Why Aaron Rodgers Is in For a Long, Disappointing 2021 Season With Packers
Aaron Rodgers elected to return to the Green Bay Packers at the start of training camp after a long offseason of rumored trade requests and retirement threats.
Rodgers’ return places him back in the fold to potentially push the Packers toward another strong campaign, hoping to avenge Green Bay's second straight loss in the NFC championship game. However, the pathway in 2021 will be much different and a lot harder than in years past.
Championship or Bust?
Green Bay is returning largely the same roster. Most importantly, however, the three-time league MVP has set the bar high as he voiced last month that it’s a championship-or-bust mentality for the Packers. Anything less than that would be a failure.
"They jumped through some hoops to get under the cap this year," Rodgers told reporters last month. "Obviously, the cap is expected to go back up next year, but you never know. So we're just going to enjoy this season. It's Title Town. It's championship or disappointment."
If that wasn't enough, Rodgers and All-Pro receiver Davante Adams both posted a "Last Dance" post in reference to the Chicago Bulls' final title run with Michael Jordan and Co. in 1998.
It's all or nothing for the Packers, and that puts a lot of pressure not only on the stars but also the other guys.
The Supporting Cast
The 37-year-old quarterback should be on track to replicate another MVP-caliber season in his third stint with head coach Matt LaFleur. Much like he has in previous years, Rodgers will lean on the strong connection with Davante Adams. Adams is coming off career highs with 115 receptions and a league-best 18 touchdowns along with 1,374 receiving yards.
Running back Aaron Jones is returning as well after recording a career-best 1,104 rushing yards and nine rushing touchdowns. The offense will be able to hold it down whenever they have the ball, but there is some concern with the Packers' defense. With a stronger defense in 2020, the Packers should have been primed to return to the Super Bowl for the first time since 2011.
The Packers allowed 23.1 points per game last season, which is good for 13th in the league. They were also ranked 13th against the run, which is promising. The defense will not be bad enough to keep the Packers out of the playoffs.
A Tough Road Ahead
The problem is the Pack have one of the toughest schedules in 2021. They will travel to take on the 49ers, Rams, and Chiefs. However, It doesn't get much easier at Lambeau Field as they will host the Seahawks, Ravens, Browns, and Steelers.
All that may make grabbing a first-round bye a daunting task as the NFC is loaded with talent, including the team that defeated them in the NFC Championship game on the road to the Super Bowl, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
There's also the underlying situation with Rodgers potentially going through his final campaign in Green Bay as he controls his future after the 2021 season. The star quarterback has undercut that dialogue, but it will be hard to ignore, especially if the Packers struggle for any stretch during the regular season.
Ultimately, all these factors could create another successful season numbers-wise for the future Hall of Famer, but with all the possible distractions, it could get very ugly very fast.
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