Rodgers Stepping Into 'Good Situation'

As if taking over for Brett Favre won’t be challenging enough, Aaron Rodgers is also taking over a team that will have sky-high aspirations after falling just short of the Super Bowl. But Rodgers, in his first official press conference as the starting quarterback, doesn’t see that as adding to the burden. Quite the opposite, in fact. - More Some Untold Favre Stories

As if taking over at quarterback for Brett Favre this upcoming season won't be challenging enough, Aaron Rodgers is also taking over a team that will have sky-high aspirations after falling just short of reaching the Super Bowl last season.

But Rodgers, in his first official press conference as the Packers' starting quarterback on Saturday, doesn't see that as adding to the burden in any way. Quite the opposite, in fact, because with such a strong team, Rodgers won't be asked to carry it like many young, franchise quarterbacks are.

"I'm in a good situation," Rodgers said. "I've got a great team around me. A lot of people are focusing on what I'm going to do. It's what the team is going to do, really. I'm an important part of that, I know my role, and I need to play well.

"I'm stepping into a team that's established already. I'm going to be expected to play well, I expect to play well, but I've got a great supporting cast around me."

Rodgers isn't just trying to ingratiate himself amongst his teammates, either. He's speaking the truth.

Four of his veteran teammates - wide receiver Donald Driver, offensive tackle Chad Clifton, cornerback Al Harris and defensive end Aaron Kampman - all played in the Pro Bowl last month. Other veterans like offensive tackle Mark Tauscher, cornerback Charles Woodson, linebacker Nick Barnett and defensive tackle Ryan Pickett are still playing at the top of their games.

Then there's the mix of up-and-coming younger stars, such as receivers Greg Jennings and James Jones, tight end Donald Lee, running back Ryan Grant, defensive linemen Cullen Jenkins and Justin Harrell, and linebacker A.J. Hawk, among several others, who are expected to become the veteran core of the roster in the near future.

Perhaps more important than anything, though, is the current veteran core has faith in Rodgers. His performance in relief of Favre in Dallas last season helped in that regard, but according to Driver, the players were confident in him before that.

When Rodgers stepped into the huddle in Dallas, with the Packers down 17 points and Favre out with elbow and shoulder injuries, he said, 'Hey guys, just believe in me,' according to Driver. But it wasn't something he needed to say.

"It wasn't about us believing in him," Driver said. "I wanted him to believe in us, that we were going to try to win the game for him.

"He knows now it's Aaron Rodgers' time. It's nobody else's."

In that game, Rodgers led the offense to two touchdowns and had the Packers within three points in the fourth quarter before eventually falling to the Cowboys, 37-27. That performance, during which Rodgers posted a 104.8 passer rating with 18 completions in 26 attempts for 201 yards with no interceptions, will be analyzed and discussed ad nauseum until Rodgers has a more extensive body of work behind him.

And that's exactly what Rodgers intends to build, already shying away from reflecting on that Nov. 29 outing.

"I don't want to get too much into Dallas," Rodgers said. "I played pretty well in Dallas, but it was just one game. I want to do it over a season.

"Guys will follow consistency. Whether they like you or not, if you're a consistent person in the locker room and a professional and you play consistently on Sundays, they're going to follow you. I want to put it together for 16 games and I'm going to get myself in the best shape possible this offseason."

No matter how well-conditioned Rodgers can make himself, it will be impossible to live up to Favre's legendary durability. Starting every game of one season is a significant achievement for any quarterback in the NFL, let alone doing so for 15-plus seasons like Favre.

But that's just one way Rodgers, who has missed time the past two seasons with a broken foot and a pulled hamstring, will have to avoid worrying about the Favre comparisons. Much has been said about how Hall of Fame quarterbacks like Dan Marino in Miami and John Elway in Denver have never been adequately replaced, how Steve Young stepping in for Joe Montana in San Francisco is the only one who pulled it off successfully.

{sportsad300}Rodgers' teammates, by calling and sending several text messages with words of encouragement once the news of Favre's retirement was out, already have indicated they won't hold him to that standard. On a team as storied as the Packers, everyone plays with a somewhat daunting historical backdrop. Rodgers' is all the larger, but it doesn't change how he should handle it.

"People compared me to Robert Brooks," Driver said. "They said you're like Antonio Freeman going across the middle. You're like James Lofton. Great people, great legends.

"But Donald wants to be Donald, and I think Donald worked out for itself. I think it worked out for me being myself. I didn't have to be another person to be successful. I think that's what I'll tell A-Rod. You don't have to be like Brett to be successful. Be yourself."

And that's a player who already has shown his teammates a work ethic and attention to detail that has made him a leader during the past two offseasons anytime Favre hasn't been around.

"Quarterbacks have to have something to them," Kampman said. "I don't know if you can define it, but everyone kind of knows if they have it or not, and Aaron has that. It's a leadership quality, it's a way of pulling guys in, making them believe they can do something. A lot of it stems from the competitiveness, and I think he's very competitive."

Not competitive enough, or foolish enough, to try to match his predecessor, though, no matter how much the fans will miss him.

"I'm not Brett Favre, and if they're wanting me to be the next Brett Favre, I'm not going to be him," Rodgers said. "I'm Aaron Rodgers. That's who I am. I'm going to be the best quarterback I can be.

"He did it his way, I'm going to do it my way, and hopefully I can be successful."

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content