I recently had a chance to talk to Greg Jennings, wide receiver for the Green Bay Packers, who was doing a media blitz for Old Spice.
Since chances are you guys don't care about the pressing issues with the Packers, I decided it might be worth it to ask him about the dynamics of a winning locker room, as well as tips he might have for Nick Foles on winning over his teammates and the locker room.
Here are some of the questions from the interview, with some thoughts afterwards.
Eliot: The Packers obviously did not start the season the way you guys would have hoped, but have bounced back to now being a playoff team. You’ve been in the NFL a few years, is there something special about this team and it's chemistry?
Greg: We're not the only team that is gong through adversity and experiencing it at all, but anytime you can overcome something and look back and say “I slipped and fell but I got up” and learn from the mistake that took place it’s pretty impressive.
Eliot: Building that kind of attitude within a locker room, a feeling of "We can overcome this", is that something that takes a few years? The Eagles have had problems overcoming adversity this year, whether it be a bad loss or a turnover within the game. Is the attitude that it takes to come back from that something that is built over time?
Greg: You have to check your ego when you walk into the door. Simply you have a ton of guys with a ton of talent that can accomplish anything if they set their mind to one goal and one goal only. But what you have a lot of times is within a locker room you have so many individuals who have their own set of goals and look at those goals before they view the team goal. The way we go about it is we make sure we put our team goal in the fore front and then the individual goals will take care of themselves.
Eliot: Does that kind of team attitude come from the head coach or the quarterback?
Greg: It definitely starts with the head coach, and then it gets overtaken by the leaders on the team. When you see the play-makers on your team doing there part from a team perspective, it creates a domino effect
Eliot: You were there as the Packers transitioned from Brett Favre to Aaron Rodgers. The Eagles are kind of in a similar situation with the Michael Vick era ending and Nick Foles now being the starter. Did everyone in the locker room sense the change was coming, know it was coming and did people in the locker room know it was Rodger’s time?
Greg: We had a great sense once we saw that Favre was retiring that Aaron was coming. He showed in his individual performance and what we have done as a team that he was ready. There comes a time when every player has to move on and there is going to be a guy who take over that void, and that is what Aaron has been able to do.
Eliot: Are there certain things that a QB can do to win over a locker room. Michael Vick is one of the most popular players in the locker room, and now finds himself on the bench. It's now Fole's job to get the player support behind him. What can a QB do to win over a locker room?
Greg: I think Rodgers showed it with the way he went about practicing on the practice squad. He wanted to be great and he wanted to beat our defense- which at the time was one of the best in the league. He got to compete against a very solid defense, and he showed a lot of poise and leadership skills early on even as a back up.
Eliot: The Eagles are moving on from a scrambling quarterback to a more traditional pocket passer. People around the NFL have debated if a team can win with a scrambling quarterback. You play with a pocket passer in Green Bay. Do to think teams can win without a scrambling quarterback?
Greg: I think so. They have been proven to be able to. Carolina has had success with Cam Newton running a lot. Michael Vick has had a ton of success. He had success with the Falcons, he had success with the Eagles. It’s a matter of challenging yourself to be a pocket passer, as well as knowing when to run. The prime example is RG3. We all know that he can throw the ball and make plays from the pocket. But you want him to put that stress on the defense by running as well. You have to know when to do it and when not to do it.
Other than Jennings saying that Carolina has had success with Cam Newton, and him saying Nick Foles just needs to "believe in him-smelf". I thought Jennings made a lot of good points that could relate to the Eagles and their struggles.
Jennings pointed out multiple times to me that the key to the Packers success has been players checking their egos at the door. The Eagles have plenty of good guys in the locker room, but when you look back at what ultimately lead to he demise of Andy Reid, I think it would have to be the infusion of players who put themselves first. Terrell Owens is the prime example, but other players like Jason Babin have also been paid big money by the team only to bring in an attitude of making sure they get their numbers. I think to a certain degree you could accuse DeSean Jackson of doing that, especially last year as he basically tanked for a season to get a contract. In Reid's early years the team was built around defense, team offense and really a sense of just getting the job done, no matter if it made Sports Center or not. You don't get that sense with all of these players.
I also found it interesting that Jennings mentioned he noticed how hard Rodgers was working on the practice squad.
What did you take, if anything, from the interview with Jennings, and how can it relate to the Eagles? Has Foles won over the locker room, or do you think the players still have hesitations about the rookie from Arizona?
Follow Eliot Shorr-Parks on Twitter at @EliotShorrParks