FOXBORO, Mass. — Tom Brady and Bill Belichick have had an extremely successful marriage for 19 seasons, leading to eight Super Bowl appearances and five titles for the New England Patriots.
Brady arguably is the greatest and most-accomplished quarterback of all-time, but when it comes to the most talented signal-caller in NFL history, many believe that distinction belongs to Aaron Rodgers.
With Brady and Rodgers set to do battle for the second time in their careers Sunday at Gillette Stadium, the question starting floating around of how would a hypothetical Rodgers-Belichick relationship have panned out in an alternate universe.
Rodgers, though, isn’t one for playing make-believe.
“Yeah, I mean, obviously, that will be some of the conversations this week,” Rodgers told reporters Wednesday on a conference call. “I don’t like to get into the what-if game. I’m fortunate to have been draft here, sit behind Brett (Favre) for three years. (Brady) obviously was drafted late there, you know, he was 175 picks after me in the draft, so his chip might have been a little bigger than mine starting out his career. But he’s had a phenomenal career there and I’ve had a phenomenal start here and a great time being a Green Bay Packer. I don’t think about anything different.”
While Rodgers might not think about what’s happening on Earth B, some do. ESPN’s Ian O’Connor spoke with a former Belichick assistant who told him how the Patriots coach would utilize the 34-year-old Rodgers different than he uses Brady.
“The system would be different with Rodgers,” the former assistant told O’Connor. “Those lateral underneath passes to those small receivers, that fits Brady better. Rodgers is such a good athlete with such a big arm, I think Bill would use more vertical stuff down the field and move the pocket more than he does with Brady.”
The one glaring difference between the two quarterbacks, of course, is the athleticism. Rodgers has the ability to escape out of the pocket and extend plays with his legs, giving receivers time to get open, while also being able to turn it up field and motor for a decent gain. While Brady is closing in on 1,000 career rushing yards, he isn’t exactly the most fleet of foot, relying mainly on his ability to move in the pocket to create space and throwing lanes.
“But the athleticism is the difference,” the former Belichick assistant said. “That’s not saying it would translate into more championships because how many more could you win than Tom’s won? Rodgers and John Elway are the two most physically gifted quarterbacks ever, but the only thing Rodgers has that Brady doesn’t is that ability to move around. Brady has a natural instinct for manipulating the pocket, for knowing when to slide laterally within the pocket, and mentally Tom and Joe Montana are as good as there’s ever been as far as their pre-snap ability to look at a defense and know exactly where to go with the ball.”
How would a Patriots team led by Rodgers and Belichick do in relation to the dynasty that Brady and New England’s coach have built? We’ll have to wait until we master inter-dimensional travel to know the answer.