Aaron Rodgers isn’t letting his critics off the hook quite yet.
Following the Packers’ 30-20 win over St. Louis on Sunday, the NFL’s reigning MVP appeared on the Jim Rome Show on Monday and spoke on topics ranging from Sunday’s win to the New Orleans Saints’ bounty-gate scandal and his plans for Monday night.
Toward the middle of the interview, Rodgers was asked about the criticism he’s received after the Packers’ 2-3 start this season and how the team, and offense specifically, channeled that into motivation over the past two weeks.
After the Packers’ 30-27 loss to Indianapolis, many national pundits, including ESPN’s Skip Bayless and CBS Sports’ Shannon Sharpe, were vocal in their assessment of Rodgers’ play and leadership.
As Rodgers pointed out during the interview, the criticism has been silent since his six-touchdown performance in the Packers’ 42-24 win over the previously undefeated Houston Texans.
“Look at my stats from the first five weeks,” Rodgers said. “Look at the situations we were in. How do I go from where I was at and two weeks later – where are those people now? What are they saying now?”
So why do critics seem to flock to give their take on the Packers?
“I think there’s, for whatever reason, people want to see us fail for various, various reasons,” Rodgers told Rome. “Whether it’s they don’t like me or don’t like Mike (McCarthy) or don’t like our team or don’t like the fact we don’t have an owner and we went 15-1 last year, we won the Super Bowl the year before or that we do things the right way and don’t have a lot of distractions and want to create stuff.
“Regardless of what the reasons are, I think there’s people looking forward to us slipping up and then trying to jump on top of us.”
As for the team’s turnaround, Rodgers credited the offense finding its rhythm and the team learning to play with the players it has after enduring a recent rash of injuries.
Then there’s Rodgers, who has returned to his MVP form of last year over the past two games. As Press-Gazette reporter Pete Dougherty touched on in his sidebar story after the game, Rodgers has thrown for 780 yards, nine touchdown passes, no interceptions, a 73.0 completion percentage and a passer rating of 140.8 during that stretch.
Contrary to what was said during last week’s broadcast against the Texans, however, Rodgers told Rome his motivation has been fueled more by focus, not anger.
“Regardless of what was said on TV, I was never angry in any production meeting or playing angry – focused is a lot better word and a word that doesn’t have the same definition of angry,” Rodgers said. “I was focused for the Texans game. The urgency of the team was up. The understanding we have to play our best football was on our mind and we did. We came back yesterday on the road again, knowing what it takes to win on the road. We had another focused effort, had a big second half and made some big drives late in the game to finish the game off. It’s a state of mind, it’s not an attitude.”