The Green Bay Packers had another successful season last year, albeit with identical outcomes as the year before: 13 regular-season victories and a loss in the NFC Championship Game. Green Bay’s offence, headed by MVP Aaron Rodgers, dominated finishing first or second in several categories. Unfortunately, the Packers’ Super Bowl dreams were dashed by defensive errors and dubious coaching from Matt LaFleur during the season’s most crucial moments, leaving them one win short of the big American football game once again.
As the 2021 NFL Draft came to an end, it was evident that Green Bay Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst had filled many of the minor gaps on a roster that had been good enough to get his club to back-to-back NFC Championship Games, but not to return to the Super Bowl. First, he bolstered the offensive line by bringing in three new offensive lineman. Next, he bolstered a defense that has consistently underperformed despite significant financial spending. Finally, in former Clemson wide receiver Amari Rodgers, he added an intriguing offensive weapon who could be the perfect versatile chess piece for head coach Matt LaFleur’s playbook.
However, the most incredible story in the NFL is whether Aaron Rodgers will play for the Green Bay Packers in 2021. It’s no secret that he’s fed up with the organization, a schism that started with the team’s decision to draft quarterback Jordan Love and has now spread across the team’s windshield, with the future Hall of Famer apparently refusing to play for them again. As a result, predicting the fate of their 2021 season is tough. However, given that Rodgers is still under contract, the safest prediction is that he will play at least one more season before attempting to flex his muscle in 2022.
Despite adamantly stating that he would not trade Rodgers under any circumstances, Gutekunst appeared to make a direct appeal to Rodgers — a sales presentation, if you will — to persuade him to return to a team that could finally get over the hump.
The Packers made a few steps to get under the salary cap before the Rodgers issue became public. Rick Wagner and Christian Kirksey were dismissed, while other teams signed Corey Linsley and Jamaal Williams as free agents. There was little roster turnover: with the exception of Wagner, no major players will be leaving the group.
The Packers can win a Super Bowl if there are no lasting consequences of Rodgers’ displeasure in the offseason — and there very well may be; at the absolute least, there will be some awkwardness as the tense relationship continues for at least another season. Around the reigning MVP, they are that good. Adams, the Packers’ best receiver, is arguably the finest in the NFL. Aaron Jones is back, and he’ll be joined by intriguing second-year running back A.J. Dillon, behind a solid offensive line. Pass rusher Za’Darius Smith and cornerback Jaire Alexander, are among the defense’s best players. Other than Adams, the pass catchers are still a source of worry, but Rodgers won MVP with essentially the same bunch last season. The Packers finished 13-3 last season, while their defeat in the NFC championship game to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was disappointing, they have a chance to make amends this season, especially if Rodgers is in full-fledged vengeance mode.
For three decades, the debate has remained: Are the Packers a great organization, or have two gold-jacketed quarterbacks — Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers — covered up their flaws with exceptional play at the game’s most important position? We’ll find out unless the front office and Rodgers are on the same page. The Packers are an NFC favorite with Rodgers, even against a brutal schedule. Conversely, they’re likely to be cut out of the postseason picture without him, and they’re in danger of reverting to the mediocrity of the 1970s and 1980s.
Speaking of that schedule, look no further than the Packers’ midseason string of games if you want to see brutality. After mounting a home defense in a winnable matchup against the Washington Football Team, they’re forced to travel to the desert to take on a very dangerous Arizona Cardinals team led by Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins, and whose defense now features J.J. Watt and Chandler Jones. Following that game, they must fly to Missouri to face the mighty Kansas City Chiefs, who are hungry for their third consecutive Super Bowl appearance and have the horses to accomplish so.
The Packers then return to Green Bay to face Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks before heading to U.S. Bank Stadium for a critical divisional showdown with the Minnesota Vikings, and then back home to face what could be a much-improved Los Angeles Rams team with Matthew Stafford at the helm before their Week 13 bye.
It stings not to have a two-game homestand until late November, and not having a three-game homestand at all isn’t exactly enticing. The Packers, on the other hand, get to finish the regular season at home.