Quarterback Packers Aaron Rogers met with reports on Wednesday. Not surprisingly, the main topic of conversation was his public criticism of unnamed teammates for serious mental errors in games (20 percent). Rogers, somewhat surprisingly, did not regret his remarks.
“People in this society sometimes find it hard to hear the truth,” Rogers said at one point during a 15-minute press conference in his locker.
Rogers was asked if it was considered good leadership to state his concerns publicly when he could have done so in private.
“I did it privately,” Rogers said. “I don’t say anything [publicly] what I don’t tell those guys. So maybe it’s about talking behind closed doors in public, but the level of accountability here is the standard. Again, I don’t think it should be a problem for any of these guys to hear criticism. We all hear criticism in our own way, and we all need to come to terms with it, accept it, and process it. And if it doesn’t fit, then it doesn’t fit. But if it fits, we have to wear it and improve certain things.
“I’m not going to be a robot here. I don’t understand why people have trouble with truthful things. You know, I call things the way I see them. If people don’t think I need to air this stuff, that’s their opinion. But I’m doing what I think is in the best interest of our guys, and this year I’ve tried a lot of different things in terms of leadership. And I spoke about my personal feelings from the situation. I didn’t call anyone by name.
“I think we all need to be aware of the details. And that includes me. If I need to, you know, talk one on one with these guys for a week, I’ll do it. And we did it to a certain extent. But, you know, I’m not just going to set up one or two guys. I’m warning everyone that it wasn’t good enough and we all need to do a little better. You know, if any of those guys have a problem with that, I’m right here. I would like to talk. I enjoy these conversations. Do you know? I like any conflicts like this because I know that the decision of the other side will make us better, friendship and unity on the field. But no one came up to me and said, “I have a problem with what you said.” I think everyone knows Matt [LaFleur] includes that everything should go up a little, get a little better.”
At one point, Rodgers was asked if he was referring to specific players when he said that some of them should be sent to the bench for persistent mental errors.
“Not necessarily,” Rogers said. “I think it’s easy, you know, we have to show our best eleven on the field. . . . We can’t have the same double digits, 15+ mental errors and expect to move the ball efficiently.”
Generally speaking, Rogers believes his teammates should have thick skin.
“We all need to be able to handle criticism,” Rogers said. “That is the nature of our work. Everything we do is scrutinized, from me to the young players. And it is very important to get used to being positive about it, whether it comes from one of you, from me or from [coach] Matt Lafleur. We need to be able to be trained, all of us.”
So what does it take to fix the bugs?
“Time,” Rogers said. “You know, we have a schedule. We are creatures of habit. But when we leave this place, we must be sure that we are doing the right thing when we are at home. Some of them are watching a movie. Some of them study the plan. Some of them we study ourselves. But we need to make sure we’re ready to go every single day we enter the building.”
And there is an obvious root of concern. Rogers believes guys don’t go beyond the bare minimum to get better. It’s an ironic remark, given that Rodgers has done the least in the past two offseasons. Maybe if he attended training during the off-season and/or got his teammates to take shots in their spare time, they wouldn’t be making mental mistakes now.