Aaron Rodgers is ‘quiet quitting’ on the Packers

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There are good teams in the NFL, bad ones, and every striation in between — but no organization looks more disinterested in playing football this season than the Green Bay Packers. Even when this team has been winning it’s in the most bland, uninteresting fashion. Every step of the way, and each week that passes we’re seeing the pride, the bravado, the swagger of the Packers fade, and the loss to the Jets on Sunday was the final rattle. We can call it, time of death approximately 3 p.m. CT, October 16th.

It’s really tempting to put this all at Aaron Rodgers’ feet. To point out how woefully uninspired he was about returning to football this year. Rodgers seemed far more interested in embarking on his “free thinker” crusade, doing ayahuasca to find himself, and displaying infinitely more life during Tuesday appearances on The Pat MacAfee Show than Sundays for the Packers.

There’s a joke here about Rodgers quiet quitting Green Bay, but man … I don’t know if I can blame him at this point. Reduced to brass tacks, yes, the Packers are losing because of Rodgers — not insofar as he’s costing them games, but rather that he just seems over trying to pull off superhuman heroics to get the team over the line every single time. So much of this team’s ethos during the Rodgers era has been about a quarterback so obscenely talented that he’s able to mitigate a mostly-lacking running game, receivers who are never replenished, and an up-and-down defense to still not only win games, but a damn Super Bowl.

That’s where this idea of Rodgers “quiet quitting” comes from, and as much as the concept of filling a professional role without destroying a work/life balance is argued and abhorred by older generations, I get it. This is a hopeless, lost, sad team and head coach Matt LeFleur is a huge reason why. This is not an offense that was having success against the Jets. The pass rush was teeing off on Rodgers all afternoon, the offensive line was completely overwhelmed — and No. 12 struggled to throw just 6.0 YPA on the game.

What do you do when this is happening? You flip the script, even if you’re down. There is value in stabilizing, instead of continuing to throw when it’s not working — but the Packers’ run/pass balance was an utter mess. Green Bay quarterbacks (including Jordan Love’s late replacement snaps) passed a total of 45 times, running the ball only 19 times. Sure, maybe this makes some logical sense if all your talent is stacked at wide receiver, but this team has effectively no talent at WR. Allen Lazard would be, at best, a No. 2 option on most top teams, and I think I’m even being generous there. In Green Bay he’s the No. 1, and on Sunday there was no separation by Randall Cobb or Romeo Doubs to make up the difference.

This led to tight end Robert Tonyan being the biggest receiving threat at Lambeau on Sunday, which is embarrassing. He’s a fine player, sure — but watching the Packers this season is like watching Lewis Hamilton be asked to drive a Toyota Corolla in the British GP. It’s just sad to watch.

You know things are going atrociously wrong when a ROOKIE FOR THE NEW YORK JETS is stunting on you at home.

Rodgers is playing football the same way Dante opened the Quick Stop in Clerks: Hastily, agitated, muttering to himself “I’m not even supposed to be here today,” and trying to coast along on the bare minimum. I can’t even blame him anymore, because no top quarterback is being asked to do more, with less — and I just don’t think he’s interested in carrying any entire organization anymore.

The fire he once had to prove this organization didn’t need to draft another QB when they selected Love — it’s been snuffed. Instead Rodgers is just turning up to work, punching the clock, and getting out of there as soon as possible. It wouldn’t be a problem if he wasn’t just signed to a massive extension.

This week the Packers are the biggest, most colossal losers — and they only have themselves to blame.

Winner: The New York Football Giants

The only way the Giants’ success doesn’t make sense is if you’re stuck in the thinking that teams can’t win without a quarterback — which has been categorically proven to be false over the years.

Perhaps the strangest thing about all this is that Daniel Jones, who is unquestionably a mediocre quarterback, is more or less playing on-par with circa 2007 Eli Manning, who was also mediocre as hell, when the team won the Super Bowl.

  • Eli Manning (2007): 3,336 yards, 23 TD, 20 INT, 6.2 YPA — 73.9 passer rating
  • Daniel Jones (2022, adjusted for 16 games): 2,722 yards, 13 TD, 5 INT — 90.15 passer rating

Granted, the 2022 defense isn’t as talented as the 2007 iteration when Osi Umenyiora, Justin Tuck, and Michael Strahan were wrecking shop — but they’re not that far off. Meanwhile the running game is light years ahead, with Saquon Barkley on pace for over 1,800 yards rushing, compared to Brandon Jacobs’ 1,006 in ‘07. This difference in production more than makes up for the passing differential, and yeah … in a weak NFC I would not be shocked to see this team make a run.

Scoff at that all you want, but bad QBs have rings — Trent Dilfer and Brad Johnson come to mind first, and god, it would be so weird to have to utter the phrase “Daniel Jones, Super Bowl winning quarterback” but this Giants team keeps finding ways to win.

Just like they did in 2007.

Loser: The sorry-ass Cardinals

We’re past excuses time. The Cardinals are just bad. This was a team supposed to be challenging for the NFC West championship, not whatever they’re doing right now. I also don’t want to hear receiver excuses — because a lot of teams don’t have optimal players right now.

Furthermore, I don’t think you can add DeAndre Hopkins back to this team and say “yes, they’ll make the playoffs now.” There is no running game, the offense is completely lost, and the strategy right now is basically tantamount to asking Kyler Murray to play hero ball, and he’s struggling to do everything himself.

While it’s nice to see Kliff Kingsbury take on the blame, saying it’s on him — we’re also beyond the point of that being acceptable. On Sunday the Cardinals faced a Seattle team who have given up 30.8 points per game this season, and Arizona scored nine. They are playing so far below their potential there are no answers, and that’s led to players refusing to offer comments, or avoid interviews.

That’s a bad sign, and I don’t have confidence that anyone in that organization knows how to get things back on track.

Winner: Bailey Zappe

Is it time to start talking about Zappe? I think it might be time to start talking about Bailey Zappe. What kind of witchcraft is this? Anyway, the Patriots were really mired in a looming quarterback crisis which came out of nowhere.

Mac Jones was never an outstanding QB, but he was safe with the football and gave New England a chance to win — then he totally lost it this season and became the Patriots liability.

Now we’re facing a wild scenario: The Patriots getting a potential franchise QB nobody else was looking at, deep on their board. That’s never happened before, I’m sure of it.

Serious though, Zappe is showing an incredible command of the pocket, poise under pressure, and he’s making all the right plays. On Sunday he was facing a solid Browns defense (which should be better than they’re playing), but he still shredded them and for 309 yards on 34 attempts. It’s impactful, high efficiency football without making mistakes.

We can pump the breaks just a little on Zappe because everyone got carried away with Jones a year ago too, but just watch this space. We could be seeing something special.

Loser: Everything about this

The Panthers are a flaming dumpster fire, and in one moment one of their most likely trade chips just tanked his own value and ensured Carolina would get almost nothing for him.

Winner: Buffalo, obviously

I don’t think we should read too deep into the game vs. the Chiefs, because it was a shootout and without doubt the best matchup of the weekend. That said, there’s value in building confidence against a team that good, especially after looking shaky in back-to-back weeks against the Dolphins and Ravens.

Buffalo got back on track, returned to looking like the scariest team in the NFL, and this bodes well for the future.

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