After a brutal collarbone injury back in Week 9 against the Chicago Bears that landed Rodgers on the sidelines for six weeks, speculation concerning his technique and accountability surfaced. And upon his return, his performance was spotty.
Though it was a continuous struggle, the Packers managed to defeat the Bears in (virtually) the NFC North title game at Soldier Field. Rodgers hit a wide-open Randall Cobb for a 48-yard score on fourth down to eliminate a one-point deficit with 38 seconds left.
The wild-card matchup against the San Francisco 49ers on January 5, however, was sung to a different tune.
Rodgers failed to deliver the entire first quarter, during which the Packers remained scoreless and failed to gain a first down.
No stranger to defeat when it comes to the 49ers, Rodgers has lost four-straight times in the past two seasons to San Francisco.
So, is Aaron Rodgers' window closing?
No. It is not.
Though it may take a while for Rodgers to fully recover from his seemingly debilitating injury, it could not have come at a more convenient time for the Packers.
At the beginning of the season, there were high hopes for the "clean house" and new talent in Green Bay. Eddie Lacy provided a breath of fresh air to the Packers' running game and allowed Rodgers sufficient wiggle room with his decision-making.
Rookies Andy Mulumba, Datone Jones, David Bakhtiari, and Micah Hyde also supported the potential for a resilient Super Bowl run.
However, with injuries to key players like Clay Matthews, Randall Cobb, Jermichael Finley, and Sam Shields early on, a mediocre season seemed to be the best Packers fans could hope for.
In the midst of transitions between quarterbacks Seneca Wallace and Scott Tolzien -- and the reintroduction of Rodgers' long-time backup Matt Flynn -- winning the NFC North and clinching a playoff berth appeared to be a long shot.
But, even with a handful of backups roaming the field, the season exceeded expectations.
Rodgers received most of the credit for bringing the Packers back to playoff contention. Though in the few games carried by Matt Flynn, Green Bay only suffered one tough loss -- dropping one 40-10 to the Detroit Lions, who were in contention themselves at the time.
Flynn also produced two nail-biting upshots against the Atlanta Falcons and Dallas Cowboys. The Packers managed to defeat their Week 13 and Week 14 opponents by a one-point margin in the final s minutes of each game.
Given a satisfactory finish, and the expectation of a productive and well-rested offseason ahead of him, Rodgers will be back to his former glory.
As all great quarterbacks have, Rodgers has faced immeasurable scrutiny regarding his injuries. His mentor, Brett Favre, experienced similar struggles throughout his career as he battled various bumps and bruises. Peyton Manning, who suffered an injury of a magnitude much greater than Rodgers', validates the ability of a great quarterback to use opposition and pain to motivate a return to success.
Don't forget that Rodgers pulled a similar injury-stricken team from the grasps of disappointment in 2010 -- the year of the Packers' Super Bowl XLV victory. Though he wasn't hurt himself, his abilities were severely limited.
Most striking about Rodgers is his substantial and indestructible confidence in himself and his team.
Rodgers is young, insightful, and in charge. He is (and will remain) one of the greats to grace the grasses of Lambeau Field.
Ashleigh Giovannini has written for various forums and has been featured on Fox Sports. Interact with Ashleigh on Twitter @AshGiovannini.
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- Aaron Rodgers
- Green Bay Packers
- Randall Cobb