Green Bay Packers: Do Fans Really Have Any Questions About Rodgers' Leadership?

Colby LanhamCorrespondent IJanuary 24, 2013

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JANUARY 12:  Quarterback Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers throws the ball against the San Francisco 49ers during the NFC Divisional Playoff Game at Candlestick Park on January 12, 2013 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

The 2013 off-season has a lot of questions that need answering.

Will Charles Woodson be back with the team with his $10 million salary? Has Dom Capers' time run out as defensive coordinator after the Packers' inability to contain 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick? Will other familiar names like AJ Hawk and Jermichael Finley be back? And what will be done at running back and along the offensive line?

But despite all these questions, the only certain thing is that quarterback Aaron Rodgers will once again be at the helm of the Packers' offense. Lately, however, there have been questions regarding his leadership overall.

But is there a disconnect between Rodgers and some of his teammates?

While no Packers players have publicly criticized Rodgers, the signs began in September, when Blake Baratzthe agent for Packers tight end Jermichael Finleytook to Twitter to rip Rodgers:

"ARod is a great QB he isn't a great leader," Baratz tweeted. "There's a major difference. Leaders take the blame & make every1 better. He doesn't."

-Rob Reischel of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

And Finley's agent was not the only one to question Rodgers' leadership. In October, CBS' Shannon Sharpe, a Hall of Fame tight end who played for the Baltimore Ravens and the Denver Broncos, took the opportunity to rip Rodgers on the air:

"Aaron Rodgers . . . he strikes me as a guy that, it's always someone else's fault other than his own," Sharpe said. "I'm not so sure, I'm not so sure, that deep down inside, how well his receiving corps really likes Aaron Rodgers.

"I tell you what else, just because you're a great quarterback and an MVP quarterback that doesn't make you a great person. There is a difference between the two."

-Rob Reischel of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

And it didn't end there.Later in December, Packers receiver Greg Jennings' sister followed Sharpe's lead in criticism of Rodgers via Twitter:

"ARod is the most overrated QB in the league! He is no where near Peyton or Brady! It sickens me, Peyton would avg. 5 TD with this squad!!!"

-Rob Reischel of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

You get the idea. Now, Rodgers definitely took some heat for the way he handled things, especially given the team's 2-3 start early in the season. He took heat in their first game against the Chicago Bears for getting on James Jones for running the wrong route, and even took heat to the scout team's performance in practice and how they needed to step it up. And all of a sudden his leadership is questioned.

But notice how people have never questioned when Tom Brady or Peyton Manning rips into one of their teammates for an incorrect play, and they have vented their frustrations more than once on their receivers and their offensive line.

Aaron Rodgers has rarely played behind a complete offensive line at all positions, with the tackle position being the biggest problem until the Packers finally drafted Bryan Bulaga. And even then, the other tackle spot is still inconsistent. But fans should not be so quick to rip Rodgers' leadership ability.

Many say Rodgers has not made himself accountable. But when the Packers have started out slow, Rodgers has adjusted the way he plays and has been the catalyst for this team. His leadership was evident during the Packers' Super Bowl run in 2010 and even last year when the Pack went 15-1 in the regular season. Just because Rodgers rips someone does not mean he is not being accountable. As great a quarterback as Peyton Manning is, you can bet that he has ripped his receiving corps during his career on a regular basis.

It has been Rodgers that has put this team on his back and turned the season around, and he did so this year en route to an 11-5 season after a 2-3 start to the season. His chemistry with his receiving corps doesn't happen overnight; he has been a good enough leader to develop it in practice, he has not been a problem off the field and he doesn't garner any kind of media attention.

A large part of Rodgers' getting into his receivers stems largely from the competitive nature that is just as big as Brady's or Manning's. If any other player not named Brady or Manning acts the way they do, they are automatically deemed less of a leader because of it.

Hans't Rodgers shown his leadership ability since becoming the starter in 2008? Since his 6-10 start then, he has won at least ten games his past three seasons, was named to the Pro Bowl in three seasons, was named a first-team All-Pro in 2011 and Second team in 2012, was named NFL MVP in 2011 and Super Bowl MVP, guiding the first ever No. 6 seeded team to do so.

So let's not be so quick to rip Rodgers for his leadership ability.