The Green Bay Packers have dominated the NFL news cycle these past few days following their close defeat to the undefeated Los Angeles Rams, a loss for which much of the blame lies at the feet of Stanford alum Ty Montgomery. Zach Naidu wrote a good column yesterday here in The Daily discussing the outrage amongst the sports pundits directed at Montgomery: I’d suggest giving it a read if you hadn’t already.
My take on Montgomery is different, probably because I’m a lifelong Green Bay fan at my wit’s end with the team’s repeated failures. My frustration extends far beyond just Ty Montgomery, who’s just the latest example of someone in the Green Bay organization who has cost the team a winnable game, and more importantly, who has cost Aaron Rodgers the chance to take this team deep into the playoffs and compete for another championship.
With Green Bay set to face New England on Sunday Night Football this coming weekend, there’s been much debate around whether Rodgers or Brady is the greatest quarterback of all time. It’s pretty easy: Brady is unquestionably the greatest, having won five rings to Rodgers’ one. But Rodgers is clearly the better quarterback, a more talented player; he’s the most statistically prolific quarterback ever to play the game, and if you’ve watched him at all over the last decade, you understand his knack for making literally unbelievable plays when the Packers need it most.
Which makes it all the more frustrating that he’s only played in one Super Bowl (a victory, at least) over the course of his career. As a diehard fan, it’s been heartbreaking to see Rodgers do everything he can to lead his team to victory, only to have a teammate or coach mess up spectacularly and throw the game to the other team. Sometimes it’s individual defensive players committing crucial drive-extending penalties. Often times it’s Mike McCarthy making boneheaded clock-management or play-calling decisions. And even when the defense has been good and McCarthy has called a good game on offense, other guys – like Montgomery this weekend, or Brandon Bostick in the 2015 NFC Championship game – find a way to muck it up.
Rodgers isn’t perfect, of course. Sometimes (though rarely) he throws interceptions, and I do fault him for not asserting himself more with McCarthy and the front office to fix the team’s clearly-flawed offensive schemes. By and large, however, Rodgers has carried the team time and time again. It’s not like the team around Rodgers has been bad, either; for the most part, his teammates have done their part in making Green Bay one of the most stable and successful teams over the last 10 years. But too often, when critical regular season and playoff games have been close, someone around Rodgers has let him (and the entire team, of course) down.
Ty Montgomery’s stunt this weekend was frustrating but entirely predictable. It’s not the first time something like this has happened, and it won’t be the last. At the very least, this incident seems to have struck a nerve, and the national sports media are finally, finally talking about how Rodgers has been robbed time and time again by people on his own side; my hope is that at last, the organization will do take the steps to prevent it from happening so often in the future. Does that mean firing Mike McCarthy? Probably, and that decision couldn’t come soon enough. Does it mean putting together a defense that can consistently generate stops so the offense isn’t constantly playing from behind? That would be great, too.
I don’t know what will happen in the coming weeks, and I certainly can’t predict what will go down this offseason. I can only hope that Green Bay’s front office gets its act together and makes the necessary changes to give Rodgers the team he deserves before it’s too late.
Contact Andrew Ziperski at ajzip ‘at’ stanford.edu.