For sure, all eyes will be on Aaron Rodgers tonight.
Secretly, many hope what we saw in the Packers’ opener — two interceptions in a terrible loss to the New Orleans Saints — was the beginning of the end for the reigning NFL MVP.
The Rodgers Detractors — and there are many, including former NFL players who can’t stand the gifted passer of the football — hope he will turn in another stinker against the lowly Detroit Lions in Green Bay on Monday Night Football.
Good luck to those cats.
It’s the same bunch who, two years ago, opined that Rodgers’ skills were eroding, that he wasn’t so good anymore, that he was simply living on rep and not current ability.
Talk about a prisoner of the moment, a total overreaction to a bad day at the office.
And without question, Rodgers played terribly last week. But so did the entire team. For some reason, the Packers squad — one win away from the Super Bowl last season — never got off the plane in Jacksonville and got torched by the Saints.
The likelihood of a repeat performance is doubtful.
Forget that it’s the Lions, whose defense is suspect. Rodgers has practically owned them his entire career.
Rodgers has been a monster on MNF, winning seven straight games dating back to 2014 in front of a national TV audience.
Stats-wise, he has the second-most TD passes on Monday night, and the third-most wins by a QB with 10.
Detroit is the general hospital of the NFL. Teams get well when they play the Lions. In Week 1, their defense gave up 41 points to the San Francisco 49ers.
In 2020, Rodgers had six touchdowns against the Lions, five passing and one rushing.
Also, under coach Matt LaFleur, the Packers are 6-0 after losses in his two seasons at the helm.
“We’re a good team,” Rodgers told the media in Green Bay. “We’ve been a good team the last few years. So, good teams don’t usually have poor performances back-to-back.”
To add gas to the fire, this will be the first game at Lambeau Field with 80,000 fans since 2019. The crowd will be fired up, to say the least.
The Packers have finished the last two seasons 13-3, both times losing in the NFC Championship Game. Despite that success, there has been pushback.
One of the loudest critics of Rodgers is former Packers receiver Jermichael Finley. He will tell anyone who will listen that the Packers should be ready to switch to second-year backup Jordan Love by Week 4.
For the record, Finley has bad blood with Rodgers and has been criticizing him since he left Green Bay in 2013. After Rodgers’ debacle against the Saints, Finley pounced, telling ProFootballTalk in an interview that Rodgers “looks tired.” It appeared to Finley, looking through Rodgers’ helmet from his couch watching on TV at home, that Rodgers had lost his “hunger” to play.
If that weren’t enough, Finley delivered the ultimate hot take:
“If you don’t see it, let’s go to Love,” he said. “You’ve got one of the highest-paid backup quarterbacks sitting right behind Aaron Rodgers, so you might as well utilize him and get him and get him going for the future.”
There’s just one problem. If the Packers truly believed Love was ready, and a future star, they could have met Rodgers’ trade demand this past offseason.
But the Packers aren’t crazy. Rodgers gives the franchise the best opportunity to win another Super Bowl. It’s that simple.
For sure, a lot of the ugly pushback against Rodgers stems from his highly public and loud offseason. For the first time, Rodgers made a stink about how the organization is run and made his unhappiness clear.
Obviously, Rodgers won the offseason. The Packers were on the defensive and basically had to take it.
After all, Rodgers, 37, had arguably his best season yet. He was spectacular to watch, winning his third MVP.
But Rodgers lost something, too. He stayed away from offseason training with his team. He played none in the preseason. And it all showed in the first game, a 38-3 loss to New Orleans.
As great as he has been in his career, Rodgers seems to always mix in at least one terrible game a season. Last year, he had two picks in a bad loss at Tampa Bay.
Expect Rodgers to be Rodgers again tonight. His track record predicts it. And expect all his critics to climb back under a rock — for the time being.
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