We’re speaking of the next decade, of course – the teens I guess you wold call them. And actually, we’re not speaking in this case at all, the Sporting News is.
The Sporting News named their players of the next decade in the four major professional sports, and Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was the man in the NFL. Because they can afford better crystal balls than we can here at Total Packers.
Here’s the case for Rodgers.
His age in 2019: 36
His team: The Packers. They said so-long to Brett Favre to make room for Rodgers. He is their franchise guy.
Player of the Decade credentials: He has great touch, accuracy and mobility and gets better every year. And unlike running backs, quarterbacks play at a high level well into their 30s. G.M. Ted Thompson drafts well, and coach Mike McCarthy is solid. The Packers and Rodgers should have a nice run.
I don’t know who else The Sporting News considered, but both Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco and Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan have been prominently mentioned in discussion in other parts of the Interweb.
I’d agree that Rodgers has a shot to be this type of player, so long as TT can put a decent offensive line in front of him. In addition to having the qualities you look for in a quarterback, he also has a group of skill position players around him that are young. Greg Jennings is 26. Ryan Grant is 27. Jermichael Finely is 22. James Jones is 25 and Jordy Nelson is 24.
Certainly Donald Driver is close to the end of his career and Grant won’t have much tread left on the tires in three or four more years, but Rodgers has always been put in a position to succeed.
What’s debatable about TSN’s analysis is whether Thompson drafts well and McCarthy is solid. By my calculations, Thompson has missed on a good number of high draft choices in recent years (Terence Murphy, Justin Harrell, and Pat Lee to name a few). Similarly, McCarthy’s teams have consistently been plagued by penalties and lacked both focus and fire, until the Packers brought in Dom Capers. But really, not even these two boneheads should stop Rodgers from becoming great.
I’m honestly not sure who else I’d consider to be on par with Rodgers potential greatness at this point. Matt Ryan is solid, but rarely spectacular. Flacco could be great, but Baltimore’s defense is going to need rebuilding soon, which doesn’t bode well for his team’s chances. Plus, his only true offensive weapon right now is Ray Rice.
Perhaps San Francisco 49ers’ receiver Michael Crabtree can enter into the conversation in a couple years. He certainly has all the physical tools. Maybe Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford will turn out to be the second coming. Hell, maybe even Detroit Lions’ quarterback Matthew Stafford will be the guy.
What would seem to be an obvious oversight is Tennessee Titans’ running back Chris Johnson. He’s 24 and entering the prime of his career coming off what will surely be a rushing title. Unfortunately, running backs have historically crapped out at 30 – take a look at LaDainian Tomlison, who turned 30 this year. Johnson probably has six more seasons of 300-plus carries, tops, which wouldn’t give him the type of longevity you’d want to consider in this case.
The rest of TSN’s list was the Cleveland Cavaliers LeBron James for basketball, the Minnesota Twins Joe Mauer for baseball (Ryan Braun!), and the Washington Capitals Alex Ovechkin for hockey.
Who do you like?
Ryan Braun is going to be one of the best left fielders for years to come. As long as he keeps his health and gets on base, he will be a huge threat for teams. And of course, gotta throw my man Prince Fielder in the convo as well.
Rodgers will get more pro-bowls, some MVP and a SB ring before his career is closed. The guy is just good and there is no need to deny the inevitable.
For Rodgers to get that SB ring Thompson is going to have to slacken his dogma regarding a draft only building of the team and balance the roster with a choice addition of good veterans. And, McCarthy is going to have to start holding players/coaches accountable for bad play/preparation. (read Campen and O-line plus guys like Jarred Bush, and our dropsy WR’s)