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NFL executive blames Aaron Rodgers’ offseason behavior for Green Bay Packers’ struggles

Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers came out flat in Week 1, getting steamrolled by the New Orleans Saints and raising questions in the process about the reigning NFL MVP.

The lackluster 2021 debut came after a turbulent summer that saw Rodgers demand a trade, the Packers’ CEO take shots at the face of the franchise and concerns emerged about the organizational culture. While Rodgers ultimately returned for the 2021 season, things got off to a rough start.

After posting a 121.5 passer rating and a 48-5 TD-INT ratio last season, the three-time NFL MVP looked nothing like it against the Saints. He completed just 53.6% of his passes, throwing two interceptions and finishing with a 36.8 passer rating.

Rodgers blamed the team’s poor performance on collective overconfidence, taking responsibility for some of the rare in-game mistakes made. But one NFL executive, who spoke anonymously with The Athletic’s Mike Sando, believes the blame falls entirely on Rodgers and his offseason behavior.

“Think about what Rodgers spends his time in the offseason doing. Parties at the Kentucky Derby, floating stuff to the media via his agent, sending subliminal messages through the (Pat) McAfee podcast, working on his Zen mindfulness and retirement plan, creating State Farm commercials and hosting “Jeopardy”. The way he looked last Sunday, that looked like a product of all those efforts. Compare that to Brady, who spends all spring texting teammates to make sure they all show up on time for voluntary workouts.”

Anonymous NFL executive on Aaron Rodgers to The Athletic’s Mike Sando

A star quarterback will often draw credit or blame for a team’s performance. Green Bay’s 37-year-old quarterback was praised for turning around the offense in 2020, transforming an offense that looked pedestrian a year prior into an unstoppable unit a year later.

  • Aaron Rodgers stats (2020): 4,299 passing yards, 79.8 QBR, 70.7% completion rate, 8.2 ypa, 51 total touchdowns

It comes as no surprise that Rodgers’ actions this offseason are being put under the microscope. But the argument that he didn’t spend enough time practicing with his teammates might miss a key point.

The COVID-10 pandemic dramatically altered the 2020 offseason. NFL teams didn’t hold minicamp last year and training camp didn’t begin until the last week in July. Furthermore, to reduce the risk of the coronavirus spreading, the entire preseason was canceled.

After all of that missed time, Rodgers had one of the best seasons in his career and Green Bay’s offense reached the NFC Championship Game.

Fortunately for Rodgers and the Packers, any discussion about 2020 being a fluke year and the future Hall of Fame quarterback being disinterested this season can be put away on Monday Night Football. But if this team struggles against the Detroit Lions, things might get ugly.

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