GREEN BAY — Josh Rosen abides by “The Dude,” and he’s not referring directly to the character from the film, “The Big Lebowski,” either.
Instead it’s the nickname that the Arizona Cardinals’ quarterback has given to Green Bay Packers star Aaron Rodgers, for some reason.
“It was just he’s that guy, that man,” Rosen said about Rodgers’ resemblance to the laid-back movie character. “I guess I thought it was funny.”
The Cardinals’ rookie and the two-time NFL MVP have struck up a friendship that seems to go beyond football.
Come Sunday, the Packers hope to teach Rosen a lesson when Arizona visits Lambeau Field.
Green Bay (4-6-1) desperately needs a win to keep alive their fading playoff aspirations. The beleaguered Cardinals (2-9), who have the worst offense in the league, might just be the foe that they need to face to get going.
“We’ve put ourselves in this hole, and now we’ve got to find a way to climb out,” Rodgers said.
Green Bay limped through its past five games having lost all four on the road and beating Miami at home. Coach Mike McCarthy’s club finishes the season with three of five at home. Four of the opponents have losing records, so a glimmer of hope remains, especially if the Packers can win out.
But they can’t afford to look that far ahead, especially with nagging problems on offense.
Of particular concern are problems with third down conversions (37 percent), where the Packers are just 24th in the league. They could use veteran receiver Randall Cobb, who has been sidelined by a hamstring injury, to help in those situations.
Now Green Bay has to face a defense that leads the NFC with 37 sacks, with a line hit by recent injuries. Left tackle David Bakhtiari (knee) and left guard Lane Taylor (quad) were each on the injury report during the week.
Yet even in what’s considered a down year for the Packers, coach Steve Wilks is wary of Rodgers.
“Is he a first-ballot Hall of Famer? Yes, he is,” Wilks said. “We’ve got to do a great job on the outside of disrupting timing with their receivers ... trying to throw off some timing and make him hold on to the football.”
Maybe Rosen will even get some tips from Rodgers after the game. He doesn’t mind being called “The Dude.”
“It’s right at the top of compliments,” Rodgers said.
Other notes and things to watch:
RODGERS VS. CARDINALS
They probably aren’t his greatest memories, but Rodgers played a pivotal role in two of the most dramatic Cardinals playoff victories.
Back in the 2010 wild-card game, Rodgers and Kurt Warner staged a memorable passing duel in Arizona’s 51-45 overtime victory. In a 2016 divisional playoff game, Rodgers somehow converted two desperation passes in the final seconds to force overtime. But Arizona won the coin toss in OT and Carson Palmer connected with Larry Fitzgerald on a 75-yard play that set up a 5-yard shovel pass to Fitzgerald for the winning touchdown.
Speaking of Fitzgerald, the veteran receiver with 1,278 catches needs four to pass Hall of Famer Jerry Rice (1,281 with 49ers) for most receptions in NFL history with one team. Rookie cornerback Jaire Alexander, who was seven when Fitzgerald broke into the league 15 seasons ago, might have to cover the veteran.
“So I mean it’s pretty wild to think about it. But I’ve got my young legs under me so I’m good,” Alexander said.
AT THE BOTTOM
Rosen took over as the starter in Week 4. Wilks said that the rookie has been a little inconsistent but “making strides.” He’s completing 55 percent of passes with 10 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. The Cardinals have the 32nd and worst offense in the league.
“He’s moving forward, he’s progressing. Do we need more consistency? Yes,” Wilks said.
The game features the top pass rushes in the NFC. The Cardinals’ Chandler Jones is fourth in the NFL with 11 sacks, including 4½ over his past three games.
“He jumps off the tape,” McCarthy said. “So obviously he’ll be a focal point for us.”
The Packers might have backup Jason Spriggs protecting Rodgers’ blind side if Bakhtiari can’t play.
Zane Gonzalez will get a second chance as an NFL kicker when he takes over the job for the Cardinals on Sunday after veteran Phil Dawson was placed on injured reserve. Gonzalez was an All-American kicker at Arizona State and was drafted by the Cleveland Browns in the seventh round and earned the kicking job in training camp. But he was released after two games this season after missing two field goals and two extra points against New Orleans.