Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees are unquestionably two of the best quarterbacks of the NFL’s last decade, but which of them is the better? A Super Bowl champion who respects and played against each one believes the answer is clear.
Former Pittsburgh Steelers safety Ryan Clark addressed the popular debate on ESPN’s First Take on Wednesday after Marcus Spears listed Brees ahead of Rodgers — and behind both Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes — on his top five postseason quarterbacks of the decade, challenging him on it. While much of the segment then devolved to Spears’ impassioned defense of Brees, Clark made it clear on Twitter later on why Rodgers prevails in his mind.
“[I] stood across from them at the peak of their careers, prepared for them both, played them both and truly respect both first ballot HOF’s,” Clark tweeted. “At their best, Aaron Rodgers did things physically that Drew Brees just can’t. Things that can’t be learned nor developed.”
The debate about Rodgers and Brees has been brought up more in recent years with both quarterbacks’ respective windows starting to close and just one Super Bowl ring to each of their names. Brees won his championship after the 2009 season but has only gotten the New Orleans Saints past the divisional round once in six playoff runs since. Rodgers has gotten the Green Bay Packers back to the NFC championship game more often — in 2014, ’16 and ’19 — but he, too, is nearly a decade removed from his Super Bowl-winning 2010 season.
Fortunately for fans, Rodgers and Brees are still at the helm of NFC contenders and could settle the conversation once and for all with another championship before their careers conclude. Analysts have favored the Saints more highly than the Packers for 2020, but each team won 13 games last season and returns much of its squad.
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Clark Also Criticized Packers for Not Helping Rodgers
Clark’s favoritism to Rodgers does have its limits, despite his stance that Rodgers in his prime is better than both Brees and five-time MVP Peyton Manning. He didn’t mind admitting that Brees holds the advantage when looking specifically at the past three seasons.
At the same time, Clark also criticized the Packers for not taking full advantage of Rodgers’ talents throughout his long career, including putting some blame on former coach Mike McCarthy — who was hired the head coach for the Dallas Cowboys earlier this year.
“From a team stand point (sic) Green Bay certainly did not take advantage of Aaron Rodgers’ talent as it pertained to Championships,” Clark wrote on Twitter. “Part of my argument against Mike McCarthy being a great coach.”
Clark isn’t the first to criticize the Packers for not properly supporting Rodgers over his career. Analysts and fans alike have pointed out how the Packers have not drafted a wide receiver in the first round since three years before Rodgers even arrived, which was something many thought could change with the 2020 NFL draft. Instead, the Packers avoided wideouts completely and traded up for Utah State quarterback Jordan Love at No. 26 overall, a potential replacement for Rodgers with him still under contract through 2023.
It would be nonsense to say Rodgers doesn’t have talent around him, though. Not only does Rodgers have one of the league’s sturdiest offensive lines protecting him, but he also has bona fide weapons in wide receiver Davante Adams and running back Aaron Jones. The Packers have also enhanced their defensive personnel in the past several seasons, adding top-level free agents like Za’Darius and Preston Smith and Adrian Amos and developing Kenny Clark.