As everyone in Packer-land is now aware, last season’s “Last Dance” for Aaron Rodgers and company was, in actuality, The Last Dance…before the next one. This is because Rodgers indicated his intention to return to the Green Bay Packers earlier this week. The Packers have since placed the franchise tag on Davante Adams, thus ensuring the two get at least one more crack at a Super Bowl together in 2022.
In this article, my aim is not to throw another opinion into the already choppy waters about whether Rodgers’ return is a good thing, or whether my or anyone else’s feelings ought to be hurt by the actions of the soon-to-be highest paid player in NFL history. Instead, I’d like to make an argument about why, despite the Packer’s lingering salary cap situation, the upcoming season presents a better opportunity for Super Bowl stardom than the previous few seasons. My reasoning will be less analytic than it is emotional–but, as I will explain, that is the whole point.
First Things First
If we assume that other key pieces around Rodgers and Adams–like De’Vondre Campbell and Rasul Douglas–will also be re-signing with the Packers soon, then I don’t need to make an argument that appeals to the talent in Green Bay to conclude that their Super Bowl window remains open. What’s more, if Rich Bisaccia can help sure-up the special teams unit, then issues that led to the playoff downfall from a season ago may be less concerning in 2022.
With all that said, we have not yet hit draft month, so any speculation about the outlook of the 2022 Green Bay Packers amounts to nothing more than the musings of a diehard fan with a bit too much time on his hands.
So, without further ado, I hope you find my musings at least a little entertaining.
A trip in a Green and Gold DeLorean
For just a moment, close your eyes, take a deep breath, and take yourself back to 2010. Kate Middleton and Prince William have just gotten engaged, rescue workers are tirelessly combing dish soap through the feathers of ducks to clean up the wreckage of the BP oil spill, and Roddy White is arguably the best wide receiver in the NFL. Oh, and the Wild Card Green Bay Packers are Super Bowl champions.
These were better times–easier times. The biggest scandal in English Royalty was the wedding of a Prince and an actress, oil companies didn’t yet pose an imminent threat to human civilization (only sea creatures), wide receivers in Atlanta were catching touchdowns–not betting with FanDuel, and Pat McAfee was still kicking footballs for the Colts instead of letting Aaron Rodgers put his own feet in his mouth every Tuesday afternoon (personally, I enjoyed not knowing what Aaron Rodgers was thinking all of the time, didn’t you?). What’s more, there were not grand expectations for the Packers and disappointment when certain expectations weren’t met.
But now in 2022, when the world seems to be cratering toward certain catastrophe at every turn, the Packers have their middle-aged MVP back for another season, with all the grand expectations he has cultivated over the past decade of Packers football in tow.
Nonetheless, to me the upcoming season is feeling more and more like 2010. It feels as though we are returning to earth–to a time when 10-6 and barely sneaking into the playoffs was about all we, as fans, could ask for. And this my friends, is undeniably a good thing.
After all, after consecutive seasons ending in tragedy, fans should be well aware of the true difficulty of making it to the big game.
Sweet, Sweet Silence
When the 2021 season began in New Orleans, I remember thinking to myself, “Wow, this team had too much hype around them”. The Packers were punched in the mouth and exposed by a team that, on paper, was inferior.
We all know the story of the season from there. But I find it interesting how the Saints game in week-one foreshadowed the outcome of the entire season. The Packers were hyped-up all off-season, Rodgers and Adams echoed the sentiment of 2021 being their “Last Dance” in Green Bay, and the entire sports world was thinking the Packers had to be Super Bowl or bust. Once the Pack secured home field advantage throughout the playoffs, most thought the road to the Super Bowl was destined. But, as it was in week-one, we found again that hype does not amount to truth, and another playoff opportunity was squandered.
So let’s revel in the opportunity the 2022 season lends us. Not in the opportunity for a Super Bowl, or to see Davante Adams and Aaron Rodgers on the field together one last time. Instead, let’s revel in the chance to fly under the radar once again. 2021 was wrought with drama and chaos. After week-one, questions like “is Rodgers tanking the team on purpose?” filled sports media airwaves only to be followed by a semantic debate about the meaning of the word “immunized”.
This year, the Packers have Rodgers and Adams committed–before draft time–to another season in Green Bay, a defense that should see the return of many key contributors, and a special teams unit with a new leader at the helm. For all of Rodgers’ flaws, his timing with this most recent decision was a true gift. Over the next few months, fans should maintain that no news is good news. The quieter things are in Titletown come September, the better.
By saying all of this, I am surely not hoping that the Packers are a middle-of-the-pack team that barely sneaks into the playoffs. Indeed I hope they have as much success as possible throughout the season. What I am hoping is that the noise around them is more akin to that of a mediocre team than an expected championship team.
So far this offseason, chips are falling in such a way where this type of peace and quiet may be possible. Perhaps calmer waters lie beyond the wake of last season’s shenanigans. Let’s all take a second to appreciate the sweet sound of silence that will hopefully resound in Green Bay next season–and hold our collective breath for the moment on an otherwise normal Tuesday afternoon, when Pat McAfee inevitably asks the wrong question to ruin it all.
Tyler grew up in small town Wisconsin surrounded by Packers football. As a lifelong fan, one of his fondest childhood memories was visiting Lambeau Field and the Packers Hall of Fame with his dad when he was only seven years old. He has since moved to Florida. You can follow him on twitter at @TylerEderer1313.