Aaron Rodgers Flops After Summer of Discontent

September 13, 2021
NFL news after week 1

The Packers and Aaron Rodgers insisted that there were no distractions.

The defending MVP’s flirtations with game show hosting, possible retirement, and forcing a trade were buried in the past. The “Last Dance” memes that he and wide receiver Davante Adams had posted were nothing but two teammates sharing a goal of getting back to the Conference Championship, and winning it this time.

Meanwhile, on the New Orleans sideline, they were dealing with a changing of the guard at quarterback while having to live out of a suitcase, as Hurricane Ida had chased them from their homes. If any team was distracted, it was the “home” team playing their opening home game in Jacksonville.

The Saints’ 38-3 win and a Rodgers line of 15-for-28, 133 yards, and two interceptions (including a red-zone interception) was the opposite of what we were told to expect. Rodgers’ benching with 11 minutes to play in favor of Jordan Love was something no one saw coming, and something we never saw last season, even when the Packers were up big.

The abysmal performance by the man who held a franchise hostage all offseason has one wondering, maybe it would have been better if he had left, and if Love was the starter. Although Love also turned the ball over in his limited time under center.

Of course, Rodgers isn’t washed. He’s still the reigning MVP and the favorite to win the NFC North. And Rodgers will have games this season that underscore everything that makes him one of the best to ever play the position. But if Rodgers was hoping that his performance on Sunday would quiet the criticism of the way he handled the offseason, the opposite has happened.

Rodgers and the Packers have their home opener in Week 2 on Monday night. According to the BetUS Sportsbook’s NFL Odds, the Packers are 10½-point favorites over the Detroit Lions.

Jameis Winston the Right Choice for Saints

Let there be no doubt that in the quarterback competition between Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill, Saints head coach Sean Payton made the right choice in choosing the former Heisman Trophy winner, Winston.

This wasn’t the “throw the ball all over the field” that we saw from Winston as a Buccaneer. He worked inside the Payton offense with an efficiency we’ve never before seen. Not since 2015 has he thrown five touchdown passes. He did on Sunday. And never before has he averaged a touchdown pass for every four pass attempts, as he did on Sunday.

Winston finished with only 148 yards through the air, but it came on 14-for-20 passing, and it showed a discipline in his decision-making that we simply haven’t seen before from the 27-year-old.

Winston was helped by an offensive line that allowed just three quarterback pressures. On the ground, the Saints finished with 171 yards. And for the legions of pundits who expected to see the Saints struggle in the first game of the post-Drew Brees era, try again. New Orleans will be in the NFC South race until the end.

Bills, Titans, and Browns all Lose

Buffalo was in the AFC Championship Game in 2020. Tennessee was in the 2019 AFC championship game. And the Browns nearly got there last year, if not for a late fourth-down conversion by the Chiefs.

It was the Chiefs again spoiling Cleveland’s debut in a season of high expectations. The Browns led the defending AFC champs for 53 minutes of the game, only to see Patrick Mahomes lead a fourth-quarter comeback and improve to 12-0 in September games.

The Bills also have high expectations for this season, and are hoping to compete for the top seed in the conference. That road is a little tougher today after they also gave up a two-score lead to Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers. On paper the Bills are still the best team in the AFC East, but they now trail Miami in the standings.

The Titans have Derrick Henry and Julio Jones, and this offense is one of the best in the NFL. But in Week 1, Henry was held to 58 yards and averaged just 3.4 yards per carry, and Jones had just three catches for 29 yards. Not surprising with that production, the favorites to win the AFC South were dominated by Arizona, 38-3.

Something no one thought they’d say, the Houston Texans are in first place in that division. The honeymoon may not last long, as oddsmakers spot them 12-points against the Cleveland Browns next Sunday according to the BetUS sportsbook’s NFL point spreads.