In the immediate build-up to the Vikings Week 2 opponent this season, I wrote an article titled ‘Despite the Hype, the Vikings have Nothing to Fear in Aaron Rodgers/The Packers’. After about a quarter and some change of football that week, I immediately realized that not only do I have control over reality, but I had an inverse control over it.
Meaning, the opposite of every declarative statement I make on my network of sites tends to backfire, tremendously. At least that’s how I felt, then I saw the rest of the game, a game in which the Vikings defense allowed zero points from the Packers after that first quarter-plus. Sure, it was only the second game in the first major system change in Rodgers’ career (considering he didn’t take a single snap in the pre-season), but the Packers certainly didn’t look like the “New Look” powerful offense that we’d been promised/threatened with.
That certainly was the case during the Packers Week 1 win over the Bears, too. Rodgers looked uncomfortable and beyond rusty, with poor timing, extremely long and extremely odd decision making, etc. I fought with two ideas as to what the Packers were, and by that, I mean what Aaron Rodgers is at this point in his career because clearly they’re going to go as far as he takes them.
The above-mentioned article focused on the drastic decline in Rodgers’ production, production that Packers faithful blamed on Mike McCarthy (and Ted Thompson) for either not doing enough to change the Packers’ offensive game plan (to keep up with other teams in the league that were doing those things) or for not picking up ANY free agents to help bolster the wide receiver corps.
So, the first thought I was struggling with is that perhaps Rodgers was just imprisoned in this mediocre system that kept him from reaching his full potential while being good enough to keep McCarthy employed for years, and years… AND YEARS. The other thought was that perhaps Rodgers just isn’t “Aaron Rodgers” anymore, and the quoted “Aaron Rodgers” is the one from 2010-2014, the one that forced the Vikings to bring in two cornerbacks over the height of six foot. The MVP version, the Super Bowl winning version.
So, while they were starting out slow, it was understandable as it was, again, the first major offensive scheme change of Rodgers’ storied career. Like the GM of the Packers said during the pre-season, and I’m paraphrasing here, “Ask me around Week 8 or Week 9, and I’ll know where we are by then”.
The other thought was that perhaps it wasn’t that simple. Maybe, the injuries to both of Rodgers’ shoulders plus the reported strife between management and Rodgers, or head coach Matt LaFleur and Rodgers, and the lack of depth at receiver has caused Rodgers to regress. Maybe Rodgers just wasn’t Rodgers anymore. Maybe the combination of injuries and displeasure with how things are going in Green Bay (which would have been a continuation of things like management not consulting Rodgers when they fired Alex Van Pelt, the team’s quarterbacks coach etc.) is manifesting itself on the field.
I mean, I’m not just creating that out of whole cloth. After the Packers lost to the Chargers a few weeks back, Rodgers called out his teammates’ pre-game preparation habits in a way that raised WAY more questions than answers. I mean, it was their second loss of the season, not the team falling apart and losing a stretch of easily winnable games.
Sure, Rodgers knows that time isn’t on his side and perhaps he felt like he wasted his prime under the bumbling McCarthy. That wouldn’t be hard to believe, considering he was once considered the best quarterback on the planet (to even other people that are considered the best QB, like Tom Brady, who said that Rodgers would throw for 7,000 yards a season if he played under Belichick (who’d catch those balls? The cameramen who are “accidentally” filming from the end-zone?)).
Either way, point being: A lot of people, apparently inside and definitely outside of the 11-3 Packers don’t think their level of play, or their playoff chances, reflect their record. That’s not just me attempting to dump on the Packers because that’s in my job description. Sure, I did say that Rodgers wasn’t Rodgers anymore between their win over the Bears and their upcoming game against the purple, and sure, an author for LombardiAve.com (Fansided’s Green Bay arm) essentially said the exact same thing about their savior… But I’m not here to pat myself on the back.
Before I explain what I’m doing, let’s take a look at the above-mentioned article, which is titled (I s*** you not), ‘Packers: Aaron Rodgers is the problem in Green Bay’. In this amazing article, the author Evan Siegel prefaces his piece with the following prelude:
“Despite an 11-3 record, the Green Bay Packers clearly have glaring deficiencies that could hold them back in the playoffs. Aaron Rodgers is the biggest culprit.”
