Warner: Rodgers is among elite quarterbacks

We were all witness to a high level of quarterback play during the 2010 season. Twenty two 3,000-yard passers. Ten quarterbacks had at least 25  touchdowns. Four with passer ratings of 100.0 or better. These are the reasons why many are calling this the “era of the quarterback.”

The strong quarterback play of Jay Cutler, Aaron Rodgers, Ben Roethlisberger and Mark Sanchez this weekend led their teams to the conference championship round.

Let’s focus on Rodgers, because his brilliant performance against the Falcons was nearly without precedent and one of the top performances in recent memory. Rodgers is trending right now, leaving many to opine he’s among the elite quarterbacks in the NFL.

Chatting about quarterback play earlier with resident NFL signal caller Kurt Warner, he came way from Rodgers’ most recent performance with a familiar feeling. It reminded him a lot of his own performance from a year ago in the wild-card round against Rodgers.

He’s right. Here are the two stat lines:

Warner: 29-33, 379 yards, 5 TD, 0 INT.
Rodgers: 31-36, 366 yards, 3 TD, 0 INT, rush TD.

Watching Rodgers now, Warner told me he’s developed an appreciation for his game.

“As a guy who has played the position, I appreciate guys who play the position a particular way,” Warner said. “What I love about Rodgers is he’s playing the game great from inside the pocket. He’s dropping back, making his reads, is accurate with his throws and is making good decisions. He’s prototypical. I appreciate guys that play the position the way I believe it has to be played in the NFL to win.”

So what separates the good quarterbacks from the great quarterbacks? From Warner’s perspective, that divide is among the select few who can make the throws others can’t when the situation is less than ideal. Under pressure. On the move. When you can’t follow through. With defenders in your face.

“To me, the best quarterbacks in this business are the ones who have the ability to throw from different positions,” Warner explained. “Because most guys in this league can throw in a perfect world. You have to be able to make those throws. But where the great ones are separated from everyone else is in their ability to make throws not everyone else can make.

“To me, that’s one of the things that separates Rodgers from so many other people. He doesn’t have to be playing in a perfect world. He can elude pressure, he has the ability to throw with pressure in his face when his feet aren’t set, he can throw when scrambling to the right or left. To me those are things not everyone can be taught, and not everyone can do.”

It’s an interesting take from someone who very recently was doing it himself.

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