Wow, a few years ago it was kind of funny. Now, it’s just scary. I’m glad Jessie Garcia asked him about it – and I’m glad he’s not planning to keep it. I shaved my my facial hair down to a mustache a few years ago mostly to scare my wife. She was very, very scared. Not a good look for most people nowadays.
Archive for the ‘Rodgers’ Category
Read here for Adam Schein’s preseason awards. Yes, that’s right, Aaron Rodgers for MVP.
For some reason, I don’t mind that expectations (and with that pressure) are mounting. Rodgers had pressure on him last year and responded. I think he’s a mentally tough player so I’m feeling confident he will handle the growing pressure of expectation for 2009 effectively.
Here is a question: what role did Aaron Rodgers’ high football IQ play in the Brett Favre divorce process? At one point I believe in 2007, McCarthy said that the offense under Favre had only learned 1/4 of his total playbook. McCarthy didn’t say this as a crack on Favre – more as a matter of fact. Was Favre reluctant to learn the other 3/4 of the playbook? It’s well documented that Favre has a narrowed preference for all things West Coast and that learning new plays especially later in his career was not something he was much interested in. Did MM ever feel like the true potential of his offensive ideas could only be realized with a potentially more cerebral (or at least more willing-to-learn) QB like Rodgers? Again, I’m not saying Favre is dumb, I don’t think he is, and I know there were lots of other factors in the divorce – but I wonder if this was even a small part of the discussion.
This year, my guess is that we’ll see Rodgers run a huge variety of plays – leaving defenses often guessing and fans once again praising McCarthy’s creativity. While there were times last year when the playcalling was poor/predictable, that seemed to me to be toward the beginning of the year when I think MM was trying to make it easy for Rodgers. But starting with the last 4-5 games of last year through this preseason especially, it seems Rodgers has grown more comfortable calling a greater variety of plays. Perhaps he’s now tapped into the other 3/4 of MM’s ideas.
This morning on 620 WTMJ radio, I heard an interesting quote from Aaron Rodgers. He was talking about how close he and Mike McCarthy are and how he feels confident that McCarthy has lots of confidence in him. Rodgers said something to the effect of “he trusts me to call the plays…”
While this may not be a big deal really, and it may in fact be a simple reference to him being granted the ability to audible when he sees fit – it make me wonder if Rodgers may have more of a role in play-calling than Favre ever seemed to. I wouldn’t be surprised because I think Rodgers has a very good understanding of the offense, the coaches clearly have lots of confidence in him and he is very bright and quick to diagnose. I wonder if Rodgers may get to a point with McCarthy like Peyton Manning in Indy: where he knows the offensive system so well he’ll be able to call most plays. Anyway, I just thought this was an interesting comment for a 1-year starter to make when his predecessor, outside of an occasional audible or freak play, seemed to take most offensive play-calling direction from the sidelines.
Aaron Rodgers looks very good so far. He appears to be a quality decision-maker, understands the offense well and his stats are very good. His 98.7 QB rating is not a fluke and there is strong reason to believe this rating will end up being fairly representative of the kind of play we can expect from him. Like the Pack did with Grant, I also like the idea of getting our younger players signed so we know we’ll have a strong nucleus for at least the next few years. I also recognize that we wanted to get him signed now so that it would count against our cap this year when we can easily afford it. For these reasons, I too wanted to extend Rodgers and I would have offered him a nice contract…just not this kind of contract.
I’m not writing this to be a poop or to be anti-Thompson or Rodgers – but the fact is, this is an extraordinary contract given to a player who has played 7 games. According to PFT here, Rodgers’ average annual salary will put him in the top 5 of all NFL players. (PFT also reports that the contract for new money is really 5 years at $63.5 million – a huge amount of money). Now I know contracts are all about the present and in 2 years, this may seem like a more modest salary. But the fact is, paying a guy who has played 7 games as a top 5 player is simply too much. When asked about the contract, Rodgers himself admitted he was surprised (I heard him say this in an interview picked up after the signing by WISN Channel 12 in Milwaukee). I’d say it’s usually a sign of overpaying someone when that person is “surprised” by the terms of an extension. Just reading the comments by Rodgers and his agent, it almost seems like they didn’t do hardly any negotiating because the Pack just came to them with an enormous offer. Now I realize, as PFT indicates, that the $20 million guaranteed is a bit less than what other elite players are offered, but it’s still a ton of money for a player with an injury history.
