In February, Aaron Rodgers criticized Mike McCarthy for letting Alex Van Pelt walk, which in my view was poor leadership on Rodgers’ part. Of course, I am in the minority amongst Packer Fans, with this Fast forward to this week, and it was rookies who were catching the brunt of Rodgers’ sharp words. This time however, it was exactly what was needed from the face of the franchise.
Ryan Wood of packersnews.com asked a question regarding getting reps vs the Bears team defense, if Rodgers alters his approach when going “off card,” and if there is anything Rodgers can get from it. To which Rodgers snapped, “Not with the kind of effort we had today. I mean, It was one of the worst carded sessions we had. I don’t know how you can make it any simpler You literally have what the play would be in our terminology on the card. And the effort level was very low. Especially what I am accustomed to having run that period for a number of years. So its not a good start for us on carded period, for the young guys. I think (Deangelo) Yancey has really progressed. G-Mo (Gerinomo Allison), obviously 16 (Jake Kumerow), but everyone else was kind of piss poor.”
That is the sound bite everyone heard. But Wood followed up, asking Rodgers why that may be, to which Rodgers responded, “think we’re tired. I think guys are a little gassed, from the last couple days and coming down from Saturday night (Family Night), and when you are a little gassed the mental part of it starts to go, the focus goes away.” He added, “I obviously have to do a better job of bringing that when I feel it.” And he went on to joke about he is older and more grumpy among many other things in the 13 minute locker room session.
While it may seem small, it was a perfect act of leadership at the perfect time. Public criticism of others, in a team setting is a tricky bit. If done the wrong way, it can create more hard than good. The timing has to be right. And what one is criticizing has to be appropriate as well.
First, the timing and the context of it were perfect. It is the dog days of training camp. They have been at camp for weeks now and haven’t taken a live snap against anyone other than their teammates. The lack of effort that they have shown, did not cause any harm in a game. But if someone runs a poor route in a critical time, in a game they lost causing an interception, that would be a poor time to be hard on a rookie who is most likely beating themselves up already.
But we talking ’bout practice. As Rodgers said, the team is tired. But the rookies, who haven’t even been professionals for a year, probably don’t appreciate the significance of these reps. And at this point in their career, its easy for them to go through the motions. It’s the middle of the summer, and its a grind at this point. We can all relate. Public comments from the leader of the team, will surely act as a wake up call.
And second, he was criticizing their effort. Their mental mistakes. This wasn’t the baseball coach yelling at his pitcher to “throw strikes.” This was something they have complete an total control over. Something the can do by merely trying harder.
It is also interesting, that the three guys he signaled out as having good effort, are ones that are at risk of being cut. Many of those who he called out are 2018 draft picks. A couple of whose roster spots are all but locked up due to the draft capital expended on them, especially J’mon Moore.
With the Packers relying on contributions this year from many young players, this type of leadership from Rodgers, will go a long way.Originally from Glidden Wisconsin, Jason Straetz is a lifelong Packers\' fan, who has lived in Maine for over 30 years. He is a writer for packerstalk.com. You can follow him on Twitter: @jsnstz