The news conference, if you want to call it that, was attended by three writers and a handful of camera operators on a brutal Sunday night deadline in late November. Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers emerged from the FedEx Field visitors locker room sometime near midnight, eyes fixed on the floor. In a blue cardigan and a white T-shirt, he looked sort of like a disappointed preppy dad; he looked uncharacteristically human.
The Packers had just lost their fourth straight game, 42-24 at Washington, and had officially sunk to irrelevance at 4-6 and third place in the NFC North. Rodgers had tried just about everything to turn this thing around. He’d even picked up a book, “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable.” But the night of Nov. 20 had this feeling of finality, that their run of seven consecutive playoff appearances was about to end, and Rodgers had to sense it. Their postseason chances had winnowed to 8.8 percent.
His news conference was 2 minutes and 38 seconds of awkwardness. It included five questions, the last of which was of the obligatory “Can the Packers salvage this season?” variety. “I’m very optimistic,” Rodgers said. Before anyone could ask whether he’d lost his mind, he was gone.
It’s another to say after the game that he wanted to hit a particular number of carries from his running game in the second half, which is a logical fallacy. McCarthy surely has his merits as an offensive mind and has done a great job of developing Rodgers, but his in-game decision-making already has cost the Packers dearly in the playoffs in the past and nearly came back to haunt them last weekend.