While Aaron Rodgers believes preparation is inevitably what will pull the Green Bay Packers’ offense out of its recent funk, the veteran quarterback says there haven't been any closed-door meetings over a lack of it recently.
During NBC’s broadcast of the Packers’ 17-13 loss to Chicago on Thanksgiving, color commentator Cris Collinsworth said the Packers “had a little players-only meeting this past couple weeks ago before that Minnesota game. I don't think Aaron Rodgers was too happy with the preparation schedule of some of the young players on this team. A few too many video games being played and not enough homework.”
Packers coach Mike McCarthy said on Sunday morning that he had no knowledge of such meeting. Later in the day, Rodgers told reporters that the portrayal was inaccurate. He acknowledged the team has held its usual positional meetings, but there’s been no concentrated effort to pull players together to discuss the recent downturn.
“First of all, it’s false. It didn’t happen in the way that he explained it,” Rodgers said. “I saw something about guys were worried about people playing video games. Sometimes in those production meetings, obviously, the message doesn’t get conveyed the right away or whoever Michelle (Tafoya) talked to or Cris, I don’t know what he was referring to there, but I heard the comments and it’s just not true.
“There wasn’t any players-only meeting, no. There’s meetings with the offense all the time. We break up offense and defense, we break up into position groups, but there wasn’t anything resembling what he talked about. From what I heard, I didn’t see the broadcast.”
The Packers and their 21st-ranked offense have been under fire for most of the season, but things have heated up even more after losing four of the last five games. After Thursday’s loss, Rodgers pointed to himself in saying he needs to increase his preparation to get on the same page with his receivers.
Rodgers has completed only 112-of-207 passes (53.8 percent) in the five games since Green Bay’s bye week. A good portion of the receivers’ 24 drops this season also have come during that stretch, according to Pro Football Focus. Rookies and veterans alike have had their share of missed assignments, as well.
For years, the Packers have been viewed as a trend-setter when it comes to offensive production and efficiency under McCarthy. They’ve finished outside of the top 10 in total yards only once in his nine previous seasons as head coach.
Things haven’t gone according to plan this year and the offense’s deficiencies have been magnified over the last month. Rodgers believes it doesn’t have as much do with what’s happening on the field, but rather off of it.
“Adversity and the elements sometimes can put a stress on you, but it goes back to what you’re doing in your spare time and what you’re doing with your time in the facility,” Rodgers said. “Being a pro is all about making sure you’re as ready as possible by the time the game hits. I think that’s the important thing for guys to remember here, especially young guys. We’re 15 games into the season, counting preseason. That’s a long grind for those guys, especially the rookies. This is the time where they really got to get through that wall, and the vets – the vets have had some (missed assignments) as well. So we’ve got to buckle down our preparation and make sure we’re ready to play.”
The problem with mental errors and missed assignments is they challenge offensive concepts and creativity. It’s almost a self-fulfilling prophecy in that the more mistakes you make, the more it dulls down your scheme.
Rodgers didn’t have much to say about McCarthy’s comments on Friday that too much is being made of play-calling and scheme, but agreed the offense must execute better if it’s going to turn things around.
“I think at this point, it’s important to take the next step which would be the effective, the prolific is kind of a few steps down the line as you put some effective games together,” Rodgers said. “We’re not even being effective enough anywhere near our potential, I think.
“We’re running the ball better, which is encouraging. We’ve just got to do a better job of winning consistently and completing passes.”
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