Silverman: All That Glitters Is Not Gold In Green Bay
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By Steve Silverman-
(CBS) Somebody get a soldering iron. A couple of holes have been ripped in the armor that protects Aaron Rodgers.
The Packers’ quarterback is secure in his status as one of the game’s elite quarterbacks and perhaps its most accurate passer.
He has been consistent in his production since the Packers parted ways with Brett Favre in a messy divorce in 2008 and turned the quarterback chores over to Rodgers.
Younger, quicker and motivated, Rodgers has been everything that head coach Mike McCarthy had hoped for since then.
Rodgers has won as many Super Bowls, one, as Favre did. Rodgers won a Super Bowl MVP, a regular-season MVP and he has been a three-time Pro Bowler.
Rodgers completed 371-of-552 passes for 4,295 yards with 39 TDs and eight interceptions last year. Those numbers are exceptional and they represent what Rodgers has been able to do throughout his career.
He is one of the primary reasons the Packers have dominated the Bears by winning eight of the last nine games, and that matchup will almost certainly prove difficult for the beloved this year when the two sides meet in Weeks 10 and 17.
But there are some issues that are starting to manifest themselves. Greg Jennings and Donald Driver were two of Rodgers’ primary weapons throughout his stellar run in Green Bay. Both are former Packers, as Jennings has moved on to the Minnesota Vikings and Driver has retired.
Both of them have leveled criticisms of Rodgers for his demeanor and attitude. Jennings was a bit more blunt than Driver, saying his quarterback was driven by his ego and wanted the media to talk about “Aaron Rodgers and the Packers,” and not the other way around.
Driver’s issue with the quarterback is that he had a tendency to let his teammates take the blame whenever something went wrong.
Driver said that if Rodgers and a receiver were ever on the wrong page – a frequent occurrence throughout the NFL – the quarterback would rarely stand up before the media and take the heat off the receiver by saying that he had directed the receiver to a pass route a certain way.
Driver pointed out that other quarterbacks around the league will take the blame publicly in order to take the heat off a receiver, running back or blocker.
Driver’s criticism tends to carry more weight than Jennings’ remarks, but when taken together, those words carry some weight.
Former Colts and Packers center Jeff Saturday did not join Jennings and Driver by leveling potshots at Rodgers, but he did not dismiss their remarks, either “In my experience, I didn’t have the bad feelings like Greg and Donald did,” Saturday told Rob Reischel of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “But I only played with him a short time. I didn’t have the same amount of time with Aaron that those guys did.”
Rodgers has been a Teflon man because his completion percentage has been so high. However, he’s edgy and often sensitive when he has been criticized in the past.
Much of it has to do with 2005 draft status. Rodgers was viewed as one of the most talented players in the draft and there were some thought that the San Francisco 49ers would take him with the No. 1 pick. However, they used that pick on Alex Smith and Rodgers agonizingly stayed on the draft board until the 24th pick of the first round.
As a result, an insecure quarterback was born.
Rodgers has tormented the Bears since taking over in 2008. While his public image has been that of a good guy and a good teammate, Driver and Jennings have shed a little more light on the quarterback’s true attitude.
It’s not all sweetness and light in the Packers’ lockerroom and Rodgers’ carefully cultivated image may not reflect his true personality.
Rodgers may be more of a “me” guy than anyone ever thought.
While Bears quarterback Jay Cutler has been criticized for his personality, he does not project a false image. If that’s what Rodgers has been doing, his teammates may be starting to get sick and tired of him.
It won’t make much of a difference if he continue to complete 65 percent of his passes with 35-plus touchdowns and fewer than 10 interceptions. But it’s something to keep in mind if there is any downturn in the Packers’ performance this year.
Steve Silverman is an award-winning writer, covering sports since 1980. Silverman was with Pro Football Weekly for 10 years and his byline has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Playboy, NFL.com and The Sporting News. He is the author of four books, including Who’s Better, Who’s Best in Football — The Top 60 Players of All-Time. Follow him on Twitter (@profootballboy) and read more of his CBS Chicago columns here.