Bob McGinn, who covered the Green Bay Packers for more than 30 years, left the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel last month. McGinn had an interview with MMQB and didn’t sound like the biggest fan with the way he couched the last several years. I’m guessing he and Aaron Rodgers aren’t on each other’s holiday card list.
McGinn: “He was a very poor player here for his first two summers and regular-season practices. Fortunately for him, and he knows that down deep, he didn’t have to play early. His delivery was a mess, bad body language, he didn’t know how to deal with teammates. He learned so much from Brett Favre on how to in some ways be one of the guys and relate, and he became much more of a leader. He was really poor and how many great players have ever had a start like that? Not that many. A lot of scouts look at that exhibition tape those first two years and he was a little bit better the third year, but not to any degree, and then he just really developed. He lost a lot of close games in ’08, but by ’09 he was playing great and by 2010 he was maybe the best in the business. And then there have been a lot of playoff disappointments and poor performances. It’s a quarterback league and all the rules are designed for that quarterback to dominate, and he hasn’t done it in the most important times since 2010.
Okay, so Rodgers wasn’t ready to start right away. That question about how many great players have ever started like that? Here’s the list of every Hall of Fame quarterback to debut since 1970 and play at age 23 or younger as a rookie. Dan Marino was great, but everyone else struggled. Troy Aikman, Terry Bradshaw, Dan Fouts, and John Elway combined to throw 28 touchdowns and 69 interceptions as rookies. Brett Favre threw 4 passes as a rookie in Atlanta, completing none to his own team and two to the opponent.
Rodgers–21 years old as a rookie, younger than all the others–was not ready, but McGinn makes it sound like he was fortunate and entirely a product of circumstance. I can’t buy that. System matters for quarterbacks on the fringes but Rodgers would have eventually succeeded if drafted by another team, like San Francisco.
Plenty has been written about Rodgers and Brett Favre. Favre didn’t view it as his job to mentor Rodgers, Favre returned to Green Bay for his retirement ceremony a few years ago, and they shared a handshake at a NFL award show in 2013, but it wasn’t always roses.
But let’s talk about that “He hasn’t done it in the most important since 2010” comment and the “playoff disappointments and poor performances.” Yes, the Packers haven’t won a title since the 2010 season, when the were an unlucky #6 seed who then played up to their potential. The 2011 season was a disappointment coming off 15-1 and the league MVP. 2012? San Francisco and a guy named Colin Kaepernick ran all over them for 45 points. The offense scored 31. Two years ago, he did this in the playoffs, as you might recall.
The Packers did not get the ball in overtime and lost. Last year, he drew up a route in the dirt and threw this pass to Jared Cook to win at #1 seed Dallas, when most teams would have played for overtime. Aaron Rodgers has a 36 touchdown, 10 interception ratio in the postseason. Guy’s been a bum.