Rodgers ready to taste playoffs
The Packers’ quarterback has made sure he’s so focused that his playoff debut is just another game. He said Wednesday that he was “excited,” though his face certainly didn’t show it.
When Rodgers leads Green Bay against the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday, the Pro Bowler who had a rocky beginning simply by being the man who replaced Brett Favre will get his first crack on the playoff stage.
A lot of the questions about filling Favre’s shoes have vanished, but there are new, higher expectations.
“I dreamt about playing in Super Bowls, but obviously you’ve got to win these playoff games to get there,” Rodgers said. “Like I said, often the quarterback, fair or unfair, is given credit or given blame for the win or the loss. I’ve never seen a quarterback win a game all by himself.
“It’s going to take a great effort by all of our guys this week and hopefully this can be the beginning of a great playoff run.”
Rodgers has already had a great run in his career as a starter in Green Bay with consecutive seasons of throwing for more than 4,000 yards and 58 TDs total in the span. But postseason success is what’s remembered.
“At some point you’d love to be mentioned in the same breath of guys like that that have won multiple Super Bowls,” Rodgers said. “But we stay focused … this is just another game. It has more meaning, obviously, because it’s one and done in the playoffs.”
Defensive tackle Ryan Pickett said the fact that Rodgers has never had a playoff start doesn’t even cross his teammates’ minds.
“He’s been through so much. There ain’t even no question, man, he’s going to handle it,” Pickett said. “Nobody questions that. He’s going to be fine. He’s going to be smiling.”
, enjoying the moment.”
It’s a smile that Rodgers doesn’t often show in the days leading up to any game, but his work ethic and desire to lead has built respect in the Packers’ locker room.
Jennings calls Rodgers the “ultimate leader” and Driver said the quarterback is unique.
“His character, his leadership, it shows. It shows on the field, it shows off the field,” Driver said. “He’s one of those guys that you love to be around. He’s the focus. We know that he’s going to have to take us where we want to go.”
Even though the Packers will return to Arizona one week after routing the Cardinals 33-7, Rodgers does anticipate one small change in the routine—a different atmosphere.
“Everything’s going to happen probably a half-step faster once you get into the playoffs,” he said. “I’ve been around playoff games—I haven’t started, obviously—but been around and seen what it was like when we played Seattle and then when the Giants came in here in ‘07. It’s going to be a big game and we’re going to be ready for it.”
It seems like he already is.
“This is his opportunity to say, ‘Hey, I’m the starting quarterback in the playoffs.’ It’s going to be big for him, but he’s laid back and that’s what you want,” Driver said. “You don’t want a quarterback going into this thing nervous. He’s laid back, he’s ready to play and that’s all that matters.”