In seasons past when situations seemed dire, Aaron Rodgers was known to calm the Cheesehead mob with an R-E-L-A-X or calling his team's shot at making a late-season run. Sunday night's loss brought little of that optimism, as the veteran quarterback seemed resigned to the fact that the Pack is deep in the cellar with little chance of crawling out at this late stage.
If the Packers miss the playoffs, it will mark the first time Green Bay will be out of the postseason in back-to-back years since Rodgers took over as the starter in 2008. Last season, the quarterback missed most of the season with a collarbone injury. This year, no such built-in excuse exists for the team's disappointing run to 4-6-1.
After the loss, Rodgers sounded like a man who knows his legacy is being written, with his lone Super Bowl win in 2010 standing as somewhat an albatross.
"That's definitely frustrating," Rodgers said Sunday, via ESPN's Rob Demovsky. "Obviously, I've got a lot more gray in the beard than I did a few years ago. So I know that football mortality catches up to everybody, and you never want to lose a season -- especially when you felt great starting the season about our prospects. But we're going to battle the next five weeks and put ourselves in a position to be in the conversation. Then hopefully it'll be enough, and like I always say, you've just got to get in. So we've got to win these five and see what happens."
Rodgers isn't giving up hope that the Pack could somehow back into the playoffs. At 4-6-1, however, they'd need to win out and get a ton of help for 9-6-1 to swipe a playoff spot.
"You can crunch the numbers there," Rodgers said. "I can tell you 8-7-1 won't get in though. I don't think.
"We are where we're at right now record-wise. We're going to need some help from some teams and then we've got to take care of our own business, you know? We're going to have to find a way to win a game on the road. We're 0-6 on the road. So we just got to go back home, get some rest, beat Arizona ... and then come back and beat Atlanta ... then go to Chicago, a place we've won a number of times, beat them ... go to New York around Christmas, beat them ...and then come home against Detroit, beat them. Get a little help."
The current iteration of the Packers doesn't look like a team that's going to catch fire down the stretch. Rodgers has been uncharacteristically off for weeks now. The defense struggles to generate pressure and a young secondary gets burned. And the coaching staff doesn't do enough offensively to create opportunities.