Saturday, January 22

After blowing up the Packers, Aaron Rodgers must deliver even more in 2021

Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers broke the silence Thursday.

Rodgers, speaking to the media for the first time since the 2020 NFC championship loss to Tampa Bay, detailed his past complaints with the Packers organization. He addressed almost every rumor month after month before training camp. He mentioned a handful of Packers who finished their careers elsewhere. He conveyed his frustration at not being involved in personnel decisions. He reinforced his gratitude to Green Bay coaches, fans and players and renewed his personal commitment to mental health.

What did Rodgers want out of all that offseason drama?

“A commitment for the 2021 season and beyond,” he said. “That didn’t really happen at any point. For me, I had to assess the situation and I didn’t necessarily want to be a pathetic quarterback after an MVP season. I think you can understand that.”

Absolutely. When it came to press conferences, he was honest, open and sincere. Rodgers still hasn’t speculated whether he’s a pathetic quarterback. Will you be in Green Bay after 2021?

“I really don’t know,” Rodgers said. “Things going in that direction haven’t changed at all. I’m just going to focus on this year. There are a lot of moving parts outside of me, contracts that expire for various guys. There will be a lot of tough decisions. I’m just going to enjoy this year. , and then I’ll revisit that conversation at the end of the season. ”

That topic is the pressure point for the 2021 season. This was not his first press conference or a Brett Favre-style retirement press conference. Rodgers is still in Green Bay whether he wants to or not.

Imagine the questions if the Packers start 0-2. Rodgers will take the heat after that tabloid-filled offseason.

Sure, Green Bay can build goodwill with Rodgers beyond the immediate trade for veteran catcher Randall Cobb. The Packers could make good faith moves by extending the contracts of Davante Adams and Robert Tonyan. Gutekunst said Rodgers will now participate in those decisions.

“I think what he has done for this organization, it at least deserves the conversation every year about where we are going, where it is going,” Gutekunst said. “He earned the right to have those discussions.”

Gutekunst and 2020 first-round pick Jordan Love don’t seem to be going anywhere. How much longer can that “professional” relationship with Rodgers last?

Rodgers didn’t make the decision, but he made enough calculated shots at the Packers to make his point clear. Rodgers spoke out about not being involved in personal and free agency decisions in the 2020 offseason. He debated retirement. He made fair complaints about his role within the Green Bay organization and methods.

“I don’t necessarily agree with that, but objectively there has been a lot of success here over the last 30 years,” Rodgers said. “I just wanted to get a little more involved. I understand it wasn’t like that.”

With that statement, the pressure is not on the Packers now. All those grievances are out there. He’s in Rodgers, at least for this season.

Rodgers and several teammates posted Instagram photos of former Chicago Bulls stars Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen, and the Bulls of the 1990s throughout the weekend. If this is really the “Last Dance” in Green Bay, then you have to come to the same conclusion.

Even then, the comparison is incomplete.

Jordan, Pippen and general manager Jerry Krause won five NBA finals before adding that sixth championship. Rodgers has reached five NFC championship games, and the Packers have lost the last four since they won their last Super Bowl in 2010. Gutekunst wasn’t even part of that team.

Green Bay can expect Rodgers to deliver now in 2021. The minimum expectation is an appearance in an NFC championship game, and it’s not easy to tell that Tampa Bay and Tom Brady have all 22 returning starters. It’s fair to keep Rodgers at that standard, even against one of the toughest schedules in the NFL.

That challenge is difficult knowing that an NFC team has reached the conference championship in three consecutive years eight times since 1970. Dallas (1970-73, 1980-82, 1992-95), San Francisco (1988-90, 1992- 94, 2011 -13), Green Bay (1995-97) and Philadelphia (2001-04). Of those teams, Dallas was the only one that didn’t make the Super Bowl between 1980 and 1982.

If the Packers get there, they will have to win this time, too.

As for the motive for “The Last Dance,” yes, Jordan delivered. Whose is Rodgers being pushed to pitch the game-winning TD in Super Bowl LVI? Will Cobb catch that pass? Does a Super Bowl win keep Rodgers in Green Bay after 2021? Can the dressing room hold up in a win-win or win-win season?

Rodgers was careful with his choice of words when asked about his past wish to remain in Green Bay after 2021.

“I did, but as you may recall, I said last year that there are some things that might be out of my hands at this point,” Rodgers said. “Based on my replacement J. Lo being chosen last year, that set things in motion. I thought we could move some of those conversations forward with more commitment in the offseason. That didn’t really happen.”

Here’s what can’t happen: Another “Schefter Summer” in 2022. The “pissing fight” Rodgers refers to is not going to get to the point where he ends up in a Vikings uniform two years later. Green Bay already maxed out the quarterback drama with Favre. This has to be the line.

The Packers took the hits Wednesday. They won’t do that again.

As for Rodgers? You can always catch that train to Denver, Las Vegas, or anywhere else after the 2021 season, but there will never be more pressure to return to the Super Bowl than now.

“I realize what kind of team is here,” he said. “It is a team that is very talented. It has been at odds in recent years.”

So Rodgers must realize that it’s up to him to bring the Packers even closer.

Yes, it’s Super Bowl or flop as usual. Even more. That’s a lot of pressure.

That’s what you get for being honest, open, and sincere.

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