How Aaron Rodgers Can Become Green Bay’s “Lord of the Rings”
Every time quarterback Aaron Rodgers sits down for an interview, Green Bay Packers fans move forward in their seats to see or hear what the face of their beloved franchise has to say.
Rodgers recently sat down with Tyler Dunne of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel and talked about a wide variety of subjects, ranging from what he was doing with his $35 million signing bonus to revisiting his plummet in the draft in 2005.
However, there was one thing that Rodgers told Dunne that sticks out. When Dunne asked Rodgers if winning multiple rings drives him, he replied with the following:
“For sure. Bart has two Super Bowl rings. Brett (Favre) has one. And I have one. I’d like, when I’m done, to have the most rings. I don’t know if it’s possible to get as many championships as Bart has, but maybe I can equal him in rings.”
Rodgers is right about Starr. Starr won five championships including two Super Bowls and it will be tough in this day and age for any quarterback to win five Super Bowls. However, equaling or surpassing Starr in Super Bowl titles is a feasible goal for Rodgers.
The big question is will he be able to do it? Rodgers is 29 years old and won’t turn 30 until late in the 2013 regular season. He’s currently in the prime of his career and is still in fantastic physical condition. Rodgers is considered by many to be the best quarterback in the NFL right now and the Packers won’t want to waste the opportunity before them.
So how can the organization help make Rodgers the true “Lord of the Rings” in Titletown?
Well, the first thing would be for GM Ted Thompson to avoid making the same mistakes Mike Sherman (as both head coach and general manager) did with Brett Favre, Rodgers’ predecessor. Sherman coached Favre when the quarterback was turning 31 and still had plenty of good football in front of him. As the results show, Favre played very well under Sherman though he never won his fourth league MVP award.
The problem was Sherman put it all on Favre’s back. As Favre went, so went the Packers. This led to tremendous regular season success but disappointment in the postseason. Under Sherman, Green Bay never advanced past the divisional round. Sherman lost his GM duties after the 2004 season and then was fired as head coach after the 2005 season.
Thompson must avoid falling into the same trap with Rodgers. Yes Rodgers is an extraordinarily capable quarterback and can definitely carry the team but at what cost? He already won a Super Bowl but he also had a stout defense that year (more on that in a moment). Same goes with Favre.
Look at John Elway in Denver. He just about single handedly took the Broncos to three Super Bowls but he lost all of them. It was until he had a good surrounding cast that he finally broke through and won one (against an overconfident Packers team, ironically enough).
Both Thompson and head coach Mike McCarthy should not take Rodgers’ abilities for granted. Build around them, don’t just lean on them. Apparently Thompsons subscribes to this train of thought as is evidenced by his selection of not just one but TWO big name running backs in this spring’s draft.
Yes Favre also had Ahman Green, but he didn’t really have any true playmaking receivers to throw the ball to—Donald Driver aside. Rodgers seems to be (up until now) in the opposite situation. He has all sorts of talented receivers to throw the ball to but not running game.
It’s promising that Thompson seems to realize his predecessor’s mistake, but that’s only half the battle.
The defense also has to be stout. Again, the Packers cannot just expect Rodgers and the offense to continue to put up large point totals while the defense is just along for the ride and holding on for dear life.
Again, it seems Thompson sees it the same way. Linebacker Clay Matthews is locked up for the long term and the Packers again went defense in the first round of this year’s draft by selecting defensive end Datone Jones. There are still other question marks on defense, but the bottom line is the unit as a whole needs to play better in big games.
For two postseasons in a row now, the Green Bay defense that was so tough in the team’s 2010 title run has been chewed up and spit out. First it was the New York Giants and then last year it was Colin Kaepernick and the San Francisco 49ers. Defensive meltdowns like that have cost defensive coordinators their job in the past in Green Bay (Ed Donatell was fired after the 4th and 26 disaster) and Dom Capers won’t be exempt either.
One needs to look no further than the Packers’ 2011 season as evidence that a quarterback expecting to be great needs a great defense. Green Bay did go 15-1 that year, but the defense gave up a record amount of yardage and was pretty much in “bend but don’t break” mode the entire year. The same could be said, although to a lesser extent, in 2012.
It seems at times like the defense will just assume Rodgers and company will bail them out and that’s a very flawed, or “polluted,” mindset for a defense to have. The loss to the Indianapolis Colts last season proves that point.
Hopefully, Thompson, McCarthy and Capers realize that and won’t allow such an embarrassment to happen again.
It’s been said that quarterbacks often get too much credit when a team succeeds and too much blame when the team fails. Being as modest as he is, Rodgers would obviously rather not be in either situation. However, he would prefer the team to be succeeding rather than not.
The Packers once again are in a unique situation by having the best quarterback in the league that is in his prime. Hopefully the team will learn from the mistakes of the 2000s and fully equip Rodgers to make title runs every year. That’s the expectations fans have and that’s the expectation Rodgers has.
Failing to do that and just piling it all on Rodgers’ back would a foolish mistake and would show the Packers have failed to learn from their own history that they claim to cherish so much.
The window is open, just like in the early to mid-2000s. Hopefully the Packers don’t waste the opportunity this time.——————
Kris Burke is a freelance sports writer currently residing in Wisconsin. His work has been linked to by sites such as National Football Post and CBSSports.com. Follow @KrisLBurke