Aaron Rodgers silently sat on the Packers bench in the waning seconds of another NFC Championship Game loss looking like a man in search of answers. If he was looking for the people who run the Packers, he should search elsewhere. They've done nothing but fail him time after time, especially this year.
During the offseason, Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst made the indefensible decision to draft quarterback Jordan Love in the first round, which upset Rodgers. Gutekunst could have picked a wide receiver like Tee Higgins or Chase Claypool, who would have helped immensely in the Packers' 31-26 loss to the Bucs. Instead he went with a project quarterback who hasn't impressed anyone.
You know who could testify to first-round picks being helpful? Bucs quarterback Tom Brady, who benefited greatly from Tampa Bay selecting starting right tackle Tristan Wirfs in the first round of the 2020 draft. Wirfs allowed one sack on the season and was called for only three penalties. He paved the way on Leonard Fournette's 20-yard touchdown that gave the Bucs a 14-7 lead in the first half against the Packers on Sunday.
At the end of the season, Packers head coach Matt LaFleur made the indefensible decision to kick a field goal on fourth down and goal from Tampa Bay's eight-yard line with 2:05 left in the NFC Championship Game. The Packers trailed by eight and instead of trusting Rodgers to try and score a touchdown, he went for three and kicked the ball back to Brady. The Packers never got the ball back after that.
LaFleur can say he had faith in his defense to get a stop, but if that's the case then go for it fourth down and trust your defense to get the stop with the Bucs backed up against their own end zone.
These confounding decision by coaches and front office members are nothing new to Rodgers. The Packers haven't drafted a wide receiver in the first or second round since 2014 and have never secured an in-season trade that helped Rodgers get back to his second Super Bowl. Even this year, after disrespecting Rodgers by picking Love, they opted against trading for a wide receiver despite that being their biggest weakness on offense behind Davante Adams.
As for the coaching, Mike McCarthy was no less confounding than LaFleur. He was a horrible clock manager and got far too conservative when the Packers had leads. The most obvious example of that was in the 2014 NFC Championship when the Packers built a 12-point lead early in the fourth and then had two three-and-outs as they tried to run out the clock. With just more than two minutes to go, they gave up two touchdowns 44 seconds apart and lost to the Seahawks 28-22 in overtime.
Aaron Rodgers has done a lot with a little in his time in Green Bay. Unfortunately, he hasn't gotten much help along the way. Now 37, you wonder how many more chances he'll get to win a second Super Bowl. Even if he does get more, one wonders if the coaching and player personnel will be enough to get over the hump. History suggests the answer is no. That's on Green Bay.