Rodgers needs to build on performance

He might not be able to repeat last year's 13-3, but if he can play like he did Friday, the Packers can succeed,'s Doug Ritchay says.

After a tough outing last week at San Francisco, Aaron Rodgers led the Green Bay Packers to a touchdown on the first drive on the Packers' third preseason game Friday at Denver.

Later, he led the Packers to more points.

At times, Rodgers makes you feel comfortable with the Packers' decision to trade Brett Favre (sort of) because he looks the part. However, even though the preseason isn't an accurate gauge of the regular season, since starters don't play the entire game, one thing you can expect this season is Rodgers looking like he has this preseason.

There'll be some good and bad.

OK, you say Favre brought that to the table. In some cases, but he also brought greatness to the field for an awfully long time. It's going to take some time for Rodgers to get great, if ever.

What we've learned through three preseason games is this: no way the Packers go 13-3. Nothing against Rodgers. Favre would've had a tough time going 13-3.

The Packers will be a different team this season than they were under Favre. For more than a decade, Favre's right arm set up the run. Now, the Packers would like the opposite — for the run to set up the pass.

Maybe some day, Rodgers will get to that point where he can be relied on, but it's not now. Therefore, the Packers have to take that "Pittsburgh Macho" approach so many talked about when McCarthy was hired as coach.

Two problems with that are starting running back Ryan Grant has yet to play (contract holdout and hamstring injury) and the offensive line looks like it will reflect a revolving door this season as the Packers can't settle on five starters.

This means Rodgers may not be in the best position to succeed.

Notwithstanding, if Rodgers has displayed anything this offseason, it's he is confident in his ability to be an NFL quarterback, and a good one.

Rodgers entered the NFL in a position few do for a first-round quarterback — he got to watch a Hall of Fame quarterback for three years. He wasn't rushed into a situation, like Alex Smith in San Francisco. He was groomed to become a starter and got a chance to learn from Favre.

Now, he has the keys to the car, and this car was a Cadillac last season. Really, it has been that for the previous 16 years, as Favre only once led the Packers to a season of less than eight wins.

Favre left Green Bay with the most wins by a quarterback in NFL history. The position Rodgers is entering is one where it's impossible for him to match his predecessor's resume.

Still, that doesn't mean Rodgers can't lead the Packers to success. Friday against Denver's No. 1 unit, Rodgers led the Packers to four scores on five drives equaling 20 points.

He wasn't Tom Brady, but Rodgers looked real good, completing 18-of-22 passes.

The key for Rodgers is to take Friday's performance and next week's cameo and bring momentum into the regular-season opener against Minnesota.

Rodgers is going to be scrutinized more than any other quarterback this season, and the sooner he proves he can play in the immense shadow of Favre, the better off the Packers will be this season.

Many are counting the Packers out of the Super Bowl this season because Rodgers isn't Favre. But you never know what's going to happen. Dallas is the NFC favorite and hasn't won a playoff game in forever.

The NFC is wide open, so if Rodgers can hold his own and stay away from mistakes like he did Friday, the Packers will be in good position for not only this year but for years ahead.

Doug Ritchay is a frequent contributor to He has covered the Packers since 1993. E-mail him at

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