It was a tough week for Aaron Rodgers, who seemed to take a ton of heat in the media as the 2-3 Green Bay Packers prepared to attempt to recover from a collapse against Indianapolis in a matchup with the unbeaten Texans.
Of course, everything changed when Rodgers put up six touchdowns in a blowout road victory.
Aaron Rodgers joined Jason Wilde on ESPN Milwaukee to discuss his rebound in Houston, criticism from analysts such as Shannon Sharpe, playing as an underdog, scout team criticism, the emergence of Randall Cobb, and Green Bay’s next opponent, St. Louis.
On the offense getting back on track:
“Yeah it felt good all week. We had a good week of practice. I liked the energy, I liked the focus. We were coming off of a tough loss in Indy where we didn’t play well in the second half and let a game slip away, but I think guys really understood the urgency that was needed to get it done. That’s kind of what we stressed was just doing a little bit more. Each person giving a little bit more and playing a little bit better. I think we knew we had this in us. The game was set up nice for us; they were coming off of a short week. A lot of hype around the game and we had a lot of confidence going in. This was going to be a big win for us, a momentum win if we played the way we were capable of playing. It was nice to start fast in the game. We had a gift there with the offside to give us another chance and kind of got things rolling. Once we got things rolling the defense got a stop. Once you get up two scores on a team with that kind of running attack you make them more one dimensional. That’s what we saw a lot last year from our team was our offense playing well, giving us a cushion, and then being one dimensional. That’s what attributed to a lot of the yards that were gained by our defense last year. Teams being one dimensional and having to throw it because we had a big lead. That’s what you saw on Sunday.”
On if they did anything differently in Houston:
“I don’t think there was anything especially different. I just felt like I wanted to set the tone in practice last week – the urgency level that was needed. I think we needed to kick it up a tad and get it down. And I think Mike deserves a lot of the credit. He set the framework for how we were going to practice that week and how we were going to focus from the start of the week. And there wasn’t a major freak out or panic. The objectives were very clear and I think he was calling on all of us to do a little more and challenging us in a way that really caused guys to respond positively. And I know personally I made sure I was very prepared for the game. I felt good about the plan, I felt good about the calls that I was going to go to and Mike added some really good ones to the mix and we were able to make it work.”
On if they perform better as an underdog:
“It’s coincidence for sure. But at the same time I don’t want to just brush it off as coincidence. We’re human; we hear different things and all of us are motivated in different ways. There’s been a time around here when we’ve played really well when we’ve been an afterthought. We won a Super Bowl that way as an 8-6 team – got in the playoffs barely and were a six seed. We’re not going to sneak up on anybody anymore; we have some name and face recognition and obviously our color recognition and what it means to have the G on our helmet. We’ve had success in the recent history of this franchise. That being said, it doesn’t hurt when everybody and anybody is voicing their negative opinion kind of waiting for us to have a little falter here.”
On Shannon Sharpe’s harsh criticism:
“I didn’t hear some of it until after the game, to be honest with you. In this county, I think freedom of speech is a very important part of our culture. That being said, anybody can have an opinion about anything regardless of how stupid it might be, or uninformed. There are often stories out there that have very little truth to them; that are based on feelings or images that you want to conjure up or situations that you think you understand when you really don’t. I think more than anything this week, one reminder that Mike and I talked about was just controlling the things that you can control. We’ve had a lot of adversity around here in my fifth year starting. And I think that’s one thing that sometimes is easy to forget but it’s a good reminder, that there’s always going to be distractions and opinions and things going on that are outside of your control. In this case there was. It’s easy to criticize. Maybe some of these people have been waiting to criticize us after the success we’ve had, whether they have personal vendettas against myself, or Mike or our team. A team failing that is supposed to win is a lot easier of a story to write than a team that’s supposed to win that is meeting expectations. Teams that aren’t meeting expectations and teams that aren’t playing as well as pundits have picked them to be, it’s easier to jump on them. It’s the easy road for those people and they decide to jump on it.”
