Coach down­plays dif­fer­ing views about of­fense

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Green Bay — More telling than any­thing Mike Mc­Carthy said Mon­day was how the Green Bay Pack­ers coach ad­dressed quar­ter­back Aaron Rodgers’ open crit­i­cism af­ter a 22-0 win against Buf­falo.

Mc­Carthy, do­ing his best not to make a po­ten­tially bad sit­u­a­tion worse, kept his com­po­sure through­out a 15-minute news con­fer­ence. No mat­ter how many times he was asked about Rodgers’ com­ments, the coach who from time to time has been riled at the podium never flashed anger.

He was the pic­ture of calm, dump­ing cold wa­ter on any no­tion there’s a prob­lem be­tween him and his two-time MVP quar­ter­back.

“I have good re­la­tion­ships, proper re­la­tion­ships, with all of our play­ers,” Mc­Carthy said. “Aaron and I, we have gone through a lot of years to­gether. So I feel good about our re­la­tion­ship.”

Rodgers was clearly dis­pleased with the of­fense’s per­for­mance Sun­day, say­ing the Pack­ers were “cham­pi­onship de­fen­sive level and non-play­off team of­fen­sive level.” He lamented not be­ing able to tar­get his top play­mak­ers more. When asked how to ac­com­plish that, Rodgers said “it’s by the plan.”

Mc­Carthy has long been re­spon­si­ble for shap­ing the Pack­ers’ of­fen­sive game plan.

Mc­Carthy al­lowed “there’s a lit­tle bit of a change” with how the Pack­ers de­vise their of­fen­sive game plan af­ter he ad­justed the struc­ture of his coach­ing staff this off-sea­son. Mc­Carthy is still the play caller, but he has more voices to pull from than in the past. Not only do the Pack­ers have an of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor in Joe Philbin, but there’s also a pass-game co­or­di­na­tor in Jim Hostler and run-game co­or­di­na­tor i n James Cam­pen.

So while Rodgers still has the op­por­tu­nity to pro­vide his i nput on each weekly game plan, it’s not un­rea­son­able to won­der whether the in­flux of other voices di­lutes his own.

“There’s a rea­son why these new coaches are here,” Mc­Carthy said. “They bring a level of ex­pe­ri­ence and ex­per­tise in be­ing in other sys­tems and do­ing things a dif­fer­ent way. At the end of the day, the way we func­tion and put

to­gether a game plan is very sim­i­lar. Like any­thing, our phi­los­o­phy will never change as long as I’m stand­ing up there and, on of­fense, it’s about mak­ing the quar­ter­back suc­cess­ful.

“Aaron’s given a lot of re­spon­si­bil­ity, and right­fully so. He’s earned that, at the line of scrim­mage and dur­ing the prepa­ra­tion process. That’ll con­tinue as it’s been for quite some time.”

Mc­Carthy didn’t dis­agree with Rodgers’ as­sess­ment of the of­fense’s poor per­for­mance. De­spite the easy win, it was the type of game where Pack­ers teams in the past might have been able to pick a score. They clearly out­matched the Bills, led by a rookie quar­ter­back who looked un­ready to play and a weak sup­port­ing cast.

That the Pack­ers fin­ished with only 22 points was far from im­pres­sive.

Where Mc­Carthy dif­fered was on the source of Sun­day’s slug­gish pro­duc­tion. More than the game plan, Mc­Carthy sug­gested ex­e­cu­tion was not crisp.

“We weren’t clean,” he said. “I mean, five dropped balls, we put the ball on the ground five times. The two big­gest neg­a­tives of the game were how we han­dled the foot­ball. I mean, that’s re­ally the big­gest red (mark) on my grade sheet.”

Fric­tion, it seems, has grown be­tween Rodgers and Mc­Carthy over the past eight months. The quar­ter­back has taken veiled shots at his coach in the past, but they seem to be com­ing with in­creas­ing fre­quency.

Since the end of the 2017 sea­son, Rodgers has com­plained about not be­ing con­sulted on for­mer quar­ter­backs coach Alex Van Pelt’s de­par­ture. Given sev­eral op­por­tu­ni­ties in the off-sea­son, he never fully en­dorsed Mc­Carthy’s de­ci­sion to re­or­ga­nize his of­fen­sive play­book. His com­ments Sun­day were only the lat­est ex­am­ple of con­tention.

It wasn’t enough to rile Mc­Carthy, at least pub­licly. Asked if he was dis­ap­pointed in his quar­ter­back’s com­ments, Mc­Carthy al­most seemed to ex­cuse them.

“I’m not go­ing to get into tone and things like that,” he said. “So, very pas­sion­ate man. Very pas­sion­ate, very com­pet­i­tive. Hey, I’m no dif­fer­ent, too. I’ve called a lot of games in this league, and I’ve gone through a lot of game plans, and still rep­re­sent the team as a head coach.

“But when I closed my door last night and watched the game, I felt like we left a lot out there.”

MIKE DE SISTI/MIL­WAU­KEE JOUR­NAL SEN­TINEL

Pack­ers quar­ter­back Aaron Rodgers is de­jected af­ter an in­com­plete pass dur­ing the first quar­ter on Sun­day.

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