Aaron Rodgers calls for Packers to "simplify" on offense

Team’s leadership is facing an early, significant challenge

QB Aaron Rodgers and Head Coach Matt LaFleur

GREEN BAY – If the Packers are in back-to-the-drawing-board mode, quarterback Aaron Rodgers' suggestion is to erase more and write down less.

"Simpler. Simpler. Simplify some things," Rodgers said regarding what the offense needs to do to get back on track.

He stressed he was not ripping the coaching staff's game plan following the 27-10 home loss to the Jets, nor blazing some new trail with this idea, because every season has undergone this process to one extent or another.

But his overarching point is that when the execution gets this poor, it's probably too difficult for the current group, at the moment, to perform well enough to win games. Settling down requires simplicity.

"It's always been, when we struggle, we're doing too much," Rodgers said. "This has been a part of every season. This has happened in '19 and '20 and '21, all the same, it's just different personnel, different years, different momentums, different energy.

"There are times when we get out there and scheme and look really amazing. And there are times when we're not executing the scheme. The scheme is good, really good. But even the best scheme takes good execution. When we're not executing the way we're capable of executing, or the way we should be capable of executing, it might be time to reel it back in a little bit and simplify some things."

Time will tell what exactly that looks like, and it may not even be discernible to outside observers who aren't in the meeting rooms and on the practice field throughout each week.

But Rodgers felt the few times the Packers did move the ball against the Jets, they did so with simple plays and simple concepts. So it's time to build the offense around those, because as Head Coach Matt LaFleur said, "I don't think there's many things we're leaning on very well right now."

Which is to say there's no go-to play call or notion to get back on track and build some momentum when things go awry.

In the same breaths, neither LaFleur nor Rodgers ruled out personnel changes, and Jake Hanson taking over at right guard for Royce Newman before getting hurt could just be the first trial move with the lineup. LaFleur stressed everything's up for discussion.

But Rodgers also drew a line between potential changes to the playbook and personnel, versus changing the preparation routine. He would qualify that as an overreaction to the struggles.

"If it's good enough when we were 3-1, it's got to be good when we're 3-3," Rodgers said "Can't ride the rollercoaster wave of emotions.

"I'm going to be steady with the guys and I expect our leadership to do the same."

That leadership, which includes six team captains (Rodgers, Marcedes Lewis, Aaron Jones, Kenny Clark, Adrian Amos, De'Vondre Campbell) plus additional veteran players such as David Bakhtiari, Preston Smith, and others, has a significant challenge on its hands with the young players in the locker room.

This marks the first time in the LaFleur era, dating back to 2019, that the Packers have been tagged with their third loss prior to late November. A whole slew of players on this team have never been through this in the early part of an NFL season before.

That's why so much falls on the veteran leaders, but Rodgers said he's up for it and sounded confident the others are, too. He's always believed the best teams are player-led, as does LaFleur, which was reiterated.

See scenes from the Sunday afternoon matchup between the Green Bay Packers and New York Jets at Lambeau Field on Oct. 16, 2022.

It'll take a combination of providing support and stressing accountability. Rodgers noted he's not going to "freak out or make any grand statements," but it'll be about finding the right mindset collectively for the players to own both the failures and the subsequent recovery.

"I care about this a lot, and I'm always keeping a tight pulse on the team," he said. "That's the fun part of this game, is the relationships. I'm going to be walking around with a watchful eye making sure we're all taking care of our business and thinking about things the right way and still riding high with confidence."

Whether true or not, it certainly feels as though the season has hit a critical juncture, and earlier than usual for around here.

After winning three straight to get to 3-1, the Packers certainly didn't expect to be 3-3, and now three consecutive road games await while staring at a two-game deficit in the NFC North behind the 5-1 Vikings.

"This is the NFL, so nobody's going to feel sorry for you," Rodgers said. "Get back to business.

"Hopefully, we stick together. That's the important thing."


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