Aaron Rodgers often comes up in the GOAT debate among other quarterbacks. However, Rodgers’ one Super Bowl win always holds back his case.
Although Rodgers may not have as many titles to his name as Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, or Drew Brees, he does hold something above all of them.
Since entering the league as a full time starter in 2008, Rodgers has been extremely good at avoiding interceptions. And no, this isn’t just your run-of-the-mill, being a good quarterback and being accurate stat-line, it’s a very impressive feat.
In fact, since 2008, Rodgers has thrown 10 or more interceptions only twice in his thirteen seasons as a pro. Say that aloud again. Only twice.
Meanwhile Brady has 11 such seasons, Manning has 16, and Brees has 14. None of the other all time greats even come close to matching Rodgers in this department. A-Rod is the king of not throwing interceptions. It’s not like Rodgers is playing conservative either:
Was curious if a lower INT rate might correlate with a QB completing fewer explosive passes. Doesn’t seem to be the case, but I was surprised to see that Aaron Rodgers, who has a notoriously low interception rate, earned >1.5 completed air EPA on about 15% of his throws. pic.twitter.com/Qy0iUCijK3
— Anthony Reinhard (@reinhurdler) June 10, 2020
Aaron Rodgers Remembers All His Interceptions
Rodgers has thrown 6,587 passes in his career during the regular season, and he has only 89 interceptions, a historically low 1.35% of all his passes.
Rodgers also remembers every single one of his 89 interceptions and “hates all of them” as you’d expect. His 4.63 to 1 touchdown to interception ratio is also second all time behind Patrick Mahomes, but Mahomes has played less than half the number of games and snaps that Rodgers has.
Rodgers can very accurately describe several of his interceptions. His seventh career interception, at the hands of Chicago Bears legend Brian Urlacher, was one that he remembered particularly well:
“He kind of no-looked me. He looked like he was going to come down, and then he wheeled up and made a nice play on the ball down the seam. It wasn’t a great throw by any means, but he was messing with me on that one.”
It was another Chicago Bear who killed Rodgers’ NFL record streak of 402 consecutive passes without an interception when Eddie Jackson picked him off in Week 15 in 2019, interception 80. Rodgers also recalled one of the few instances when he was picked off multiple times by the same player.
One of those cases was against Jason David when the Packers played the New Orleans Saints in week 12 in 2008, interceptions 8 and 9: “Oh yeah, [former Packers receiver] Greg [Jennings] slipped on the one, and I drilled him on the sideline [on the other]”
Another case was against Janoris Jenkins of the New York Giants in 2016 in week 5 of 2016 (interceptions 67 and 68): “Oh, the deflection [off then-Packers receiver Jordy Nelson’s hands], and then he got the other one.”
Rodgers’ incredible memory of all his interceptions perhaps speaks levels to his dedication to avoiding them. Rodgers is meticulous in his preparation. Studying his past mistakes and learning from them is one of his biggest strengths.
Where Did Rodgers Get His Low Interception Mentality From?
Aaron Rodgers picked up on the idea that interceptions were bad early on in his football career. At Pleasant Valley High School, Rodgers started as the JV quarterback in his sophomore year.
However, Rodgers saw several runs of games when he was turning over the ball a lot. His offensive coordinator, Ron Souza, helped turn that around:
“I think he felt at that time I would play better knowing if I kept turning the ball over that I would be benched..”
This fear of being benched and Rodgers’ desire to stay at the top of the depth chart pushed him. He worked on reducing his turnover ratio, and it resulted in two phenomenal seasons at UC-Berkeley.
He would throw only five interceptions in his first season and only eight in his second year. Souza told Rodgers that the biggest key to cutting down on his interceptions would be to work on his pre-snap reads. As Rodgers built up his football IQ, his pre-snap game became one of the most dangerous attributes of his play.
After that, it was a matter of ingraining in his head that he shouldn’t force throws. Rodgers now carries the same mentality in the NFL. When Rodgers reached 400 touchdown passes earlier this year, he became the first quarterback to do so without throwing 100 interceptions. Now, he wants to get to 500 touchdowns before he throws his 100th pick. Is that even humanely possible?
If it is, there’s nobody better suited to reach that milestone than Rodgers.