Combine Q&A With Rich Gannon

Former NFL quarterback Rich Gannon, a close friend of Mike McCarthy and the Packers' preseason TV broadcaster, weighs in on the Packers' Super Bowl triumph, Aaron Rodgers' MVP performance and speaks boldly about one of the draft's top quarterback prospects.

INDIANAPOLIS -- Rich Gannon hid his allegiance to the Green Bay Packers, but only barely, as he unzipped his sweater to reveal a Packers polo shirt.

Gannon, a close friend of coach Mike McCarthy and the color commentator on the Packers' preseason TV broadcasts, took a few minutes to talk Packers after his four hours as a co-host on Sirius NFL Radio.

I can't figure out how the Packers won the Super Bowl. What are your thoughts?

I think it's amazing when you think about what they had to overcome. To me, what they should be most proud of is how they overcame all those injuries throughout the course of the season. What people don't realize, if you look back at their 16 regular-season games, twice they lost three of four. You'd have to look that up to find out the last team lost three of four games twice during the course of a season and still won the Super Bowl. The thing that really impressed me is that, despite all the injuries, it's a real credit to Mike McCarthy and the coaching staff. They plugged in young players. Guys like (Frank) Zombo that a lot of us were pulling out the media guides and trying to find out more information really came in and made major contributions. The other thing that I think is really impressive is the way they finished. The win against the Giants, the win against Chicago really propelled them into the playoffs and I think they just carried that confidence right on through.

Did Mike suddenly become a better coach? Seriously, every move he made, whether it was play-calling or motivational, worked perfectly.

Like anybody else, he's gotten better and has kind of grown into the position. I always thought that he had a plan. He and Ted (Thompson) worked really closely together. The thing that I think was important – Mike had said this to me at one point in the season – Aaron went to Mike at one point and said, ‘Look, we're not spending enough quality time together. I feel like I can be playing better.' Mike said it was a real eye-opening lesson for him as a coach to say, ‘You know what? I can't allow that to happen.' Mike knows that the quarterback and the play-caller have got to be joined at the hip. I think that Mike felt like, because of his responsibilities as a head coach and the defense and special teams, maybe wasn't spending enough quality time with Aaron. I think that was a turning point for both of them. That's where you saw Aaron really take off and take control of things. You lose Ryan Grant, you lose Jermichael Finley, you lose all these players and yet the quarterback is still able to be as productive, it speaks to the fact that both of those guys are on the same page.

From a quarterback's eyes, what did you see in the Super Bowl that the rest of us might not have noticed?

I just think the location on some of his throws was ridiculous. If you're Pittsburgh, you've got to be kicking yourself. It wasn't like there were major coverage breakdowns or guys got beat. There were some guys who were right there to make a play, and if Aaron misses a throw by 2 inches, it either gets tipped, it gets deflected, it gets picked. He had pinpoint accuracy. He was so decisive. He realized, which I think is really impressive, if he didn't play that type of a game, there was no way the Packers were going to win. They were not going to be able to run the ball with a lot of effectiveness against that Pittsburgh front seven. Aaron was going to have to make a lot of big plays and a lot of big throws, and he did just that.

We're at the Combine, so what do you think of the quarterbacks?

I'm excited to see these guys work out. More importantly, the interviews are going to be a big part of it. There's some coaches out there that have some concerns with two in particular: Cam Newton and Ryan Mallett. I think that there's coaches and general managers and people out there in the personnel department who want to find out about these guys. You look at them on tape, there's some exciting things. You see some skills, you see some playmaking ability, you can see they can throw the football. But like with Cam Newton, here's a guy who comes out last week and says, ‘I want to be an entertainer and an icon.' Now, that's not the kind of guy that I want to be coaching at that position, you know what I mean? A.J. Hawk came out and said he's never heard a quarterback talk like that. To me, that's a little brash. That's not really what I'm looking for in terms of a leader of my football team. I want a guy that wants to come in and do the dirty work and be the hardest-working guy on the football team and come early and stay late. When you talk about being an entertainer and an icon, I get the sense it's a guy that doesn't want to come to work on a Tuesday, which is the players' day off, and would rather be filming a commercial or out signing autographs. That to me is not what you want from that position."

What do you think of some of the late-round guys? I could see the Packers drafting a quarterback with Matt Flynn up for free agency at the end of the year.

There's some quarterbacks out there. It's a great question because I was talking to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers about that this morning. They've got Josh Freeman and I said, ‘Do you still do the evaluations on the other quarterbacks?' They said, ‘Absolutely. You want to go through that process, you want to get comfortable, you want to familiarize yourself with these players because we never know if we're going to need one and you want to track their process and development.' You mentioned the Packers' situation with Matt Flynn. I think the Packers are smart enough to make sure that they keep him under contract. He's a guy that eventually will want to go and be a starter in the league. Mike has said that he thinks he can be a starter. As you look around at some of the other kids, the (Colin) Kaepernick kid out of Nevada, the kid out of TCU (Andy) Dalton, may not be first-round picks but may be available in the second round. I don't know that if the Packers are going to be in the market for a quarterback in the first or second round because they have other areas of need that are more important. The thing that concerns you is Aaron Rodgers missed a game last year and has had a couple concussions. You've got to make sure that you have that guy in the cockpit, the guy in the backup seat, is ready to go.

Agree or disagree?: Discuss hot Packers topics in our, free forums. Leave Bill a question in the subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum.

Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at and Facebook under Bill Huber.

Packer Report Top Stories