Malice not masked behind Aaron Rodgers' criticism

-- If Aaron Rodgers was trying to send a message to the Green Bay Packers' young receivers after a substandard session of practice last week, that message certainly translated well.

Except the quarterback's comments weren't meant to "send a message" to anyone.

"I hope we're not that soft," Rodgers said after Monday's practice in response to his "piss poor" comments; sentiments that were initially shared as a response to a lack of effort during the carded period of practice. "I hope we can hear comments, read comments and not get offended by things. This is a professional environment, it's not a personal environment.

"The things I'm saying, I don't have some vendetta against any player. I care about winning, number one, and I'm going to say and do things that I feel like can advance us. ... As a human, you like being liked and appreciated, but I’m trying to win games because that’s my job. I’m not asked or needed to make personnel decisions, coaching decisions, schedule decisions; my job is to play quarterback. That’s what they’re paying me to do."

Rodgers was running the scout team last week and the trio of rookie receivers -- and whoever else -- didn't meet his standards in a drill that the Packers have been practicing all throughout Rodgers' tenure in Green Bay. It's easy to see why he would feel passionate about it.

Also, simply because it's vital that J'Mon Moore, Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Equanimeous St. Brown get on the same page with whoever it is throwing them the ball.

"The new guys need to see the rhythm and the tempo and also understand when I’m out there, everything is up," Rodgers said. "So everything that’s ever been put in, and years of backlogged stuff is potentially in as well. … It’s all up. So you have to be ready.

"The same way that I challenge them in practice at times with certain checks or during walkthroughs with checks, or at practice with checks. It’s going to be the same thing. They need to be ready for everything that comes their way, and the tempo and the feel and the cadence and everything that comes with it."

Rodgers practiced with the first-team offense on Monday, offering a good glimpse into the possibility of him starting the Packers' second preseason game Thursday night against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Rodgers, entering his 14th NFL season at 34 years old, is the second-oldest player on the Packers' roster. He was the oldest before the team reacquired cornerback Tramon Williams over the offseason. It's only right he assumes a seemingly newfound voice in the locker room.

While he has always been a pinnacle of leadership down the most recent stretch of his career, Rodgers has never been as vocal in addressing offensive weaknesses or mishaps that are within his control of improving. Those kinds of adjustments typically happen behind closed doors without a peep from the two-time MVP.

"I don’t feel like when you make a statement like that, that there needs to be some big response, or feelings hurt, or offense that somebody takes with it. If they do, they’re taking it the wrong way, because this is a professional environment. I’m doing things that I feel like are in the best interest of the team from a leadership standpoint.

"If no one else is going to stand up and criticize a bad practice, then maybe I need to be the one to do it."

Valdes-Scantling was the only receiver in the league to eclipse 100 receiving yards during the first week of the preseason, whereas St. Brown was the team's leading receiver at one point against the Tennesee Titans before finishing the game second in catches and third in receiving yards.

"The guys played well in the game, made some plays, it’s been a good week of practice, it’s been hot, the guys have been competing and making plays. I don’t think that’s a response to anything I’ve said—maybe it is for a couple of them, but it shouldn’t be. You get to this league and to stick around, you have to be self-motivated. As a leader, you try to inspire, but the motivation to change and to improve has to come from within."

__________________________

Zachary Jacobson is a staff writer/reporter for Cheesehead TV. He's the voice of The Leap on iTunes and can be heard on The Scoop KLGR 1490 AM every Saturday morning. He's also a contributor on the Pack-A-Day Podcast. He can be found on Twitter via @ZachAJacobson or contacted through email at [email protected].

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Comments (18)

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Johnblood27's picture

August 13, 2018 at 07:50 pm

Best quotes Ive ever heard from Mr Rodgers.

More Brady-like.

Expectations are high. Teammates need to match the highest expectations on the team.

A little dig at the coaches for not calling players out for a piss-poor practice session? Maybe. If needed, so be it.

Im like Aaron, I just want to win. Thats what Im in it for as a fan.

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ZacharyJacobson's picture

August 13, 2018 at 07:56 pm

I've never heard him like this. The dude sounds absolutely determined. Watch all 15 minutes if you can.
https://www.packers.com/video/rodgers-hopes-to-play-thursday-night

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Tundraboy's picture

August 13, 2018 at 11:41 pm

Love it. I'm sure he's felt this way for a long time, but it's very good to see it all come out. Perfectly fine for the real team leader to speak up and say what needs to be said
.

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Bearmeat's picture

August 13, 2018 at 08:02 pm

Rodgers has always taken criticism very personally himself. Look, I want a leader to have high standards just like you all do. And I suppose the rookies (rightly) venerate him.

But this rings a little hollow to me.

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ejr450's picture

August 14, 2018 at 12:20 am

Not poking at you - just curious. What feels hollow to you?

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croatpackfan's picture

August 14, 2018 at 03:05 am

His precious...

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Bearmeat's picture

August 14, 2018 at 07:49 am

The (perceived at least) hypocrisy. Rodgers does not take unkind or constructive criticism well from many people. If he's going to dish it, he needs to be able to take it.

Again, not a huge deal.

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ejr450's picture

August 14, 2018 at 09:29 am

Fair point & I get what you’re saying. He’s been famously “sensitive” in the past.

The dividing line I drew was criticism coming from a teammate vs media/outside sources. It’s hard to imagine anyone inside the locker room criticizing 12, but if it had happened, say from Jordy or TJ Lang for example, I wonder how it would have gone over.

