Vikings Should Celebrate Aaron Rodgers’ Exit, Not Fear the Lions

Detroit Lions defensive end Aidan Hutchinson (97) celebrates after sacking Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) on Sunday, January 8, 2023, at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis. © Tork Mason / USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin / USA TODAY NETWORK.

It’s a brave new world in the NFC North.

The Green Bay Packers won’t have Brett Favre or Aaron Rodgers at quarterback, the Chicago Bears hope Justin Fields explodes like Josh Allen in 2020, and the Detroit Lions are no longer a comedy sketch.

Vikings Should Celebrate Aaron Rodgers’ Exit, Not Fear the Lions

And while the Minnesota Vikings hope to stave off regression from an unforeseen 13-4 season last year, the club and its fans shouldn’t spend the summer ‘fearing’ the Lions. Folks should celebrate Rodgers’ exit to the New York Jets.

Here’s why.

You, the Vikings Fan, Have Waited for This

Vikings Should Celebrate
Apr 30, 2023; New York, New York, USA; New York Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers walks off the court after game one of the 2023 NBA Eastern Conference semifinal playoffs between the New York Knicks and the Miami Heat at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports.

It’s taken 31 seasons to alleviate Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers from the Green Bay Packers roster, and the next order of business from Vikings fans or national media?

Promote the Lions.

What universe do we inhabit? You, the Vikings fan, should be overjoyed that Rodgers skedaddled to The Big Apple. That should be the NFC North takeaway from the offseason and subsequent prognosis for 2023. If you’re older than 35 and a Vikings fan, you’ve waited for this Packers-themed moment all your life.

There should be an element of swagger regarding Rodgers’ exodus to the Jets — worn by you. When the day arrived that Rodgers finally left CheeseLand — so, like, now — did you envision yourself getting melancholy about some other team like the Lions or Bears? Oh my.

Relish the good. The Packers, at least until determined otherwise (more on that later), don’t have a guaranteed Hall of Famer under center for the first time in three decades. Vikings fans should salivate because, alas, it has happened.

Why the Lions? Like, Really?

Jan 1, 2023; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Detroit Lions quarterback Jared Goff pumps up the crowd as he walks off the field following their win over the Chicago Bears at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Lon Horwedel-USA TODAY Sports.

The Lions gained all kinds of favor by disposing of the Packers in Wisconsin during the regular season finale 5.5 months ago. Detroit said, “You aren’t going to the playoffs on our watch.”

Good for them.

But the Lions started 1-6 last year, and nobody cares anymore. It’s as if they’re immune to that happening again. Kicking off a season 1-6 is just as nauseating as finishing 8-2 is delightful. Can you be assured Detroit won’t stumble out of the gate in 2023 like it did in 2022? If you have a crystal ball indicating as such, you don’t know Lions history very well.

Meanwhile, the Lions defense still ranked 22nd in the NFL per EPA/Play last December and January. There’s an erroneous narrative suggesting the defense really became gangbusters down the stretch of 2022. It’s false. What did happen is that the Lions defense became not-absolutely-hideous in the season’s final six games.

And, yes, the Lions retained the 2022 defensive coordinator for 2023, Aaron Glenn. For the Lions to effectuate everyone’s NFC North triumph prophecy, Detroit’s defense has to suddenly improve. It did not do so in wholesale fashion last year, even if Detroit has all the atta-boys in the world.

Detroit ranked 31st per defensive EPA/Play in 2022 and retained the defensive coordinator for the following year. This would be like the Vikings keeping Ed Donatell and insisting ‘things will be different.’

Focus on Jordan Love Not Detroit

Dec 25, 2022; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Green Bay Packers quarterback Jordan Love (10) warms up prior to the game against the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports.

Jared Goff is the Lions QB1. He will not morph into a dynastic passer. With a rather fortuitous turn of events sometime soon, Detroit could, in theory, get hot and win a Super Bowl in a single season with Goff in charge.

Yet, on the whole, Goff isn’t sitting on a breakout point in his career. We all know what we’re getting with Goff — a decent-to-good quarterback.

We don’t know Jordan Love, though. If you must channel your anxiety about NFC North dealings, monitor Love’s development. Can the Packers nail the QB1 spot thrice and create 40, not 30 years, of Hall of Fame supremacy? That paranoia can be tangible because the Packers have already fired up back-to-backers for the Hall of Fame.

The Packers aren’t dead-dead, no matter what sportsbooks predict. For the interest of long-term NFC North happenings, it’s a bigger risk for Vikings fans that Love could continue the he’s-too-good lunacy in Green Bay — as opposed to sweating Jared Goff.

Until proven otherwise, maintain your apprehension about Green Bay, not Detroit.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

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