16.4.19

THINKING ABOUT THE SUCCESSION?

At the end of last year, I posed a question.  "The Green Bay Packers opened the 1959 season with three straight wins, over the Bears, Lions, and 'Niners. Who was the quarterback?"  That was with Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel sports pundit Tom Silverstein contemplating the personnel shuffles in Green Bay.  He's still at it, going into the player draft.
Now that [Packer] president Mark Murphy has replaced long-time coach Mike McCarthy with first-time head coach Matt LaFleur, the foresight of signing Rodgers to that contract has come into question. Had the Packers waited another year before jumping into a deal that costs them $26.5 million, $32.6 million, $33.5 million and $37 million in cap space the next four years, they would be in a much better position than they are now.

Sure, Rodgers could have raised a stink last year, but how much worse could it have been than what happened on the field with him and McCarthy? Rodgers injured his knee in Week 1 and said he wasn’t the same after that, but his play was a big reason for the team’s second losing season in a row.

In games in which Rodgers has started, the Packers are 22-19-1 since the start of the ’16 season. If he hadn’t won a Super Bowl and two MVP awards and made so many sterling plays over the first dozen years of his career, that record might have motivated the Packers to consider a new quarterback.
We saw that show fifty years ago, with a battered Bart Starr with five titles and other honors being patched up and sent out to produce just one more comeback.
Many people assume that Rodgers is going to flourish in LaFleur’s system, that the two will combine wits to create an offense that tailors to Rodgers’ skills. Maybe that will happen, but Rodgers has been in the same system for 13 seasons and to think he’ll magically adapt to a new one — even with all the talent and experience he brings with him — might be wishful thinking.

It might take a full year for Rodgers to feel comfortable running LaFleur’s offense. By that time, he’ll be 36 and there’s no telling what other injuries he will have incurred.

It would have taken great foresight to think the Packers might have a new coach in ‘19, but that’s what the two men running the show at 1265 Lombardi Ave. — Murphy and executive vice president/director of football operations Russ Ball — are paid to do.

Nobody should have had a better understanding of the Rodgers-McCarthy dynamic than those two. The possibility of it blowing up should have at least been considered given all that they had witnessed on and off the field.

Had they waited a year to extend Rodgers, they would have at least had the option of considering a trade. It would not have been inconceivable that they would have gotten more than two first-round picks for him.
As recently as April of 2018, it might have been inconceivable for a sports pundit to suggest such a course, although a ferroequinologist who is at best a casual football fan saw the possibility.
My wish for 2018: that the Packers fix their problems on defense, and continue to pay attention to the succession at quarterback (Boy, did I miss that one, but I'm not complaining).  I still have bad memories of a battered Bart Starr coming out to attempt to salvage one more season, one more run at Bud Grant and the Vikings, only to leave more racked-up.
This year, though,  Mr Silverstein's colleague Ryan Wood asserts the quarterback position is a low priority in the draft.  (Some of Mr Silverstein's and Mr Wood's thinking invokes a sunk-cost fallacy in the form of the salary cap, but that's a complication for somebody's capstone paper in the future.)

It's beginning to shape up like last summer and fall, with the Cubs already rescheduling April home games into August, and the baseball schedule makers somehow assigning the Brewers ten of their games with the Cardinals (four wins already in hand) and all of their games with the Dodgers (two wins) before May Day.  Meanwhile, the Packer house isn't in order.

The standard there is still five titles in six appearances over eight years.

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