GREEN BAY, Wis. — Packers coach Mike McCarthy is confident that quarterback Aaron Rodgers and Green Bay’s struggling offense will get better.
Two games into the season, the results have been uncharacteristically ugly.
The Packers (1-1) are ranked 29th in the NFL in total offense and a 31st in passing. Rodgers and the rest of the offense looked out of sync in last week’s loss at Minnesota.
“I have great confidence in Aaron,” McCarthy said before practice Wednesday when asked how his veteran quarterback bounces back from subpar games.
“I’ve never trusted a quarterback or an individual as a player more than I trust Aaron Rodgers.”
His overall resume is outstanding. A two-time NFL MVP, Rodgers’ 103.8 career passer rating is the best in NFL history.
But Rodgers hasn’t had a passer rating over 100 since Week 6 last season. While Rodgers has still been good since that game last October against San Diego, the stats haven’t measured up to the high standards he has set since becoming the starter in 2008.
In the 17-14 loss to the Vikings on Sunday, Rodgers was 20 of 36 for 213 yards with one touchdown, but his one interception came late in the fourth quarter to end the Packers’ hopes for a comeback. Rodgers also fumbled three times, losing one .
“It’s a process. And he’s no different than any other player,” McCarthy said. “Fundamentals (are) something you’re always chasing as a football team, and it’s no different at the quarterback position.”
Rodgers anticipated the pointed questions that would come his way on Wednesday in the locker room. Yes, Rodgers said, he bears a lot of the responsibility. He’s especially frustrated by the uncharacteristic fumbles.
“As a leader you have to take the blame when is necessary and even sometimes when it’s not your fault,” Rodgers said. “I didn’t play as well as I wanted to last week, and I turned the ball over twice, and I can’t do that if we’re going to win the game. So I’ve got to play better and I’ve got to play more efficiently on offense.”
He indicated that timing was an issue. Connecting with receivers at just the right point when they make breaks on routes is essential to the Packers’ scheme. Proper timing cuts down on the need for the offensive line to hold blocks longer than expected.
But one thing that Rodgers isn’t worried about is the media scrutiny.
“This is not an end-of-the-world-type moment, like everything’s coming down on top of us,” Rodgers said. “We appreciate what you do, but we’re not ultimately judged or worried about your opinions of us and your scrutiny of us.”
He’s more concerned about what McCarthy and his coaches have to say. So far, the boss likes the intensity that he has seen from his players.
“The work ethic is outstanding, for Aaron and our guys, and we’ll improve off last week,” McCarthy said. “I’m confident in that.”
McCarthy pushed the practice schedule back Wednesday afternoon so his team could spend more time on strength and conditioning. The defense had a couple of notable injuries from the Vikings game, including a sore hamstring for safety Morgan Burnett.
Burnett did not practice, along with LB Clay Matthews, who is nursing ankle and hamstring injuries. Both rode stationary bikes during the portion of practice open to media. DE/LB Datone Jones and DT Letroy Guion, who both have knee injuries, also missed practice.
Three players sidelined the first two games of the season returned to practice: LB Jayrone Elliott, S Chris Banjo and CB Josh Hawkins. Each had hamstring injuries.
“I’m not reading or listening to the stuff that’s being said. I know he has a very high standard for us and I don’t think anyone will hold him higher than what he holds himself,” — WR Jordy Nelson about scrutiny on Rodgers.