That’s not really the title of this post is it? I don’t dare write such a thing, do I? (Credit to Scott for helping me pick “more effective” rather than “better” for this title).
Perhaps my mind finally went in this direction after the fog cleared from Favre’s retirement situation. Not sure. But this thought is something I honestly had not considered at all until a few weeks ago.
Even asking a question like this may be blasphemy in Packerland I know (and it is especially hard for me to grapple with as a massive Favre fan). For a long time, I dreaded the end of the Favre era. And, now in the aftermath of his retirement announcement, I’d be lying if I said I weren’t truly sad he’s apparently finished. It still hurts and it is still difficult for me to acknowledge that THE guy in Green Bay is now some 24 year old kid. Anyway, I think this dread I’ve carried has been based largely on my assumption that after Favre leaves, the Packers would spiral down quickly and shift into rebuilding mode, suck for several years and in a worse case scenario, relive the 80s.
Dwelling on this assumption, I have only considered the possibilities that Rodgers will get hurt, be a low-performing whiner, be easily overwhelmed following a legend, provide little or no spark – or maybe, just maybe at best, Rodgers might be Trent Dilfer-like for the Ravens a fews years back and succeed in not doing anything to hurt the team (in other words, not be value-added but not be value-subtracted, as it were). I never considered the possibility that Rodgers may indeed come in and be more effective than the recent Favre.
Of course, I am not about to compare Rodgers to Favre’s full career, because that would be dumb – Rodgers hasn’t done anything yet and he’d have to play at a high level for a long time to draw those comparisons. I am really just comparing him to Favre over the last few years. Last year, Favre was very good and really helped bring this team back from the shaky couple years before 2007. His 2007 stats were impressive: 4155 yards, 28 TDs, 95.7 rating, 66.5% completions, 14-4 record, a slew of highlight reel plays. But the 2005 and 2006 seasons were not great for Favre. (Of course, I’m on record pinning most of the fault in 2005 on Sherman, and 2006 was a transition year no doubt). So, hoping Rodgers could produce at a bit higher level than Favre’s last 3 years may not be too big of a stretch.
Here is what Rodgers has going for him:
- he will inherit a very solid team
- he apparently works well with the NFL’s next offensive genius in Coach McCarthy
- he’ll have a more mature receiver corps with lots of talent who likely will make his job easier
- judging from early comments re Finley, he may have a high quality tight end group
- he’ll be playing behind an o-line that definitely should be melding together a bit better by now (if it doesn’t, someone needs to go)
- he’ll have Ryan Grant (assuming contract will work out) in the backfield – a seemingly reliable guy who seems to get McCarthy’s offense well too
- he’s bright (a must for learning MM’s massive playbook)
- he’s very, very confident
- he’s amassed 3 years practice experience (in many cases, with the #1 unit)
- he learned a tremendous amount from one of the best QBs ever to play
- he appears to have the full confidence of teammates, coaches and the Packers brass (read here for more).
Maybe it’s just spring optimism or OTA excitement but I am slowly beginning to believe that Rodgers could excel in this system. I’m not the only one who is beginning to think this. Check out this NFL.com article by Ira Miller that at the least, is an encouraging look at Rodgers for Packers fans. In fact, even at this early stage, I’ll go on record predicting that if the Packers are not as good as some think they’ll be this year, it likely won’t be Rodgers’ fault (or the offense), but it will be the fault of injuries or a shaky defense.