After a 38-3 drubbing at the hands of the New Orleans Saints, almost everyone in the sports world lined up to take their shots at Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Following the loss, many commentators decided that Rodgers’ “will he, or won’t he?” offseason was to blame for the lopsided loss.
The NFL Today crew at CBS were among the last in line to get their Rodgers takes in. They delivered, crushing the QB for everything from his actions in the offseason to his body language on the sideline.
The media poured criticism on Aaron Rodgers
It was hard to find a sports show that wasn’t dumping on Rodgers after the Green Bay Packers’ terrible loss.
Stephen A. Smith said “it looked like he didn’t care” and that it was the “most shameful performance of Aaron Rodgers’ career” on ESPN’s First Take. Former Dallas Cowboys legend Michael Irving added that “Rodgers was thinking about retiring or thinking about not playing, and it showed up.”
Other ex-NFL players piled on as well. Rodgers’ former tight end Jermichael Finley said he doesn’t see “a work ethic in Aaron Rodgers that I have in previous years” or “that hunger to go win another championship.”
Super Bowl winner Trent Dilfer’s diagnosis of the 2020 NFL MVP is that there may be a lingering “stink around the building” caused by all the Rodgers offseason drama.
No matter the exact words and theories, most of the negative takes around Rodgers’ performance during Week 1 boiled down to the same general ideas. They hypothesized that the QB wasn’t around during the offseason and that, combined with the drama of his whole situation, led to the massive egg Green Bay laid against the Saints.
The last groups to pile on Rodgers were the Sunday pregame shows
The Sunday pregame shows didn’t get to take Rodgers to task after the dismal Week 1 performance. They had to wait until Week 2. The CBS NFL Today posse didn’t let the opportunity pass either.
In a roundtable discussion of Rodgers and the Packers, each talking head got to weigh in on the situation. Quarterback-turned-radio-and-TV-host Boomer Esiason started by calling Rodgers a “complicated, awkward, brilliant, unbelievable football player” who is “bored in Green Bay.”
Former wide receiver Nate Burleson piled on. He talked about how crucial the offseason is for NFL teams and that Rodgers spent the entire offseason “making it about himself.” He also chastised the signal-caller because “his disposition was bad on the sideline, too.”
The most damning critique of the bunch was from former Pittsburgh Steelers head coach and all-around old-school tough-guy Bill Cowher. The Super Bowl-winning coach said of Rodgers:
To me, he’s now made it personal. He looks very selfish, he almost looks aloof. And I agree with [Nate Burleson]. I always say perception is reality, and you look at him on the sidelines, he looks like he really doesn’t care. … Show me you care. Show me it’s important to you, that the team is more important than who you are, and right now, I have not seen that.Bill Cowher on Aaron Rodgers
Phil Simms added that the whole situation is a “distraction.” However, he also said that getting “whooped” by the Saints might be the best thing that could have happened to help shake the team out of it.
All the Green Bay Packers theories will play out in the next month
Even the most stringent Aaron Rodgers and Green Bay Packers critics generally add a caveat. They acknowledge that it was only one game, and the team will most likely be able to get right against the lowly Detroit Lions on Week 2’s Monday Night Football.
If the Packers lose again to a far less talented division rival, the gloves will come off. The media will become completely unhinged with Rodgers’ condemnation. If the game does play out as expected and the Packers take home the W, the franchise still wouldn’t be out of the woods yet.
The Packers take on the San Francisco 49ers, Pittsburgh Steelers, Cincinnati Bengals, and Chicago Bears in the next four weeks.
The first two teams are among the class of the NFL. Both teams have the talent and the ability to do what the Saints did to the Pack in Week 1. Losing these games would lead to the inevitable takes that Green Bay is not a real playoff threat, let alone a Super Bowl contender.
Those next two games against young, scrappy division rivals are more winnable but also more fraught. Losing one or both of these games would likely start the narrative that Rodgers’ time as an elite NFL QB has passed. It would also tangibly hurt the team’s playoff chances if division foes start to win games against them.
The Aaron Rodgers redemption tour starts against Detroit. Although, we likely won’t know the real deal with his game and his squad until after Week 6.
At that point, fans and media types alike should have a true sense of whether the Saints game is cause for real panic in Wisconsin. Or maybe, we should all just “R-E-L-A-X.”