GREEN BAY – Aaron Rodgers might have taken a little pride in quieting the critics at least temporarily Monday night, but he wasn't going to take it too far.
That's because Rodgers, despite a 145.6 passer rating and a run of four straight possessions with touchdowns in the 35-17 home win over the Lions, didn't really feel the Packers' offense found its groove.
After the game, Rodgers said it wasn't the "prevailing feeling" the offense got to where it wants to be, even though it would've been easy to claim it had.
So for all the talk the past week about how the Packers' attitude and energy weren't where they needed to be in Week 1, Rodgers' measured words following an important and decisive victory in Week 2 indicate he's in a headspace that contains no air of complacency.
"He is the ultimate competitor and he wants everything to be perfect," Head Coach Matt Lafleur said. "He puts a lot of pressure on himself for him to make it perfect."
Twice he brought up the multiple times he failed to connect with Marquez Valdes-Scantling on potential touchdowns, lamenting the missed opportunities. He took the time to point out that it was Valdes-Scantling who drew the Detroit safety's attention on the deep ball to Davante Adams early in the third quarter, allowing Adams to remain one-on-one down the sideline for the 50-yard gain.
He wants to reward teammates who do things like that. He takes it as his responsibility to execute in a way that does so, and spreads as many good vibes as possible, because when everyone's in a groove, that's when he'll feel best about the offense.
"Marquez is such a weapon for us, and it kills me that I missed him tonight because he does so many things to open up stuff for other guys," Rodgers said. "He's a very selfless guy, so I'm bummed out."
Neither Valdes-Scantling nor Allen Lazard caught any of Rodgers' 22 completions against the Lions, which is rare. If he could have, Rodgers would have thrown two balls on tight end Robert Tonyan's 22-yard TD because Lazard was wide open underneath on the key third down.
"Allen actually, he may have scored if I hit him," Rodgers said. "He ran a nice little under route on that side."
Individuals aside, Rodgers' main concern through two games has been the slow starts. The Packers scored on their first possession Monday, but a three-and-out on their second drive contributed to being in a 14-7 hole by midway through the second quarter.
After playing in a more-than-half-empty Jacksonville stadium with plenty of Packers fans last week, the Packers' first true road game since the 2019 NFC title game is coming up – in the same stadium as that playoff loss against San Francisco.
That'll be an adjustment as well as a major challenge, and the way these first two games of 2021 have unfolded early doesn't light a clear path to success.
"We've got to start a little faster, for sure," Rodgers said. "Hostile environment next week, we've got to start faster."
Once that gets squared away, he'll be focused on something else. It's not just how he is, it's what makes him who he is.
He knows as well or better than anyone when a long season is in its early stages, there's always something more to push for, and it's not hard to find.
Asked how long before he knows what this Packers team really has, he replied simply, "I think it's going to take a little while still."
In other words, don't expect definitive answers anytime soon. The 1-1 Packers still have a long way to go.