GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Whether you view it as a two-game problem or an issue that dates to last season, Aaron Rodgers’ run of erratic performances hasn’t shaken the confidence Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy has in his quarterback.
“I’ve never trusted a quarterback or an individual as a player more than I trust Aaron Rodgers,” McCarthy said Wednesday. “His work ethic is at the top of his career, the time he spends in his facility, with his coaches and his teammates, so from that, it’s a process. We’ll all stick to the process and from that we’ll all have success.”
Rodgers is less than two years removed from his second NFL MVP award, but is off to an uncharacteristically slow start. Through two games, Rodgers has completed just 57.1 percent of his passes (30th among NFL quarterbacks) and hasn’t found a way to regenerate the deep passing game even with Pro Bowl receiver Jordy Nelson back from his 2015 knee injury.
Even last season, when his numbers weren’t on par with his career averages, he and the Packers started fast. He was an early season MVP candidate, and the Packers won their first six games.
Rodgers, the NFL’s career passer-rating leader (103.8), is working on a stretch of 14 straight games without a 100-passer rating. In Sunday’s 17-14 loss at Minnesota, Rodgers was careless with the ball (three fumbles), inaccurate (55.6 percent completion rate) and bothered more than usual by pressure, or what he perceived to be pressure.
His last 300-yard passing game came against this week’s opponent, the Detroit Lions, in a home loss last Nov. 15.
Perhaps Rodgers developed some bad habits in the second half of last season, when the best the offense could muster often came in what the quarterback referred to as “schoolyard football” situations.
“First of all, we’ve [played] two games,” McCarthy said. “It’s a process. And he’s no different than any other player. Fundamentals is something you’re always chasing as a football team, and it’s no different at the quarterback position. So we’ll focus on the process. The work ethic is outstanding, for Aaron and our guys, and we’ll improve off last week. I’m confident in that.”
Rodgers, 32, dedicated part of his offseason to a revamped conditioning and nutritional program that prompted McCarthy to say his quarterback was in “the best shape I’ve seen him in” when training camp opened in July.
McCarthy echoed that Wednesday in a conference call with Lions reporters.
“Yeah, he looks the same; I think he’s in great shape,” McCarthy said. “His work ethic is probably as high as it’s ever been. We’ll grow from our opportunities. As we know, football is not a one-man game. We clearly understand the importance of the quarterback position. It’s a priority of how we install our offense and the responsibility we give to Aaron. He’s the most trusted player that I’ve ever coached and I continue to believe that we’ll just keep pounding away at our process and good things will happen.”