Numerically, Rodgers was referring to the 53-man roster and 16-player practice squad, which sees a significant amount of turnover on an annual basis. That’s life in this league.
In Green Bay’s case, there are also plenty of changes from 2020 amongst the regulars seeing extensive playing time, from several young guns on the offensive line (Josh Myers, Royce Newman, Jon Runyan, and most recently Yosh Nijman) to newcomers playing key roles on defense (linebacker De’Vondre Campbell, cornerback Eric Stokes) to new return men and a late-arriving punter/holder on special teams (Kylin Hill, Amari Rodgers, Corey Bojorquez).
In the season’s first two games, a buckle-down, come-together, late-game situation never materialized. The Packers were blown out in Week 1 and rebounded to win in Week 2 by three scores.
The prime-time showdown in San Francisco required every last second on the clock to get the victory, and while veterans like Rodgers, Davante Adams, Marcedes Lewis, Kenny Clark and others have won plenty of games in that fashion over the years, it still matters for this year’s team, as a whole, to get one like that under its belt.
“Individually, certain guys have that kind of killer instinct in them, and certain guys have to learn that and develop it over time,” Adams said. “With guys like me and Aaron, I’d definitely say we figured that part out, but the important thing is making sure everybody on the team, and on the offense for us, has adopted the same mindset and understands what it takes to win in those types of situations.”
Rodgers emphasized the importance of the walk-off, 30-28 triumph over the 49ers in part because the team’s victory celebration was so muted after beating the Lions on Monday Night Football.
Even when a team can cruise through a fourth quarter with a lead every once in a while, veterans like Rodgers never lose sight of how difficult wins are to come by, no matter how they’re earned.
The raucous celebration on the Levi’s Stadium field after Mason Crosby’s 51-yard field goal went through the uprights reflected how much it can take sometimes from everyone involved to get a win.
“Couldn’t quite feel that after the Detroit game, for whatever reason,” Rodgers said. “It didn’t feel like the excitement of how special it is to win.
“Every year you have to re-learn and I think readjust the perspective and savor how special it is to win in this league, and never take it for granted.”
Dealing with the ebbs and flows of a close, hard-fought game provides a building block for the rest of the season, too. The Packers saw a 17-point second-quarter lead, and eventually a 10-point fourth-quarter lead, vanish with less than a minute left. A ton of hard work was wiped out.
Again, almost everyone individually has been through that before in their football lives, and those experiences matter. This particular group of Packers that works out and practices and plays together now has been through it, too, and can reflect on what it handled well and perhaps not so well.