GREEN BAY – While the FOX Sports cameras didn’t catch any sort of dust-up between Mike McCarthy and quarterback Aaron Rodgers during Sunday’s 19-17 victory over the Baltimore Ravens, the Green Bay Packers coach insinuated Monday that he and his QB might still be butting heads a bit.
And as far as McCarthy’s concerned, that’s just fine and dandy.
Three weeks after the FOX cameras caught McCarthy and Rodgers having a somewhat heated exchange about play-calling during the Packers’ loss at Cincinnati on Sept. 22, McCarthy said Monday that Rodgers is handling the adversity the offense has faced – injuries, uneven play, spotty pass protection and the challenge of integrating a suddenly productive running game – as well as he could ask Rodgers to.
“I tell you what, I love the way Aaron Rodgers is playing right now,” McCarthy replied when asked if Rodgers has played to the standards he and the quarterback himself expect. “He’s playing some really adverse football. This is very healthy for our football team in the long run.
“I don’t like it. I don’t like that I have to stand here and talk about the health of our team every week. But let’s not forget who that affects most on offense. He’s been asked to do things on the run that he’s adapted to. He’s played through some frustrating moments.
“I like him when he’s salty and conflicting and all that. It’s good to see that side of him. (The players) are all competitive, don’t get me wrong. But he has a tremendous competitive streak in him. That’s why sometimes I think we can all get caught up in the numbers and go ‘Wow.’ But I really like the way he’s playing right now.”
Asked why it’s good that Rodgers is “salty,” McCarthy replied, “Conflict is good.”
Through five games, Rodgers has completed 118 of 184 passes (64.1 percent) for 1,646 yards with 10 touchdowns and four interceptions with 14 sacks for a passer rating of 101.9. Rodgers, the NFL’s all-time career leader in passer rating, ranks fifth in that category this season and is on pace for 13 interceptions, which would tie his career high set in 2008, his first year as a starter. On Sunday against the Ravens, amid losing wide receivers James Jones (knee) and Randall Cobb (leg) to first-half injuries, Rodgers completed just 17 of 32 passes for 315 yards with one touchdown, one interception and three sacks (84.8 rating). Rodgers also fumbled twice on sacks, although the Packers kept possession each time.
While Rodgers’ numbers may not be in line with the way he’s played over the past three seasons – and he missed some uncharacteristic throws Sunday, as he had against Detroit the week before -- with the run game becoming a factor, offensive coordinator Tom Clements praised Rodgers’ decision-making at the line of scrimmage on run/pass option plays. He said Rodgers adjusted the play call on Eddie Lacy’s victory-clinching third-down run in the final seconds, when Lacy gained 4 yards around left end – the play had been designed to go to the right and Rodgers altered it – to convert a first down and allow the Packers to kneel down on the final snap.
Rodgers also made some big throws, like the 64-yard touchdown to Jordy Nelson (which traveled 61 yards in the air) and the in-stride throw to tight end Jermichael Finley for a 52-yard gain that helped seal the game at the end.
“I think he’s playing well,” Clements said. “I don’t know how many adjustments he made in the game, run or pass – probably 14 or 15 or so – and (I would) maybe only question one or two of them. He’s keeping us in clean plays. He’s getting the run game to the (correct) side. He was under some pressure yesterday, but he made some big plays, especially later in the game. I think our entire offense did.
“We had been saying for weeks that we need to be at our best in the fourth quarter, and from the mid-third quarter on, our last four drives, we were outstanding. I think we had a field goal, a touchdown and a field goal then ran out the clock in a 4-minute situation. I think we converted 4 out of 5 first downs, got some big plays, got a long touchdown pass. It was a close game against an outstanding opponent, so it was good to see that happen late in the game.”
Asked what he thought McCarthy meant about Rodgers being salty, Clements replied: “I’ve said before that Aaron is his own harshest critic and if he misses a play, an adjustment or a pass that he thinks he should hit, he gets upset and it bothers him and it gives him impetus to try to do better next time out. Which is good.”
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There are no games scheduled for today.
There are no games scheduled for today.