Sports

Packers offseason preview: Rodgers’ time not nearly through

Aaron Rodgers & DeShone Kizer (Quinn Harris/USA Today sports)

Our offseason positional previews begin with the quarterbacks. A quick rundown of the current state of the quarterback room, with age and NFL experience:

Aaron Rodgers (35, 15th NFL season)

Deshone Kizer (23, 3rd NFL season)

Tim Boyle (24, 2nd NFL season)

By most standards, Aaron Rodgers had a perfectly good season in 2018, throwing for over 4,400 yards, 25 touchdowns and two interceptions while completing a shade under 63 percent of his passes. The problem is the standard he has set for himself is one of greatness, where being good isn’t nearly good enough.

For what now seems like the 10th straight year, fans and pundits alike are wondering aloud whether the time has come to draft a successor to Rodgers. When you think about it, though, the notion of a quarterback-in-waiting seems outdated in today’s NFL. More than ever, teams are on the clock to succeed, and using a high-round draft pick on a player you plan to sit on the bench is viewed as a waste of a valuable resource.

Therein lies the conundrum for those in favor of trying to find the next great Packers quarterback sooner rather than later. With noted deficiencies at several other positions, would you be okay with the Packers sacrificing a first or second round pick on a quarterback who likely wouldn’t see the field until his third or fourth season at the earliest? If not, are you willing to hold out hope that a mid-to-late-round flyer is going to be the next great quarterback in Green Bay?

The irony in all this, of course, is that Rodgers himself was drafted as an heir-apparent, a move that was, at the time, widely criticized. By the time the Packers decided to part ways with Brett Favre and name Rodgers the starter in 2008, fans were up in arms. Two years later, Rodgers was the Super Bowl MVP and no one seemed to care anymore.

That the Favre-Rodgers saga resulted in a second straight Hall of Fame quarterback career and a world championship probably contributes to the thought that the team should already be preparing for life after Rodgers. The truth, simple as it may be, is it’s just not that easy. Never mind the incredibly long odds of finding a third consecutive Hall of Fame quarterback, the 2019 quarterback draft class hasn’t exactly sparked excitement among those who study such things.

While I don’t think the time has come to find a successor, I do wonder if the Packers truly feel comfortable with what they have behind Rodgers on the depth chart. The fact they traded for DeShone Kizer last offseason certainly makes it seem like he’s got something they like. His limited action in 2018, however, makes one ponder what exactly that something is. Third-stringer Tim Boyle quickly established himself as a fan-favorite during the 2018 preseason, but his strong arm alone won’t make him a dependable option.

The truth is Green Bay’s backup quarterbacks over the past two seasons have looked both massively overwhelmed and underprepared to step into the spotlight when called upon, which is why it wouldn’t be surprising if the Packers finally decide to go the veteran backup route this offseason. Under a first-year head coach, a seasoned quarterback who has played some meaningful snaps in the NFL could add a modicum of balance to a chaotic situation if Rodgers is forced to miss any time in 2019. A veteran presence combined with a potentially more run-focused attack could serve to avoid another lost season in that case.

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