To paraphrase Desi Arnez, somebody in the Green Bay Packers’ locker room has some ‘splainin’ to do.
That was the message that quarterback Aaron Rodgers delivered on Sunday after the Packers’ listless 26-11 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers. Rodgers, the longest-tenured member of the roster and its unquestioned leader, took his teammates to task following that game in one of the ways he has found most effective: by making vague but meaningful statements to the media in an interview or press conference.
To start his presser, Rodgers tried to address the team’s lackluster performance, speculating on a few possible explanations. “I don’t think it was complacency at all, you know,” he said. “Whether it was the trip, not everybody taking care of themselves the right way over the two days, or we were just tired, or the differences in temperature. But those are just excuses and the fact is that we weren’t locked in from the start.”
There’s a bit of an allusion to a problem with preparation in that quote, but Rodgers came back to that idea a few minutes later. There’s no other way to interpret this comment other than as a message to someone or a few someones: “Just talking about the offensive side of the ball, we’ve got to be honest with our routine and the decisions we made in the last 48 hours and make sure that our head is in the right place the next time we come on a big road trip, which will just be in three weeks.”
There are any number of circumstances that could have led to these comments from Rodgers, but it’s not hard to think about the atmosphere in LA being tempting for the numerous young players on the Packers’ offense. This seems to be Rodgers’ way of publicly calling out players who were not preparing for the game responsibly without naming names.
Rodgers has done this sort of thing before, most recently calling out his young receiver group for a “piss poor” effort early in training camp last year. His teammates responded after that, with Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Equanimeous St. Brown stepping up into big roles as rookies, but whoever was the target of these comments will certainly need to do the same when the Packers head back to California to play the San Francisco 49ers in week 12 following their bye.
The Packers had rarely left Green Bay this season, playing five of their first seven regular-season games on the road. The three road games prior to the Chargers games were all wins, but they were all to destinations within the Central Time Zone: Chicago, Dallas, and Kansas City. Those make for quick trips, with the flight out happening on Saturday. For this game, however, head coach Matt LaFleur elected to fly his team out on Friday instead, giving them all of Saturday in the LA area.
LaFleur was unhappy about his team’s energy level as well, but he took the blame on himself. At halftime of the game, he told CBS sideline reporter Tracy Wolfson that he thought that the team’s arrival in Los Angeles on Friday was “too late” and that his team was tired in the first half. But Rodgers’ comments suggest a different issue at the forefront of his mind, one that stems from what the team did once they arrived in California.
This is purely speculation, but it is possible that the LA nightlife could have played a factor over the weekend. Except on this Sunday afternoon, there was no Max McGee coming to save the Packers. In Super Bowl I, held in the LA Coliseum, McGee famously played with a brutal hangover after a night of partying found him back in the team hotel early on the morning of the game. A reserve wide receiver, McGee was called into action when Boyd Dowler was injured on the first series and delivered a 138-yard, two-touchdown game.
Did anything similar to McGee’s night on the down take place for any members of the 2019 Packers this weekend? Fans and media alike probably will never know. But if it did, Rodgers seems determined to see to it that it never happens again on his watch.