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#pounditThursday, March 4, 2021

Aaron Rodgers

Darius Leonard using Aaron Rodgers slight as motivation

Darius Leonard

Indianapolis Colts linebacker Darius Leonard has had Sunday’s game against the Green Bay Packers circled for nearly two weeks now. Why? It’s because of something Aaron Rodgers said rather innocuously.

After the Packers played the San Francisco 49ers in Week 9, Rodgers dubbed the Niners’ Fred Warner the NFL’s best linebacker. That didn’t sit well with Leonard, who said he respects Rodgers, but intends to teach him a lesson this week.

“I seen it as soon as he said it,” Leonard said Thursday, via ESPN’s Mike Wells. “You hear things like that and it gives you extra motivation going to play. [Rodgers has] been in the league for a long time. For him to say that about Fred Warner, they play sometimes twice a year, so my first time I want to leave a mark. Hopefully change his mind on what he said about that.”

Rodgers certainly didn’t intend to slight Leonard or anyone else when he was praising Warner. Leonard, however, is the sort of player who will take just about anything as a sign of disrespect. He took Rodgers’ remark as a slight. We’ve seen him do this before to motivate himself, so we’ll see if Rodgers pays for his comments on Sunday.

Aaron Rodgers sees some ‘double standards’ with coronavirus protocols

Aaron Rodgers

The NFL has implemented a seemingly endless list of COVID-19 protocols in hopes of preventing the spread of the disease, and Aaron Rodgers wonders whether or not some of them are necessary.

Rodgers was asked about the coronavirus guidelines during his weekly appearance on “The Pat McAfee Show” Tuesday. The Green Bay Packers star emphasized that he is not trying to downplay the protocols, but he wonders how much of what the NFL is doing is based in science.

“I think there’s a lot of questions of are we doing all this based on science and it’s all necessary?” Rodgers said. “There are some interesting conversations to be had down the line about all of that. … I’m just wondering what is this based on.”

Rodgers went into some specifics. He questioned why players are allowed to interact and shake hands after games but need plexiglass between lockers and can’t eat lunch together. The two-time NFL MVP feels some of the protocols are “definitely for the optics of it.”

“I think there’s some double standards — you can dap up a guy after the game but you can’t eat at the same lunch table as a teammate,” Rodgers said. “You can go down to practice and hit each other and be in close contact but you have to have plexiglass between you and the guy next to you in the locker room. Some of those things to me don’t really add up.”

If you remember, Rodgers hinted months ago that he is not in favor of stay-at-home orders during the pandemic. It’s no surprise he feels similarly about some of the NFL’s protocols.

The NFL has issued some harsh disciplinary action against teams and coaches for not following COVID-19 protocols. One team owner unloaded on the league over the punishment this week.

You can hear Rodgers’ full comments below:

Aaron Rodgers: These were not the same 49ers

Aaron Rodgers

The Green Bay Packers rolled to victory 34-17 against the San Francisco 49ers at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif. on Thursday night. The Packers got ahead 34-3 before the 49ers scored a few times to make the end score look respectable.

But the Niners’ rough performance was understandable given the context of all their injuries. George Kittle and Jimmy Garoppolo are on injured reserve. Kyle Juszczyk, Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, and Raheem Mostert are some of their other players who did not play. Nick Bosa and Solomon Thomas have been on IR since early in the season.

Aaron Rodgers recognized the challenges facing the 49ers.

“They’re obviously depleted on both sides of the ball,” Rodgers said in a postgame interview with Erin Andrews. “They’ve had probably one of the worst injury years I’ve seen in a long time. It’s not the same football team that we saw twice last year, but they still have possibly the best middle linebacker in the game and a lot of pride.”

Just because San Francisco is in a tough spot doesn’t mean Rodgers was about to take it easy on them. Rodgers went 25/31 for 305 yards and four touchdowns. Green Bay is now 6-2, and Rodgers is putting together yet another MVP-quality season. The Niners have been doing their best to hang on but are now 4-5.

Aaron Rodgers shares theory on controversial pass interference no-call

Aaron Rodgers

The Green Bay Packers were on the wrong end of a pass interference flag being picked up late in their game against the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday, and Aaron Rodgers was highly critical of the non-call. After Green Bay’s loss, Rodgers hinted at a theory about why the penalty may have been waved off.

The Packers were down two touchdowns with 8:21 remaining in the fourth quarter and facing a 4th down. Rodgers tried to complete a deep pass to tight end Robert Tonyan, and Vikings safety Anthony Harris was called for pass interference. You can see the play below:

Officials got together and determined that there was no foul for pass interference. The flag was picked up, resulting in a turnover on downs. Rodgers hinted to reporters after the game that he believes the NFL league office influenced the ruling.