It’s hard for me not to wonder if this is also sort of an “I told you so” moment for TT. Fact is, he did tell us and if Rodgers remains injury-free and playing at a high level even for the remainder of this year, I would welcome any gloating. But Rodgers has only played 7 games and to sign him to this kind of contract seems to me to be a bit too much. I do recognize that with any contract there is risk, but again, this just seems to be a bit much. I’m just sayin’…
Interesting nugget here from Leroy Butler (originally from jsonline, but I link to it here at si.com).
Ex-Packer: Rodgers better than Romo Former Packers all-pro safety LeRoy Butler analyzed the Cowboys-Packers game: “I saw the game in person and I played 12 years so I want people to know that, from what I saw, Aaron Rodgers is a better quarterback than Tony Romo. Based on throwing the ball in certain areas. The interception Romo threw to Collins and some of these other passes and the way he moves around, Aaron is a much better quarterback. Aaron doesn’t put his team in those kinds of situations. When you look at Romo’s stats, you’ll see those long passes and those glamour things. Aaron’s stats are OK, too, but if he gets the opportunity to throw 40 or 50 times a game, he’s going to be good.” (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel).
Leroy Butler isn’t afraid to say what he thinks, and if you pay enough attention to what he does say (weekly game keys, sports radio interviews, etc), you’ll learn that he has a tremendously insightful and fascinating take on things. This is an interesting comment considering I compared the two on Sunday night saying to my dad that I thought they had very similar styles (agile, good arms, smart passers mostly, choose to run in similar circumstances, etc). I’m encouraged that Leroy believes this because he often ends up being right.
That said, I wouldn’t go as far as Leroy does here just yet. While Romo’s interception was a really bad one (2 of our guys were waiting to just pick it off), he had some other really nice throws and played a solid game. Both of his long “glamour” passes to Austin hit the guy in stride and he had a bunch of other quality passes/good decisions out there Sunday night. I’d say he played a better overall game than Rodgers (though I’ll concede he faced a bit less pressure than Rodgers – though he got pounded on the Austin TD). Rodgers played decently, but he had some questionable throws too – one of which should have been an easy pick for Pacman. I think what Butler is getting at here is that he thinks Romo is a riskier passer than Rodgers and may not be quite the game manager Rodgers may be. That may end up being true, but I do think it’s premature to reach a conclusion like this after just 3 games. Romo has played at a high level for several years now. He is an established player. So far, I agree with Butler that Rodgers looks really good. But I’d stop short of claiming he’s “much better” than one of the best QBs in the NFL…for now anyway.
Read this take on the Favre situation (if you can stomach any more Favre situation talk) by one of the best writers out there – Gregg Easterbrook. Makes some sense to me, and echoes Steve’s post re this now being Ted Thompson’s team.
Also, wanted to add that I am still waiting for the “upcoming firestorm” from Favre and company for which the Packers apparently hired Ari Fleischer. Much of the reason I wanted to hold out on completely bashing Favre for his behavior during this episode was based on my firm belief that something bigger happened that the public just hasn’t been told about yet. While I acknowledge there was some justification for Favre feeling unwanted based on things we do know (especially if McGinn’s claim is true that TT didn’t want Favre back dating back well into last year), if this is all the info we have, I can’t help but be more bothered by Favre’s handling of this than the team’s handling of this. Perhaps we’ll hear more as time rolls on, who knows.
In the meantime, I’m focused on the Packers this year and really pulling for Rodgers. We still have a pretty good team I believe if the D-Line can come together. I will also though, be keeping an eye on how Favre does in NY. Maybe in some sense, it is fitting for Favre, who has played his entire career in the NFL’s smallest city, to go to its biggest city for a rousing send off. We’ll see.
The Favre era is over. Aaron Rodgers is the starting QB for the Packers. Tonight, he will play in his first real action as the starter of this team. Given that there will likely be at least a few series where both teams play their starters, this may be our first decent glimpse into the Rodgers-era and what may lie ahead. I won’t read too much into this game, but it does matter.
Following is a preview of Aaron Rodgers for 2008, and what I believe we can expect from him. (We will be offering other player previews throughout the pre-season).
ON THE PLUS SIDE
- As everyone knows, Rodgers looked very good against Dallas last year. He led an inspired effort to bring the team back into the game and showed heart doing it. He looked smart out there and made sure, nice passes. Smarts and heart may be 2 defining characteristics of Rodgers going forward.
