GREEN BAY—Subtle adjustments to the Packers offense are allowing Aaron Rodgers to enjoy his “best spring,” according to Head Coach Mike McCarthy.
The adjustments to the offense are designed to make it easier for the younger players to get up to speed. For Rodgers, making those changes in his 10th season in the league and his ninth in McCarthy’s offense, has gone so smoothly that they weren’t even brought up publicly until Tuesday, the first practice of the offseason-closing minicamp.
“No one knows our offense better than Aaron,” McCarthy said. “He totally understands why we make changes or adjustments. Frankly, he’s driving this machine.
“I think Aaron’s in a great place, and he’s had a very, very exceptional spring.”
Rodgers didn’t dispute that – “If Mike says it, I’ll take it,” Rodgers said – but in the final media session at his locker prior to training camp, he spoke once again of the excitement he feels, not so much for himself but for the offense and the team as a whole.
He commented on the depth of the running back group, and how the stable of Eddie Lacy, James Starks, DuJuan Harris and potentially others should be able to take some pressure off the receivers and get them in beatable one-on-one coverage situations.
He also mentioned how Dom Capers’ defense has challenged the offense with the tweaks to its scheme, and how the coaches and players on both sides have maintained open communication about what they’re seeing, how they’re reacting to it, and how one unit might make the other’s job tougher.
It’s that type of interaction that fuels Rodgers and keeps him engaged in an offseason environment that can become ho-hum for veterans of his stature and experience.
“It’s the opportunity to build team chemistry with the guys, the challenge of beating up on Dom and his defense,” he said. “The competitive juices get going from time to time in these OTAs and minicamps. It’s proving yourself to young guys who haven’t seen you in action other than on TV over the years.”
Those young guys also received the same forewarning from their veteran quarterback they’ve received multiple times from McCarthy, and not just the one about not doing “anything stupid” during their final break before training camp.
They also heard that when camp begins five-plus weeks from now, the pace of the offseason is a thing of the past.
“Make sure you’re ready to go, because we’re not going to wait around come training camp,” Rodgers said. “The offseason program, the OTAs, the IPWs are about getting the young guys ready, but when we get to training camp, we’re not going to wait around for anybody. We’re going to go 100 miles an hour and it’s on those guys to keep up.”
Which ones keep up often ends up being a surprise. It’s not always the guys that have looked the best in May and June, and Rodgers doesn’t expect anything different this year.
“It’s a completely different feel when you put the pads on,” he said. “Guys have had great springs and terrible camps, or vice versa, kind of absent in the spring and show up in pads.
“I’m excited to see what happens when we do that come late July, because there are always going to be a few guys that jump out once the pads start popping. It’s exciting to watch your team come together, and this is going to be a deep team with some really tough decisions for the front office.” Additional coverage - June 17 minicamp