“I know there’s times where, they probably won’t admit it, but New York is looking at some of these plays and telling them whether or not it was pass interference or whatever the penalty is. From my vantage point, it wasn’t even close,” Rodgers said, via SI.com’s Bill Huber. “From my vantage point, it actually helped that the ball fluttered up in the air a little bit because it threw off the timing slightly and [Harris] got there clearly early. Didn’t seem like a tough call to me.”

FOX rules analyst Dean Blandino agreed with Rodgers, as he said during the broadcast that the flag should not have been picked up.

Obviously, the flag being picked up was huge. Had the Packers scored on that possession, they would have been trailing by one score with plenty of time remaining. Instead, they got the ball back later in the quarter and scored a touchdown but didn’t have enough time to complete the comeback.

The Packers have been a bit inconsistent over the past month, and a quote Rodgers gave after a recent loss was somewhat surprising. You can’t blame him for feeling like the officials made a mistake late in Sunday’s upset.

5 biggest disappointments of NFL Week 6

Aaron Rodgers

Week 6 saw one winless team get a much-needed victory, while things got even worse for another. It also saw some memorable performances, especially by quarterbacks, though some were for the right reasons, and some very much not. The good news is the drama led to some fun games.

With good games come great disappointments, and here are five from Week 6.

Aaron Rodgers, QB, Packers

In the battle of future Hall of Fame quarterbacks, Tom Brady was excellent, while Rodgers played one of his worst-ever games. After jumping out to a 10-0 lead, the Packers tallied just 57 total yards on their next 41 plays. Rodgers was consistently harassed by Tampa Bay defenders. He threw interceptions on back-to-back drives, the first one being just the third pick-six of his career. The game got so lopsided that Rodgers was taken out of the game in the 4th quarter to get him off his feet. It’s too bad this quarterback matchup didn’t live up to the billing, but Rodgers was just awful. At least he had a fun celebration.

Minnesota Vikings

The Atlanta Falcons have been criticized all season, blown a number of late leads, and fired head coach Dan Quinn after another debacle last week. If the Vikings were going to get a win, this was a perfect opportunity. Instead, it was the Vikings who were left reeling. The Falcons stormed out to a 33-7 lead, Kirk Cousins threw three interceptions, and Minnesota looked about as far away from contention as they possibly could. The fact that this came against a winless team makes the performance even more alarming. At this point, it’s worth asking how safe Mike Zimmer’s job is.

N’Keal Harry, Patriots

The Patriots’ sluggish offense continues to underwhelm; they were held to just 288 total yards by the Denver Broncos. Still, thanks to some errors by the Denver offense, the Patriots were in the game at the end. Trailing by 6 on a do-or-die 4th-and-10, quarterback Cam Newton sought out Harry, who had only been targeted once in the game to that point. Analysis shows that Harry ran the wrong route on the final play, and the pass fell incomplete. That’s a bad look for someone who’s supposed to be a major part of the offense but didn’t even make a catch on Sunday.

Baker Mayfield, QB, Browns

Mayfield probably shouldn’t have played Sunday, though one can understand his desire to. It was a divisional rivalry against the unbeaten Steelers, and the Browns wanted to prove they were for real. Mayfield just wasn’t up to it. He threw two interceptions and tallied just 118 yards before being benched for his own good in the third quarter as he battled a rib injury. Mayfield will have better days, especially once he’s healthy, but his effort to gut it out did the Browns no favors.

Houston Texans’ defense

The firing of Bill O’Brien appears to have finally opened up the Houston Texans’ offense. Now they just need to sort out the other side of the ball. The Titans posted 601 yards in an overtime win, with Houston’s defense having a full-on meltdown late. A Tennessee offense not known for being prolific stomped all over Houston on a game-tying drive that ended with A.J. Brown’s tying touchdown catch with seconds left. In overtime, Derrick Henry was involved in four of the Titans’ six plays on a game-winning touchdown drive. The Texans had no answer. Their offense looked to have won them the game, but the defense just wasn’t good enough.

Aaron Rodgers had surprising comment after Packers’ blowout loss

Aaron Rodgers

Players are often frustrated and upset after their team loses, but that was not necessarily the case for Aaron Rodgers on Sunday.

Rodgers’ Green Bay Packers got smashed 38-10 in a loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on the road. Green Bay took a 10-0 lead in the first quarter and just got steamrolled after that. A couple of interceptions by Rodgers led to Bucs touchdowns. Tampa Bay’s offense also woke up after that.

So was Rodgers angry about getting crushed in the game? Not really. He was actually happy to get a wake-up call.

“I feel like we needed a little bit of a wake-up call this season because things had been so good. … I think we needed a kick in the a– a little bit,” he said.

Rodgers also believes the bad loss was an anomaly.

The Packers were 4-0 prior to the loss. Rodgers likely doesn’t want himself and his teammates feeling too comfortable about things.

Video: Aaron Rodgers does ‘Key and Peele’ double pump touchdown celebration

Aaron Rodgers Key and Peele

Aaron Rodgers went viral for his “Key & Peele” tribute with a double pump touchdown celebration on Sunday.

Rodgers rushed into the end zone for what was initially ruled to be a touchdown during the Green Bay Packers’ Week 6 game at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. After diving into the end zone for the score, he got up, put his hands on his head, and thrusted twice with his pelvis.

The double pump touchdown celebration is a reference to “Key & Peele,” which had a bit during their Comedy Central show about excessive celebrations in the NFL. The joke was about a player named “Hingle McCringleberry” and whether he did two or three pumps. Three pumps is where things crossed the line for a penalty.

That was awesome by Rodgers. Unfortunately for him, the touchdown was taken off the board following a review that said his knee was down before the goal line. But at least his double thrust lives on.

Rodgers is not the first NFL player to do the celebration during a game. The only question is whether Key and Peele will pay for it if Rodgers gets fined like they did last time.

Aaron Rodgers not a big fan of ‘Monday Night Football’ commentary

Aaron Rodgers

ESPN has not exactly drawn rave reviews for its “Monday Night Football” broadcast since Jon Gruden returned to coaching, and apparently fans aren’t the only ones who have been disappointed with the commentary.

During his weekly appearance on “The Pat McAfee Show,” Aaron Rodgers was asked for his thoughts on Monday night’s game between the Los Angeles Chargers and New Orleans Saints. He took the opportunity to mention how he watched the game with the sound off, which he says he has done with most games carried by ESPN over the last few years.

“I didn’t see a whole lot of that. It was on for a little bit with the sound off, which is how I’ve watched a lot of games on ESPN over the last few years,” Rodgers said.

Rodgers was then asked if he has issues with everybody at ESPN or just certain people, and he mentioned how Kenny Mayne is “one of my all-time favorites.” He added that he enjoys watching football but prefers to listen to music during the games rather than taking in the commentary.

ESPN has tried desperately to improve its “Monday Night Football” crew since Gruden left, but they were turned down by several huge names. This year’s trio of Steve Levy, Brian Griese and Louis Riddick is certainly an improvement over Joe Tessitore and Booger McFarland, but it still leaves plenty to be desired.

Of course, Rodgers has been open in recent years about how much he dislikes the media. It’s no surprise he listens to games with the sound off.

Aaron Rodgers denies trolling Falcons with ‘hard count’ call out

Aaron Rodgers

Aaron Rodgers is probably the best quarterback in the NFL at getting opponents to jump offsides, and there was one point during Monday night’s game when it sounded like he may have made the Atlanta Falcons do just that in savage fashion. Unfortunately, Rodgers says his troll game isn’t as strong as people made it out to be.

Rodgers made the Falcons jump with an aggressive hard count on a 3rd-and-7 in the first quarter. It sounded like the Green Bay Packers quarterback caused the penalty by literally saying “hard count!”

In an appearance on “The Pat McAfee Show” Tuesday, Rodgers said he did not yell “hard count!”

Rodgers likely said “hut-go,” which is a more traditional cadence and sounds a lot like “hard count!” Whatever he said worked, as the Falcons jumped offsides and gave the Packers a free play.

Regardless of what he said to fool the Falcons, Rodgers had his way with their defense all night. He completed 27-of-33 passes for 327 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions in Green Bay’s 30-16 win. The performance added to what is now a historically good start to the year for the former MVP.

Aaron Rodgers off to historically good start to 2020 season

Aaron Rodgers

Aaron Rodgers seems determined to prove he is still capable of playing at an MVP level, and the Green Bay Packers quarterback has done exactly that through the first four weeks of the season. In fact, he is currently on a historic pace.

Rodgers has thrown for 1,214 yards, 13 touchdowns and no interceptions in four games. He has a passer rating of 128.4 and total QBR of 92.8. According to ESPN Stats & Info, the QBR is the best of any player through four games since the stat was first tracked in 2006. Rodgers’ numbers are better than Peyton Manning’s and Tom Brady’s were during their record-setting MVP seasons.

Rodgers is on pace to throw for 4,856 yards and 52 touchdown passes. Neither of those marks would be records, but they would be personal bests for the 36-year-old.

What’s more important to the Packers, of course, is that Rodgers is absolutely locked in. Even without top receivers Davante Adams and Allen Lazard on Monday night, he still managed to complete 27-of-33 passes for 327 yards and four touchdowns. His passer rating of 147.5 was just shy of perfection.

Green Bay’s offense has looked lost at times over the past few years, but Rodgers is on another level thus far in 2020. Heck, he even looks like a wizard in pregame warmups. If that continues, the Packers are going to be tough to beat.