In last season’s NFC Championship Game, the San Francisco 49ers throttled the Green Bay Packers, 37-20, in a game that was never close. Aaron Rodgers didn’t have his game A-game, throwing 2 INTs and losing 1 fumble. The bigger story belonged to the Packers defense, who allowed 264 rushing yards and 4 touchdowns.
Despite a disappointing end to the season, the Packers won a total of 14 games, which is pretty damn good. With a healthy Rodgers, the Packers have the foundation for a great team. They’re only a few pieces away from being an elite team.
Picture this scenario. The Packers know what they need to improve as a team. Wide receiver and defensive linemen were the three positions of need heading into the offseason and the draft. Imagine knowing what positions you need to improve as a team and drafting none of those players. That is exactly what the Packers did in the draft.
If the shareholders of the Packers could make managerial decisions, all 361,311 people would fire the GM, Brian Gutekunst. If the Packers wanted to draft a backup QB for Rodgers in the later rounds, no one would bat an eye. Not only did the Packers take a quarterback in the first round, but they traded up to draft one.
Can someone remind Green Bay’s front office that Rodgers still plays quarterback for the Packers? Rodgers may be on the decline from his MVP seasons, but don’t mistake that for a true regression. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. This season, Rodgers has thrown for 1948 yards, 20 TDs, and 2 INTs. The yards may be down, but most of that can be attributed to the emergence of Aaron Jones, who’s tied for sixth in rushing TDs with 5 despite missing two games.
It’s hard to watch how Green Bay struggles to surround Rodgers with the necessary talent to compete and not compare it to what the Bucs have done with Tom Brady. The Bucs know their window to win is small and Brady might be there for two years. The future is now for the Bucs, and they’re putting all of their eggs in the Brady basket, and rightfully so. The Bucs brought in Leonard Fournette, Rob Gronkowski, and Antonio Brown to bolster an offense that already had Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. So far, it’s paid off as the 6-2 Bucs dismantled the Packers earlier this season, 38-10.
What did Rodgers get after leading his team to the NFC Championship? A quarterback that will never see a snap this season and a running back that hasn’t played yet.
What’s even crazier is the Packers had a chance to atone for their sins at the trade deadline. The offense needs a true number-two receiver to pair with Davante Adams. Will Fueller appeared to be the perfect fit. After Dalvin Cook destroyed the Packers defense with 4 total touchdowns, the Packers could use an interior lineman or linebacker to bolster their run defense.
What did the Packers do? Absolutely nothing. The Packers decided to play for the future and not surrender picks for Fueller, who would’ve provided a necessary deep threat to the offense. On the defensive side, the Packers appear to be quite alright with allowing 26.7 points per game. The Jets traded away Steve McLendon and Avery Williamson for late-round picks. Those two players would start right away for the Packers.
The Packers sit atop the NFC North with a 5-2 record and barring any catastrophic injuries, they should make the playoffs. Their inability to improve in positions of need is mind-boggling. Refusing to be great is the Packers’ weakness, and it will cost them come January.
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