgers, right?!
Not even kinda right.
Comparing the stats of two players in the twilight of their career playing with rookie QBs to their prime with a MVP-caliber QB is just asinine.
So far, it's all semantics, yes?
So far, it's just me saying a bunch of stuff that doesn't dispute anything you've angrily typed up in your brain, waiting on the back-burner for the comment section.
Here's my ace in the hole.

Matt Flynn.
You remember Matt Flynn, right?
He was the back-up who seized the moment when it was given to him.
When Rodgers went down with that concussion in 2010, who stepped in and had a monster game?
Matt Flynn.
Despite playing against the dreaded Patriots, Flynn threw for over 400 yards and 3 touchdowns!
The Packers lost, but man, did he look good.
The next year, with the season in hand, they let Matty Flynn take the wheel once again for the last game of the season.
Yet again, he sparkled, throwing for over 500 yards and 6 touchdowns! Is that even possible?!

But, this goes back to my point from earlier.
Maybe the Packers just draft really well.
Yeah... The Packers...
About that.
See, after having two flashes of brilliance, Flynn's stock was at an all time high and he took advantage.
Flynn signed a 3 year, 20 million dollar contract to become the next starting quarterback of the Seattle Seahawks.
Er... So it seemed.
As you may remember, Flynn was beaten out in free agency by a young gun named Russell Wilson.
Maybe Wilson was just the better QB?
I mean, he's been to two Super Bowls since then.
How do you justify what happened in Oakland?
Flynn lost the starting job again.
And not to Russell Wilson either...
He lost the job to Terrelle Pryor and undrafted rookie, Matt McGloin.
He was so bad that the Raiders actually cut him halfway through the season.
From there, he was signed by the Bills.
Different place, same story, Flynn was beaten out by guys like E.J. Manuel and Jeff Tuel.
He was never even active for the Bills.
So, that's the end of the story, right? He was just a kid who played well in a couple games with a good team and struggled with bad ones, then he retired, right?
See, after Buffalo, he went back to Green Bay...
And became the #2 quarterback again...
And Rodgers went down with injury.
Flynn threw for 1,146 yards, 7 touchdowns, and only 4 interceptions, leading the Packers to a 2-2 record while Rodgers recovered.
That's 287 yards, 2 TDs, and 1 interception per game.
That year, an average game for Rodgers looked like...
282 yards, 2 TDs, and 1 INT.
It's funny how a guy who couldn't GET ACTIVATED to play QB for the lowly Buffalo Bills was able to play at the same level as a quarterback who many consider to be the best in the league.


If the Rodgers/Flynn argument sounds familiar, it's probably because you've used it before.
Substitute Rodgers with Tom Brady, and Flynn with Matt Cassel.

The only difference being that in 2007, Tom Brady threw 50 TDs, and led his team to the infamous 18-1 season, and Cassel threw 21 TDs, and failed to take the Patriots to the playoffs.
The difference between the 2007 and 2008 Patriots?
One had Tom Brady. One didn't.
In a way, your argument kinda proves the same isn't true for Brady, doesn't it?

In summation...

I do think that Aaron Rodgers is a very good QB.
If I have to build a franchise for one year and I needed a QB, the only guys I'd take ahead of him are New England's Tom Brady (Because he can win with a WR corps full of slot guys) and Andrew Luck (Because he's the future).

Aaron Rodgers is a very good QB with very few weaknesses.
He needs to get better at playing on the road, and he needs to stay healthy, but if he can do those two things, there's no reason to think he won't deliver the Packers yet another Lombardi trophy and get immortalized in Canton someday.


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    • Ty Tayzlor profile image


      3 years ago from Anywhere

      There's no question about that. Alex Smith was a disaster at quarterback before his breakout in 2011

    • Ryan Daniel Smith profile imageAUTHOR

      Ryan Smith 

      3 years ago

      That's how the team benefits, but not the individual. Never tossed for 4,000 yards, only went over 20 TDs once. The statistical failures of the wide receivers alone show how the Chiefs offense benefits from the system, but not Smith as an individual.

      Smith is a good example of a QB who needs the system, but as I alluded to earlier, I think Rodgers is a good quarterback who could play in almost any system, but that absolutely benefits from the system he plays in.

    • Ty Tayzlor profile image


      3 years ago from Anywhere

      Yes. Smith plays in an offense with simplified receiving routes. And a majority of the time he dumps it off to Jamaal Charles in the flat

    • Ryan Daniel Smith profile imageAUTHOR

      Ryan Smith 

      3 years ago

      But at the same time, would you really say that Smith as an individual benefits from the passing system?

    • Ty Tayzlor profile image


      3 years ago from Anywhere

      I don't see him as a system quarterback. He's a good decision maker and still puts up big numbers. I consider Alex Smith a system quarterback where it's not all on him for the team to be successful.


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