As a former NFL scout, I have always admired quarterback (QB) Aaron Rodgers, up until this past off-season.
Previous to his premeditated undermining comments after the NFC Championship Game, I always thought the guy was an eccentric talent and had touch with the ball the way a surgeon handles a scalpel.
However, something changed this off-season.
Aaron Rodgers changed – – and so too has the feel of the Green Bay Packers.
This was further illustrated by the beating they took against the New Orleans Saints Sunday, 38-3.
I did not get to see the game live, but I went back and watched it on NFL Game Pass, and I did not see what I was expecting to see. As Rodgers boldest critic in America this past off-season, when I saw the score and heard Rodgers was benched, I thought he must have really stunk it up. I also looked into the stats as well, and saw Rodgers had gone from being the NFL MVP last season to now having the lowest QB rating in the league (espn.com). I wondered was there really validity to Benjamin Solak’s Tweet?
Was that possible?
Was Aaron Rodgers throwing the ball with his middle finger up in the air after he released all of his throws?
Would he really do that?
The answer is no, I did not see evidence of that on the game film. Just like in pro wrestling, sure anyone can possibly do anything to make something look a certain subtle way, but no. I did not see that.
Rodgers may be a lot of things and I feel he is the most selfish player in the game, but I feel Rodgers threw relatively well against the Saints. He went through all the motions crisply and decisively. Sure, there were some out-of-character overthrows and he could not sync with receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling, but outside of that he looked good and he looked like his old self with just a little longer hair.
However, things have just changed or in my Grandma’s words, “There is just too much water under the bridge.” In other words, too much has happened between Rodgers and Packers’ powers to be. The team felt flat, and the energy was not there. The uniforms looked bright and clean as always and everyone lined up well, but things have changed – – their leader changed and things have changed to the point of no return.
That is how it felt to me watching the game.
It is no different than if someone in the family re-writes an old family recipe and writes in an extra tablespoon of salt. It just tastes different. It looks the same, but it just tastes different and nobody can quite put their finger on why.
Everyone who eats it politely says, “I don’t remember this tasting quite this salty,” if they even say anything at all.
This off-season too much has happened. From Rodgers discouraging free agents from signing with the Packers, his subtle attempts to get team general manager (GM) Brian Gutekunst fired, to his own overt attempts to play arm-chair GM by getting receiver Randall Cobb back (he wanted even more guys brought back and he feels entitled to offer his unsolicited advice on personnel matters) – – too much has happened. There is too much bad blood between Rodgers and the organization and it is subtly showing up on the field.
There has been a change in the chemistry of the team.
It is like that old family recipe that looks the same, but it just tastes different.
It is time to pull the trigger and turn the page on Aaron Rodgers for his sake and the sake of the Green Bay Packers’ organization – – and their season.
Daniel Kelly is a former NFL scout with the New York Jets. He was hired on the regime which featured Bill Parcells, Bill Belichick, Scott Pioli, Mike Tannenbaum, and Dick Haley. He currently writes for Sports Illustrated Detroit Lions and he is a contributing evaluator for Draft Diamonds. For more information about him visit his website at whateverittakesbook.com. He can be followed on Twitter @danielkellybook and his Facebook page is WHATEVER IT TAKES NFL TALK.