Aaron Rodgers won’t be the Packers’ starting quarterback forever. The Packers are blessed by having consecutive All-Pro pitchers at the helm of their team for the past thirty years. In 1992 Favre started in the NFL for the first time. There were a few other QBs who made spot starts due to injuries, but the ultimate leader question was locked in for an NFL-defined eternity in Green Bay. Even Montana and Young’s 49er tandem, the biggest straight Super Bowl winning combo, ended after 20 years. Mark Twain once said: “I am for progress; it’s change I don’t like.” That’s how most Packer fans sit while contemplating an upcoming Thanksgiving season. Always looking to improve, but knowing deep in the back of our sports-obsessed brains that All-Pro quarterbacks aren’t easy to find.
Ted Thompson let 27 teams pass Aaron Rodgers. If either of those teams saw MVP potential, Thompson’s legacy in the land of the frozen tundra would have been very different. What should benefit Thompson is letting Brett Favre go when he came back to retire after his press conference. Rodgers had impressed in practice and in action on the field. Favre struggled to fully devote himself to the offseason lead. He felt entitled to do less pre-season and there were some good points in his arguments. But knowing the playbook and leadership are two different things. The timing you need to ensure pass completions with new recipients requires repetition.
This year, Rodgers took a break from the preseason OTAs. This is his contractual right. Rodgers made that decision knowing his go-to-pass catcher was gone. The Packers rebuilt the wide receiver room. Now, this Packer team’s failures of 2022 are not due to Rodgers’ decision to participate in OTAs. But at the age of 39 on December 2nd we have seen games of brilliance (Dallas) and games of mediocrity. (Tennessee) in 2022. This trip with Rodgers ends in Green Bay. He started his career here and was booed by the fans for taking Favre’s place.
He walked off the field on Thursday to boo again. Most quarterbacks in the NFL have a winning arc in the NFL that ends in failure. Montana was a shell of itself in his senior year. Steve Young only started three games in his senior year. It’s often due to injuries, but age also plays a role. Johnny Unitas was hard to see in ’72 and ’73. Unitas was forty when he finally put it on. The question of when enough will be enough for Rodgers is still unanswered. But the answer comes.
The Packers have another unanswered question. Is Jordan Love a real NFL quarterback? The Packers could have traded him for the last three years if they doubted his potential. He’s a first-round pick so they have the option to extend him, but the financial impact could be crippling if Rodger’s contract is still weighing on the team. When the Packers record eight losses, it will be time to give Jordan Love dominion over this team. Rodgers has a thumb injury. Making him healthy is the perfect excuse. Quarterbacks need game experience. Zach Wilson is the perfect example of this.
It took Rodgers and Troy Aikman both a full year to really show their full potential. So if you wait too long, say the last two or three games, you might be robbing Love of crucial playing time he needs to connect the dots and really show his talent. Or he could be a failure. If true, the Packers are a lot better off at the end of the 2022 season than they will be in two years. The 2023 draft has quarterback draft options. Playing love with the young receiving crew would also help build future connections that could be beneficial in 2023. Whatever the decision, it can’t be based on keeping Rodgers happy. As LaFleur recently said, playing for the Packers is a privilege. Also for the team leaders. The 2023 Packers could be in limbo on that 2022 decision. Not if… when.