Sydney Speaks! Nothing is free

New starting quarterback Aaron Rodgers faces many challenges and a lot of them have nothing to do with throwing a football. Packer Report's Harry Sydney explains.

Fans, please do me a favor. Allow Aaron Rodgers to grow without the expectations of too much success too soon because otherwise, you will be setting him up for failure.

Understand that he will have to learn so much, and that playing quarterback in the NFL isn't as easy as many people think it is. This organization — and you, the fans — have been spoiled for 16 years. Now the new era begins, so let me tell you what I'm looking for from Rodgers.

What I need to see from Rodgers doesn't have everything to do with how he throws the ball or makes the right decisions, because being the quarterback and the leader is about so much more than that.

One of the things I will be paying attention to is how he handles all the pressure — and believe me, there is pressure. That's why when I hear a fan say they expect this team to be just as good as last year, I wonder, do they really have a clue of what he faces?

For example, one thing he will face is taking over this team and earning the respect of everyone on the offense.

Think of it this way: For years, he hasn't been able to really talk to the receivers about certain routes because he wasn't throwing the ball to them. Brett Favre was. So, together, they will have to learn what each other expects and anticipate each other's moves. They have to understand that Rodgers' ball might take longer to get there because his arm might not be as strong as Favre's, so they have to run better routes to get more separation from their defender. That's just part of the growth process everyone will face.

Just like as fans, we must except Rodgers probably won't take as many risks but will hold on to the ball longer, which might put more pressure on the offensive line.

Another thing I will be looking for is how he handles adversity. I remember during those years when the only time he had to show his skills was during the preseason, and he seemed to like to chew on everyone's butt when things didn't go right, so I wonder how he will handle it now.

Normally, you don't see much at the OTAs, because everyone looks good without the pads because there is no hitting, and it's more of a time to learn, which is perfect for the quarterback position.

Rodgers should use this time to get a feel of all of his receivers. They have to be on the same page. He must learn what Donald Driver and Greg Jennings are thinking at all times. He must live in their heads.

Not only the wide receivers, but he must learn the strengths and weaknesses of his offensive linemen. The reason he has to do that is because he has to find his comfort zone, especially when it comes to pass protection. He has to learn which one has the best feet or who's the most stout at the point of contact, and for that matter who drops their heads on certain types of blocks. Just like he has to know whom he can yell at and whom he has to baby, because that's part of being their leader.

Trust me, dealing with these things won't be easy. And by the way, did I mention he is replacing the living legend that mastered all of these things? Rodgers will be compared to Favre — regardless of whether it's right or wrong — because that's just the way it is, and Rodgers is the first one who has to understand that. He must come to terms with that and become at peace with it, otherwise he might become his own worst enemy by trying to prove something he can't — or even worse, allowing himself to get caught up in the ghost of Favre.

As Rodgers must learn, leadership is anointed not appointed. For him to get the respect from his teammates and Packer Nation, he will have to earn everything he gets. Even though he might be named the starter he must understand one thing, and that's "NOTHING IS FREE."

Harry Sydney is a former fullback and assistant coach for the Green Bay Packers. E-mail him at mybrotherskeeperinc@hotmail.com.


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