When he’s not reading crap like this, there’s plenty of other stuff on the Internet that Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers surely would dismiss as crap. Including a new article from Tyler Dunne of Bleacher Report.
Dunne previously covered the Packers for the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, and he takes a lengthy and detailed look at a quarterback whose career seems to be at a crossroads — and who for the first time in his career is receiving a healthy dose of criticism. It’s not the first time Rodgers has been criticized, but it’s the first time that it seems to be simultaneously sticking to his skin and burrowing under it.
Articles posted at PFT over the past few weeks have focused primarily on post-game comments from Rodgers that, on the surface, criticized others in the organization with a broad brush. I interpreted Rodgers’ rants about a lack of energy on the sidelines against the Colts and the absence of a fear among players that they’ll lose their jobs after a thrashing in Tennessee as not-so-veiled shots at the head coach, and as tangible proof that the two men don’t see eye to eye. Dunne dug more deeply in an effort to understand the role of the quarterback in the struggles of the Packers.
Among others, Dunne spoke to former Packers tight end Jermichael Finley, a teammate whose relationship never developed to the point where the quarterback gave his cell phone number to Finley. Balanced against opinions of current teammates like tackle David Bakhtiari and defensive lineman Letroy Guion that Rodgers is indeed a capable leader is the assessment from Finley, who spent six years with the Packers from 2008 (when Rodgers became the starter) through 2013.
“In my opinion, he’s a different guy,” Finley told Dunne. “I didn’t really know how he showed his leadership. He wasn’t a vocal guy. He really wasn’t a hands-on guy. To tell you the truth, it was all about his game and his stats in my opinion. . . . He was a guy that kept it all in. He kept grudges close to his chest. If you did something, he never really let it go. He always kept it close to his heart. I just don’t think he was a natural-born leader. He wasn’t put on Earth to lead.”
In calling out the rest of the team for lacking energy in the Colts game, Rodgers admitted that he isn’t a “rah-rah” guy. Dunne explains in his article that Rodgers kept to himself during the game, rarely interacting teammates whom he believed needed a kick in the ass.
“Aaron Rodgers is so scared of what guys are going to say that he doesn’t say nothing at all,” Finley said. “He doesn’t get vocal. He goes into his little shell. He’s not a guy who hangs out with the fellas. He’s real self-centered.”
Dunne also explores some of the variables beyond football that may be affecting Rodgers. It’s the kind of territory that, if not tiptoed through properly, can get a reporter labeled a hot-take short-order cook (or worse) and/or draw the ire of Olivia Munn. But the details Dunne has mined are nevertheless intriguing, even if they are: (1) anonymously sourced, for the most part; and (2) irrelevant to the current state of the quarterback’s career.
“You come to work, punch in and punch out,” Bakhtiari told. “No matter what’s going on back at home, with wives and kids and family members there’s going to be a lot of other stressors in your life. A lot of guys may have family issues we don’t know.”
I tend to agree with Bakhtiari. But in this ongoing effort to figure out how a Hall of Fame quarterback who should be entering the thirtysomething sweet spot where lingering physical skills intersect with sufficient knowledge of the game to make him a coach on the field, every stone is being turned.
The real question is when things will turn around for the Packers. Not for one game against an inferior team, but for the duration of the season, propelling the team into the postseason and toward the top of the playoff tree.
I still think they’ll win the NFC North, and that they definitely can be a dangerous team in the playoffs, just like they were as the No. 6 seed in 2010, when they ran the table and won the Super Bowl.