Sept. 8 2008, the first day of life after Brett Favre for the Packers' offense. The offense has relied on No. 4's awe-inspiring plays for nearly two decades. Now Rodgers will not only have to step into the shoes of a legend, but he will have to replace a legend.
The Packers' offense was second in the NFL last year. Will Rodgers be able to keep this offensive juggernaut rolling this year?
Here is the final part of my Green Bay Packers preview. I'll rate all of the offensive positions with letter grades.
Projected Starter: Aaron Rodgers
There is no doubt in my mind Aaron Rodgers is feeling the pressure. No matter what he says, he is feeling it. We have seen very little of Rodgers in real game experience. Last season, he really shined against the Cowboys.
Tossing 216 yards a touchdown and zero interceptions. It gave Packer fans lots of hope for what he could do when his time came. Well, his time has come. We will find out if Ted Thompson's confidence is warranted.
Running backs & Fullbacks
Projected Starter: Ryan Grant, Korey Hall
Ryan Grant blew onto the scene midseason and finished the season strong with a 200-yard game against the Seahawks in the divisional playoff game. He is a tough runner who will pound out the hard yards, and has the speed to burst outside.
Past Ryan Grant, there isn't much depth. Brandon Jackson had very little production last season and has struggled adjusting to the speed of NFL game. If Grant goes down, Rodgers will feel real pressure.
Korey Hall made the plays when he was called upon, and he seemed to understand the zone-blocking scheme. It will be interesting to see how he progresses this season.
Projected Starters: Donald Driver, Greg Jennings
This young receiving corps is one of the fastest in the NFL. They get open and are able to get those precious yards after the catch. Driver is a proven veteran that will always be the Packers' No. 1 target.
Greg Jennings is a big playmaker that is deadly on the deep ball. James Jones has the surest hands on the team, and Ruvell Martin always seems to be in the right place at the right time. Depth is not a concern for this position.
Projected Starters: Chad Clifton, Daryn Colledge, Scott Wells, Jason Spitz, Mark Tauscher
Last year, the offensive line had some really good games...and some really bad ones. Injuries plagued the line last year and forced a lot of good players to miss time. When healthy, this team can get the running game going and give the quarterback time to throw the ball.
Whenever they have three or four players injured, the running game suffers. Clifton and Tauscher are proven, and when they are on the field, the quarterback feels a lot safer. It's in Wells, Colledge, and Spitz that my worries lie. There isn't enough depth at this position to make up for injured starters.
Projected Starter: Donald Lee
Donald Lee had a breakout season last year, quickly becoming one of Brett Favre's favorite targets in the red zone. I'm not sure if Rodgers will look to Lee in the same situations, yet if he is running McCarthy's offense, he'd better be. He is not the most athletic of tight ends, and he doesn't have the sure hands a tight end needs. Sink or swim, Donald Lee
Make or Break
It's hard to think that a team that was 13-3 could really lose that much production, even with the loss of Brett Favre. I think Rodgers manages the offense well and wins the games they are supposed to. Beyond that, I don't think Rodgers has what it takes to win games on his own--i.e. I don't think he can make that last-minute drive to victory.
The defense is one of the best in the league, and they will keep them in lots of games. It's up to the offense to win them.
Record: 11-5, First in NFC North
Lose in divisional playoffs