youTwo years ago, Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams decided to run for a final year together for the Green Bay Packers under the moniker The Last Dance, imitating Michael Jordan. documentary/propaganda series.

The tension at the heart of the Jordan document was the idea that drives all great sports breakouts: Who is responsible for winning championships? Organizations or players? Jordan-Krause, Belichick-Brady, LeBron-Riley, Keane-Ferguson. In all sports, dynastic races have crumbled as champions battle to claim credit for winning.

“Players and coaches alone don’t win championships,” Chicago Bulls general manager Jerry Krause infamously. saying. “Organizations win championships.”

Krause was portrayed as the villain in The Last Dance. But to the Packers, he was a fortune teller. They are the standard-bearers par excellence of the idea of ​​organization above all else. And who can blame them? With back-to-back Hall of Famers, Rodgers and Brett Favre, as quarterbacks, have stayed in contention for the title for nearly a couple of seasons since 1992. In Green Bay, the Hall of Fame game isn’t an atypical case, is the expectation.

Only the Indianapolis Colts have come close to the kind of back-to-back quarterback talent that the Packers have depleted since 1992. They followed the Peyton Manning era with Andrew Luck. And once Luck retired early, the Colts found themselves jumping from one ill-conceived quick-fix plan to another. They went from model league citizens to laughing stock in the blink of an eye, with Philip Rivers, Carson Wentz, Matt Ryan and Jeff Saturday.

But the Packers are not the Colts. Just like when Rodgers succeeded Favre, Jordan Love will enter the group with high expectations from the start.

Getting off the edge of Rodgers is a bold move, but a necessary one for the Packers. The clock is already ticking on Love’s rookie contract. They need to find out if he can play, really play, right now.

It will not be easy. While their four-time MVP will almost certainly join the New York Jets (the same team Favre left Green Bay for) in the coming weeks, the Packers will continue to pay the deadly sins of the late Rodgers era until 2024. It won’t be until 2025 that they have some maneuverability to really build around love. By pushing things back another year, the Packers missed the initial window in which they could have taken advantage of Love’s relatively cheap rookie contract. Soon, they will have to decide whether or not to extend Love, and at what price.

There might be some leeway to add immediate reinforcements once the team learns the details of Rodgers’ New York deal. But the chances of adding pieces that could have an immediate impact next season are slim. Instead, they will look at the draft again.

It’s not that Love is in dire straits. The Packers have been approaching this moment for a couple of seasons, a source of tension with Rodgers. Since drafting Love in the first round, they’ve tried to span two worlds: preparing for Love and the future while trying to keep the roster competitive with Rodgers. They tried to reset their timeline last offseason, trading Adams and adding a pair of rookie receivers. They brought most of Rodgers’ friends for one last ride in 2022, but they weathered some of the shock-and-awe tactics that would have torpedoed their core in the post-Rodgers world.

Now, with Rodgers’ trusted lieutenants Allen Lazard, Marcedes Lewis and Randall Cobb following him out of the building, the Packers have lowered the age of skill spots surrounding their young quarterback:

  • QB: Love, 24

  • WR: Christian Watson, 23

  • WR: Romeo Doubs, 22

  • WR: Samori Toure, 25

  • TH: Josías Deguara, 26

  • RHP: Aaron Jones, 28

The average age of that group: just under 25 years.

There is an advantage in a young group that grows together. When the Packers selected a pair of rookie receivers last offseason, Rodgers skipped offseason workouts. Love worked tirelessly with the new receiving corps, dominating Matt LaFleur’s offense.

The Packers are anxious to find out if Love is the real deal. “It’s just time for him to play,” general manager Brian Gutekunst said this week.

“It’s going to be a progression,” LaFleur said Tuesday. Even the most zen offensive masterminds eventually want to see his Offense on the field: egos and all. Rodgers was given complete autonomy to adjust or change what he called LaFleur, increasing the reputation of his trainer and fattening his wallet.

“Lots of people have been rewarded, frankly, for [Rodgers’] ability to go out there and play, and play at such a high level. I’m going to leave it at that,” LaFleur said. The Love-LaFleur association will only see him with a quarterback who executes his ideas, not Independent work or correction of structural failures – at least not yet.

Silenced in public, the Packers have apparently been positively dizzy about love in private.

The first signs on the field have been ups and downs. In his first start in Kansas City on the job for Rodgers in 2021, Love was in over his head. He seemed exhausted by the complexity and speed of the nfl – and this after sitting out their first season in the league.

Chiefs DC Steve Spagnuolo put the young quarterback in a blender, pushing him to perfect the type of pre-snap rituals who are old hat to veteran quarterbacks. Spagnuolo blitzed the holy hell out of Love, typically a no-no against good professional QBs. Love collapsed. He struggled with the basics of the pre-snap procedure. He watched the open players and threaded passes with no chance in hell to the silverware. You could almost hear Rodgers laughing from the comfortable confines of his Covid bed. This is the guy you want to replace me with. Are you kidding me?

That changed last year. Late in the season against Philly, Love entered the game in the middle of a beating. He brought a shock to the Packers’ staccato offense. Pressed into action after a rib injury to Rodgers, Love appeared cool and confident. The nervousness of his first outing evaporated. He led the Packers on two scoring drives in the fourth quarter.

The Eagles didn’t challenge the young quarterback with the same kind of intensity or creativity that Spagnuolo did the year before. When they did, Love seemed to have mastered some of the subtleties of the position that had eluded him against Kansas City.

With less to trade before the snap, Love was free to drop back and throw it, and they split the top team in the NFC. He swayed and backed away from the pressure. He threw strikes down the field. With Love and the crop of rookie receivers, the Packers’ offense appeared to be playing at 1.5x compared to the cumbersome group led by Rodgers, Cobb and Lewis. Love finished 6 of 9 for 113 yards with a touchdown, averaging 12.6 yards per pass attempt. He may have been late in a blowout against a team that had nearly clinched a playoff berth, but it was a sign Love was ready to start, if not in Green Bay, then somewhere.

The Packers decided to bet on themselves, bet on the idea of ​​organization above all.

Choosing Love over Rodgers means a self-imposed drop from the top of the NFC to the middle of the pack. Building from the middle is tricky, but it’s preferable to build from below. Ask the Cleveland Browns how it feels to endure back-to-back seasons at the bottom rung of the NFL ladder. It usually ends with resentment and layoffs.

At the very least, Love will serve as mouthwash for the bad taste in Rodgers’ last days. But in Titletown, that’s not enough. Winning it all is the goal. The accumulation of singles and doubles will help put Love in a position to succeed. But for the Packers to pull off the impossible, the front office needs Love to be a home run pick.

The stakes aren’t much, just the legacy of the most storied franchise in the league and, in Rodgers, one of the most storied players in the game. Oh, and the reputation of team president Mark Murphy, Gutenkunst and LaFleur, one of the brightest and most successful young coaches in the league.

To you, Jordan. No pressure.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *