The Morning After: Green Bay can't afford this quarterback
Green Bay can salvage its season, but only if Aaron Rodgers improves. (More than "a tick," too.) This isn't what a $150 Million Dollar QB resembles. At 3-3, this team and this QB are... average.
This is what crisis mode looks and sounds like in pro football. A team with a proud tradition — the Green Bay Packers — is blasted with boos, extremely loud boos, through a 27-10 loss to a team with no tradition: the New York Jets. Sauce Gardner, a 22-year-old rookie out of Cincinnati, then pops on a cheesehead to soak it all in.
It was ugly at Lambeau Field.
Can it get better? Sure. This isn’t an obit. But the concern is very real because it’s impossible to tell what these 2022 Packers can hang their hat on. For a generation, the organization always weathered such a fall storm. Either the defense was getting gashed or the offensive line was banged up or the running game was nonexistent or the special teams was (again) an abomination. Something was amiss, yet it never mattered because the Packers possessed the ultimate trump card: Aaron Rodgers. He was the shot of Novocaine that made all pain disappear. The prime example, of course, being the 2016 season when the Packers started 4-6 before winning eight straight. That run to the NFC Championship Game is one of the best stretches of play the quarterback position has ever seen. A lot was wrong with those Packers and — through sheer force of will — Rodgers inexplicably inched this team within one game of the Super Bowl.
He’s the four-time MVP who always finds a way.
Six weeks in, it's starting to look like Green Bay needs this Superman version. Everything around the QB has been… bleh.
Six weeks in, the bad news is that it looks like Rodgers can no longer be this Superman. He has been… bleh. Ordinary.
That’s essentially what the Packers are at this moment. An ordinary 3-3 football team. More panic out of the powers that be would be refreshing.
A violent defense paired with a thunder-lightning tandem at running back was a winning formula in theory. Still can be, too. The season is a marathon. The three other teams that reached the divisional round of the playoffs last season — Tampa Bay, San Francisco and the Los Angeles Rams — are also all 3-3. If the first six games tell us anything about the Packers, though, it’s that they’ll need (a lot) more out of Rodgers. Not “a tick,” as he suggests. He needs to substantially step it up because the Packers aren’t in a position to operate with a placeholding game manager at quarterback. Rather, they need the highest-paid player in the sport to play like the highest-paid player in the sport. Or at least come within a Hail Mary toss of it.