After sitting for three years behind Favre, and then having to patiently wait out the unretirement drama of No. 4 this summer, Rodgers made his much-anticipated debut as the Packers' starter against the Vikings at Lambeau Field with a superb performance. In the process, he showed that though the Packers are a much different team with him, they got the same result they often did with Favre over the previous 16 years — a win.
"I'm happy we won, and I thought he (Rodgers) played well," said Packers coach Mike McCarthy after his team's 24-19 season-opening victory. "That's what's important. I don't really get caught up in all the other things, and it's important for him not to, too. We have to answer the questions. That's part of it. As long as he focuses on playing quarterback, and there will be probably bumps in the road, I think everything's going to be fine."
Rodgers was an efficient 18-for-22 for 178 yards with one passing and one rushing touchdown. His numbers would have been better had a penalty not wiped out a 68-yard touchdown pass to Donald Driver in the third quarter.
"The things I really wanted to get done tonight — to make quick decisions, not hold the ball — I felt like I did those things well," said Rodgers, who was not sacked. "Throwing the ball, I felt like there were a couple of poor throws, but for the most part, I felt like I made good decisions in the pocket."
As odd as it was to see a different starting quarterback calling the signals for the Packers, it was equally odd to see a Packers quarterback running for a first down, sneaking in for a touchdown and doing the Lambeau Leap. Sure, Favre might have done those things a time or two in his career with the Packers, but on Monday night, Rodgers did all three in the same game.
"It's a whole other factor for the defense to play to," said McCarthy. "Sometimes, it dictates certain coverages that you're able to see in particular situations on third down. ... Aaron needs to continue to give us that ability to make plays with his feet and to be smart. It's important to be a scrambling quarterback and not a running quarterback, and we will make sure Aaron stays in tune with that."
Rodgers scrambled for 35 yards, including a 21-yarder near the end of the first half to keep a two-minute drive going. In the fourth quarter, he earned his first jump into the stands when he scored on a quarterback sneak after a sneak the play before had failed.
Though McCarthy was quick to note how Rodgers managed the game, he showed some flair for the big play. He got the Packers on track in the second quarter when he launched a bomb to Greg Jennings for a 56-yard gain. He added a 25-yard strike to Driver on a scoring drive, but the aforementioned 68-yarder that was called back when guard Tony Moll was deemed ineligibly downfield might have been his most well-executed play of the night.
"That was an excellent fake," said McCarthy. "It was a double move off of the look as we refer to it, the route. It was an excellent route and an excellent throw."
When the Packers stumbled through poor offensive line play, a running game that took a while to get going, and a defense that found it difficult to get off the field, Rodgers remained solid and steady, displaying just the type of game that those close to him have been preaching about all season.
"I don't think he could have handled this whole situation better," said fullback Korey Hall, who caught his first career touchdown, a 1-yarder from Rodgers in the second quarter. "You can't imagine the amount of pressure he has on his shoulders right now, and he went out and he was collected and calm. He played great, made good decisions, and I think he won the respect of a lot of people, and I think a lot of people have more faith in him now. I think he's going to have a great season."
Matt Tevsh is a regular contributor to PackerReport.com and Packer Report magazine. E-mail him at email@example.com.