GREEN BAY, Wis. – Aaron Rodgers got a chuckle out of the reasons he heard for why the New Orleans Saints picked Jacksonville as the site for Sunday’s season-opener against the Green Bay Packers after Hurricane Ida forced the change of venue.
According to NOLA.com, the Saints wanted it in Florida because of Rodgers’ 3-4 career record there as a starter. They picked Jacksonville over Tampa Bay and Miami because as the report said, “They had a staff member look up Green Bay flights on Expedia and compare the difference in costs and itineraries between Jacksonville, Miami and Tampa.”
Jacksonville proved most difficult to get to and most costly.
Packers assistant director of communications Tom Fanning made Rodgers aware of the report shortly before the quarterback met with reporters this week.
“Thank you, Tom, for the useless information like that,” Rodgers said. “I did hear something, Tom just mentioned actually something about Expedia and checking flights, and if it’s true, hey, good for them, trying to get every little advantage.
“I would assume based on when we played in Jacksonville the last couple times, there will be a lot of Packer fans there. Even still, not playing in New Orleans with that crowd noise back-to-back years is definitely nice.”
The Packers played the Saints last season in the Superdome without fans because of COVID-19 restrictions, meaning crowd noise was not a factor in Green Bay's 37-30 win.
Rodgers and the Packers have won six straight season-openers -- the longest streak in franchise history and tied with the Kansas City Chiefs for the longest active streak in the NFL. During that streak, Rodgers has thrown 14 touchdown passes and only one interception.
In the final five road games of last season, Rodgers threw at least three touchdown passes in each of them. If he makes that six straight on Sunday -- and with the Saints’ top two cornerbacks on the roster listed on the injury report (Marshon Lattimore because of a knee injury and Ken Crawley because of a hamstring injury), plus the recently acquired Bradley Roby suspended for the opener -- there’s a decent chance of that. It would be tied for the second-longest streak of consecutive road games with three touchdowns, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. In those last five road games, Rodgers threw 18 touchdowns and only one interception.
The biggest obstacle in Jacksonville might be the heat. Although it was a hot summer in Green Bay and Sunday’s forecast in Jacksonville calls for only a high of 86 degrees, Packers tight end Marcedes Lewis, who played his first 12 NFL seasons for the Jaguars, said the Jacksonville heat doesn’t compare.
“This is not heat; the heat here is just because the sun is up,” Lewis said. “It’s totally different in Jacksonville. When I first got there, it was, shower every two hours.”
Packers coach Matt LaFleur has been on his players all week about hydrating.
“I wouldn’t say there’s a set amount,” LaFleur said, “but certainly every time they pee, you want it to look clear.”