Rodgers: 'A great deal of ac­count­abil­ity' un­der McCarthy

The Commercial Appeal - - Business - Ryan Wood Pack­ers News

GREEN BAY, Wisc. — You watch the Green Bay Pack­ers' of­fense this sea­son, how dis­jointed it has looked week to week, how off sched­ule it has op­er­ated, and it’s hard not to won­der. Aaron Rodgers is a two-time MVP. At his best, he has played the quar­ter­back po­si­tion per­haps as well as any­body ever.

His arm tal­ent, his elu­sive­ness, his cre­ativ­ity, his in­tel­lect — his all-around skill set may be un­par­al­leled. But who holds him ac­count­able? Win­ston Moss, the Pack­ers' long­time as­sis­tant coach, sug­gested in a tweet Tues­day that Rodgers hasn’t been held ac­count­able.

He was the first mem­ber in­side the or­ga­ni­za­tion to pub­licly ex­press the pos­si­bil­ity.

Moss was fired hours later not for the tweet, in­terim head coach Joe Philbin said Wed­nes­day, but be­cause it “just didn’t feel like the fit right now was where it needs to be.”

Still, Moss’ tweet fu­eled a pub­lic per­cep­tion that Mike McCarthy lost his abil­ity to keep Rodgers in check, lead­ing to his even­tual ter­mi­na­tion.

Team pres­i­dent/CEO Mark Mur­phy and gen­eral man­ager Brian Gutekunst de­nied Mon­day that was a fac­tor in the de­ci­sion to fire McCarthy.

On Wed­nes­day, Rodgers tried to quash any idea there’s a lack of ac­count­abil­ity, and in the process de­fended his for­mer head coach.

“There’s al­ways been a great deal of ac­count­abil­ity un­der Mike’s pro­gram for the last 13 years,” Rodgers said.

“There’s con­se­quences for ac­tions that are out­side of what’s in the best in­ter­est of the team, and there’s never been – I used to al­ways tell him, I said, ‘Hey, if you need to call on some­body in the meet­ing to let ev­ery­body know we’re all on equal play­ing field, call on me first. Call me out.’ Just so ev­ery­body knows no­body is off lim­its, we’re hold­ing ev­ery­body to the same stan­dard. And I feel that’s the way it al­ways was.”

Moss’ tweet eas­ily could have been dis­re­garded; his past volatil­ity doesn’t make for the most cred­i­ble wit­ness. So awk­wardly com­bat­ive were his in­ter­views at the podium the past cou­ple years, Moss was the only as­sis­tant coach not made avail­able to the me­dia this sea­son.

Moss’ tweet also could have been viewed as an en­dorse­ment for him­self to re­ceive the in­terim head-coach­ing job, not Philbin.

It’s pos­si­ble Moss, a mem­ber of McCarthy’s orig­i­nal coach­ing staff and the as­so­ciate head coach the past four years, felt spurned af­ter be­ing over­looked.

But the per­cep­tion re­gard­ing Rodgers wasn’t born from noth­ing. Rodgers openly ques­tioned McCarthy in the past.

Those pub­lic chal­lenges only grew in fre­quency once it be­came clear an­other record-break­ing con­tract ex­ten­sion was in Rodgers’ fu­ture.

At the Su­per Bowl last sea­son, Rodgers voiced his dis­ap­proval with the Pack­ers mov­ing on from long­time quar­ter­backs coach Alex Van Pelt, both with the de­ci­sion and his lack of con­sul­ta­tion.

He had a back-and-forth with McCarthy through the me­dia in camp, say­ing some­one needed to hold young re­ceivers ac­count­able for lack of fo­cus in prac­tice.

Then af­ter a Week 4 win against the Buf­falo Bills, Rodgers crit­i­cized McCarthy’s of­fen­sive game plan.

Rodgers has de­fended his re­la­tion­ship with McCarthy this week, re­fer­ring to it as a friend­ship Mon­day.

He be­came ag­i­tated Wed­nes­day when asked if there’s any va­lid­ity to the be­lief Rodgers played a part in McCarthy be­ing fired.

“I don’t know how many times I’ve got to stand here and tell you,” Rodgers said.

“I don’t feel like I need to con­vince any­body about Mike and I’s re­la­tion­ship. It’s a close-knit re­la­tion­ship. We would fin­ish ev­ery time that we talked, whether it’s Mon­day af­ter­noon up in his of­fice or the Thurs­days we used to spend in the team room or Fri­day up­stairs or Satur­day in the QB room, and we’d hug each other and tell each other we love each other. I mean, we had a close-knit bond.”

Rodgers ac­knowl­edged Mon­day he would oc­ca­sion­ally “butt heads” with McCarthy, who al­most al­ways de­clined to di­rectly ques­tion Rodgers pub­licly.

It’s clear, though, the im­mense power he holds within the or­ga­ni­za­tion as a quar­ter­back with al­most $100 mil­lion guar­an­teed in his con­tract, even if Mur­phy and Gutekunst said Rodgers won’t be part of the process to hire a new head coach.

That au­thor­ity is most vis­i­ble on the field.

Even with a new play caller in Philbin, Rodgers said he an­tic­i­pates their re­la­tion­ship will be much in line with the col­lab­o­ra­tive na­ture he had un­der McCarthy.

He ex­pects to keep the same pres­nap lat­i­tude McCarthy af­forded him.

“That’s al­ways been part of the of­fense,” Rodgers said.

“There’s check with me’s, there’s au­di­bles within plays. And then the stuff out­side those when there’s a look that we talked about this play into this play, but those are al­ways stuff that we talk about dur­ing the week, and you’re re­ally never go­ing to make stuff up out there. It’s con­ver­sa­tions that you’ve had, so the guys are ex­pect­ing those checks when they come up.”

It’s not un­com­mon, of course, for a quar­ter­back of Rodgers’ stature to se­cure more control of the of­fense.

With Rodgers’ in­tel­lect, it would be fail­ing to max­i­mize his skill set not to seize on his abil­ity to iden­tify weak ar­eas in a de­fense and ma­nip­u­late matchups.

When asked Wed­nes­day if there was any truth in Moss’ tweet, Philbin de­clined to com­ment.

“We're mov­ing for­ward,” he said.

“There’s al­ways been a great deal of ac­count­abil­ity un­der Mike’s pro­gram for the last 13 years,” Pack­ers quar­ter­back Aaron Rodgers said. JEFF HANISCH/USA TO­DAY SPORTS

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