Throughout the offseason, every fan hopes that his/her NFL team will either shore up all of those weaknesses that prevented it from reaching the Super Bowl or, in the case of the Ravens, figure out how to reach the pinnacle again.
Packer fans are not an exception. We have a nasty taste in our mouth that is still lingering from last year’s playoff loss to the 49’rs. There’s a growing, uncomfortable feeling that we might be wasting Aaron Rodgers’ prime years, that the Patriot-esque dynasty we envisioned after 2010 might never happen, and (gasp) that we might not get to enjoy another Lombardi trophy in Titletown for another 15 years. It’s there. It’s starting to creep in. The Giants took us out to the woodshed in 2011 and the 49’rs dropped the “Collin Kaepernick bombshell” on us last year.
What’s the problem? How do we fix it? Charles Woodson is gone. Greg Jennings is either already camped out on Miami Beach or dare I say house hunting in the Twin Cities. The offensive line is unsettled. Besides Sam Shields, do we have anyone on our defense fast enough to catch RGIII, Kaepernick, or Russel Wilson? And why do we always seem to have 15 players on IR?
Hold the phone folks.
Take a deep breath, exhale, and relax.
Yeah, the Packers have some question marks. So does every other team in the NFL—even the 49’rs (why do you think they are rumored to be looking at Darelle Revis?). The Packers have an advantage over a majority of the other teams in the league because we have Aaron Rodgers. Almost automatically, Rodgers alone will put us in the top 6 teams in the NFC every year. This means that every year we have a good/ great chance at making the playoffs; and to quote Rodgers after beating the Bears to become the sixth seed in the 2010 playoffs: “You get in and anything can happen, and I mean anything.”
What this really means is that we have to temper our expectations just a little bit. If the last two years have taught us anything, it’s just how difficult it is to win a Super Bowl in today’s NFL. But there’s hope! The common denominator between the last four Super Bowl winners is that each team had a quarterback that got smoking hot at the right time. Aaron Rodgers is absolutely capable of getting hot and carrying the Packers to another championship. I mean the guy was basically torching the league for a year and a half.
Just in case you were wondering, that’s why the Packers are going to make him the richest man in the NFL. I would never say that other positions are not important because they definitely are, but when it comes to winning Super Bowls it’s all about the quarterback. It’s why the Packers cut Charles Woodson, didn't franchise Greg Jennings, and are always limited players in free agency. The Packers get it. Other NFL teams are getting it. All the stories about the disappearing middle class of the NFL are directly correlated to the fact the quarterback gets you the Super Bowl.
Aaron Rodgers is the key. As long as we have him, we will always be contenders. The Packers number one job is to keep him. Ensure the future. After that, they can focus on all of the perceived weaknesses and question marks which generally encompass the present. So what about the idea that we might be witnessing a Favre 2.0? A career with hopes of reaching “Montana Status” that always seemed to be dashed on the “rocks” of John Elway, 4th and 29, heartbreaking interceptions, or in Rodger’s case, defensive collapses in 2011 and 2012.
That’s where tempered expectations will come in handy. As Packer fans, our expectations should be that we will be contenders. Contenders, not Super Bowl winners. The Packers might not win another Super Bowl in the Rodgers era, but we will be in the running. When the Packers extend Rodgers, they will have extended the window of contention for the next 5-7 years. Does the roster need talent infusion? Absolutely. Do we need a better running game? Ya think. Do we need some guys on defense that are faster and more physical? Yes. Do we need to give Rodgers weapons including possibly the biggest weapon of all—time to throw? If you are saying nodding your head emphatically, than you are darn right.
I am planning looking at the safety position in this year’s draft class to see which ones the Packers would be interested in taking. Maybe I’ll post about it later. There are definite needs for this team that need to be addressed in the offseason. Some are saying DE, RB, FS, WR, NT, OT.....the list goes on. All of them have merit. A lot of them will be addressed for next year. We will have fun going through all of the emotions of an NFL fan. Frustration, anger, sorrow, joy, happiness, and elation.
But until then Packer fans, no worries. The future is Aaron Rodgers and he's not going anywhere.
Aaron Rodgers can catch lightning in a bottle again. Maybe next year.