GREEN BAY – When the National Football League schedule came out this spring, Aaron Rodgers wasn’t particularly thrilled with the idea of having a bye after only three games.
But after a 1-2 start, a rare poor performance and a host of teammates sidelined with injuries, the Green Bay Packers quarterback isn’t complaining anymore.
Rodgers, speaking on his weekly radio show on 540 ESPN and ESPNWisconsin.com during a break in shooting a commercial, said Tuesday that the bye – the earliest the Packers have had since a Week 4 bye in 1999, Ray Rhodes’ only season as coach – actually comes at a good time.
Check back with him in a couple months amid a 13-week stretch of games, of course, but Rodgers said the break is welcomed with outside linebacker Clay Matthews (hamstring), safety Morgan Burnett (hamstring), nickel cornerback Casey Hayward (hamstring), tight end Jermichael Finley (concussion/stinger), running back Eddie Lacy (concussion), running back James Starks (knee), running back Johnathan Franklin (foot), fullback John Kuhn (hamstring) and special teams ace Jarrett Bush (hamstring) having all either missed last Sunday’s 34-30 loss to Cincinnati or left the game with an injury suffered against the Bengals.
“I think every year you’re always happy with the timing of the bye. If something happens, whether it’s injuries or the game you just played, you get there and you’re excited about the opportunity to recharge and step away,” Rodgers said. “We’ve got a lot of injuries right now, guys that we need to get back in order to get this thing going in the right direction – Jarrett Bush and Morgan and Clay and John Kuhn and Eddie and James and Johnathan in the backfield, Jermichael. We’ve had our share of injuries here in three games. It’ll be good to get those guys two weeks to get ready for their next game.
“It’s interesting, I’ve never had a bye even remotely near this as a Week 4 bye, but we’ll make the most of it and try and find that rhythm to get on a run here.”
Rodgers disputed the notion that this team is taking on a 2010-esque feel by dealing with injuries and adversity while getting off to a tepid start. The 2010 team that went on to win Super Bowl XLV started the season 3-1 but was 3-3 before back-to-back wins sent the team into its bye at 5-3. The Packers were 8-6 and on the outside looking in at the playoffs before back-to-back victories to finish the regular season gave them the sixth and final NFC playoff berth.
“I want to speak for myself here and say it’s too early to tell if it feels like 2010, and secondly, there’s no moral victories as far as I’m concerned,” Rodgers said. “There’s no silver lining after a loss. Obviously you’re going to talk about the positives to it’s not all negative around the facility, but a loss is a loss. And I think when you’re a strong competitor, the losses, you hate losing more than you love winning. You want to be perfect every week and you want to win. That’s what we get paid to do.
“It was frustrating, and we’ll see what happens. In 2010 we had a lot of guys who we weren’t counting on before the season started play big roles for us and really contribute. You could see some of that. You look at a guy like David Bakhtiari, there wasn’t a whole lot expected from him. James Starks, might not have been a whole lot expected of him. Those guys have obviously stepped up to this point. It’ll be interesting to see if who else does and if we can get things rolling like that team did.”
For that to happen, Rodgers will have to play better than he did on Sunday, when he had a passer rating of 64.5. For perspective, Rodgers is 58-31 (including 5-3 in the playoffs) as a starter. In those 89 regular- and post-season games, he has had a passer rating higher than 100.0 in 55 of them. He’s had a passer rating of 80.0 or higher in all but 10 of those 89 games.
“That’s the blessing of being pretty consistent over my time as a starter, that’s why it’s frustrating when you don’t play as well as you want to,” Rodgers said. “You first have to give credit to Cincinnati and their defense and their scheme and their defensive coordinator and their head coach who obviously has a hand in the defense. They had a good plan for us and they executed well, and that’s what it usually comes down to – especially when you’re playing a good opponent.
“I’m looking forward to – me personally and I know my teammates are – executing better as a whole on offense. It’s frustrating, a frustrating day, but it’s a good learning experience for us and hopefully we can take a lot from that experience and build on it here in the next 13 weeks.”
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