Mike Roemer / Associated Press
Aaron Rodgers’ final return to MVP form was never in doubt.
OK, maybe a morbid curiosity to see an all-time store’s final decline after a dramatic offseason became more than a passing thought after the Green Bay Packers fell flat on their collective faces during a Week 1 loss to the New Orleans Saints.
Rodgers put everything in perspective after one of the worst games of the quarterback’s career.
“If we start freaking out after a week,” Rodgers told reporters Thursday, “we’re in big trouble.”
The first half of Monday’s competition against the Detroit Lions must have had the Packers faithful to feel terrible bog. Green Bay’s rival had a 17-14 lead that went into the break, only to see Rodgers and Co. roar back with the power of a jet launching from the asphalt en route to a 35-17 victory at Lambeau Field.
The problem with the loss in Week 1 stemmed from how poorly the Packers played. An unexpected loss is one thing. A trouncing in the hands of a team in transition–who happened to lay an egg the following weekendcaused a commotion outside the organization.
Does Rodgers want to play more at all? Did the quarterback have a foot already out the door? Would the Packers take a significant step back this fall after two straight NFC championships?
To be fair, Rodgers’ performance caused the dismay. After missing all the organized team activities and mandatory minicamps and not playing in the preseason, the 37-year-old signal caller seemed almost uninterested. In fact, Rodger’s death ranked last with a 53.6 completion rate according to the sample size of a game. His passes lacked the sharpness and placement that has become synonymous with his career.
Insert meme from Michael Jordan: “And I took it personally.”
Another version of Rodgers appeared Monday night football. The return of professional football’s leading sniper came into play. Two throws meant Rodgers’ ring rust had been shaken off and he is back to optimal efficiency.
On the 3rd and 12th during the Packers’ first drive of the second half, Rodgers whipped a picture-perfect 50-yard bomb to wide receiver Davante Adams.
Although these types of passages are often referred to as drops in the bucket, this particular roll could have fallen into a Dixie cup. Do not overlook the fact that Rodgers did not even have his feet properly.
“What makes him different from anyone else would probably be that he’s a bit like Steph Curry in the quarterbacks,” Adams explained last week, according to CBS Sports’ Jordan Dajani. “He has it ‘sometime’, as I like to call it, where you get an opportunity to make that throw work. It’s not a ‘plant your feet perfectly and throw’, it’s a strange place, and you have to make it happen. ”
Two games later, the quarterback stepped another incredible pass to close end Robert Tonyan for a score of 22 yards.
Rodgers’ touch with the previous deep pass was beautiful. His laser-like precision at touchdown throws is the type of throw that very few professional quarterbacks would even attempt, far less complete.
No window found. Rodgers saw the back of the back linebacker turn to him while safety played half a field behind the route. The quarterback could have taken the wide open pass. Instead, Rodgers made the perfect throw.
The nine-time Pro Bowl pick completed 22-of-27 passes for 255 yards and four touchdowns. In doing so, Rodgers passed John Elway for the 10th time all the time in passing yardage. In fact, the Packers quarterback did not throw an incomplete pass on the second or third side before 3:21 in the fourth quarter. He was particularly effective in the short passing game. According to NFL next generation stats, Rodgers finished 14-of-15 passes with three touchdowns as he dropped the ball in under 2.5 seconds.
As Pro Football Focus’ Steve Palazzolo noted that the three-time MVP experienced four matches with a grade of 50 or lower since the start of the 2016 campaign. He responded with a four-touchdown performance the following week Every time.
The performance was not perfect, as Rodgers himself stated.
“I missed Marquez (Valdes-Scantling) a couple of times when I had him,” the quarterback told reporters.
Even the best will miss a few and make some mistakes. Football is not a game of perfection. Winning is built around making the necessary bets to place the entire team in the best possible position.
The Packers came into this season as presumed Super Bowl candidates. These hopes awoke again after they fell out of the gate.
“I think we were trying to show that we broke a little more tonight,” Rodgers said said.
Matt Ludtke / Associated Press
Certain questions are still present. The defense can not generate much– really something-Pass rush without Za’Darius Smith on the pitch. Smith, who is currently dealing with a terrible back, was due to return in a few weeks after a brief stint on injured reserve. Without a consistent pass, the defensive back who is not named Jaire Alexander can and will be revealed when asked to cover for extended periods.
A few silver liners also appear to appear. Rodgers joined Randall Cobb three times in 26 yards to extend the veteran’s use after just one catch in Week 1. Eventually, All-Pro left-back David Bakhtiari returns to the lineup after recovering from last season’s cracked ACL.
At 1-1, Green Bay is clearly the favorite in NFC North, as the Chicago Bears’ quarterback situation is still confused. As long as Monday’s performance from Rodgers continues into the coming weeks, the Packers should be able to keep up with or exceed any other team in the conference. After all, Matt LaFleur’s squad led the NFL in scoring last season.
A particularly poor performance brings out the negative, especially those who stood on the side of the Packers organization instead of its quarterback.
“People like to say a lot of b —— t, and it’s nice to come back here after a game like this,” Rodgers said. told reporters after Monday’s match.
He added: “It’s nice to have an achievement like this and get the trolls off our backs in a week.”
Maybe when Rodgers says relax, everyone should listen.
Brent Sobleski covers the NFL for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter, @brentsobleski.