Payton? Rodgers? Bueller?

By Claude Coupee

GSEZ Correspondent

Cue the usual “Payton’s leaving/going to TV/going to the Cowboys/going to the Chargers/going to the bears/going to the Toronto Argonauts/going to Tottenham Hotspur/going to Julliard/going up the country” from Ian Rappaport, Jason LaCanfora and other media/Twitter click-whores.

Lots of folks are either wildly speculating or taking a wait-and-see nobody-knows attitude.

Not me.

Payton’s not leaving.  He knows how freaking hard everybody worked this season to fight to the brink of a playoff spot, and how ready they’d have been to go to play the Rams and give it their best shot.

Everybody’s interpreting the radio silence from Payton as something meaningful. I think the guy is just utterly gassed. And it’s so like him to torture the media like this anyway.

To heck with the Xs and Os.  He’s always been a premier players’ coach.  He’s not going to walk away from these guys now – it would put the lie to a tremendous organizational effort last year under the most difficult conditions an NFL team had to face since, well, Katrina.

I can see him walking out after another Lombardi.  If we miss the playoffs again next year, I can see him feeling like he and the organization finally just need a change.

But he’s not going to abandon his players like this.  Especially not now.

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Aaron Rodgers in five words: Talks down to the fans (Anybody remember “R-E-L-A-X”?)

In four words:  Too self-centered to lead.

In three words:  Home playoff choker.

In two words:  Mr. December.

In one word:  Pass.

This is a special organization in a special town. He just doesn’t fit in here. You know it, I know it, and I bet Payton knows it, too.

*****

Rodgers in the playoffs since they won the Super Bowl in 2010 (and he played great in those games to get the Lombardi, don’t get me wrong):

2011:  #1 seed, bye and at home, lost in the divisional round

2012:  #2 seed, bye and at home, lost in the divisional round

2013: #4 seed, at home, lost in the divisional round

2014: #2 seed, bye and at home, won in the divisional round and lost the NFCCG on the road

2015:  #5 seed, won the wild card round on the road, lost the divisional game on the road

2016:  #4 seed, won the wild card at home and the divisional round on the road, lost the NFCCG on the road

2017 & 2018:  no playoffs

2019: #2 seed, bye and at home, won the divisional round at home, lost the NFCCG on the road

2020:  #1 seed, bye and at home, won the divisional round game, lost the NFCCG at home

2021:  #1 seed, bye and at home, lost the divisional round game

Six seasons with at least a #2 seed and a bye:  3-6 record.  

Hell, as the #1 seed: 1-3 record. 

Four NFC championship games:  0-4. 

Yet he takes no flak and, it seems, no responsibility.  Seems like he spends more time cultivating a Teflon image than rallying his team to win big games. 

(If this had been Brees with this track record, imagine the savaging he’d be taking in the media about being a stat padder, a checkdown quarterback, a choker, not quite good enough to get it done, etc., etc.)

Yes, he has amazing arm talent (for that matter, so did Jeff George, just on far worse teams) and they win a ton, I mean a ton, of games.  But something’s missing, and I don’t know what it is, and I sure as hell don’t want to find out.

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A final word on 2021:   On balance, it was disappointing to miss the playoffs after all that.  On the one hand, for once in the last few years we didn’t finish the season in crushing disappointment after failing to get Drew one more Lombardi.  On the other, by the time the first playoff weekend rolled up a few days later, it was hard not to think about how much fun it would have been to bring that fired-up defense and an increasingly healthy OL to Los Angeles with a nothing-to-lose mentality. 

Ah well, as always, onward.

*****

Hey, lot’s coming up in the next few weeks, mostly on free agency speculation and the possibility of losing talented assistant coaches and front office folks to other opportunities. And more GSEZ to come.

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