More To Do For Face of Franchise

Last week, Donald Driver called Aaron Rodgers the face of the franchise. Coming off a Pro Bowl season and a playoff berth, the leader of the Pack has earned a bigger dose of freedom in Mike McCarthy's offense. It's a story you won't read anywhere else.

Last week, Donald Driver called Aaron Rodgers "the face" of the Green Bay Packers.

In one way, the statement was pointing out the obvious. Quarterbacks are supposed to be the leader of the team, and when Rodgers threw for 4,434 yards with 30 touchdowns and just seven interceptions while leading the Packers to 11 wins and the playoffs, that leadership role was cemented.

In another way, though, Driver's statement spoke volumes. When the Packers struggled to 6-10 in Rodgers' first year as the starter, Driver spoke of Rodgers' need to take the leadership reins. Rodgers has taken those reins, standing tall amid the adversity of a 4-4 start and a 50-sack smackdown.

"It's not something I think about a whole lot," Rodgers said when Driver's comment was relayed to him. "I realize my position on this team as quarterback kind of warrants some of that stuff. But as far as a responsibility standpoint, I am definitely OK with that. I realize as a quarterback and the leader of this football team, I have even more scrutiny on my private and my public life. I take that very seriously. I realize I represent myself and my family and the Green Bay Packers family, and the organization and the fans as well — and I try to do that the best that I can. I'm definitely OK with that but it's not something I think about."

The face of the franchise's face is going to spend some time on the beach back home in California to get mentally refreshed for the grind of the season that will start when training camp begins on July 31. After taking some time off after the season, Rodgers was back in Green Bay for the offseason workouts that began in March. It was a back-to-basics approach in the quarterbacks school.

"We start the whole process over and over again," quarterbacks coach Tom Clements. "We look through the (film) cut-ups and then make a short list of things we need to focus on, whether it's fundamentally or a specific area of the game. Then we talk about those and when we go out to practice, try to make sure we put them into effect."


Aaron Rodgers
Morry Gash/AP Images
Coach Mike McCarthy raved about Rodgers' fundamentals and movement skills, which allow Rodgers to throw accurately whether in the pocket or on the move. And now with two years of film to study — and for opponents to study — the goals were to build on his strengths, improve his flaws and anticipate how opponents will try to attack those flaws.

What McCarthy saw was a quarterback who makes all the right decisions. Rodgers' seven interceptions last season translated to a league-best 1.29 interception percentage. And on the money down, third down, Rodgers led the NFL in passer rating (133.5), touchdowns (14) and interceptions (zero). Not only were his 1,710 passing yards on third down the tops in the NFL, but it was the most any quarterback has thrown since the NFL began tracking that figure in 1991.

With that, McCarthy is ready to hand his quarterback more responsibility.

"His understanding of the offense has really been intact now, in my opinion, this will be the fourth year, and we'll play to that more and challenge him with more things at the line," McCarthy said. "I think he is a very good at-the-line player, whether it's a two- or three-, possibly four-way play selection. I see more improvement, more opportunity for him to do that there, and that's part of our plan as we go into the season. His standard of play has been set at a pretty high level, and his challenge is to step over that standard every week."

Rodgers appreciates that freedom because he's worked so hard to get it.

"Obviously, he has the final veto power but I think we've put in some good concepts and they work really hard in the offseason to come up with some new wrinkles that are going to help us out in the upcoming season," Rodgers said. "It's a matter of studying those new things, adding your own tweaks to them and trying to implement them in OTAs and see what looks good, what you might want to throw out and what change you might want to make."

Rodgers is coming off of his first Pro Bowl season after leading the team to the playoffs for the first time. Now, the face of the franchise has to do more than just author an encore.

"I think it's about opportunity and it's about performance and production, and he's answered the bell," McCarthy said. "But we're not interested in winning 11 games. We're here to win the next world championship, and that's our focus. But as far as the face of the franchise and things like that, I think he's definitely one of the key representatives of the franchise, and I think he does a great job of it."


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook under Bill Huber.


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