Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers are in the NFC Championship Game for the second consecutive season. While they have maybe looked just as good as they did when they won their last Super Bowl in 2010, Green Bay recently received awful news just days before the title game. The news was that former Packers general manager Ted Thompson died on Wednesday.
Rodgers and the Packers owe a lot to Thompson. In fact, Thompson’s final moves as GM are why the Packers are even in the NFC Championship Game.
Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers are in the NFC Championship
For the second consecutive season, the Green Bay Packers finished the year 13-3 and have reached the NFC Championship Game.
Green Bay had all the success it had this year because of Aaron Rodgers potentially having the best season of his career. He completed 70.7% of his passes, which is his highest mark since becoming the Packers’ starter. Rodgers also threw for 4,299 yards and an NFL-leading 48 touchdown passes, his most ever. He also led the NFL in interception percentage for the third consecutive season, as he only threw five this year. Rodgers did all of this at 37 years old, too.
In addition to Rodgers, Aaron Jones had a Pro Bowl season at running back, running for 1,104 yards and nine touchdowns. Davante Adams has also proven to be one of the best receivers in the league, catching 115 passes for 1,374 yards and 18 touchdowns in 14 games this season.
This all led to the Packers scoring 31.8 points per game this year, which was No. 1 in the league. It also helped them claim the No. 1 seed in the NFC by going 13-3, and led them to a 32-18 win in the divisional round over the LA Rams. They now must face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFC Championship Game.
Former GM Ted Thompson recently died
According to ESPN, former Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson died on Wednesday at 68 years old.
Thompson is known for drafting Aaron Rodgers, who has earned nine Pro Bowl selections, three First-Team All-Pro honors, has won league MVP twice, and will most likely win his third MVP this season. Thompson is also a big reason why Green Bay won the Super Bowl in 2010, as he was the GM from 2005 through 2017. He is even in the team’s Hall of Fame, too.
“I’m really thankful for Ted. The fact that I was his first draft pick will always link us together,” Rodgers said, according to ESPN. “I always appreciated his steady hand and the conversations that we would have. He always made things pretty clear about what he expected from the team and what he expected from me.”
He continued: “He would always start the season and address the team for a few minutes and he would always finish with, ‘Godspeed.’ As he passes on, I want to thank him for what he meant to myself, the team and the organization, and wish him Godspeed.”
The Packers are in the NFC Championship because of Thompson’s final moves as GM
Of course, Ted Thompson’s decision to draft Rodgers is a big reason why the Packers are in the NFC Championship Game. However, the moves he made in his final month as GM are really why Green Bay is in the big game this weekend.
According to ESPN’s Field Yates, during that final month, Thompson extended pending free agents Davante Adams and Corey Linsley. He also signed Robert Tonyan to the practice squad.
In 2017, Adams — who is now Aaron Rodgers’ favorite weapon — had yet to record 1,000 receiving yards in a season. He has since earned four consecutive Pro Bowl selections since 2017 and has gained over 1,300 receiving yards in two of the last three seasons. Adams also led the NFL in touchdown receptions this year. Linsley, on the other hand, was a fifth-round draft pick in 2014. He, however, was a First-Team All-Pro at center this season for Green Bay.
Additionally, Robert Tonyan had a breakout year this season and was one of the best tight ends in the league. He caught 52 passes for 586 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers have had a great year this season. A big reason why they are in the NFC Championship Game, though, is because of Thompson making those moves in his final month as the Packers’ GM.
Stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference