Morry Gash/AP
Morry Gash/AP

Sweat the Small Stuff

Aaron Rodgers is one of the most accurate and efficient quarterbacks in NFL history. His coach says he arrived at camp in 'the best shape I've ever seen.' What's the Green Bay star's offseason secret? Revealing that, plus reader mail

GREEN BAY, Wis. — When I go from camp to camp every summer, I often ask what players did in the offseason to get better. In the Packers camp, the emphasis hasn’t been as much about skill improvement. The mantra has been about injury-prevention, and conditioning to avoid injuries. With a player like Clay Matthews, that means conditioning his troublesome hamstring injury, which has robbed him time in each of the past two seasons. But it was interesting Monday when I asked coach Mike McCarthy about Aaron Rodgers’ improvement.

“He has always come back in great shape, but this year it’s a little different,” McCarthy said before the Packers went through a private practice. “He did different things, and he’s in the best shape, ready to go, that I’ve ever seen him in.”

On the field, you could see a little different Rodgers—a leaner, more lithe and sinewy physique, particularly in the upper body, than I remembered from past camps. There’s no carryover, at least from anything I saw, from his broken collarbone last year. He threw the ball hard and with his usually sharp accuracy. After the 130-minute practice, working on specific things for the Green Bay opener at Seattle in 23 days, Rodgers took his quarterback group and ran eight sprints, leading the way in each.

Time marches on for Rodgers. He’s 30 now, and though it seems his football life just started, he’s in the middle age of what’s shaping up to be a historic career. His career quarterback rating (104.9) is the best ever, 7.7 points higher than Peyton Manning’s. His interceptions percentage—1.8 picks per 100 throws—is the lowest of any active passer. His yards per attempt, 8.2, is the best of any quarterback playing. Only Drew Brees (65.9 percent) has a better completion rate, and that’s just by a smidge—Rodgers’ is 65.8 percent.

In the first three months of the offseason, I did a ton of yoga,” Rodgers says. “Hot yoga. Very hot. Lots of sweating. It helped me. I feel a lot better right now.

Think of this, to put Rodgers’ career in some perspective: His rating, accuracy, yards-per-attempt, touchdown percentage and interception percentage all are better than Peyton Manning’s. Not only is he efficient, but also he’s efficient downfield. His yards-per-attempt number is such that he has to be throwing a bunch deep, and he’s doing that without many of those throws resulting in interceptions, which shows how accurate he is throwing deep. That’s rare.

And with six or seven prime years left, barring injury, he’ll have the Packers in position to be contenders every year. Green Bay goes to the starting line this year knowing if the defense can rebound to be a top-10 group with the addition of Julius Peppers, Rodgers will give them a chance to play into late January. Or farther.

So this off-season, in keeping with the Packer way of ramping up the conditioning, Rodgers took up yoga, among other things.

“I worked with a group in Westlake [Calif.], with a lot of NFL guys,” Rodgers said by his locker Monday afternoon. “It was fun. Different types of training. Uptempo stuff. Some yoga mixed in. Some boxing. Running the sand dunes there at Malibu Canyon. I paired that with my attention to nutrition.

“In the first three months of the offseason, I did a ton of yoga. I hadn’t done that much of that before. I loved it. Absolutely loved it. The stretching, the atmosphere, the group setting, a teacher helping you get the maximum flexibility. Hot yoga. Very hot. Lots of sweating. Tell you what: I felt so great after those sessions. My sleep improved—my sleep patterns, every night. My energy improved. I didn’t have to drink coffee as much the next day. I like to drink coffee. On some days, it’s a necessity for me, to get going, to get a little jolt. Here, it wasn’t necessary, doing yoga three days a week. I love it. I mixed up my training in Westlake. It helped me. I feel a lot better right now.”

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I asked him about the numbers, and how he was able over time to be so efficient downfield while keeping the turnovers down. (Touchdown passes: 188. Picks: 52.)

“It’s working in an imperfect environment,” he said. “I like to do drill work, and in drills, it’s exaggerating the most difficult way to do the work. I like to throw from different platforms. I feel like to win in this league you have to be very accurate when the settings are perfect. When you have a clean pocket, when you’ve got room and space and a receiver you can see, you have to be perfect. But who can hit the throws when you are forced to slide off the spot, run full speed to your left. Who can make those throw accurately? Those are the throws I like to work on in practice, so when you get in the game, you say, ‘I’ve already made those throws.’ I expect to be accurate on those throws as well.”

We’re watching an impresario play, in mid-career. Because Rodgers is not a look-at-me guy, we don’t appreciate him enough. We often don’t appreciate players like this fully until they’re gone. But anyone who throws 101 touchdowns with 20 interceptions over three seasons should be appreciated, and immediately. It’s going to be great to watch the opener, and to watch Green Bay try to catch Seattle and San Francisco in the NFC, regardless of the outcome in Seattle on Sept. 4.

* * *

Now for your email:

MY FAULT. Why are the Buccaneers fans treated as second class citizens by The MMQB? Last Monday we were told because Peter was already over 9,000 words we had to wait until Tuesday’s column for items related to his camp visit because we didn’t make the cut apparently. Tuesday came and no mention again, this time an editor’s note apologizing that “news happened” but it would be included in next week’s Monday column. Well it’s Monday, and guess what? STILL NOTHING!!!! This time not even a cursory note providing a new date to break this promise once again. Do you believe after two promises it is now OK to just drop it and forget the whole thing?

—G.W., Dunedin, Fla.

Josh McCown has looked good at camp, but did not play well—two turnovers—in the Bucs' first preseason game. (John Raoux/AP)
Josh McCown has looked good at camp, but did not play well—two turnovers—in the Bucs’ first preseason game. (John Raoux/AP)

You are right. My mistake. This is something I should have written by now:

Performer of the Tour. I watched the Bucs for two-and-a-half hours on a recent toasty afternoon, and the best player on the field the day I saw them was Josh McCown. That’s going to elicit some chuckles from the crowd, because it’s not popular to think someone who has started one season in the NFL—2004, for Arizona—could succeed for a team in something other than a keep-the-seat-warm capacity. Maybe he can’t. I suppose history would say it’s an extreme long shot. All I know is that in the practice I saw, McCown dropped a perfect 42-yard bomb into the hands of Mike Evans deep downfield, threw four or five other perfectos to the sidelines on a rope, and looked every bit the part of a starting NFL passer. 

I think it’s fashionable to say a guy who started five games for the Bears and played in eight more last year was just a stopgap. Maybe he was. But completing 67 percent of his throws in 224 attempts, with 13 touchdowns and one pick … is that a fluke? Is that not worthy of thinking that a player has grown and matured and taken coaching and learned from smart offensive minds and now might be able to be a winner in the NFL? Or should we think what Josh McCown was at 24 is what he is at 35, and what he forever will be? 

All I know is what I saw: McCown was the best player on the field, confident and hard-throwing, for one day, and I want to see more. I’m intrigued by what the Bucs will be this season if the line protects McCown.

SEASON TICKET COMPLAINTS. You mentioned briefly the cost of preseason games and the fact the top players are only in a series or two. As a season ticket holder in Cleveland I get fleeced every year by being forced to pay full price for two meaningless games. My solution is to put a face value on preseason games for what they are worth: $10. Then adjust the face value of regular season games.  If I choose to not go to preseason games I can sell for true value. If I choose to sell a couple of regular season games I can try to get face value for the tickets. The NFL has got to remember it is popular because of the fans.

—Sam Meuler, Medina, Ohio

Your email speaks for thousands of fans, Sam. Thanks for writing it.

WHO BUILDS THE TRADITION? The flaw in your argument on compensation for college football players is the idea that the players bring in the revenue. They do not. It is the tradition that does. Who is the most famous Texas A&M player, and what is the best selling A&M jersey in Texas? Johnny Manzel? Nope. The 12th man (a special teams walk-on).

—Steve, Indianapolis

Talk Back

Got a question for Peter King? Submit it, along with your name and hometown, to talkback@themmqb.com and it might be included in next Tuesday’s mailbag.

Who did Texas A&M ask to phone scores of big-money alums and supporters after winning the Heisman? Who helped raise millions for Texas A&M to build a giant new football complex? Was that the “tradition,” or was it a real, live person?

ON THE EXTRA POINT ISSUE. I’m having a hard time understanding your enthusiasm for more difficult extra points. How often do we see fantastic, hard-fought games marred by errant late field goals? Are we clamoring for great games to be derailed by missed extra points, too? If the NFL brass really thinks lack of excitement around current extra points is hurting the product, and it’s obviously not, why not just make one point automatic and make teams only try for the two? Of course a missed two-point attempt would still prevent the extra 1 from being tacked on. I think most would accept this change over more frequent missed XP attempts.

—Alex, Columbus

In 1912, the fathers of the fledgling sport of football were inventing the scoring system and said they thought a kick near the goal post after a touchdown should be worth one point. I don’t know what the percentage of made points after touchdown was, but it was not 99.6 percent. Last year in the NFL, the percentage of made extra points was 99.6 percent. It has become a waste of time. A total, uncompetitive, waste of time. So the league is trying to figure out if 45 seconds after every touchdown should be spent on something no one thinks is either worthwhile, competitive or entertaining. That’s what this is about. Everything is on the table, including keeping the current system, which, God help us, I hope does not happen. But we shall see.

YOU SHOULD HAVE HEARD THE ONES I DIDN’T INCLUDE. The quotes from Andy Benoit made me laugh so I hard I spilled my coffee, which is a precious commodity at 4:40 a.m. To atone for making me spill my coffee, please make a quote (or two!) from him a regular part of your column.

—Mike, Muskoka, Ontario

Well, Mike, the hardened state trooper from Wisconsin who pulled us over got Andy’s attention while we waited for him to dispense justice. Here is what Andy said: “He probably goes home, eats dried meat and potatoes and stoically tells his wife about his day.’’ And then his thoughts, following a viewing of an air show in Michigan, when we drove along and saw an airliner leaving the Detroit airport: “Look at that pathetic commercial airliner, slogging through the air like a fata–.”

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77 comments
GregMaxwell
GregMaxwell

Make the person who scores the TD kick the extra point.  Or have the regular place kicker drop kick the extra point. 

ZackMooreNFL
ZackMooreNFL

This new box in the lower left hand corner is REALLY annoying, I already signed up to follow MMQB and it's still asking me to follow. It's really disrespectful almost that you guys don't have an X to close this box. IT's like we have to sign up or our experience on the site will always have this box on the lower left, BUT even though I'm signed up, I still have the box!

Jim21
Jim21

The Extra point argument is a none issue with me. In baseball, you have the intentional walk... Sure, most times, it's four uneventful pitches but sometimes, it's an over throw and and a runner advances and it makes it exciting. 


If they want to eliminate the boredom caused by the almost-automatic point, stop having commercial breaks after the extra point. Have the kickoff immediately follow and THEN go to commercial. 

ghills
ghills

No political correctness today.  Bravo

GoPSULions
GoPSULions

So does the paying of players for revenue generating sports mean that those that play in non-revenue sports do not get paid, or instead have to pay?  If we only pay those, or pay more, to those that generate revenue, then we essentially create an unfair advantage for those schools that pay (or pay more).  For some major schools both football and basketball are +revenue sports, where as with others, only one may be. 


A college degree and room/board is a large reward, and if the players actually work to the degree, since most will not make the pros, the payback in life can and should be large.  A 4 year free ride to Northwestern would be worth about $244,000.

ObiwanCownobi
ObiwanCownobi

Simple solution to the one point kick after touchdowns. 40 players on a roster. I am tired of players that only punt, only kick, only long snap, only play as a dime defensive back, etc.

btsambirsky
btsambirsky

Let me present you two scenarios: Scenario A:  Texas A&M Aggies plays University of Alabama Crimson Tide in a SEC football match.  Scenario B: The College Station Farmers play the Tuscaloosa Red Waves in a semi-pro football league for 18 to 23 year olds. 

Let's assume that the players on each team are the same and that we can alter the time space continuum so that the games are played on the same day at the same time. Which game gets more attention?  Which game has more fans?  Please provide your justification for choosing scenario B.  I postulate that if this were possible, 99.6% of PAT, err I mean, people would pick Scenario A.

TShark
TShark

An impresario is a person who finances, organizes, and promotes plays, concerts, and operas.  Rodgers does that too?

CobyPreimesberger
CobyPreimesberger

again i think this whole extra point thing is silly, as again remember a few years ago, how the saints missed the playoffs, they ran that play on this site, the kickoff return, and all john karney has to do to keep the saints playoff hopes alive and send it to ot, is hit the extra point, and what happens he completely yacks it and my jaw hit the floor, as that's how the saints missed the playoffs because of a missed extra point. pk also probably thought the same thing a few years ago when the cowboys had a field goal that was an extra point, well this game's going to ot, but romo can't handle the snap and gets tackled a half yard short of the endzone to score the game winning td

x72
x72

Lmao, Dude is made of glass. He'll be lucky to play 5 games this season.

lawrence.latham
lawrence.latham

" As a season ticket holder in Cleveland I get fleeced every year by being forced to pay full price for two meaningless games."  Sam, as a Browns fan, don't you mean forced to pay full price for 10 meaningless games?

Ron5
Ron5

I'm guessing that I'm not the only one that thinks Benoit is a lot less than funny or witty or anything interesting

Shane Mac
Shane Mac

Keep the 1 point kick for the extra point but move it 3-5 yards outside the hash marks (kicking teams's choice on which hash mark to use).  Makes it a more challenging kick without going for the 33-yarder used this preseason.

pirate
pirate

Always enjoy your column, but I've gotta point out – Rogers is NOT an impresario, "a person who organizes or manages public entertainments." One might call him a maestro, but maybe the best descrption would be "A great quarterback."

ProfessorGriff
ProfessorGriff

I guess we should eliminate the QB/C exchange too - since that play has become almost automatic.  So stupid to try to change the PAT, no matter how mundane it has become.  There are other tweaks the game needs, but not this

Wisconsin Death Trip
Wisconsin Death Trip

Great, you just jinx'd us PK...now he's going to go down with another injury this year. YIKES!

sutherland.js
sutherland.js

Here is an analogy to help you. You and another guy work for the same company. You bring in millions in revenue for the company and the other guy cost the company thousands of dollars every year. You both get same benefits and paycheck. How would you feel ? That is basically what happens to the revenue sports athletes vs the non revenue , also known as money losing sports athletes. To put it another way why does the football coach make $3,000,000 and the track coach makes $75,000 ? Under your logic they should make the same.

BushidoBrownsRevenge
BushidoBrownsRevenge

@btsambirsky For now. As time passes though people will want to see the best players vs. the best players. I think a real semi-pro league with best High school players in the nation would eventually be on par with a weakened college football system. People want to see the players who might play for their NFL team.

BY
BY

@TShark I noticed that too. I think Peter meant maestro....

usameos6
usameos6

@CobyPreimesberger It's interesting that the NFL rule changes to move the ball for kickoffs resulted in a change from 16.4% touchbacks to 43.5% touchbacks (almost tripling the number of 'meaningless plays') but yet somehow the extra point is an issue?  

brandnka
brandnka

@x72 up until last season, I think he missed one game due to injury (concussion from bouncing his head off of the turf while being tackled). Did you see the way he landed when he got hurt? It was an awkward, hard impact.

usameos6
usameos6

@Ron5 Maybe Benoit can write the haiku going forward since I just skip it anyway .... win/win.  

GoPSULions
GoPSULions

@sutherland.js The "students" are not employees.  So to follow on with your analogy, to help you, If they were, they would have to pay taxes on all compensation, which would include their scholarship, room/board, ... So no, under my logic they are in no way comparable.  

By NCAA regulations, a player is limited to 4 hours/day, 20 hours/week for practice during the playing season, and limited 8 hours/week off season.  So for an upper university, it can be about $30,000/yr for tuition and books and another $8,000+/yr for room and board.  So this works out about $75/hr, so far from a simple perk.

Looking at current NWU prices, the yearly cost for tuition, room/board, books is about 61,000/year, so ups the hourly rate to about $120/hour.  So I have a hard time feeling like they are being exploited.

Wisconsin Death Trip
Wisconsin Death Trip

@SeaVik @PackersFanNumeroUno They won a SB a few years ago...2010, then went 15-1. Yea, lousy team. Must be a jealous Jacksonville Jaguar fan. Team(s) rosters change every so many years, but the Packers are consistently one of the better teams in the NFC North, and the conference. Here's a tissue for your eyes and nose..... 

BushidoBrownsRevenge
BushidoBrownsRevenge

@GoPSULions @sutherland.js Yeah Im sure nobody ever breaks NCAA rules. And how much is a 4 year degree at the SEC schools? Nowhere the revenue they bring in. Perfect world there would be real minor leagues for 18 year old athletic prodigies and we could end this foolishness. College teams should be made up of the student bodies and coaches should be volunteers. If Nick Saban can make all that money so should players who drive TV ratings, jersey sales, video game sell etc.

Sportsredo
Sportsredo

@BY @usameos6 @CobyPreimesberger  Both are a waste of time but the KO's would be  better if returned and they showed the return from the end zone. Same thing for say 3rd and 10. Show the play from above and behind the QB so you can see the receivers, their routes, the defense and the pass rush/QB.  The camera is always from the side on the QB. Let us see things developing, we can handle it.  

JohnBoehme
JohnBoehme

Your GM was a packer. Your GM before that is a packer. Your team was built the packer way. Dont get it twisted. Your QB was honed in Wisconsin. And you are just a rude weirdo. Complaining about jerseys and sh!t.

Sportsfan18
Sportsfan18

@SeaVik


Dumber than a box of rocks huh?  It was YOU who called the Packers pathetic.


What do you call your team then if the Packers are pathetic?


Over the past 20 seasons.  Packers have 204 wins which is a tad more than 10 wins per season.


In those 20 seasons, the Pack have been 1st or 2nd in their division 16 times.


10 of those times they were in 1st place.


They won 2 Super Bowls in that period too.


Now let's look at the Seahawks.


In the last 20 seasons.


They have 166 wins to the Packers 204 wins.


10 times they were 1st or 2nd in their division to the 16 times for the Packers.


7 times they were 1st to 10 times for the Packers.


1 Super Bowl to the Packers 2 Super Bowls.


So again, if the Packers are pathetic, then what does that make a team that won 38 FEWER games over 20 seasons?  Almost 2 games less EACH season for two decades.



Orange Crush
Orange Crush

@SeaVik @PackersFanNumeroUno So let me get this straight. They are a pathetic team because they play in Wisconsin (one of the most storied football locations in the history of the NFL) and...they have ugly uniforms!? lol

beekay31
beekay31

@Orange Crush @Sportsfan18 Seahawk unis are some of the most hideous in the league, not to mention the Purple Princesses next door.  Either way, SeaVik is jealous of the ESPN voted 2nd best unis in sports.

Wisconsin Death Trip
Wisconsin Death Trip

@SeaVik @Orange Crush @PackersFanNumeroUno I was a federal agent in Wash State for years. Seattle stinx, smells bad, the state is full of meth heads and dopers, and there is garbage all over the roads, and in the woods. I haven't even started on the strip mining, the homeless heroin addicts laying around everywhere, and the clear cutting of the wilderness..one of the dumbest states in the union.  

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