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‘NFL on CBS’ expert Phil Simms says Aaron Rodgers is best QB of 2021, Kirk Cousins deserves more love

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Phil Simms knows a thing or two about quarterbacking in the NFL. The “NFL on CBS” and “NFL Today” expert is a two-time Super Bowl champion, former Super Bowl MVP and New York Giants legend. He’s also got opinions on today’s QBs, from Aaron Rodgers and Matthew Stafford to Lamar Jackson and Kyler Murray.

Does Rodgers belong at the front of current MVP conversations? Is Lamar actually improving as a passer? Why should Vikings fans have reason for hope? Can the Eagles trust Jalen Hurts after a prime-time letdown? In this one-on-one with Simms, we visit several key QB situations around the NFL for expert analysis:

What is Aaron Rodgers’ mindset right now, after his hot start and in terms of the big picture in Green Bay?

Simms: I think he’s into the year. Now we’re back into … the feelings you have for the game, how much you wanna win, how hard you know it is, the satisfaction when you do it … I don’t think he’s worrying about anything beyond this year. And let’s just be honest: Green Bay already has to think to themselves, ‘What are we gonna do to keep him here?’ People can write what they want about Jordan Love being a successor. No, there’s a guy there already. To call (Love) a successor is overrating the whole situation. Jordan Love is never gonna live up to anything close to where Aaron Rodgers is. And I would say the same about every young quarterback except maybe one or two.

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Is Rodgers officially back in MVP form? Where does he stand among QBs right now?

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Simms: Yeah, he’s different. He’s special. Is he gonna be the stats leader of all time? I don’t know and I don’t care. What I do know for a fact is he’s one of the greatest throwers of the football in the history — maybe the best. Two years ago, I thought maybe his movement with his feet calmed down a bit, he maybe wasn’t as dynamic, but I know this: His arm, his throwing, his accuracy, what he can do with the football, if it’s not the best in the NFL right now, then I don’t know who is. Look, Patrick Mahomes is a great thrower and a great artist, whatever you wanna call him, but he can’t just throw it like Aaron Rodgers. We marvel at Mahomes and rightly so, but nobody can flick the ball and just use his hand the way Rodgers does.

Matthew Stafford, who used to play Rodgers twice a year, is an early MVP candidate with the Rams. What do you make of his emergence?

Simms: He’s doing nothing now with the Rams that we did not see with Detroit. But we overrate things because of the wins and losses. ‘Oh, he’s never won a playoff game.’ Football, more than any other sport in the world, is about so many other things (than just one player). Are there quarterbacks that are on winning teams right now who I think are — I’ll be kind — in the middle of the road as a starter? Yes. When you’re on good teams, you’re gonna win games.

Along those lines, who’s a good QB currently getting overlooked because of their record, then?

Simms: I’m gonna give Kirk Cousins (the credit) we’ve never given him. I applaud him. They (the Vikings) are 1-2, and he hasn’t played well; he’s played great! But because he’s Kirk Cousins, ‘Nope, he can’t win.’ But man, he’s slinging it, dead accurate. But nobody cares because the perception is driven by fans, media, radio and pundits on TV that recite garbage constantly.

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What’s your read on the QBs who tend to lean more on their legs, like Kyler Murray, Lamar Jackson and Jalen Hurts?

Simms: History kinda tells you sustained success will come from throwing. You either become really good at throwing from the pocket, or you learn to do it more on the move. I think we get carried away with, ‘Well, he can get out of trouble!’ But as time goes on you become more of a passer almost no matter who you are.

Lamar is a better passer now than he was in Year 1, Year 2 and Year 3. He’s figuring it out. His throwing has always been undervalued … I think he’s accurate, he spins it, he’s easy to catch.

Kyler Murray truly has his own style, and they (the Cardinals) have built the team incredibly specific to the way he’s always played, in high school and college. He might be the quickest moving person maybe in the NFL.

Jalen Hurts is a little more dependent on his legs, a power runner. His passing, by NFL standards, it’s getting better, but he’s not a top-flight NFL thrower. Can he be? Maybe. But he’s not gonna have great success solely because he knows how to pass. I never thought he’d be an NFL quarterback … but he’s gotten better, and it’s been an upward trend. Right now, I think he’s physically throwing it better. If you don’t get better at throwing over time in the NFL, then it won’t work.

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Speaking of Eagles QBs, or former ones, Carson Wentz is battling a lot of circumstances with the Colts, but do you believe he’s gotten better throwing since coming into the NFL?

Simms: I think he’s thrown it really well with the Colts. But my advice to Carson: Don’t play every play like it’s your last in the NFL … It’s just too reckless for a league that’s so fast and can cause so many troubles. Maybe this injury this year will (change that). I was surprised he could play and do so much against Tennessee, and Frank Reich is truly a great teacher of quarterbacks. I don’t think they (the Colts) are out of it at 0-3, either. It’s a long season.

How would you assess this year’s rookie QBs, from Trevor Lawrence to Justin Fields?

Simms: Who has the best situation? With Zach Wilson, it’s a rebuild. What do we expect? Keep your expectations low. Trevor Lawrence, he’s got a better situation, and they’re protecting him fairly well. I like the look. The numbers aren’t great, but I don’t care. You can’t expect Joe Burrow, Justin Herbert production; that’s an anomaly … With these rebuilding teams and rookie quarterbacks, though, the key is, don’t throw gasoline on the fire. We saw this with Justin Fields against Cleveland, with Zach Wilson on the Jets. When the damn game is over and you can’t win, protect him.


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