Is Aaron Rodgers Still Elite?

Rodgers had a rough day at the office in the NFC Championship, and it might be time to temper expectations for him

Tiki and Tierney
January 21, 2020 - 3:58 pm

Aaron Rodgers had perhaps his worst game of the season in the NFC Championship on Sunday. While his final stat line didn’t look terrible – 31-of-39 for 326 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions – the Packers trailed the 49ers, 27-0, at halftime.

Translation? The game was over before it started.

Rodgers, 36, has played in just one Super Bowl in his career – and none since the 2011 season. He’s reached the NFC Championship three times since then and come up empty each time.

Was Sunday the beginning of the end for him? It’s certainly possible.

“He has that aura that we just lump on him – and he earned it,” Tiki Barber said on Tiki & Tierney. “I’m not saying it’s not an earned appreciation for him with the Super Bowl and the Super Bowl MVP and the two league MVPs – he’s a Hall of Famer. It’s not even a question. He’s a shoo-in for that. But for the longest time, we’ve just lumped this, ‘Yeah, I know they haven’t won, but he’s still the best quarterback in football. Yeah, I know they got knocked out in whatever round, but he’s still elite. It’s everything else around him.’ I think that narrative has expired a little bit. Not really a little bit; I think it has expired, period.”

In some ways, this should not be surprising. After all, not everyone ages as gracefully as Tom Brady and Drew Brees.

“It’s not anything that’s unnatural,” Barber said. “He’s 36 years old. It just happens. You start missing throws. And if you watch that game, if you go look at all the throws, half of them he didn’t know where he was going. Or he’d get it where he needed it to be, but he was sailing them. He was missing throws – things you don’t see him do. It didn’t feel like the Aaron Rodgers of lore.”

Odds are the Packers will be back in the playoff mix next season, but Rodgers will need help getting there. He’ll need a running game, a defense, and perhaps a better receiving corps.

Otherwise, it might be tough sledding.

“This platform that we put him on, despite not accomplishing a ton – meaning Super Bowls – we always have had him on that platform,” Barber said. “I think he’s off of it now."