Two seasons ago, when we foolishly thought Brett Favre was actually considering retirement, many thought the Packers were going to become one of the bottom feeders of the league. One man begged to differ. It's safe to say that Aaron Rodgers has successfully replaced a living legend, accumulating 8472 yards, 58 TD, 20 INT, and a 98.5 QB rating in his first two seasons as the Green Bay Packers starter. He is the only quarterback in NFL history to throw for more than 4,000 yards in his first two seasons as a starter. His record is only 17-16, but with the defense making major improvements, that has potential to ultimately skyrocket. Last season Rodgers was voted into his first pro bowl and proved that he has potential to be one of the elites. All he has left to do is to get the job done in the playoffs, although easier said than done, I think it will start next season.
Recent Third Season Success
Kurt Warner, in his third season starting helped lead his team to a 14-2 record and helped lead his team to the Super Bowl in 2001.
In Tom Brady's third season as the Patriots starter, he helped lead the team to a 14-2 regular season record and Super Bowl title.
Eli Manning's third full season as the Giants starter was the most clutch we've ever seen him. He threw for 6 TD with a 102.2 QB rating and just 1 INT in the playoffs and helped lead his team to a Super Bowl title with his smart decision making.
Heck, even Tony Romo managed to get his first playoff win in his third season as the full-time starter.
Now, it just might be Aaron Rodgers' shot at a Super Bowl, in fact it will be according to teammate Nick Barnett. For the first half of last season, it was nearly impossible for Rodgers' offensive line to keep him upright, but heading into the 2010 season they have the most depth they've had in a long time. With returning veterans RT Mark Tauscher and LT Chad Clifton, the emergence of RG Josh Sitton and C Scott Wells, and LG Daryn Colledge finding his natural position, they will have a solidified line that when together last season, only gave up 14 sacks in the entire second half of the season. God forbid anything would happen to our veteran T's, we have two young studs in RT T.J. Lang and LT Bryan Bulaga who would be more than happy to fill in.
However, offense is only half the battle (Well, technically one-third, but special teams isn't as big of a deal). In order to compete for a title, you must have either a lock down defense or a defense that can create turnovers. The Packers were ranked #1 in takeaways last season, but unfortunately they didn't always show up. When they lost last season, it was because the defense got torched. In their six losses last season, they gave up an average of 37.5 points per game. Although they only lost each of these games by an average of 7.1 points per game, the defense HAS to improve for Rodgers to have success in the playoffs.
I think our defense will live up to the challenge. Heading into 2010, the defense will be more experienced in the 3-4 defensive scheme and Dom Capers is adding more plays to keep offenses off-balanced. "We're putting in so much more than we put in last year which I think is going to pay dividends in the long run", said LB Clay Matthews. Last season we were introduced to the "Psycho Package", so who knows what Capers has up his sleeve this season.
I think I speak for all Packers fans when I say "We're in for one hell of a season".