Packers coach secretly gave his defence all of Aaron Rodgers' play signals to make practices more competitive

Following a disastrous end to the 2014 season, Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy gave up play-calling duties to lessen his individual workload.

In doing so, he began to spend less time with the Packers offence and more time with the defence. As time passed, he decided to try an experiment to level the playing field in training camp.

As USA Today’s Tom Pelissero details, while spending time with the defence, McCarthy decided to leak Aaron Rodgers’ playing-calling signals to defenders so they could read him at the line, but also challenge Rodgers, too.

Rodgers told Pelissero he knew something was up:

“I started thinking, ‘Somebody must’ve told them something, because there’s no way that they would say anything like that unless somebody told them,'” Rodgers said. “Deductive reasoning told me that Mike probably went over there and gave away some of our secrets.”

McCarthy also began quizzing the defence, asking them why Rodgers was doing certain things on the line. In doing so, he wanted to increase defensive communication, letting them call out to each other what Rodgers was doing. It also keeps Rodgers fresh and attentive, having to react to a defence that knows what’s coming.

Rodgers said it’s been a fun addition to camp:

“We all have tendencies, so it’s good to try to break some of those and we do it with dummy signals and dummy words. We all have our little idiosyncrasies that we can’t help sometimes, and Mike obviously went over them and shared a lot of them with the defence. It’s fun. You try not to get bored hitting check-downs or hitting the same progressions you’ve been through in the last 10 years. But you’re only human sometimes.”

McCarthy is known for putting twists on training camp and trying to keep his players on their toes. Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported that a few years ago, McCarthy and former offensive coordinator Joe Philbin would give Rodgers “mental challenges” to help his own play-calling at the line. It eventually led to giving Rodgers the reins and letting them run a no-huddle offence.

The Packers have had some luck in developing talent and having an all-time great quarterback in Rodgers fall into their laps, but the culture McCarthy has developed clearly has played a role in their consistency.

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