The Green Bay Packers are back in the Super Bowl, this time with quarterback Aaron Rodgers; the 27-year-old signal caller who has led his team to the big game, in just his third season on the job. So it would seem like General Manager Ted Thompson made the proper move back in 2008, going with the youngster as the team’s starter.
However, national pundits still have asked Packers players the past week if Rodgers has finally made the move look like the right one.
Wide receiver Greg Jennings said last week that move was justified a long time ago. A Super Bowl win under Rodgers’ belt, would silence the naysayers even more.
Obviously Rodgers has played really well in his three seasons, making the Pro Bowl a season ago and now is 3-1 in the postseason, throwing for 10 touchdowns to just three interceptions in those starts.
For those counting, three wins were also the same amount Brett Favre had in his postseason career for the green and gold after Mike Holmgren left.
The one argument that stuck with me last week was on ESPN 2’s First Take, hearing Skip Bayless saying Thompson still made a huge mistake, costing the Packers two chances to win the Super Bowl in 2008 and ’09 with Favre and the young team that he led to the ’07 NFC championship game.
Bayless has a point, but if it wasn’t for that 2008 season, the Packers wouldn’t be in the Super Bowl now.
Back in 2007, Bob Sanders’ unit couldn’t stop the New York Giants offense the entire second half of the NFC championship game, becoming a trend that we saw in 2008.
Thanks to a defense that blew fourth-quarter leads in seven losses, the Packers went 6-10 and Thompson decided it was time to rebuild the defense. He decided to change to a 3-4 scheme and tabbed long-time 3-4 guru Dom Capers as his guy.
Next chore for Thompson was getting the proper personnel for such a change. What’s needed most for a 3-4? A nose tackle and a pass rusher. Check and check.
Thompson found those two future anchors by drafting up-and-coming stars B.J. Raji and Clay Matthews in the first round of the 2009 draft. If it wasn’t for the poor record in 2008, the Packers wouldn’t have been able to draft both guys.
In Raji and Matthews, the Packers have two guys who came into their own in their second season and should be dominant players for years to come.
The defense and Rodgers’ development are the two main reasons Green Bay plays Pittsburgh on Sunday.
So who knows what kind of teams we would’ve seen under an aging Favre, but what we do know is, Aaron Rodgers has the Packers on the verge of a championship and a good possibility many more chances in the next decade.
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Written by Mitch McLaughlin