Does your personality fit this role as a star quarterback?
If you're suggesting I need to be less passive-aggressive and confront issues head-on with teammates and coaches, the answer is yes. With Mike McCarthy, I probably allowed some things to fester while he was my coach. He did reach out a number of times but often I kept my frustration under jersey number 12. I should have had more honest conversations with him about the issues that were bothering me. I don't think our personalities jived perfectly but I should have been more willing to try. That's what leaders do and I have learned from my tenure with MM. Things will change moving forward with how I communicate with the team and coaches.
Could things have worked out differently with a few more Super Bowl appearances?
I think if we had won a few more times, things would have been different. Winning seems to fix many things and may smooth out challenging relationships, past arguments or emotionally fractured relationships. If you're successful and make several Super Bowls, it helps vindicate that even though you went through some challenging times, you come together as a team.
Over the last 10 years, for the most part, our defense has been mediocre at best. I just asked for a defense that can often stop our opponent in crunch time. That rarely occurred. We drafted many defensive players but it seemed like we still had holes in our defense. Sometimes it was our defensive line, other times we need much help in our secondary. Anyway, I think MM could have taken more interest in the defense, he felt he was an offensive guru so that's where most of his time was spent.
Getting back to our defense, we often would go back and forth in many games not able to stop the opponent and ultimately the bright lights are on our offense to win the game. And with injuries on offense, we're sometimes hobbling to make a big play. I don't say this very often but a good defense is the best offense. We were not always a well-balanced team. Over those years, why did we always rely on the offense to win the game? Why not have layers of protection, starting with the defense and while we're at it, better special teams. In terms of our special teams, I don't remember the last time we had a punt return returned for a touchdown that was penalty free. Same with our kickoff returns, penalty after penalty. I can't count on two hands how many times our offense came onto the field at the 10-yard line after a change in possession. It puts the offense in a precarious position. As any close follower of football knows, these are the three elements of a successful team. If the defense sometimes fail, fine, then the offense needs to come through but to continually design a team where there's only one layer of protection, that doesn't bode well in the long run. Especially during playoff time when we're playing quality opponents, some of whom have a strong offense, defense, and good special teams.
Was there something that occurred that make your relationship with MM irreparable? The straw that broke the camel's back?
When MM fired the quarterback coach, Alex Van Pelt, that made me quite upset. Alex and I had a great relationship and things were going in the right direction. My perception was that MM was jealous of how well Alex and I got along. He knew he didn't have that same relationship with me. It wasn't just that we got along, I think it was helping my performance which benefited the team. I was hopeful that MM realized Alex was helping the team overall. I guess MM didn't see it that way and exerted his power not rehire Alex.
Didn't Alex Van Pelt want to be an offensive coordinator with the Packers? Was MM threatened by this?
Alex was going to come back another year as the quarterback's coach and MM knew of Alex's intention of eventually being an offensive coordinator so MM didn't resign him. MM didn't want to relinquish the offensive coordinator position eventually to Alex even though that may have worked out. MM didn't do that well as an OC the last several years and he didn't see that or didn't want to see that.
One more thing about coaching. MM did a lot of rotating assistants between positions regularly to give them more exposure to different responsibilities. His intent may have been good but some players felt there was a learning curve with new coaches and this didn't always work out best for our team. There were unintended consequences that perhaps MM didn't realize when he adopted this approach. Said differently, there was grumbling among some players who said they knew more about their position than their new running backs coach or the defensive line coach.
Is there anything you need to improve upon as a quarterback?
After Mike was fired and looking back at the season with my injury and our mediocre record, I've done some soul searching. As I mentioned earlier, I need to be more patient with my receivers. I've been in the NFL for a long time and need to be more patient and forgiving with our rookies and young receivers. I need to realize I was young once and couldn't make the plays I'm making now. In fact, I sat for a few years which helped my development once I became a starting quarterback. Playing against professional players, it takes time and practice so I now realize my patience is critical for our young receivers.
Honesty, I need to get rid of the ball quicker. I sometimes hold onto the ball for too long. I always think I can make an incredible play, something out of nothing which may or may not work. Sometimes, I just need to get rid of the ball even if it means taking an in-completion. Also, if I get rid of it sooner, that will decrease my fumbles and sacks. I wonder for some years if I had fumbled more than the amount of interceptions I made. By getting rid of the ball when no one is open may increase the chances of health throughout the season. I'm going to put on my 'Captain Obvious' hat and say 'I'm not getting any younger' and the door is starting to close on my career.
Just one thing to clarify how I feel about my stats and quarterback ranking. I read recently that former teammates said I was obsessively concerned about my stats. In the same article, this former teammate was quoted as saying I didn't like to throw underneath, that I often wanted to throw deep. You can't have it both ways. If I'm obsessed with my stats but like to throw deep, I don't think these two things are congruent.
Any other concerns you have about the team moving forward?
For whatever reason over the last 10 years or so, we struggled developing players. We may draft well but the development aspect is not always present. I don't know if it's the type of player we're drafting or how these players are coached and developed. It seems to me that for many years the sport's media graded our drafts well but we didn't take that next step. I'm hopeful the new regime will improve this critical piece of our team's success.