FOX Sports Exclusive
Pam Oliver with Packers' QB-coach duo
ALL ACCESS: A lot of networks do TV interviews, but have you ever wanted to know the juicy details that never make air? You can tell a lot about who people really are when the cameras aren’t rolling.
Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at the interview that Pam Oliver had with Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers and Mike McCarthy for this week's segment on the NFL on FOX pregame show on Sunday.
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I went back to Green Bay for the third time in an 11-day span (not complaining) to feature Aaron Rodgers for the NFL on FOX pregame show Sunday. As we all know, he’s an unflappable, talented and resilient quarterback, which makes the angle compelling. Throw in the scary fact that he’s had two concussions this season and you’ve got a lot to work with. But somewhere along the way it occurred to me there’s more there, or ought to be.
Rodgers and the Packers have been under the steady influence of a coach who kept the team afloat during a wicked, injury-plagued season that landed 15 players on injured reserve, eight of whom started at least one game this season.
He’s not gimmicky like the Jets’ Rex Ryan or the curmudgeon-like Bill Belichick of New England. Instead, Mike McCarthy just does his job under the radar and, as first time Pro Bowl wide receiver Greg Jennings told me, with an honest concern for his players’ overall state of wellness — which should not be as unusual as it may sound.
“We know how good a coach he is. What makes him such a good coach is that he’s a player’s coach,” Jennings said. “How we’re doing throughout the week, how his players are responding physically and mentally for the next opponent. He coaches with that in mind.”
Before being asked, Rodgers, whose name can be found in the top 10 of every major passing category for the second straight season, also hopped on McCarthy’s favorable approach, saying he considers the locker room “the most important room in the building.” “It’s a respect thing” Rodgers said.
“I think No. 1, it’s important to build a program that has the proper culture, and it’s about people first,” McCarthy said. “I think it has to start with the head coach. You have to be very consistent.”
McCarthy, who’s now in his fifth year as the Packers head coach, was named NFL Coach of the Year in 2007.
However, McCarthy recently called out his quarterback and offense a little for lack of consistency.
“Aaron Rodgers’ season is probably as much in line with the season we had on offense,” McCarthy said the day after the Packers squeaked by the Bears 10-3 in the season finale. “I think he had a good year, but it’s time for him and the offense to put their best foot forward when we go to Philadelphia.”
Rodgers, who finished the season with the NFL’s third-highest passer rating, is the first to bring fault on himself when he thinks it due. He told me during our on-the-field postgame interview after the playoff-clinching win over Chicago last weekend that he didn’t play well.
He used those same words to describe his performances after back-to-back overtime losses to the Redskins and Dolphins. The Packers did, however, follow up by winning five of their next six.
What changed? The head coach, who’s also the game day play-caller. In turn, Rodgers discovered the two needed more of each other during the week.
“I just wanted to ramp up my preparation,” Rodgers said. “The most logical way for me would be to spend more time with the guy who’s calling the plays every week. (Spending more time) is directly related to me having a better second half of the season.”
Now a “new” season is set to begin and the Packers believe they have just as good a chance to get to Dallas for the Super Bowl as any of the other playoff teams.
Rodgers can’t do it alone. McCarthy can’t get there without Rodgers.
Together, they can be the perfect story.
For Pam’s complete interview with Aaron Rodgers and Mike McCarthy tune in Sunday to NFL on FOX for America’s No. 1 pregame show at noon ET / 9 a.m. PT.