- Rodgers has been well coached, he knows the offense very well and he is a bright guy. Mike McCarthy is very good with QBs and will help bring Rodgers along, I think, pretty quickly.
- Rodgers has a better arm that most think.
- I think we’ll see that his overall confidence level will help him to be a decisive passer, which is very important at this level.
- He has a very good team surrounding him.
- He has gone out of his way to make his teammates feel welcome in his home and at the same time, to make his teammates fully aware that he takes leadership seriously. Smart.
- One specific thing I think Rodgers may be quite good at is knowing when to throw the ball away. It is frustrating as a fan to watch, but it can often be the best decision a QB has. Rodgers already seems quite heady re decisions like this. If he’s truly good at this, we might see fewer interceptions from Rodgers than his predecessor.
- He wants to win. It was very evident during the Dallas game that he wanted to win. In a huge game, to be an unheralded back-up and have come in and play as the visiting team would unnerve most guys, but Rodgers not only was up for it, he appeared to be very singularly focused on winning the game.
- Rodgers has handled himself quite well (for the most part) through this whole sticky Favre situation. He said the right things, he didn’t come off as arrogant or clueless and he worked hard to keep focused on playing football.
- He has the support of management/coaching staff – clearly.
- He has spent valuable time learning from one of the best QBs to ever play the game.
- He’s gotten rid of the goofy facial hair experiments and Amish haircut, so he’s ready to just be himself out there and lead this team.
- I have some concerns about Rodgers injury history. Rodgers has had 2 significant injuries in his short career (significant enough to keep him off the field). He needs to play most of the games this season in order to shed that injury-prone label. Hopefully strength training in the off-season will help him to be stronger and better prepared for real NFL contact this year.
- While I really like Rodgers apparent ability to scramble and run to gain some yardage (something Favre simply seemed unwilling to do later in his career), I worry that these could be the kinds of situations that lead to injury. In the Dallas game, Rodgers got licked on a tackle (in a Philip Epps-like way) at one point – almost seemed like he was sort of out of control and not sure where the guy came from.
- One thing I think we’ll find is that as good as Rodgers may be at scrambling, he may not be quite as good as Brett and other veterans at avoiding pressure. Scrambling and avoiding pressure aren’t necessarily the same thing (i.e. Favre was bad at scrambling but great at avoiding pressure). So we may see a few more sacks of Rodgers than we’re used to seeing.
- Mike and Mike (ESPN Radio) were saying this morning they think Rodgers has more pressure on him than any other athlete in recent sports history. Lots and lots of pressure.
- As well as he handled himself until now, Rodgers did have a major gaffe that was fortunately for him, concealed by Favre’s story exploding the very next day. In a Sports Illustrated article a few months ago, Rodgers said, “I don’t feel I need to sell myself to fans. They need to get on board now or keep their mouths shut.” This was a mistake by Rodgers, even if he was genuinely feeling this way or just frustrated. You never offer up that Packer fans should “keep their mouths shut”. I’m willing, however, to chalk this up as a “rookie” mistake…unless or until something similar happens again.
- I’ll write this again at the risk of your collective wrath, but I still worry Rodgers may have a whiny quality. I know when I made this comment last year, it was unpopular, but I’ve seen some early indications of this. I very well could be wrong and hope I am because I think this is behavior that can be divisive (especially if done by a young QB). Sometimes, this just comes with players who really really really want to win (Marino, Manning). And that’s not a bad thing. But my hope is that McCarthy will help Rodgers install a mental mechanism of some kind to shut down any instinct to call out his teammates in a public way.
FINAL PREVIEW VERDICT:
I think Rodgers can be very good if he plays within himself and remembers that this growth process can be somewhat gradual, that it doesn’t have to happen over night. He can definitely try to make plays, but sometimes when there is pressure like there is on him now, the tendency can be to try too hard. I expect a bit of this very early on as he attempts to assert himself as the starter – with mixed results. But after just a few games, with McCarthy’s help, I expect that he’ll settle in and develop his own distinct playing style, and learn to more effectively play within himself. While I don’t want Rodgers to play scared, I do want him to be extra smart when he scrambles. Rodgers ability and willingness to do this opens up a whole new offensive option, especially for plays that break down. I expect Rodgers to throw fewer picks than Favre and other first-year starters, but possibly get sacked more often. I believe he may have some fumbling issues earlier on until he gets used to handling the speed and pressure of the live game. Then after the first 1/3 of the season or so, it won’t be a problem. I expect James Jones to be more active in the offense, Driver to be a bit less active, Jennings to continue his progress and the tight ends to be a bigger part of McCarthy’s offensive plans this year. But one of the most important factors this year will be how Rodgers bounces back from a poor performance, especially one in which he may have contributed heavily to a loss. My guess is that he may have several rough games this year, but he will bounce back nicely. I also expect Rodgers to be a tough player on the road. Overall, I expect a better than average performance from Rodgers, but I am not expecting a totally polished product just yet.
