Once quarterback Aaron Rodgers went down, the Green Bay Packers’ 2017 season went to hell. Not surprisingly, that created a leadership void. It’s something coach Mike McCarthy recently addressed.
“They did a good job to stick together, [but] we’re a little bit spoiled,” McCarthy said. “We have high expectations of our locker room, it’s been so strong for so many years. In comparison to the other 11 years [of McCarthy’s tenure], it wasn’t the best, clearly.
“Enough wasn’t done in the locker room, frankly. That’s something that when we get back together we’ll [do] more about that in specifics.”
The only clear leader on the Packers, other than Rodgers, has been defensive lineman Mike Daniels. However, we’ve heard about other players tuning out his message in the past.
Some pointed to receiver Jordy Nelson as a quiet leader, but we know he’s not outspoken. And more importantly, like so many veteran leaders before him, Nelson has been unceremoniously shown the door. Safety Morgan Burnett, considered the backbone of the defense because of his on-field communication skills, met a similar fate this offseason.
We’ve talked about this many times in the past. The Packers don’t value veteran leadership like they should. Two of the team’s best leaders in recent years were cornerback Charles Woodson and outside linebacker Julius Peppers. The former was released, even though he was willing to restructure his deal. The latter wasn’t offered a contract last year and went out and turned in an 11-sack season in 2017.
You could argue guard Josh Sitton fell into that category as well. He was released on the eve of the 2016 season for refusing to kiss McCarthy’s fat ass.
Then you have guys who have often been talked about as potential leaders that have never actually become leaders. Linebacker Clay Matthews comes immediately to mind. Safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix could be thrown in there as well. Of course, it’s hard to have anyone take your words seriously when you’re authoring the worst season of a mediocre career.
There are other factors at play here, as well.
The Packers are traditionally one of the youngest teams in the league. Clearly, having so many young players can create a leadership void.
Specifically to 2017, backup quarterback Brett Hundley did nothing to provide leadership. McCarthy has mentioned multiple times how Hundley wasn’t prepared. Leadership was certainly part of that.
Throw in a clown like Martellus Bennett and the immaturity of cornerback Damarious Randall — who several veterans wanted released after an early-season sideline outburst — and you’ve got the makings of a toxic situation.