Packers Saints Football

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers scrambles as he is pressured by Saints linebacker Tanoh Kpassagnon during the first half of Sunday’s season opener. Rodgers passed for 133 yards with two interceptions as New Orleans won, 38-3.

JANESVILLE

W ith my first Sunday night off since late July, I figured I’d order takeout and settle down to watch the Packers fulfill my prediction of a Week 1 win over the New Orleans Saints.

To borrow a phrase from Ron Burgundy in the classic comedy “Anchorman:” That escalated quickly.

For now, Packers fans should channel their inner Dorothy, click their heels together, look in the mirror, and say “It’s only one game.”

That seems to be the conventional wisdom coming out of Sunday’s debacle in Florida.

Perhaps the Packers aren’t as good as advertised. Perhaps all the offseason Aaron Rodgers drama was more damaging than we thought.

Certainly, it was only one game.

But performances like the Packers delivered Sunday against the Saints are the kind of thing that can get coaches fired—sometimes on the spot. We all remember the quick door defensive coordinator Ed Donatell was shown after his defense gave up a first down on a fourth-and-26 play against Philadelphia in the divisional round of the 2003 playoffs.

We all remember the date: Sunday. Jan. 11, 2004. A date that lives in Packer infamy.

And that was only one play.

I doubt Matt LaFleur is on the hot seat—yet. But defensive coordinator Joe Berry very well may be.

LaFleur struck the right tone in his postgame press conference. He used words like “embarrassing” and “humbling.” He admitted, “This isn’t magically gonna repair itself.”

Rodgers also said all the right things after the most embarrassing loss of his long, first-ballot Hall of Fame career wearing the Green and Gold.

He’s done that since he was a rookie in 2005, coming into the twilight of the Brett Favre era. I wasn’t lucky enough to be assigned the feature on Rodgers at training camp that season for the paper I was working for at that time. My assignments ended up being receiver/kick returner Antonio Chatman and linebacker Nick Barnett.

But I remember hanging around a media session with Rodgers one hot August afternoon in Green Bay as I waited for Barnett to come to the interview room I listened to him talk for about 15 minutes about coming to Green Bay, falling to 24th in the first round—and eventually about his impending apprenticeship under one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history.

Rodgers, even as a rookie, knew what to say and how to say it. He told us he was honored to be learning under a legend such as Favre, and would put in the work and wait for his time.

It’s hard to believe that was 16 years ago. It seems like another lifetime ago. That summer, I was bearing down on my 39th birthday.

This summer, I turned 55 and noticed that the flecks of gray just starting to make their appearance in 2005 are more like the norm.

The further general consensus coming out of Sunday’s loss is that the Packers came into the season believing their hype. Well, the spanking they got from the Saints should have knocked them down several pegs.

The Detroit Lions await in Week 2, next Monday night on the not-yet-frozen tundra of Lambeau Field. Ordinarily, there’s no better balm for a Packers loss than seeing the Lions come to town.

But if we learned anything Sunday, it should be to take nothing for granted.

Not even a win over the perennially hapless Lions.

David Vantress is sports editor of the Janesville Gazette. Contact him at 755-8248 or via email at dvantress@gazettextra.com. Follow him on Twitter at @journodave1966.

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