What does he mean? Let’s see:
“The Packers fired Mike McCarthy. They fired Dom Capers. They found a great running game. They have a number one receiver. They have an elite offensive line. They’ve invested all kinds of resources in their defense. And yet, Aaron Rodgers remains the lone constant in a still-struggling offense.”
“The Packers currently rank 22nd in the league in passing. That’s good for seven spots behind the 1-13 Cincinnati Bengals.”
Essentially, Rodgers holds onto the ball too long and has for five straight seasons (I said something similar in my piece, and was murdered by Packers fans who somehow still don’t realize that when you insult someone for being online while being online, you’re basically insulting yourself). Hence, Rodgers has been a shell of his former glorious self in those past five seasons. That sounds so familiar for some reason, oh, I remember why!
Because I pointed out just that thing in my article during Week 2:
“Rodgers (who is the NFL’s all-time regular-season passer rating leader (103.1)) has “only” surpassed a QB-rating of 100 in 40% of his last 50 regular-season games, which means that he’s done that in 20 out of 50 games. Rodgers and the Pack went 25-24-1 in those 50 games, which showed the obvious, that the Packer’s success is tied to Rodgers’ performance. “
As I also pointed out, between 2009 and 2014, aka the peak Aaron Rodgers years, he had a rating over 100 in 62.1% of the 88 games he played over that span. He had a 12-game streak in which he topped that rating in EACH game. The Packers won nearly 75% of their games in that span, as well.
But enough about me, for now, let’s get back to the LombardiAve.com article, as it’s so sweet it’ll give you diabeetus. If I were you, I’d get your screenshot button oiled up and your MS Paint updated. Cause here it comes straight from the mouth of one of the Packer faithful…
” Rodgers has become the most conservative quarterback in the entire league and is no longer the best quarterback in the world.”
He ties this into the Bears games, as well.
“This was all on full display against the Bears at home. Let’s not mince words; Rodgers was terrible against Chicago. His accuracy, decision-making, and mechanics were painful to watch throughout the day. In Week 1 in Chicago, Rodgers threw for just 203 yards and one touchdown. Against the Bears on Sunday at home, Rodgers threw for 203 yards and one touchdown. Only this time, it was twice as bad.”
There’s more to it and I obviously recommend that you read the article in full. But the point is, the Vikings shouldn’t fear the Packers, even though they lost to them earlier this season. It’s also important as to whether or not the Vikings get the fifth or sixth seeds means a lot. The fifth seed? They’d play either the Cowboys or Eagles. The sixth seed? The Saints, or the Packers (for the second time in three weeks). It’s pretty obvious what the hardest game is in that grouping, and obviously the Vikings would prefer to have the fifth seed.
However, should they end up facing the Packers they shouldn’t worry, as the Packers aren’t firing on all cylinders or even four of the apparent V-12 national writers thought they’d have with the “new look offense” of the “young, up and coming genius, Matt LaFleur”. While the more interesting question may be why this is happening to Rodgers the reality is that it doesn’t matter, at least when it comes to the Vikings.
Because, it is happening and the Vikings very well could end up either winning the division because of it (should the Packers lose their last two, including their season finale against the lowly Lions), or crushing the Packers’ apparently long-faded pre-season Super Bowl hopes.
Considering some of the issues the Vikings are having, I’d consider that my Super Bowl. Or at least, the closest thing to it. I’ll leave you all with a spicy take, too, as my thinking is that Rodgers is just mentally checked out right now. He hasn’t been kept in the loop for major coaching decisions, which is odd considering how important he is to the franchise. There were reports of friction with the coaching staff early, and Rodgers is known to pout and wear his emotions on his sleeve.
So, since I’m apparently on a roll when it comes to predicting the Packers’ future, I wouldn’t be surprised if Rodgers forced his way out of Green Bay a la Brett Favre.
That should allay any fears for those who think the team won’t be able to afford to re-sign Cousins after 2020.
Now THAT would be almost as good as winning a Super Bowl (imagine hanging a purple Rodgers jersey next to your purple Favre jersey).
I’m kidding… Mostly, but the point is that all is not well in Green Bay, and the Vikings are in prime position to take advantage of that starting Monday Night in downtown Minneapolis.