Aaron Rodgers Saying the Right Things...for Now
They say you never want to be the man who replaces a legend, but that you'd rather be the guy who replaces the guy who replaced the legend.
Aaron Rodgers, however, is trying his best to put an end to that mantra by any means necessary. Even if that means reaching out to the paradigm of replacement QBs, Steve Young.
Young replaced Joe Montana in San Francisco back in 1991. "I've just got to be me. I'm not Brett, I'm never going to live up to his legendary status regardless of how well I play," said Rodgers. "Steve Young was a great QB in San Francisco. But Joe (Montana) won four Super Bowls. And Steve still had a Hall of Fame career. I want his advice."
Ever since Brett Favre finally said the 'R' word, Rodgers has been under a microscope. His every move has been monitored, and he has taken it in stride. He has answered the same questions every time the press has been allowed access to the locker room after the teams "voluntary" workouts.
When asked what it's like to finally be the starting QB of the Green Bay Packers, Rodgers has given very mature answers, saying "I know the pressure I'm under. I know who I'm following. I know that it's a tough situation and a lot of people are expecting me to fail outside of this locker room," he said after the first OTA. "I'm just trying to get the guys we've got here now to believe in me."
With the "boo-yah!" network (ESPN) over-analyzing the Packers draft selections of Brian Brohm and Matt Flynn—second and seventh-round picks respectively—putting added pressure on Rodgers to succeed. When asked about a potential QB controversy, Rodgers responded confidently, saying "I think that is a false statement, actually. And coach (Mike) McCarthy would say the same thing."
What the "boo-yah!" network seemed to magically forget was that the Pack was in dire need of backup QBs, and the free-agent market wasn't exactly booming with "Packers" material.
General Manager Ted Thompson brought former Minnesota Vikings QB Daunte Cullpepper in for a visit and an interview, but quickly decided against bringing in the injury-prone former All-Pro to the green and gold. "They had to bring in a guy that would back me up," said Rodgers. "It was either going to be through free agency or the draft."
Favre's favorite target over the last several season, Donald Driver, has been quoted as saying "...the transition between Favre to Rodgers has been seamless. Brett; he's not here, but his spirit is here," continued Driver. "Nothing's changing, we're not going to do anything different than what we would do if Brett was here. The play calling is going to stay the same. The cadence is going to stay the same. There's nothing different, you just see a different face, but you all move on."
"One guy I really need in my corner is Donald (Driver.) We've had some really good conversations about getting on the same page. It was obvious with him and Brett—all they needed was eye contact,” Rodgers said "I know the comparisons will happen. Probably for my entire career as a Packer and as long as I play in the NFL...My connection will be the guy who followed Brett Favre," Rodgers knowingly admits.
The Packers have great depth at every offensive position. (They really only lack in experience at QB. But scouts have ranted and raved about Brian Brohm being more than NFL ready, having been a three-year starter and running a West-Coast style offense at Louisville.)
With the emergence of Ryan Grant last year, and with the promising talent of 2007 second-round pick Brandon Jackson looking to secure the backup spot, the Packers are not hurting for offense. The running game looks to be a lot brighter situation than last year, when the Packers were ranked 32nd in the league for rushing average, until Grant broke out against Denver on Monday Night Football in Week Nine.
Their receiving corps isn't bad either, with starters Greg Jennings and Donald Driver being followed by second-year pro James Jones and this year's second-round pick Jordy Nelson from Kansas State. Rodgers will have his pick of the litter with a maturing receiving group.
The drama of Favre's will-he, won't-he un-retire charade has faded, and the post-Favre era of the Pack has begun. From the look of all the attitudes around the Packer's mini-camp, Rodgers should be a more than suitable replacement for the future first-ballot Hall of Famer.
But Rodgers' charisma and good looks will only get him so far in the city of Green Bay. He still has to back up all his talking of "going out and playing his game." And proving his doubters wrong by establishing himself as a durable QB who can play more than four quarters in an NFL season without getting hurt.
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