I apologize for not weighing in on all this stuff more yesterday – work picked a horrible time to be out of control. But I have to admit, over lunch and at other points, even when I tried to put down my thoughts on all of this, I would start and stop and start and stop – something I usually don’t do. I found myself battling many different and at times competing thoughts. So, I have decided now to just give you many of these fragmented thoughts:
- When Bob McGinn wrote this in his article yesterday “just about everyone who counted in the football department reached the conclusion that Favre could never win another championship” and dated this back to the Dallas Cowboys game, I had 2 main thoughts: 1) so did TT and “others” think that Aaron Rodgers actually would give us a better chance to win starting this year? If so, I disagree with this position and frankly it concerns me that our management would view the QB situation this way. 2) Doesn’t this somewhat justify Favre’s seeming neediness? Yes, I still think Favre overdid it, but if he had working knowledge that the GM of the organization, arguably the organization’s most important person, clearly didn’t want him to play, wouldn’t that at least have some effect on a decision to continue or not?
- Because of the above, I think it was Ted Thompson who started this whole thing. Favre then made it more complicated by deciding to retire in the first place, the unretiring, then saying stupid stuff through the media, then saying really dumb stuff about playing for Minnesota (which was a point at which many Packer fans I believe first grew frustrated with Favre). But TT’s attitude toward Favre started this.
- I don’t question that TT liked Favre as a person. But I firmly believe TT did not think Favre was that good of a player anymore.
- It could be that this GM was brought in just because the Packers brass knew that difficult decisions may need to be made toward the end of Favre’s career. So that may be in part, why they chose such a stoic, no-affect kind of guy (thinking he’d be good for an emotionally charged situation…you decide if this worked).
- If the Packers were 7-9 last year and Favre waffled and then wanted to come back and said some nasty things, I would probably be more sympathetic to management. It would also assist those people out there arguing that Favre’s talent has diminished enough to send him packing. But of course, that’s not what happened. They were 14-4 (and keep in mind, they didn’t have to play a first round playoff game because their regular season record was so good – something Favre was responsible for in good part).
- Brett Favre was the most exciting athlete in Wisconsin sports history.
- Brett Favre lied to the world when he said at his retirement press conference that TT and others did not affect his decision to retire. Sure, maybe at the time he was leaning toward retirement anyway. But when he said that, I suddenly had flashbacks to a certain “I did not have relations with that woman” comment by Slick Willy. I felt the same way when Marshawn Lynch made his first public comments after he ran that woman over and denied it. You could just hear/feel the lie.
- I hope the Jets are really good this year and Favre can go out on a high note. As crappy as he’s been through all of this, in the future, my guess is we’ll be able to look back fondly at his career as a Packer (I think I may be too young to seriously use the word “fondly” though. I think I’ll go now and sit on my davenport).
- I will always love the Packers above any one player, but if this Rodgers experiment goes awry, I will be quite ticked off. I’ll still love the Packers, but not TT. Not only have TT and co mortgaged our short-term future (which was bright) on this one player, in the process, they have taken a guy who already had tons of pressure on him and dumped 5x as much pressure on him with this whole fiasco. Maybe this will make Rodgers super strong mentally, I don’t know, but right now I think the honest truth (as opposed to the false truth?) is that Rodgers and many others are just deflated. Fortunately, there is some time before the season to get re-energized.
- I feel like this whole thing happened at the wrong time – too early. If Favre were truly welcomed back and also accepted coming back, and had an OK year this year, I could see really thinking about moving on. But the fact is, he came off of a tremendous season and many of us were very much looking forward to rolling into this year. It’s too bad he chose to retire (because he did choose this) but it’s also too bad that that decision was apparently based in part on feeling unwanted.
