Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers met with reports on Wednesday. To little surprise, the dominant subject of conversation came from his public criticism of unnamed teammates for making extensive mental mistakes in games, at a rate of 20 percent. Rodgers, to little surprise, had no regrets for his remarks.
“People in this society have a hard time hearing truth sometimes,” Rodgers said at one point during a 15-minute press conference at his locker.
Rodgers was asked whether it counts as good leadership to take his concerns public, when he could have done it privately.
“I did do it privately,” Rodgers said. “I’m not saying anything [publicly] that I’m not saying to those guys. So, maybe that’s talking about a conversation that’s behind closed doors in public, but the level of accountability is the standard here. Again, I don’t think it should be a problem to any of those guys to hear criticism. We all hear criticism in our own ways, and we’ve all got to be OK with it and take it in and process it. And if it doesn’t fit, then it doesn’t fit. But if it fits, we’ve got to wear it and improve on those certain things.
“I’m not going to be a robot up here. I don’t understand why people have a problem with things that are truthful. You know, I’m calling things the way I see it. If people don’t think I need to air that stuff out, that’s their opinion. But I’m doing what I think is in the best interests of our guys, and I’ve tried a lot of different things from a leadership standpoint this year. And I was relating my personal feelings on the situation. I didn’t call anybody out by name.
“I think we all need to be on the details. And that includes me. If I need to have, you know, one-on-one extra conversations with those guys during the week, then I’m gonna do that. And we have done that to an extent. But, you know, I’m not just putting one or two guys on blast. I’m alerting everybody that this hasn’t been good enough, and we’ve all got to do a little better job. You know, if one of those guys has a problem with it, I’m right here. I’d love to have a conversation. I enjoy those conversations. You know? I enjoy any type of conflict like that, because I know the resolution on the other side’s gonna make us a better unit, better friendship, better cohesion on the field. But nobody’s come to me and said, ‘I’ve got a problem with what you said.’ I think everybody knows, Matt [LaFleur] includes, that everything’s got to take a little uptick, get a little better.”
Rodgers at one point was asked whether he had specific players in mind when he said some should get benched for making constant mental mistakes.
“Not necessarily,” Rodgers said. “I think it’s just, you know, we’ve got to get our best eleven on the field. . . . We can’t have the same double-digit, fifteen-plus mental errors and expect to move the ball efficiently.”
Generally speaking, Rodgers believes his teammates should have thick skin.
“We all should be able to handle criticism,” Rodgers said. “That’s the nature of our job. Everything we do is scrutinized, from myself on down to the young players. And getting used to dealing with that in a positive way is important, whether it’s coming from one of you people, or from me or from [coach] Matt LaFleur. We need to be able to be coachable, all of us.”
So what will it take to eliminate the mistakes?
“Time,” Rodgers said. “You know, we have a schedule. We’re creatures of habit. But when we leave this place, we’ve got to be making sure we’re doing the right thing when we’re home. Some of that’s watching film. Some of that’s studying the plan. Some of that’s studying ourselves. But we’ve got to make sure we’re ready to go every single day we step in the building.”
And there’s the apparent root of the concern. Rodgers thinks guys aren’t going above and beyond the bare minimum in order to make themselves better. It’s an ironic remark, given that Rodgers has done the bare minimum during the past two offseasons. Maybe if he’d attended offseason workouts and/or gathered his teammates for throwing sessions in the down time, they wouldn’t be making mental mistakes now.