FOXBORO — Bill Belichick has game-planned for a spate of Hall of Fame quarterbacks. Some of the best to ever play. Montana. Elway. Marino. Manning. Brees.
His opponent this week, Belichick explained, is “as good as anybody I’ve faced.”
Every week, Belichick praises his opponents for what they do well. He piles on the platitudes. But what Belichick had to say about Aaron Rodgers Wednesday went above and beyond the norm.
How has Rodgers evolved since his last game against the Patriots in 2014, a Packers win at Lambeau Field?
“Well, he killed us the last time we played him,” Belichick said. “I mean, he's a great player. He does everything well. He reads coverages well, very accurate throwing the ball. He's got a great touch down the field, short, intermediate. They get a lot of catch-and-run plays. A lot of that is because of his great accuracy. He puts the ball right on the receiver and doesn't have to break stride and can just keep running with it.
“Very mobile in the pocket, extends plays, really good vision down the field, uses the cadence well, is a good situational player. I mean, he's one of the great quarterbacks in the National Football League. No question about it. He does everything good. He can even play golf. He's a good golfer, too.”
Belichick might rather see Rodgers in a polo and khakis rather than the green and gold he’ll have on at Gillette Stadium for Sunday night. Dangerous as Rodgers might be with a wedge, his arm gives him every quarterbacking shot in the proverbial bag.
He can rip it, lob it, extend the play and spin it from any point on the field, from just about any arm angle. And he does it quickly.
Is he the Greatest of All Time? A promotion for Sunday’s matchup suggests he’s in the conversation with Brady.
Belichick steered clear of that comparison
“Yeah, well, I've never played against Tom Brady,” he said. “So I'm glad he's our quarterback. He's a great quarterback. He's won a lot of games for us and hopefully he'll win a lot more and we've won a lot of games because of him, but I've never played against Tom Brady so it's a different context.
“I'd say playing against Aaron Rodgers is very, very difficult. He's as good as anybody that I’ve faced and we've faced a lot of good ones through the years. That's not to take anything away from anybody else. I'm just saying the guy is a great player. He can do everything that a quarterback needs to do consistently. He does it well.
“He throws a lot of touchdowns. He doesn’t throw very many interceptions. The receivers make a ton of yards after he gets them the ball, and a big part of that is him getting them the ball in space, on the run, so that they can continue to gain positive yards after the catch. He doesn’t make them work for the ball. He gets out of some plays that very few guys can get out of. He's got tremendous production down the field. Once again, he leads the league in touchdowns-to-interceptions. He leads the league in big plays. He's thrown however many long passes to however many different receivers. It's not all one guy. He's a great player.”
One Belichick is glad he doesn’t have to plan for twice a year.
“We only play Rodgers once every four years,” Belichick said. “I guess it would be good if we played him more than that, but you know what I mean. I'm in no rush to see him every week. I wouldn't want to be in that division.”
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