Su­per­star QBs not missed

Ryan, Rodgers fill in ad­mirably for de­parted Vick, Favre


AT­LANTA— For Roddy White, it’s a sim­ple ques­tion with an ob­vi­ous an­swer. So, how did the At­lanta Fal­cons and the Green Bay Pack­ers skip the tran­si­tion phase af­ter los­ing iconic quar­ter­backs?

Look no fur­ther than the guys who re­placed Michael Vick and Brett Favre.

Sim­ple for­mula “ It’s a sim­ple for­mula. You get a good quar­ter­back and then you win,” said White, the Fal­cons’ star re­ceiver. “ This league is such a quar­ter­back-driven league. You have to have a good quar­ter­back.”

To­day, when the Fal­cons ( 8-2) host the Pack­ers ( 7-3) in a matchup of di­vi­sion lead­ers, it’s more than just a game with po­ten­tially huge ram­i­fi­ca­tions for the post-sea­son pic­ture. These fran­chises could write a large chunk of the book on how to deal with an abrupt change of course.

As White said, it starts at the most prom­i­nent po­si­tion on the field.

The Pack­ers had Aaron Rodgers ready to take over as soon as they grew tired of Favre’s on-again, offa­gain in­fat­u­a­tion with re­tire­ment. The Fal­cons drafted Matt Ryan the first chance they got af­ter Michael Vick went off to prison for run­ning a dog­fight­ing ring.

Just like that, two fran­chise quar­ter­backs had been re­placed by... well, fran­chise quar­ter­backs.

“ You plug in a guy with Matt’s abil­ity, you’re not re­ally go­ing to miss a beat,” said re­ceiver Brian Fin­neran, who’s seen all sorts of aborted re­build­ing at­tempts dur­ing his decade with the Fal­cons.

“ You plug in a guy like Aaron Rodgers, who’s calm, cool and col­lected back there in a pocket and just pick­ing peo­ple apart, you’re not go­ing to miss a beat, ei­ther.”

Of course, foot­ball is more than a one-man sport. The great­est quar­ter­back is go­ing to strug­gle if he doesn’t have some good play­ers around him.

The Fal­cons not only drafted Ryan, they signed Michael Turner, traded for Tony Gon­za­lez and doled out a long-term con­tract to keep White happy.

They not only sur­rounded Ryan with an abun­dance of weapons, they went heavy on de­fence the last two drafts and acquired lock-down cor­ner­back Dunta Robin­son to fill their biggest hole.

More than any­thing, they hired a gen­eral man­ager ( Thomas Dim­itroff) and coach ( Mike Smith) who weren’t the least bit in­ter­ested in dwelling on the Vick era.

“ It’s real sim­ple for me,” Smith said. “ We weren’t go­ing to talk about what hap­pened in the past. We were aware of it. But we were start­ing with a clean slate for ev­ery­body.”

Safety Thomas De­Coud was picked in the same draft as Ryan. By the time they got to At­lanta, the Fal­cons were mov­ing quickly to put Vick in the rearview mir­ror.

— The As­so­ci­ated Press


Aaron Rodgers

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