On his comments about the scout team’s work ethic:
“Absolutely ridiculous. Anybody who knows anything about football knows that that story was ridiculous. I can’t even pick a better attitude, it was ridiculous – everything about it. All I did was regurgitate what Mike said in the meeting. I’ve worked on the scout team, so I know what it means to give a good look and how difficult that can be at times, and you’re reading cards and different things. There is a great dialogue between myself and the coaches and the scout team. We need to pick up the practice tempo. Mike said that, I said that, other players have said that. That’s true. It’s offense, defense, scout team. It’s scout team offense and scout team defense. We all need to give a better look. Absolutely nothing wrong with those comments, no excuses. And it’s ridiculous that a comment would be written about that and that those guys would have to answer questions about that and that I would have to talk to them and make sure that everything is fine. Those guys think it’s as ridiculous as I did.”
On saying “shhhh” to his critics in his post-game NBC interview Sunday night:
“One hundred percent impromptu. Really I was so proud of our guys and the effort they gave. James had two great catches, Jordy had an excellent game, the line blocked really, really well. They kept their hand down, kept the lanes clean. Guys made some big time plays. Randall made some second reaction adjustments. I wanted to focus on the team and not the criticisms that we took or I took, or the way the production meeting went, which I’m guessing they talked about on air. I wanted it to be more about the team. She asked, and that was my immediate reaction. It was a long interview. Charles was standing right there, you might not have seen him it might have just been a two-shot there, but I kind of wanted Charles to get some attention there and get to talk about the defense a little bit.”
On being in the zone in Houston:
“I felt good. I felt like I was throwing the ball the way that I wanted to. Obviously I missed one early to James. It was not quite the Atlanta feeling. It was a good game, I felt like I was playing the way that I wanted to play. I was making some good checks. It was one of those games where you really get a good comfort level. When the line is blocking the way they were blocking and the pocket is very clean, I think that’s the best you can say where the ends are kept high and wide and the middle of the pocket was very clean. I thought Josh, Jeff and T.J. did a great job keeping that middle clean. It’s tough when you have to good rush guys off of the edge, but Bryan and Marshall did a good job keeping them high and wide. In cooperation with that, you have to have your middle three, your core offensive guys keeping that pocket clean in the middle. Because of that, the throwing lanes start to become very clean. You’re not getting the tipped passes that have kind of given their defense a lot of momentum. Once you get into a rhythm like we were able to get into early, and I was able to get into, things start happening really positively and they did for us.”
On limping at one point during the second half:
“Yeah I hurt myself on that run. I did yeah, I probably should have slid. I hurt my leg a little bit, but I think I’ll be OK.”
On their next opponent, St. Louis:
“They are a very well coached defense; obviously with Jeff Fisher there he brings some experience and a winning pedigree. Their players are playing differently then they were last year. As far as their stances, alignments, and kind of coverage’s they are running. He brought some guys over with him; obviously Cortland Finnegan is playing with him now. Janoris Jenkins is a young guy that is playing well right now at corner. This is a fast team, that I think like most defense enjoys playing at home a little better they can use their crowd as an advantage and get off on the snap count a little quicker. Long is a player that I really think is coming into his own and a guy who is going to be a force in this league for a long time, I have always respected the way he plays the game. His passion and his motor, he is a big time athlete being a defensive end. I think this is a team that believes it can win and that confidence that I think Coach Fisher as brought in you can see it with the way they play. The are playing with more of a swagger and attitude on defense defiantly, and having Quintin Mikell back there because he has always kind of played like that. This is a team that has played very well at home and they are coming off a tough loss at Miami, close one 17-14 to Joe (Philbin) and those guys. Their division is playing so well, with everyone else at 4-2 I think they understand the significance of this game and staying close in that race. Us to, we understand how important this game is to us. I think it is going to be a really good game.”
On J.J. Watt imitating his trademark celebration:
“I was actually teasing J.J. during one of the TV timeouts, like what are you doing man, you got your own celebration man what are you doing messing around with mine, and we had a good laugh about it. I saw he did Clay’s as well and then did his own. Imitation is the best form of flattery. I was teasing Jimmy Graham at the 2012 Pro Bowl after he did mine. I can’t believe how far the belt celebration has gone from people messing around on the scout team to multiple commercials. People making fun of me about the belt, which is now Discount Double