The countdown of the Green Bay Packers’ 90-man roster comes to a close today, as we reveal the top player on the roster. This one will be no surprise, as the unanimous vote by APC’s contributors puts the most important player at number one on the countdown.
He might come up short in beer-chugging ability to the player ranked second on our list, but he is still the player who is responsible for moment after moment that make Packers fans wonder “how did he do that?”
1. Aaron Rodgers, quarterback
It couldn’t be anyone else.
Yes, Rodgers had a down year by his standards in 2018, and despite a slight uptick in numbers in 2016 — buoyed by the late-season “Run the Table” streak — he has been different since early in the 2015 season. However, Rodgers is still one of the most talented throwers of the football in the game, and he is the unquestioned king of the broken play.
Of course, broken plays cannot make up an entire offense, and that seemed to be the only way that the Packers could move the football last season. Rodgers reportedly ignored Mike McCarthy’s playcalls on occasion, drawing up his own plays in the huddle and often getting results. Rodgers also set a single-season career high with three fourth-quarter comebacks a year ago, as the Packers pulled out thrilling victories over the Chicago Bears in week one (more on that in a moment), the San Francisco 49ers in week six, and the New York Jets in week 16.
He also took 49 sacks, two shy of his career high for a single season, losing a career-high 353 yards on those plays. One sack, early in that first game of the season against Chicago, set the stage for the most absurd comeback of the year, but hampered him for the remainder of the season. The severity of Rodgers’ injury — a tibial plateau fracture — would not be known until after the campaign was over, and a re-injuring of his leg just as it seemed to be feeling better was also unknown until later.
Last year, Rodgers also avoided turnovers at a historic rate. He threw just two interceptions, and set the NFL record for most consecutive pass attempts without a pick (though there were a few drops by defenses in that streak).
However, the possibility of Rodgers returning to his 2011 or 2014 form exists. In those seasons, he worked within his offensive scheme, throwing in rhythm rather than relying on extending plays. When he has been in that frame of mind, he has won MVP awards. The challenge facing new head coach Matt LaFleur is to get Rodgers to buy in — to avoid freelancing and to trust that the calls coming in from the sideline are going to work.
So far through about two weeks of OTA practices, all appears to be well. Both LaFleur and Rodgers have been nothing but complimentary of the other, with Rodgers in particular speaking excitedly before practices began about what he has seen from the offenses LaFleur has run in the past.
A rejuvenated and healthy Rodgers can not only be the best player on the Packers’ roster, but the best player in the NFL. Here’s hoping that the MVP Rodgers is the one who shows up in 2019, because if that is the case, a deep run in the playoffs should follow.