- I didn’t like it when people kept saying that the offense now goes through Rodgers and they’ve made a bunch of changes to accommodate that so the prospect of switching back for Brett would have been a really difficult one. I don’t buy that. Favre knew a bunch of plays last year and the offense, except in the Giants game, ran like a well-oiled machine. Also, if the offense right now is so geared toward Rodgers, isn’t that a bit dangerous – putting all the eggs in one basket – for a guy who has been injured twice in limited action?
- I really feel like I need to know, for my own mental health, what exactly happened to make both parties so pissed off. It still doesn’t add up that Favre would act like this. We all knew he needed some convincing and coddling to return, but none of us have seen such a nasty side of Favre before. As I’ve written a few times – nasty behavior doesn’t come out of nowhere. In mental health, you study behavior patterns and considering that he had never shown a public behavior pattern like this before, I think the inescapable conclusion is that there was some precipitating event that made him so angry with the team that he wasn’t sure what to do or say. And he didn’t manage himself well at all feeling like this. He seemed kind of all over the place when he talked about all this.
- I don’t like TT and his personality. I’ve never been much into that personality. And I can say safely if Rodgers doesn’t pan out, TT’s time in Green Bay may be limited.
- One question I have is just how good does TT think Rodgers will be? He took a huge risk by at least setting the Favre-out movement in motion. Bob McGinn writes “the Packers concluded that it would be the MOTHER OF ALL MISTAKES if Aaron Rodgers got away without being properly evaluated as a starter”. Really? The Mother of ALL Mistakes? That’s overstating unless someone thinks Rodgers is the next Montana.
- Something happened in this whole process to seemingly cool Favre’s relationship with McCarthy as well. I wonder what that is.
- Favre did choose to retire. There was pressure, yes, but he did make that choice and if he’d waited or perhaps chosen to come back and then retired later, that might have worked out better.
- If TT is right about all of this and the packers get back into the playoffs and go deep in the next couples years, many many people will have to give credit where credit is due and TT would probably have to go down with Ron Wolf as one of the better GMs in the game. I won’t rule out that possibility and I’ll certainly cheer hard for it.
- Lastly, I’m glad that TT managed to get something for Favre. While it’s still not enough, considering all that happened, it was a decent salvage effort for which he deserves some credit.
Ok, it’s in most publications right now, anywhere you go on the internet. From Tom Silverstein at jsonline, this is my favorite line:
The Jets sold Favre on the fact that the new (team HQ) location is in the suburbs and features some rural areas where he can fish and hunt.
I must admit I am relieved this is all over. What a messed up situation for everyone. One quick question for the Jets: did you do all of this just to jack up the prices on the seat licenses? Anyway, it will be interesting to see Favre in another uniform (if he doesn’t retire before actually playing).
But right now, I’m focused on the Packers picking up Chad Pennington – who is likely to be cut by the Jets. I think he would add very important depth to our QB roster. And, though I know there are others who want so badly to just have Rodgers be the unquestioned guy here, I don’t think stiff competition for the starting spot would hurt him. Listen, as I’ve written before, I think Rodgers might be quite good. But I’ve been wrong about a player or two (DeMond Parker for example, though he was never given a fair chance…). Pennington would not only provide real competition for Rodgers, he could also be a very strong back-up in case of injury, he’s heady and could learn MM’s offense well and if he does back up Rodgers, he could offer valuable veteran guidance, something this team has none of right now.
One concern I do have right now is that Pennington might land with Minnesota or the Bears (who still haven’t decided which horrible option they’ll go with as starter, Orton to start this week and Rex to start next week).
STEVE ADDS: Andy once again smoking crack. Do you really think, after saying all off-season that Aaron Rodgers was the starter and only when Brett Favre showed up in Green Bay saying that he could compete to start, that the Packers would let Chad Pennington compete with Rodgers? Crack, I tell you.
I’m fine if we pick up Pennington, though I suspect others will be willing to pay him more than we will. But it’s not because he’s very good or because he might play. (We know very little about Aaron Rodgers, but I’m fairly confident he’d beat out Pennington in an open competition. Of course, I’m fairly sure Andy would beat out Chad Pennington in an open competition and Andy throws like Ty Pennington. Come to think of it, Ty Pennington might beat out Chad Pennington.) The reason to sign him is because he’s smart and, apparently, understands the game very well. It would be useful to have someone like that for Rodgers to talk to when he comes off the sidelines.