NFC North QB Predictions: Aaron Rodgers
*Real Packer fans were interviewed for this article. Pseudonyms have been used to protect their privacy.
1. Aaron Rodgers, Packers
With the other three NFC North QBs, it’s reasonable to debate their talent and how they will respond to adversity in the upcoming season. With Aaron Rodgers, it’s wholly different. The more interesting question with Rodgers is how his demands, suggested retirement, and off-the-field shenanigans will affect Titletown’s 2022 title chase.
This March, the reigning back-to-back MVP ended the speculation over whether he planned to stay in Green Bay long-term by signing a 3-year $150.8m contract extension, making him the highest-paid QB in the league. Although Rodgers denied having requested such a sum, it’s clear that a massive payout was important to him, regardless of payroll ramifications. Packer fans have been split on the deal and its impact on the team moving forward. “If he were to take a little less money the Packers could get the right pieces around him,” Paul Duke, a banker from St. Paul, laments.
Off the field, Rodgers has been a distraction, to say the least, over the last few years. His weekly visits to the Pat McAfee Show have become as consistent as his back-foot lasers. This nugget is an example of what embodies Rodgers compared to the all-time greats. With Aaron, the first things that come to mind are his eye-popping stats and natural ability, quickly followed by all the off-the-field stuff: the commercials, the interviews, the drama, the love life. Others like Brady and Montana are celebrities in their own right, but their legacies are much more defined by wins and leadership. “When we talk about leaders, it’s the intangible value of making the guys around you better like a Tom Brady. When was the last time we heard the leadership adjective thrown Rodgers’ way?” Paul points out.
Imagine how lethal Aaron Rodgers would be if he had the focus, obsession, and team-first attitude of Tom Brady. It’s a scary thought for the rest of the NFC North.
It’s undeniable how effective Rodgers is with the ball, but it should result in more wins, Ed Ward from Blaine, MN, says. “I would love to see him take more risks. The man throws the prettiest ball you have ever seen, and he doesn’t utilize it enough. If he had more willingness to make those difficult throws, I believe the Packers would win more close games and have at least one more Super Bowl.”
Apart from the off-the-field noise Aaron continues to create, the Packers will be dealing with a significant structural change. Adam Stenavich became the fourth new offensive coordinator in the NFC North this season, replacing Nathaniel Hackett, who departed to take over the Broncos Head Coaching job. This change shouldn’t affect Number 12 much; Rodgers is an elite seasoned vet (the salt-and-pepper beard tells you just how seasoned) who has started under four different OCs in his Packers tenure. Even with a new coordinator, play-caller Matt LaFleur remains at the helm, who A-Rodge has thrived under in their three seasons together . Something to keep an eye on, however: Rodgers’ play was substandard in the first year of each of the last three new Packer OCs  .
The biggest change that should worry Packer fans is the gaping hole left by the departure of Davante Adams. Yes, Green Bay is 7-0 under LaFleur without Adams, but don’t be fooled: Aaron Rodgers trusted Adams, and Adams only . Adams was the beneficiary of nearly three times the amount of targets than the next closest Green Bay receiver in 2021. An over-the-hill Sammy Watkins isn’t going to fill that void. It’s going to take major improvement from the receiving corps and genius from the staff to make up for the loss of arguably the game’s best wideout.
Matt Schmidt, a business professional from Milwaukee, sees the loss of Adams more positively. “It will be interesting this year without Adams… but looking back at the [playoff] loss to San Francisco last year, he only looked for Adams and missed some wide-open receivers, so it could end up being a good thing [now that he can’t just lock in on Adams].” In order for the loss of Adams to be a “good thing” as Matt hopes for, Rodgers will have to revert to his 2016 methodology, where he distributed to Jordy Nelson, Adams, and James Jones at high rates each, while incorporating two tight ends into the aerial attack.
For Packer nation, it all comes down to championships. Until 12 can deliver Lombardi number five back to its birthplace, they’ll continue to be split on the future Hall of Famer.
Davante Aarons of Lino Lakes, MN, a lifelong insufferable Yankees and Packers fan, sums up the fanbase’s sentiment: “It’s really a love-hate relationship, but mostly love.”
Prediction: Rodgers’ numbers will suffer in a new scheme without Adams in 2022, removing him from MVP discussion early on.
Will is a husband, father of two, and a lifelong Minnesotan. He earned an undergraduate degree in Economics (just like Kwesi Adofo-Mensah). He became a Vikings fan in 2009 when Brett Favre stole his heart. Will’s favorite pastimes are water skiing, Minnesota sports, and Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Follow him on Twitter (@willbadlose) and find his other sports content at Twins Daily and his very own Bad Loser Blog.