Much love for Aaron Rodgers, but no love for the Packers.
The Packers make a second consecutive appearance in the NFC Championship game after their 32-18 victory over the Rams in the divisional round on Saturday, but Rodgers, for as good as he was in the game, was not a key point of discussion.
Rather, it was depth chart QB3 Jordan Love who got a lot of buzz during and after the game:
The Packers surprisingly took Love with the No.26 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, which has led to much speculation about Rodgers’ future: Are the Packers hoping Rodgers takes a Lambeau Leap to retire? Did head coach Matt LaFleur want to bring in his own guy? Was the selection made to try to “motivate” Rodgers to play better?
Really, none of it matters now. Could the Packers have had another wide receiver to help Rodgers? Absolutely. Love is essentially a lost list spot at this point in the season, anyway.
Really, the pick was exactly what Rodgers’ pick was all those years ago: Green Bay, with eyes on the future, didn’t want to fall into a cycle of having to look for the next guy.
By the way, Rodgers himself seems to have made his peace with the Green Bay decision.
“You know, especially after the draft, it was important for me mentally to get to a place of freedom with that – free from bitterness, free from expectations, free to think about the future – and I feel like I did, “Rodgers said Michael Silver of NFL.com. “It gave me a really good peace and quiet during the season and to be able to concentrate. I just try to have a lot of gratitude every day at work and to enjoy every little time even more.”
Rodgers had a typical Rodgers performance in the divisional game: 23 for 36 passes, 296 yards and two touchdowns that day, and he also suffered a few key falls by receivers. Regardless, though, as the Packers comfortably took the lead in an Allen Lazard touchdown in the fourth quarter, crushing the Rams’ momentum, if you believe that sort of thing.
Rodgers was also assisted by Aaron Jones and the racing game, which is sure to prove to be a major X factor in their game next Sunday.
At the risk of talking very deeply about a game of sweating, fast big dudes running around a swollen oblong piece of leather, what you think about choosing love depends on where you stand along the philosophical line of drafting of a (first round) strategist. Ideas typically filter into one of two compartments:
– Writing a quarterback and using the rookie quarterback’s salary to your advantage, to complete the roster and complete the quarterback before his salary hits.
– Writing for the future, lest your quarterback enter the twilight of his career.
Obviously the Packers have fallen into the second bucket here, but if recent seasons are any indication, Rodgers isn’t coming for a touchdown anytime soon: he’ll likely win the league’s MVP award in 2020 and had another season. Rodgers-esque in 2019, his first with head coach LaFleur.
The idea of rekindling the fire under Rodgers after a big year in 2019 was still a bit upside down, anyway.
While the Packers did a pretty good job of finding talent other than the first round, a lot of people scratched their heads on the Love selection when there were other options for the Packers at No.26. So, is there a right or wrong answer here? Should the Pack regret the choice?
Well, they’re heading for the NFC Championship game. You are the judge.