The outside stuff I take with a huge grain of salt. Guys like Florio or Cowherd have seized on a point and hold it forever - it’s good for business.

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Rebecca's picture

August 14, 2018 at 04:53 pm

Exactly.

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Bure9620's picture

August 14, 2018 at 06:36 am

Yes I have noticed deflection from 12 at times as well. He does hold himself to high standards though higher than what he expects from everyone, so he walks the walk, he's a perfectionist but you're right Rodgers takes criticisms personally.

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Since'61's picture

August 13, 2018 at 08:07 pm

Aaron being Aaron! Love it!! Thanks, Since '61

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RCPackerFan's picture

August 13, 2018 at 08:48 pm

The energy brought into the building by making 2 major changes really has been felt.

The changes being moving on from Thompson to Gutekunst and from Capers to Pettine. Those 2 moves have really given the team a boost it needed.

While Gutekunst did let Rodgers favorite target in Nelson go, he brought in 2 literally huge additions to the TE in Graham and Lewis. I saw Lewis talking today about how great Rodgers is and how he has never played with anyone like him before. He has never been in an offense like this one before either. Imagine what he and Graham will be able to do in this offense.
And then in the draft he added Moore, MVS and ESB. All 3 bring size and speed to the WR corp. All of have had their ups and downs but all 3 have flashed their potential in camp. With already having Adams, Cobb, Graham as the likely top 3 WR's. Adding a guy like MVS with his size and speed could really do damage as the 4th WR option. ESB and/or Moore could also be a great weapon as the 4th WR.

Gutekunst not only brought firepower on offense he also brought in reinforcements with Wilkerson and Williams to the defense.
Then he drafted Alexander who many vets have taken a liking to with his swagger. He drafted Jackson who has really been coming on in camp. Burks who has shown his speed and ability to go sideline to sideline.

Rodgers knows he now has the full roster of players to compete with anyone. He has huge targets that are going to be tough to defend. He has RB's that can take pressure off of himself. And he has a new defensive coordinator that fired up the entire team with his speech prior to training camp.

I can't wait to see how these rookies keep progressing, and how this team comes together. This is going to be an exciting ride. And if Rodgers is this determined, with this group of WR's and TE's. Good luck defenses!

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Jonathan Spader's picture

August 13, 2018 at 09:19 pm

RC I think you're missing a big change that happened in 2018. The return of Philbin as OC and he and MM scrapping the playbook. All 3 QBs looked good against the Titans and I feel that Philbin might have had a hand in that even though it's just speculation on my part.

I think when the regular season starts we'll really see the changes on both sides of the ball. It'll be interesting to see if the ST changes have an impact in 2018.

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baldski's picture

August 14, 2018 at 02:12 am

I agree. Philbin is a great offensive mind.

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Turophile's picture

August 14, 2018 at 05:28 am

New GM + New Off Co-ord + new Def Co-ord + playbook given a full overhaul + veteran additions of Wilkerson, Graham, Lewis + the high picks from 2017 who were injured and are now back (King, Biegel, M.Adams) + the picks from this year + decent health of the majority of the team (bad luck Ryan, though) = the most exciting start of a season for a decade.

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RCPackerFan's picture

August 14, 2018 at 06:56 am

While I agree changing from Bennett to Philbin is a big change I just think that the 2 biggest changes were the GM and DC. We are already seeing the affects that those 2 have made.

I am not completely sure how much change we will see with Philbin as the OC. This is still McCarthy and Rodgers offense. I do think he will make an impact, i just don't know how much of a change we will see on the field. Some of the changes will be based on the personnel changes.
But i do think with the personnel changes Philbin will help in finding ways to using that talent more.

I do agree that once the regular season starts we will see how much of an impact both the new coordinators will make.

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PAPackerbacker's picture

August 14, 2018 at 05:55 am

Maybe the statements Rodgers made about practice were taken seriously. Just look at the success of the receivers in the Titans game. I'm sure if anyone is not performing their best they are not going to be around by the start of regular season. It's not all about speed and strength. It's about heart and commitment as well.

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Spock's picture

August 14, 2018 at 10:22 am

PAP, Yes, those statements were taken seriously by the WR's. On the Packers official website MVS (I think it was him) after the Thursday night game said that the WR's had a meeting after Tuesday's practice to discuss their need to come up to Rodger's practice/game standards. He said something about when a future hall of fame QB tells you you need to practice 100% and not just for 3/4th of the practice, you'd better listen. I believe that was evidenced in the play on the field last Thursday. In other words: Rodgers message WAS received and acted upon. It might of been out of frustration by Rodgers but it was leadership that worked.

EDIT: Here's some of from the article:
"So when Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers challenged the team’s young receivers following Tuesday’s practice, the rookie fifth-round pick out of South Florida got the message loud and clear.

“You’ve got a Hall of Fame quarterback over there, and if he's telling you that you're not doing it right, you've got to change what you're doing,” Valdes-Scantling said. “We have to be pros all the time. We can't be pros for just three-fourths of practice. You've got to be it all the time.”

"The Packers’ receivers held a quick meeting following Tuesday’s practice and vowed to not have another letup in practices moving forward. The group responded the right way against the Titans on Thursday."

Here's the link:

https://www.packers.com/news/marquez-valdes-scantling-rises-to-the-occas...

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