The Packers were eliminated from NFC playoff contention after Sunday's loss to the Bears, which dropped Green Bay to 5-8-1 as part of a disappointing 2018 season that marked the end of the Mike McCarthy era.

It also opens the next chapter in the career of two-time NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers. And it's time for a new plan.

The prevailing thought is the Packers need a young, hip, up-and-coming coach who will maximize the future Hall of Fame quarterback's talent in the passing game. That's one way to go, but the truth is the next coach's age does not matter. Green Bay needs an organizational commitment to a run-first offense to bring out the best in the 35-year-old Rodgers, whose $134 million contract runs through the next five seasons.

It wouldn't hurt if former Broncos coach Gary Kubiak, who reportedly is open to returning to the sidelines as an offensive coordinator in 2019, was involved in that plan. And if not Kubiak, who was involved in a similar process twice in Denver with quarterbacks John Elway and Peyton Manning, then there is a more modern example for Green Bay to follow.

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Kubiak's more recent work with Manning led to a victory in Super Bowl 50, but the better comparison as it pertains to Rodgers and Green Bay is Kubiak's work as an offensive coordinator with Elway from 1995-98.

Like Rogers is now, Elway was a mobile, once-in-a-generation talent who carried the franchise with his arm. It wasn't until Mike Shanahan was hired in 1995, when Elway was 35, that the Broncos gravitated toward a run-oriented offense, leading to back-to-back Super Bowl victories in 1997 and '98.

Green Bay fans remember Denver's 31-24 victory against the heavily favored Packers in Super Bowl XXXII. They might not remember the five-year window the organization went through to give Elway his Super Bowl send-off.

Look at the Broncos' pass/run ratios from 1994 (the season before Shanahan was hired and when Elway was 34) though 1998 (Elway's final season). The passes went down, and the victories piled up.

YearRecordPass att.Rush att.Ratio19947-962643159.2 - 41.819958-859444057.4 - 42.6199613-353652550.5 - 49.5199712-451352049.6 - 50.4199814-249152548.3 - 51.7

The parallels to Rodgers are clear. Going into Week 16 this season, Packers had a 66.3-33.7 pass-run ratio; 545 pass attempts and 300 rushing attempts. Even in a league in which the pass dominates, that's not a winning formula. Only Pittsburgh (66.7-33.4) has a higher pass-run ratio, but one would think it would be closer to 60-40 with Le'Veon Bell.

Elway had success late in his career when he was willing to let the game plan revolve around the running game and, specifically, Terrell Davis. The Packers can make the same commitment to an improved run game with Aaron Jones, who averages 5.5 yards per carry through his two seasons.

Of course, it's not just Jones, and it's not that simple.

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Green Bay needs to invest in the interior of its offensive line, which was exposed again in Sunday's loss to Chicago. Rodgers took five sacks against Bears, a reminder of how the Khalil Mack trade shifted the balance of power in the division. Green Bay's offensive line ranks fifth in adjusted line yards, according to Football Outsiders, but the same unit has given up 44 sacks this season.

In addition to adding depth on the line around Pro Bowl tackle David Bakhtiari, the Packers should add another power back via the 2019 NFL Draft — somebody like Kentucky's Benny Snell — to go with Jones and Jamaal Williams. If Green Bay really wants to go for broke, then it could make a run at Bell.

That would show a commitment to this philosophy and, perhaps, shift the power again within the NFC North.

Ultimately, that will come down to the next coach and Rodgers, who this season will finish with a losing record as starter for the first time in a decade. Rodgers' play is not dropping off dramatically; he has thrown just two interceptions this year while working with a young group of receivers outside of Davante Adams. Green Bay could continue to be a pass-happy offense around Rodgers, but nothing would change.

A more run-oriented Green Bay offense not only would better protect Rodgers' health, but it would take the pressure off the QB — literally. And the place where his production might increase the most could be yards per completion.

Elway averaged more than 13 yards per completion in his final two seasons, and that was a magic number of sorts. The Broncos reached the Super Bowl in five of the six seasons in which Elway averaged 13 yards per completion or more.

Rodgers has averaged 13 yards per completion or more twice in his career. In 2011, Rodgers (13.5) led the Packers to a 15-1 record before a loss in the divisional playoffs. In 2013, Rodgers (13.1) was 6-3 as starter but missed seven games after suffering a broken collarbone against the Bears.

That leads into why this shift must happen now. Chicago and Minnesota have won the NFC North the last two seasons by changing their philosophies. Rodgers no longer owns the division, and the Packers have endured back-to-back losing seasons for the first time since 1990-91.

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If the Broncos comparison seems too dated, then look at the team the Bears and Vikings will have to go through in the NFC playoffs this season. We're not talking about the Rams, who have the highest pass-run ratio over the last three seasons at 69.8-30.2.

We're talking about the Saints, who have a pass-run ratio of 48.2-51.8 over the last three seasons. New Orleans had three straight 7-9 seasons from 2014-16 with Drew Brees, who turned 38 after the 2016 season. Committing to the run made the difference.

The Saints drafted Alvin Kamara in 2017. Mark Ingram (1,124 yards, 12 TDs) and Kamara (728 yards, 8 TDs) have powered the Saints, who finished 11-5 last year and might have made the Super Bowl if not for the "Minneapolis Miracle."

New Orleans is 12-2 heading into the final two weeks of the season and is a good bet to represent the NFC in Super Bowl 53. Brees has had the highest completion percentages of his career the last two seasons. If the Saints win the Super Bowl, it could be the same story-book finish Elway and Manning had.

Only the retirement discussion around Brees, who turns 40 in January, has not even started.

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That's the point Rodgers will reach in five years. There is a window for the franchise that over the last quarter century has been blessed with two of the 10 best quarterbacks of all time. McCarthy breathed life into the last act of Brett Favre's career; the next Green Bay coach will be tasked with doing the same for Rodgers.

Whether it's under Kubiak or a different offensive coordinator, the coaching staff and Rodgers need to think in these terms. With Rodgers, it can happen on an accelerated timetable. If it worked for Elway and Brees, then it almost certainly will work for Rodgers.

Now it's on Green Bay to take the plan and run with it.