When the Packers drafted Aaron Rodgers in 2005, it was almost unimaginable that twelve years later he would be talked about as one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time. But for what Aaron Rodgers has managed to do on the field time and time again, he absolutely deserves that honor. His ability to remain confident even when all else seems to be failing is what makes him an all-time great.
In the words of Vince Lombardi, “It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get up” and Aaron Rodgers always gets back up.
With the exception of his first year as starter, Aaron Rodgers has taken the Packers to the playoffs every season, including three NFC championship game appearances and one Super Bowl. By the standards of most teams, this would be a success in itself.
But each year as we head into the playoffs and subsequently fall short of a Super Bowl title, as fans we wonder what it will take to see Aaron Rodgers hoisting up that Lombardi trophy once again. Just how many more Super Bowls can we realistically expect to see during Aaron Rodgers tenure in Green Bay?
What the Packers have done well
The Packers are an organization very similar to the New England Patriots in that they rely on consistency when it comes to both the coaching staff and the players. When the Packers find a coach or a player that is working, they tend to stick to that path even when the path may become unclear at times.
For the most part, this consistency is key mindset in Green Bay has been successful despite how frustrating it may be as a fan. Even with the scrutiny Mike McCarthy takes, he’s one of the top five head coaches in the league at present.
The only change that could realistically make sense after this season would be that of Dom Capers, but Dom has been on the chopping block in the eyes of the fans for years. McCarthy has already made it clear that he will remain in his position as defensive coordinator next season.
In addition to consistency, the Packers have built a system that is superior when it comes to developing young players, especially on offense. Each year it seems the Packers take a running back or receiver who is relatively unknown and turn him into a playmaker. This year, those guys were Jared Cook, Ty Montgomery and Geronimo Allison. Development of young players is something the Packers do better than almost anyone.
Finally, when we look at this year alone, the Packers’ offensive line was able to adapt well to injuries. In fact, the Packers ended the year as a top 10 scoring offense largely due to the time Rodgers was given in the pocket. The Packers o-line absolutely deserves the unsung hero award for the 2016 season.
What the Packers need to do better
Each year the biggest attributor to the Packers’ inability to make it to the Super Bowl is injuries. This year, the injury to Sam Shields left a gap in the secondary that the Packers never seemed to be able to fully recover from. The open position left second-year guys LaDarius Gunter, Damrious Randall and Quinten Rollins to pick up the bulk of the workload and all three struggled to keep pace with explosive offenses. As a result, the Packers were virtually unable to stop Matt Ryan, Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu in the NFC title game.
Plain and simple, the Packers should add more veteran depth to the roster. Green Bay’s reluctance to pick up veteran free agents is one of the most frustrating parts of being a Packer fan. If they took more risks on veteran FAs (just look at Julius Peppers) perhaps injuries to starters would not be so devastating, especially late in the season. This holds true for the defense as much as it does the offense.
Likewise, adding depth to the roster adds experience that would perhaps allow the Packers to take more risks in play calling. It’s no secret that Green Bay more often than not airs on the side of caution, but at times the Packers are all too predictable for opposing teams.
Can the Packers continue to set themselves up for Super Bowl appearances? Absolutely. But football is a game of moments and and if you are not great in key moments, you will likely be the one standing with your head down on the sideline when the clock hits zero.
In order to give Aaron Rodgers a realistic chance at another Super Bowl, the Packers are smart to remain consistent with the coaching staff but small changes like adding veteran free agents to the roster and taking more risks with play calling will make all the difference.
It’s almost inconceivable to imagine that Rodgers will not win at least one more Super Bowl. Guys like Aaron Rodgers do not come around often and if the Packers can continue to keep him healthy, he has the ability to win more Super Bowls before he retires.