Just how important is the quarterback-center battery in the NFL?
Apparently, it’s not that overly important to the Packers because Aaron Rodgers is about to embark on his fourth different starting center to begin the season.
Think about that for a second.
Rodgers is the best quarterback on the planet. Amazingly, he has been able to average 31 touchdowns a season with a 58-29 record in six seasons. And he’s done it despite playing with a revolving door at the leadership position of the offensive line.
In 16 years with the Packers, Brett Favre had five different centers start the majority of games. But that counts James Campen for one season in 1992 and the person nobody remembers — Grey Ruegamer in 2004.
Favre’s mainstay was Frank Winters. “Bag of Doughnuts” and Favre were teammates for 11 seasons and were able to grow up together and make each other better.
Rodgers hasn’t had that yet. Right when Rodgers and Scott Wells were beginning to form a cohesive bond, the Packers didn’t bring him back after four years of working as the quarterback-center battery and thus, the process started all over again.
The next person to come on down is JC Tretter. Last year’s fourth round draft pick hasn’t started a game in the NFL but the Packers are handing him a shot to ignite one of the most dynamic offenses in the league with each snap.
Centers aren’t exactly a glory position. No kid gazes into the mirror and dreams of one day making a perfect shotgun snap to his quarterback before quickly reasserting himself as a pass blocker. Heck, Tretter was a quarterback, running back and wideout in high school.
But that doesn’t mean the job of a center should be understated. While left tackles get the money for protecting the quarterback’s blind side, it’s the center that makes the coverage adjustments. A center is the quarterback of the offensive line.
So when Rodgers comes back to camp not knowing much about his next center, he needs to spend time getting to know how things will work. If you’re Rodgers, you don’t want to learn in Week 3 that your center has a problem with a quick snap count or a pronounced loud bark in order to draw a defense offsides.
That extra time Rodgers could spend with a receiving corps that is a little thin on experience once you get past the starters.
Maybe Tretter is the answer the Packers need and he winds up as the next “Box of Bearclaws” but Rodgers cannot be thrilled with the prospect of going into camp and starting over again.
The moment Rodgers proved that he was ready to put his name atop the quarterbacking mantle, I said the biggest need for the Packers is a way to protect him consistently. Not more weapons, just a way to keep him upright and prolong his career.
Rodgers will turn 31 this season and I’m sure he has an understanding of when his career finish line is. It would just be a lot easier to cross it with a guy that understands you without having to say anything.
It may not be sexy, but the center-quarterback chemistry isn’t just important, it’s necessary to keep the chains moving, put the ball in the end zone and ultimately win games.——————
Cory Jennerjohn is from Wisconsin and has been in sports media for over 10 years. To contact Cory e-mail him at jeobs -at- yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter: Cory Jennerjohn