Mike McCarthy isn’t accustomed to facing so many questions about his quarterback and an inconsistent offense.
“I think there’s more to offensive production than one player,” he said on a conference call Tuesday prior to the Packers’ Thursday night game vs. the Bears. “I clearly understand the importance of the quarterback position. We’re just really focusing on the improvement from our last game.”
Through five games, Rodgers has a passer rating of 88.4, well below his 103.5 career average. Prior to a 31-of-42 passing performance against Dallas, the former MVP had been completing a startling 56.1 percent of his passes.
“Well, it’s a work in progress,” Rodgers said. “Every season there’s highs and lows, there’s great times and frustrations and you have to try to remain the same in the midst of all of it and do your best to deflect credit when it comes your way in the highs and own your share of the criticism that you’re due in frustrating time.”
Rodgers said he felt “pretty good about the majority of the throws” from Dallas, but knows he turned it over twice and that the Packers have “got to do a better job in the red zone.”
The adversity that the Packers’ offense has experienced is not changing the way Rodgers’ opponents are preparing for him, though.
“I still see the great quarterback that he is with the release and the scrambling and the mobility and the creativity and the accuracy,” said Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio. “They’ve gotten beat by maybe the two best teams in the NFL currently in Dallas and Minnesota and, you know, tight games. They’re still the same offense they’ve always been and he’s still the same quarterback he’s always been.”
Fangio matter-of-factly rejected any thought of his players seeing Rodgers’ numbers and thinking the quarterback will be any different.
“No. They watch the tape,” he said. “The guy is still the same player that he’s always been.”
Willie Young said simply, “Aaron Rodgers is Aaron Rodgers,” and that certainly is the mantra in Halas Hall as the Bears hope to pull an upset on Thursday night.
“He's a heck of a quarterback. I enjoy playing against him. It's a challenge in the pocket to get to him,” Young said. “Pretty poised, I mean, he's Aaron Rodgers, man. There's nothing new here. He's well-rounded, all-around quarterback. There's nothing he can't do, there's no throw that he can't make and he's going to fight down to the last second.”
Rodgers understands the questions are going to come when observers aren’t used to seeing someone as talented as the Packers’ signal-caller struggle.
“It’s going to happen. I’ve just been going about my process the exact same way,” he said. “The preparation and the approach every week has been the same, and I hope the guys would say that my attitude and focus has been the same."
His mentality, publicly, is the same, as is the way his opponents are treating him.