After Aaron Rodgers spent much of the offseason in a power struggle with Green Bay Packers management, he suggested his play this fall would make all the drama worthwhile. Packers fans had many clues indicating he could skip OTAs (or organized team activities), sit all preseason and still make big plays while avoiding mistakes: For the past 16 seasons, he’s been in a category by himself.
Between Rodgers’s return, Pro Bowl running back Aaron Jones signing a four-year extension and general manager Brian Gutekunst drafting a well-regarded rookie class, the Packers’ roster was a potpourri of talent, perfect for what could be Rodgers’ final year in Titletown. How much had Gutekunst wagered on his quarterback’s ability to capitalize? Everything.
Instead, on the day he surpassed Bart Starr and Brett Favre as the longest-tenured quarterback in Green Bay Packers history, it looked like Aaron Rodgers’s time was up.
His passer rating was 36.8. His total QBR was 13.4. The NFL’s all-time leader in interception rate, he threw two picks, and despite being the eighth-ranked all-time passer in touchdown rate, he didn’t get it in the end zone. The thousands of Packers fans present for the away game had to be reaching for the potent potables. Rodgers has only been less efficient twice in his career: Once was in 2014, when the Packers went on the road to Buffalo in December in wet, windy, 38-degree weather. The other was Week 6 of last season, in a road loss to the eventual Super Bowl champs.
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On Sunday, there were no excuses. Thanks to Hurricane Ida, he was playing in front of a thin, neutral-site Jacksonville crowd. It was 86 degrees on the TIAA Bank Stadium grass. He was playing against a New Orleans Saints team that had lost multiple key contributors at every level of the defense, accounting for 33 percent of their defensive starts in 2020. And yet, Rodgers has never been less effective: