It’s not common for the Green Bay Packers to be active in free agency, but 2017 has been different.
The Green Bay Packers organization has been around for nearly 100 years and they’ve had some good quarterbacks play for them. This list includes Bart Starr, Brett Favre, and Lynn Dickey. But here in the early stages of 2017, Aaron Rodgers is emerging as the best to have ever done if for the green and gold.
This isn’t Rodgers’ first time around the block as the Packers starting quarterback as he has led Green Bay to the postseason in each year since 2009. Rodgers’ record as the Packers starting quarterback is 90-45 with him being a two-time National Football League MVP and the MVP of Super Bowl 45. This season saw Rodgers throw 40 touchdown passes in the regular season to just 7 interceptions, while passing for 4,428 yards. Rodgers also completed 65.7 percent of his passes and the Packers needed every bit of it.
After 10 games the Packers had a record of 4-6 and it appeared that they would miss the postseason, however neither the Minnesota Vikings or Detroit Lions could put them away in the NFC North. The Packers would reel off six consecutive wins to end the regular season which included victories over the Vikings and Lions. And when it was all said and done, Green Bay had once again won the NFC North. Over the Packers final six regular season games Rodgers threw 15 touchdown passes while not throwing a single interception. But even with that Rodgers has somehow found a way to take his game to new heights this month.
In two playoff games the Packers offense has clicked on all cylinders as they’ve scored 72 points. After the Packers offense was shutout in the first quarter of the NFC Wild Card Game by the New York Giants, Rodgers got it going just before the first half ended with a pair of touchdown throws. Rodgers would finish the game 25-of-40 passing for 362 yards and 4 touchdown throws as the Packers would defeat the Giants 38-13.
This past Sunday at the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC Divisional Playoffs, Rodgers didn’t have the services of his top wide receiver in Jordy Nelson who is recovering from a rib injury that he suffered against the Giants. But that didn’t stop Rodgers from leading the Packers on a trio of touchdown drives in the first half as Green Bay took a 21-13 lead to the dressing room at the half. The Packers would extend their lead to 28-13 after Rodgers connected with tight end Jared Cook on a six-yard touchdown pass on the opening drive of the second half before the Cowboys would rally to knot the score at 28-28 late in the fourth quarter. But as usual Rodgers was totally undaunted as he put the Packers in field goal range which paved the way for kicker Mason Crosby to connect on a 56-yard field goal with 93 seconds left in regulation to give Green Bay the 31-28 advantage. The Cowboys would rally to tie the score at 31-31; however they made a huge mistake in the process.
Once Cowboys kicker Dan Bailey matched Crosby’s 56-yard field goal with a 52-yarder of his own, Dallas kicked the ball back to the Packers with 35 seconds left which was more than enough time for Rodgers to add to his growing legend.
After Rodgers got the Packers a first down when he connected wide receiver/running back Ty Montgomery on a 17-yard pass which put the football on the Green Bay 42, the Dallas defense stiffened. The Packers then found themselves in a third-and-20 situation which would have been too much for some quarterbacks to deal with. But Packers head coach Mike McCarthy had complete faith in Rodgers and his offense as the two-time MVP who led Green Bay to a Super Bowl Title on the same field six years ago scrambled out of the pocket to find Cook on the sidelines for a 36-yard connection. And after a brief debate between the officials, they deemed that Cook was able to get both feet down in bounds while maintaining possession of the football for a catch.
Rodgers improvisation would give Crosby another chance to put the Packers ahead. And after Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett attempted to ice Crosby by calling a timeout, he calmly stepped up and made a 51-yard field goal to send Green Bay to the NFC Championship Game for the second time in the last three years.
But the flair for the dramatic is nothing new for Rodgers as in recent years he has made the “Hail Mary” and other unbelievable throws seem like a routine pass as the Lions, Giants, and Arizona Cardinals can all attest to. No lead is safe for a Packers opponent as long as Rodgers in under center as he has done the impossible which is to make the folks in Green Bay forget about the legends of Starr and Favre.
Rodgers once again has the Packers on the threshold of the Super Bowl as all that stands in his way of getting back to the big game is a victory over the Atlanta Falcons this Sunday in the final football game at the Georgia Dome. There isn’t anything flashy about the receiving core that is on the receiving end of Rodgers’ brilliant passes as they are simply along for the ride. But like other great quarterbacks before him such as Joe Montana and John Elway, along with current stars such as New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, Rodgers has that innate ability to make those around him step their game up as he always seems to rise to the occasion.
This was a Packers team that after losing to the Washington Redskins 42-24 in Week 11 had surrendered at least 31 points in four consecutive games as they appeared to be a beaten team. But Rodgers is the same guy that told us all to “R-E-L-A-X” a few years ago, and in the Packers last six games they have scored at least 30 points in each contest.
Rodgers is only 33-years of age and even though it appears that he still has plenty of football in the tank, he is well on the fast track to joining Starr and Favre in the Pro Football Hall of Fame as performances like the one we say this past Sunday against the Cowboys are what make legends.