If I have one piece of advice for Mike McCarthy, it might be to avoid social media these days. It’s a dangerous world out there. A lot of fans, and now national media members, are calling for his job.
A lot of Packers fans would like to see McCarthy gone because of the Packers inability to win more games. Some would look at the lack of creativity or the unwillingness to change up the playbook. Some would point to what seems a lack of enthusiasm, discipline, and game management. The list goes on.
If the Packers decide to move on from their coach since 2006, I’m going to throw one more reason out there: Aaron Rodgers.
Not because Rodgers looks annoyed. It’s not because Rodgers should tell management they should make a change. And no, Aaron is NOT throwing games to get McCarthy fired. Anybody who thinks that is ridiculous.
The Packers may need to bring in a coach that can kind of rein Aaron Rodgers back in.
I don’t know if Rodgers isn’t buying into the system anymore. I don’t know if a lot of his frustration on the field is directed at the play calls, his teammates, or his own play. In all honesty, it might be a little bit of all that.
But Rodgers isn’t playing to the all-world level that we have been used to from him. If you look at his stats, yeah they look pretty dang good. One interception?! But the Packers are built to go only as far as Rodgers can lead them. That’s why you pay him all that money.
But watch the games and don’t box score scout. Rodgers is one of the leaders in throwaways, which is even more frustrating at times because he takes a lot of unnecessary sacks. His completion percentage is down. He’s missing open guys and still looks like he doesn’t trust a lot of guys at times, outside of Davante Adams.
But what was extremely evident in Thursday’s loss was Rodgers, for whatever reasons, not hitting the check downs to Aaron Jones and taking big sacks on third downs. We’ve seen the still frames and the pictures on social media. You know what I’m talking about.
So why is he doing that? My theory: Rodgers is still looking for the big play down the field. The big plays down the field we saw in the first half of the game against the Seahawks that looked vintage Rodgers. We all took to social media after that throw to Robert Tonyan and said, “Yup, that’s Aaron being Aaron.” And Rodgers succeeded in extending that play that allowed them to score that big touchdown.
But Rodgers is approaching 35 years old and he has a banged up knee. Consistently, Rodgers won’t be able to win all the time by using his legs, moving the pocket, and making big play after big play by extending the play. Playing backyard football if you want to call it that.
I think we saw some of that inability last night and we’ve seen some of that inability throughout the season. At some point, Rodgers has to realize that he doesn’t have the same maneuverability as he once did. He has to take what the defense gives him at times, like checking it down.
And whoever the next coach is, whether it’s still McCarthy or someone else, that coach has to tell him that. Not only tell him that, but game plan for it. Use shorter routes. Don’t always rely on slow, big developing plays to win on offense. You can still have those plays. You still NEED those plays. But the Packers cannot make that a priority on their offense anymore with an aging quarterback. Don’t give Rodgers that option all the time. Rein the offense in a bit.
Now 35 years old doesn’t mean Rodgers is over the hill. He’s not done. Not even close to being done. Look no further than Tom Brady and Drew Brees. Two high caliber quarterbacks still getting it down, without being as mobile, and not afraid to take the check downs and taking what the defense gives them. They have adapted as they have gotten older. Rodgers has to, no, MUST, do the same.
If McCarthy refuses to do that or his message doesn’t get through Rodgers, than that’s extremely concerning. And that to me, is the big reason it may be time for a change. McCarthy did that for Brett Favre. If he can’t do that for Rodgers or Rodgers doesn’t listen to him, how can McCarthy still be his coach and playcaller?
To sum it up: Rodgers is playing good, but not great. And the Packers need great Rodgers. It’s up to the head coach and playcaller to help Rodgers. Coach him. Adjust play calls to help him. Adjust to the older Rodgers. If Rodgers is checked out or has no interest in that, it’s time to move on and bring in a new voice. I don’t like calling for peoples jobs, but this may be a break that both sides need.
And run the ball more.