Greg Cote

Greg Cote: Miami Dolphins will get glimpse of Aaron Rodgers’ greatness

Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers warms up during the first quarter while playing the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on Sept. 21, 2014 in Detroit, Michigan.
Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers warms up during the first quarter while playing the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on Sept. 21, 2014 in Detroit, Michigan. Getty Images

I wonder if this is how other cities felt when their rare time finally came around and they got a first visit from Dan Marino back in the day.

It’s time to stop pretending Aaron Rodgers is not on that all-time-elite echelon. He is. Longevity will pad the statistics, but the Green Bay quarterback’s greatness already is established as Miami prepares to see him in person Sunday for the first time.

Rodgers’ 105.4 career passer rating is No. 1 by a wide margin; Peyton Manning is second at 97.4. Rodgers is No. 1 by just as much in touchdown/interception ratio at 3.77. In the one statistic many consider to be the single best measure of a QB, yards per attempt, Rodgers’ career 8.17 is No. 1 in the modern, Super Bowl era. (All time, only 1940s-‘50s stars and Hall of Famers Otto Graham and Sid Luckman top that). Rodgers reached 200 career TD passes in fewer games (99) than anybody but Marino.

Rodgers on Sunday will be the last of this generation’s Big Four quarterbacks to visit Miami, here for his 100th career game:

▪ We see Tom Brady all the time because he’s in the AFC East. This year’s season opener was his 13th start in Miami. The Dolphins have defended The Dimpled One pretty well in general but he also has had two phenomenal games here. In 2007 he threw for six TDs and had a perfect 158.3 rating. In 2011 he threw for four scores and 517 yards.

▪ We have seen Manning start seven games in Miami, but not lately. All came with the Colts and his only appearance since 2003 was his most recent, on Sept. 21, 2009. (Footnote: Manning was the QB in a playoff loss to Miami, here, on Dec. 30, 2000. Dolphins have not won a playoff game since).

▪ Drew Brees, who might have been a Dolphin, once, has been an even rarer visitor, starting one game in Miami as a Charger in 2002 and one as a Saint, on Oct. 25, 2009.

▪ Now, finally, Rodgers. Green Bay last visited here on Oct. 22, 2006 but Rodgers did not play (he still was backing up Brett Favre).

Interestingly, Miami’s defense has fared pretty well against the best of the best overall. Brady is 6-7 here with five 100-rated games. Manning is 4-3 here with two 100s. Brees is 1-1 with zero 100s. That’s an overall 11-11 record with seven 100 passer ratings in 22 games.

Now, in Rodgers, comes the only man, ever, who averages 100-plus.

My ranking of the NFL’s 32 starting QBs in 2014, with asterisks indicating Game 1 starters currently out injured:

ELITE: 1. Manning DEN; 2. Rodgers GB; 3. Brees NO; 4. Philip Rivers SD; 5. Ben Roethlisberger PIT; 6. Andrew Luck IND. Comment: No decline anywhere. Luck rising.

VERY GOOD: 7. Tony Romo DAL; 8. Russell Wilson SEA; 9. Brady NE; 10. Matt Ryan ATL. Comment: Wilson rising. Brady aging but still capable of greatness.

SOLID: 11. Jay Cutler CHI; 12. Colin Kaepernick SF; 13. Cam Newton CAR; 14. Robert Griffin III WAS-*; 15. Matthew Stafford DET; 16. Nick Foles PHI; 17. Andy Dalton CIN; 18. Joe Flacco BAL; 19. Eli Manning NYG. Comment: Flawed, inconsistent, but big Sundays are no surprise.

MARGINAL: 20. Carson Palmer ARI-*; 21. Alex Smith KC; 22. Ryan Tannehill MIA; 23. Sam Bradford STL-*. Comment: Tannehill needs a touch more accuracy and every-week reliability to gradate to the solid division.

SUBPAR: 24. Brian Hoyer CLE; 25. Kyle Orton BUF; 26. Ryan Fitzpatrick HOU; 27. Josh McCown TB-*; 28. Jake Locker TEN; 29. Geno Smith NYJ. Comments: A litter of stopgaps and non-answers.

NOT YET GRADABLE: Rookies Teddy Bridgewater MIN; Blake Bortles JAC; Derek Carr OAK.

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