The future of Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay remains up in the air this offseason. The quarterback has said he isn’t happy with the “philosophy” of the organization and may not return to the Packers for the 2021 season. Meanwhile, the team has indicated that they have no interest in trading Rodgers and are hoping to mend fences with their franchise quarterback.
The past two seasons, the Packers have gone 13-3 and reached the NFC Championship Game. In 2019, they were the number two seed in the NFC while in 2020, they were the top seed. So, the question must be asked, how good are the Packers without Rodgers?
Obviously, unless Jordan Love is as good as league MVP Rodgers, the Pack will not be as good on paper as they were a year ago if Rodgers doesn’t return. But that doesn’t mean they can’t be one of the seven NFC playoff teams even without Rodgers being under center.
Here are five reasons the Packers are still strong playoff contenders without Rodgers:
- The Division Lacks Another Elite Team
The Packers have won back-to-back NFC North titles the past two seasons and the team has gone 11-1 against division opponents during that time.
The other three teams in the division are not elite teams on paper entering the 2021 campaign. Detroit is in rebuilding mode (still) and probably took a step back at quarterback when they traded Matthew Stafford to the Rams for Jared Goff.
The Bears defense is still good but aging and they still lack a quality quarterback. Andy Dalton is an average starter at best while rookie quarterbacks usually struggle so don’t expect greatness from Justin Fields right away.
Minnesota has a good quarterback, strong running game and quality receivers but their defense remains suspect.
None of the other three teams in the division can be considered runaway contenders. Green Bay’s overall roster is still deeper and more talented than the other teams in the division even without Rodgers although it is a lot closer battle than it is if Rodgers is still the Packers quarterback.
- The Packers Running Game Will Be Strong
The Packers have a Pro Bowl running back in Aaron Jones who is coming off back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons. Behind him, they have A.J. Dillon, a second-year back who has shown a lot of potential in his rookie year and is expected to take over the RB2 spot after the departure of Jamaal Williams.
Both running backs have very different but complimentary styles and they should give the Pack a solid one-two punch when they run the football.
Green Bay should still be able to run the football effectively and that will help Jordan Love or whoever the Packers quarterback would be if Rodgers does not play in Titletown this season.
- The Packers Secondary Is Elite
The NFL is considered a passing league and Green Bay’s secondary is one of the better units in the league. Jaire Alexander was one of the top cover corners in the NFL last year and can still get better. The Packers are bringing back the experienced Kevin King to start opposite Alexander but drafted Eric Stokes in the first round to take over at the CB2 position eventually.
The Packers safety tandem of Darnell Savage and Adrian Amos is among the top duos in the league with Savage still on the upswing while Amos is smart, savvy and provides leadership.
If the Packers can limit the ability of other teams to pass the football, they can stay in a lot of football games and limit the number of points the offense will need to score to win.
- The Packers Have Pro Bowl Talent Throughout Their Roster
When you look up and down the Packers roster, there is plenty of talent. Jones is a Pro Bowl running back while Davante Adams is among the elite receivers in the league. Elgton Jenkins and David Bakhtiari are both Pro Bowl performers and Jenkins is still only entering his third NFL season and should continue to improve.
Defensively, Kenny Clark, Jaire Alexander and Za’Darius Smith are all bona fide Pro Bowl-caliber players which gives Green Bay at least one proven all-star at each level of the defense.
The Packers overall talent level on their roster is strong.
- The Packers Have a Talented Head Coach
Matt LaFleur has been the Packers coach for two seasons now and he has a career record of 26-6. LaFleur is considered one of the great young coaches in the league and he is also one of the better play callers in the game right now.
Obviously, if Rodgers doesn’t return to play quarterback, LaFleur will face the greatest challenge he’s had as a head coach altering the offense to the talents of Love or any other quarterback who takes over as the starter.
Still, LaFleur changed the Packers culture after he arrived and has installed a winning attitude throughout 1265 Lombardi Avenue. He helped the Packers deal with the pandemic better than most franchises in the league and is now trying to lead his team through the difficulties of this saga with Rodgers.
Either way, the Packers still have enough going for them to contend for a playoff spot even if Rodgers holds out or is traded.
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