Aaron Rodgers, Mike McCarthy turn focus to Sunday’s game against Lions
GREEN BAY — Whether Aaron Rodgers’ not-so-thinly veiled criticism of Mike McCarthy’s game plan last Sunday led to a meeting of the minds on Monday or Tuesday, neither man would explicitly say Wednesday.
Instead, the Green Bay Packers star quarterback and his head coach emphasized that they communicate “regularly” (McCarthy’s word) and “all the time” (Rodgers’ phrase).
And both made it clear that they’re ready to move on in advance of this Sunday’s game at Detroit, although Rodgers hinted that the two did air whatever grievances they had in an effort to move forward.
“Mike and I talk all the time; we have a great relationship,” Rodgers told the assembled reporters surrounding his locker Wednesday for his regular Q&A session. “There’s always been great communication between us. Even if there are things that we need to talk about that are tough subjects, we’ve never had a problem finding time and talking. That’s the way it’s been for 10-plus years.
“Communication is the basis for a good relationship, wouldn’t you say? I think it is. For any relationship, it starts with good communication and being able to be honest with each other and then hug it out afterward.”
This is hardly the first time the two competitive men didn’t see eye-to-eye in more than a decade together — McCarthy is in his 13th year as the Packers’ coach, while Rodgers is in his 14th season in Green Bay and 11th as the starting quarterback — and it probably won’t be the last.
Nonetheless, the timing of Rodgers sharing his frustrations with the offense — that the performance was “terrible” and that playmakers Davante Adams and Jimmy Graham weren’t getting enough targets because of “the plan” — was curious, coming after a 22-0 win in which the offense racked up 423 yards. Rodgers also praised the defense for playing at a “championship” level against the Bills while saying the offense was at a “non-playoff team” level.
Asked Wednesday about his choice of words after the game, Rodgers indicated he felt some were misinterpreted.
“I think you’re taking some of those words out of context,” Rodgers said Wednesday. “I first was talking about that I need to throw the ball to Davante more. But there’s frustration in this business and that’s what Mike always says — conflict is good. You’ve got to keep the conversation going.
“We’ve got to find ways to be more efficient on offense. Although, like I said Sunday afternoon, the numbers might have looked good — (423) yards and 50 percent-plus on third down — but the execution wasn’t where it needs to be.
“I’m always going to hold myself and this offense to a higher standard. I’ve got to play better and we’ve got to play better, because last week was unacceptable. We put the ball on the ground too many times, threw an interception. We’ve got to play better.”
When asked how what he said should have been taken, Rodgers, who completed 22 of 40 passes for 298 yards with one touchdown, one interception, two sacks and a lost fumble (76.9 passer rating) against the Bills, replied, “I just felt like I was answering as honestly as I wanted to about — to the questions I was asked.”
Asked earlier in the day if he and Rodgers had met to discuss Rodgers’ postgame comments, McCarthy said simply, “We meet regularly; I think that’s the most important thing. So, I’ve addressed everything I think I feel I needed to address Monday. We’re moving along and getting ready to beat Detroit.”
Meanwhile, Rodgers chuckled when asked whether his input in the offense has decreased after an offseason in which McCarthy revamped the playbook and overhauled the coaching staff, bringing back Joe Philbin to serve as offensive coordinator (a job he held from 2007 through ’11), promoting offensive line coach James Campen to offensive run-game coordinator, hiring Jim Hostler to serve as offensive passing-game coordinator and replacing quarterbacks coach Alex Van Pelt with Frank Cignetti.
“No, I don’t think it’s diminished, because you’re comparing that with more experience on my end,” Rodgers responded. “James Campen has been the run-game coordinator — whether by title or not — for a number of years. So we’ve always had great dialogue about the stuff we like, whether it’s ‘RPO’ stuff or stuff that looks like passing formations. And the same thing with the pass game, having ‘Hos’ has helped. Bringing his plays over from the various places he’s been. And having Joe back, Joe is phenomenal at scripting and setting the plan each week. So, no, it hasn’t diminished at all.
“I’ve always been a big part of the plan. My input is taken on things I like. I talk to (McCarthy) Mondays and Tuesdays about things I think might work, and then obviously we go through the plan of the week, and I think about how the reps go in practice and how I think they’ll go on Sundays, and give some recommendations on what order I like certain plays called. But I know my role as well, and that’s to play quarterback.”