He’s seen both up close for several seasons — Rodgers in his first four years in the league with the Green Bay Packers and Rivers for the last four seasons with the Chargers.
Hayward said he sees some similarities between two of the NFL’s most prolific passers, who will face off for the third time on Sunday, when the Chargers host the Packers at Dignity Health Sports Complex (4:25 p.m. ET, CBS).
“They’re both really smart players that can make a lot of throws,” Hayward said. “Both are really elite and have been playing at a high level for a long time, so they have a lot of experience in this game.”
The Chargers and Packers last met in 2015, when Rivers and Rodgers combined for 758 passing yards, four touchdown passes and no interceptions in a 27-20 Packers win at Lambeau Field.
Neither is getting any younger. Rodgers, 35, is in his 15th NFL season, while Rivers, 37, is in his 16th.
However, both of these gunslingers rely on accuracy — the ability to put the football exactly where they want it.
A Packers fan growing up, Chargers fullback and Wisconsin native Derek Watt knows his defense will have its work cut out for it in trying to keep Rodgers from lighting up the scoreboard. However, Watt also understands his quarterback also has that ability.
“They’re both future Hall of Famers and can take over games,” Watt said. “You never know what can happen when they’re on the field. They both have big play ability and they know how to win games.”
According to ESPN Stats & Information, Rodgers is ninth in completion percentage (64.8%) and Rivers is 10th (64.6%) among quarterbacks with at least 1,500 pass attempts.
Rivers has eight seasons where he’s thrown at least 250 passes with a 65% completion rate, third all-time in league history behind Drew Brees (12) and Peyton Manning (11). Rodgers has seven such seasons.
Rodgers has the lowest interception percentage in NFL history among those with 1,500 attempts (1.4%), and the highest all-time passer rating at 103.3 (Rivers is 10th all-time in passer rating at 95.5).
— Green Bay Packers (@packers) October 28, 2019
And Rivers has had the same type of success placing the ball in tight windows, like this 42-yard touchdown pass on a deep ball to Mike Williams against cornerback Marcus Peters and the crosstown Los Angeles Rams last season.
Philip Rivers goes DEEEEEP to @darealmike_dub for SIX!
— NFL (@NFL) September 23, 2018
Like Hayward, Green Bay Packers coach Matt LaFleur also has had a close view of both. Before he took the job with the Packers, LaFleur served as the offensive coordinator for the Rams in 2017, competing in joint practices with the Chargers.
“They’re so similar in that regard in how competitive they are, and how much command they have,” LaFleur said. “They’re always in control out there on the field.”
Although he’s 0-2 against Rodgers, Rivers said he looks forward to facing Rodgers and the Packers.
“He can throw it as far as anybody in this league, but I think that’s where you fall short of really giving him his due, if you just say that, ‘That guy has a strong arm,'” Rivers said. “The accuracy that he throws the football with, the anticipation and his understanding — it’s a combination of all of those things.
“He has every quality that you want in a quarterback, and the fact that he can make every throw arm-wise just adds to that. If he didn’t have the strongest arm, he would still be awesome because of all of those other qualities he has. The fact that he can move around, too, certainly helps.”