All the woes and confusion and fake moon landings make the Packers an extra special case this week. The future of the team has never been less clear, and Packers fans are simultaneously experiencing the confusion of who the next franchise QB will be, and the familiar frustration of the current franchise QB losing his mind. Then there’s a talented and under-performing defense led by a coordinator who, brace yourself, Packers fans want fired! Can you believe it?
Cold QB Brain
I don’t know if it’s the Wisconsin winters or what, but Brett Favre went through all his well-documented nonsense at the end of his career, then decided public opinion of him wasn’t quite low enough yet so he pulled a Reverse Robin Hood on Mississippi’s poorest. And now Aaron Rodgers is a Joe Rogan Experience away from talking about Jewish space lasers. Cue DeShone Kizer.
This whole thing is wild. Rodgers basically told Kizer to “do your research” and now Kizer thinks there are lizard people.
It’s simple to take an instance of celebrity strangeness and write it off as depth or character. But then it happens again, and again, and eventually we’re all a little curious if our favorite team’s star QB just missed that throw cause he thinks the Earth might be flat. This is when a California kid deals with -30 wind chills for over a decade. It changes you, man.
There are options of what to do with Rodgers, but none are all that great, and none will ever be remotely close to the haul the team could’ve gotten for him from Denver last offseason. Plus he’d be enjoying warmer climates and inching back to reality.
The options left now are expensive. If he retires, which I think is a real possibility, or he’s traded for a fraction of what he was worth last offseason, he’ll still carry a dead cap hit of $40 million. If it’s done before June 1 of next year, the entire dead cap hit will go on 2023. After June 1, it will be split with roughly $16 million in ’23 and $24 million in ’24. Despite what anyone tells you, dead cap hits don’t just disappear with the right move. They can be spread out and shifted, but ultimately that bill will come due, and the player retiring doesn’t forgive GMs who kicked the can too far.
If he gets cut… he won’t get cut. He’s worth something to someone, which is good because cutting him would hit the team with a $99 million cap hit. He won’t get cut.
So now the team has to consider whether one more season with Rodgers is worth another year of media headaches and Jordan Love on the bench. By next May, the team will also have to decide if they want to exercise Love’s 5th year option for the 2024 season, which would cost the team around $20 million in guaranteed money for that year. In other words, they need to know before his 4th season (next season), if they want to pay him that much in his 5th season. If Rodgers sticks around another year, the team could go into 2024 with a $20 million QB and no idea if he can play.
At least it wasn’t 4th & 26
I know, I’m ashamed to even bring that play up. But Packers fans, look, we have an addiction to firing defensive coordinators. And the cure is not more firing defensive coordinators. Let’s look at some history:
- 2000-2003 – Ed Donatell – Remember the guy who actually coached a pretty good defense that caused lots of turnovers for 4 years and then got blamed and fired for 4th & 26? And no, I’m not linking to or showing that play. Anyway, that was Ed Donatell. His every accomplishment was wiped out because he played coverage instead of blitzing on one play and it led to a bitter end to a miracle season. He went on to coach top defenses elsewhere. He’s currently the DC for Minnesota, whose defense seems to be doing just fine. FIRED
- 2004 – Bob Slowik – He lasted one year, and while the team was 10-6, the defense ranked 23rd in the league. When Jim Bates became available, Mike Sherman told Slowik he’s out, but maybe he can come back later if he wants. Super awkward, which was pretty standard under Sherman. FIRED
- 2005 – Jim Bates – In 2004, the 1-8 Dolphins promoted Bates to interim head coach after Dave Wannstedt “resigned,” and the team went 3-4 the rest of the way. Bates was largely credited and Dolphins fans wanted him as the permanent HC, so of course Miami went out and hired Nick Saban. Bates wasn’t about to stick around, so he went to the Packers as DC. After a 4-12 season, Sherman was fired, and while Bates interviewed for the HC spot, he obviously didn’t get it and decided not to stick around with the new regime. FIRED BY PROXY
- 2006-2008 – Bob Sanders – Sanders stuck around for a bit, but there was always this joke going around that Sanders was the reason people like Skip Bayless kept saying Rodgers can’t win a game in the 4th quarter. There was a time it felt like every week Rodgers would lead a game-winning drive and the defense would let it slip away. Sanders and a huge chunk of his staff were dumped at the same time. FIRED
- 2009-2017 – Dom Capers – Finally, a coach with staying power! With a Super Bowl win and a ton of respect around the league, how could this guy get fired? After going 7-9 in 2017, Capers got the boot in the team’s first attempt at fixing a problem they hadn’t identified. FIRED
- 2018-2020 – Mike Pettine – After surviving Mike McCarthy’s last season in 2018, Pettine stayed on for the first 2 years of Matt LaFleur taking over. The team went 13-3 in 2019 and again in 2020 and lost in the NFC Championship game both years. So obviously that means fire your DC. FIRED
And that brings us to now, with Joe Barry running the defense in 2021 and again this season. Despite the early onslaught of disgruntled fans right away in 2021, Barry’s defense played surprisingly well despite some major injuries, and even managed to uncover a few forgotten gems in De’Vondre Campbell and Rasul Douglas.
2022 has clearly been different all over the team. And I’m not here to say Barry isn’t to blame for anything or that the defense is just fine. It isn’t. There are problems, and injuries have played a role again. But the lack of creativity has been evident and that’s on Barry. But I would also suggest giving him some actual time to keep developing the complex concepts of an NFL defense with the players he’s helped develop. Let him go back and watch the tapes of 2021 and 2022 and learn from it. Then go into 2023 with veterans who are 2 years into the system and some talented sophomores with a year under their belt.
And maybe a QB who isn’t suspicious of 5G towers.