Last year at almost this exact same time, we conducted what we called the “inevitable” comparison between Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers three years into their respective careers as starters.

That was before Rodgers won his first Super Bowl and then posted historic stats in 2011. The jury’s still out on this season, but in light of Greg Jennings’ comments favoring Rodgers over Jennings earlier this week, we can’t wait. Let’s take a look at both players through four years as starting quarterbacks.

This time, it’s truly as obligatory as our sports babe.

Aaron Rodgers (2008-2011) vs. Brett Favre (1992-1995)

Starts
Rodgers: 62
Favre: 61

Win-loss record
Rodgers: 41-21
Favre: 37-24

Playoff record
Rodgers*: 4-1
Favre: 4-3

Super Bowl wins
Rodgers*: 1
Favre: 0

Completion percentage
Rodgers: 65.5%
Favre: 62.6%

Passing yards
Rodgers: 17,037
Favre: 14,825

Yards per attempt
Rodgers: 8.3
Favre: 6.9

Passing touchdowns
Rodgers: 131
Favre: 108

Interceptions
Rodgers: 37
Favre: 64

Passer rating
Rodgers: 105.0
Favre: 87.4

Rushing yards
Rodgers: 1,136
Favre: 797

Rushing touchdowns
Rodgers: 16
Favre: 7

* Still alive in the 2011 playoffs

Now, I don’t have to tell you that it wouldn’t be fair to compare the two pivots strictly based on the numbers I’ve just shown you.

Rodgers clearly has the edge, and he can only add to his legacy with another Super Bowl victory this year. But consider also that Rodgers spent the first three years of his career on the bench, learning from Favre. He didn’t make his first career start until he was 24. Favre was 22, and he didn’t become the Favre we grew to love until 1995 and 1996.

But you should also be looking at these numbers with consideration for the pass-happy trends that have gripped the NFL and made elite passers significantly more dominant in recent years. I explored this a bit in my look at Drew Brees’ single-season passing yards record last month.

Just for fun, I took the individual statistics from above, divided by four where necessary to determine a single-season average, and then found where those numbers would have placed each quarterback among the rest of the league’s pivots in the final seasons of the sample used for both Rodgers (2011) and Favre (1995). Here are the results:

Completion percentage
Rodgers: Ranked 5th
Favre: Ranked 7th

Passing yards
Rodgers: Ranked 7th
Favre: Ranked 9th

Yards per attempt
Rodgers: Ranked 6th
Favre: Ranked 16th

Passing touchdowns
Rodgers: Ranked 5th
Favre: Ranked 6th

Interceptions
Rodgers: Ranked 8th*
Favre: Ranked 25th*

Passer rating
Rodgers: Ranked 4th
Favre: Ranked 13th

* Among qualifying quarterbacks and with fewer picks resulting in a higher ranking.

So even when you take into consideration the shift in eras, Rodgers has been much more successful than Favre was at the four-year mark. Besides, those in Green Bay will tell you that the only stat that matters is Super Bowls. Rodgers has already matched Favre’s career number in rings, and has a chance to take the lead before Year 4 is done. Favre won his lone Lombardi Trophy in Year 5.

Comments (3)

  1. Interesting comparison for sure, but i really hate a statistic based one. I know its inevitable, but anyone who watched Favre in those early years remembers the excitement he brought back to the franchise. There was just something magical about him in those early years. He could gunsling like no one as far as I am concerned. Sure we lost games we may have won with a more conservative approach like Brady or Manning, but dam it wouldnt have been near as much fun.
    ps- huge Rodgers fan too, its so awsome being a long time Pack fan :)

  2. So besides the blatant disregard for the change in era and the players yes Rodgers is better. however if you take who Brett Favre had to play with(remember any sure fire hall of fame receivers that weren’t past their prime?? Me neither! For that matter other than Reggie white who on the Packer team actually had talent??) and who Rodgers is playing with I would say brett favre accomplished more! Sorry to all you Rodger fans but Favre never had help and carried all of those teams by himself. He turns players into stars and Rodgers just looks like he is drugged!

    • There’s no disregard. That’s what the second part of the comparison is for. I have a tough time seeing how Favre was more successful than Rodgers at the same point in their respective careers. But you’re right, the circumstances make it next to impossible to quantify.

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