By now we’ve all seen Aaron Rodgers’ fake spike as the seconds ticked down in Miami. While he is hardly willing to share his secrets with fans (and eavesdropping opponents), Rodgers revealed very little when he told Jason Wilde of ESPN Milwaukee, “I yelled clock—which means spike—but I didn’t spike it and threw it to Davante.”
He also denied that Adams was in on the rouse either. While the rookie receiver has gone on the record stating that Rodgers had shot him “a look,” that may or may not have been the case.
The rest, they say, has become a part of Packers’ lore.
Needless to say, Aaron Rodgers took a huge risk by going rogue and taking matters into his own hands and the dividend paid off exponentially. And in that moment, the Packers’ QB demonstrated an indisputable and intangible quality that some foolhardily still claim he lacks: leadership.
Rodgers had only a few fleeting seconds to gauge the defense as it set up against predictable spike to stop the clock. No huddle, and the team prepared for the spike like they had practiced countless times. Buy a few seconds and get one, maybe two chances at the end zone.
As the other ten lined up, Rodgers had the guts to think, “I have an idea, and we’re going to win.”
Talk about a leap of faith. Had it not gone well, Rodgers may have well needed an escape route to a small South American nation because not even head coach Mike McCarthy had signed off on the play. But that’s where the confidence and leadership shined through. He was willing to assume the risks of the play falling apart and was still willing to give it a try.
Going rogue is not always a good idea when a team is down by a score. In this case Rodgers trusted his teammates to follow his lead. To sell the fake, the line had to line up as though they were going to kill the clock. Any body language saying otherwise, and there would be a chance Rodgers would be flat on his back as time elapsed. The Packers had no timeouts left, remember?
Once that ball was hiked to Rodgers and he moved out of the pocket, he had to trust that one of his receivers would be in tune with his plan and be ready for the ball to rocket toward the sidelines.
Typically such smoke and mirrors are reserved for the seasoned veterans. They have the ability to anticipate. They know the QB better than anyone and will realize that a sniff, nostril flare, finger on the lip or whatever unspoken communication is directed at them and will act accordingly. Yet in this instance, the play didn’t go to Nelson or Cobb. Instead, Rodgers fired the pass to the rookie Davante Adams.
Rodgers has said several times over that trust is built in practice with hard work and consistency. Instead of throwing the ball to a predictable target, Rodgers trusted his rookie receiver with the most important play up to that point. Get the ball, and get out of bounds.
Leaders are gauged by many measures. Sometimes they lead by example. Other times they lead by holding others accountable. Others are admired for their rousing speeches to rally the troops.
A good leader quietly trusts his teammates and possesses the calm and confidence to make the impossible look easy and somehow find a way to give the team who’s on wrong end of a score with seconds to go a fleeting chance.
And when that happens the whole team shines. The victory last Sunday was nothing short of a group effort at the end. The defense held Miami to keep them in the game, and the offense marched down the field with an efficiency that lacked for much of the game.
But it was that calm confidence that Rodgers silently exuded in those last two plays that sealed the deal.
That is the leader I want on the field every Sunday.--------------