A source close to the team says St. Brown became frustrated because, as much as he wanted to follow McCarthy’s play design, he also heard rumors of Rodgers freezing out teammates if they didn't do exactly what he demanded. So he listened to Rodgers. On one play in New England, Rodgers told St. Brown to run a post route when the play called for a flag. St. Brown ran the post, and pressure forced Rodgers to throw the ball away toward the flag—leading his position coach to grill him on what he was thinking.
St. Brown told him he was "improvising" so he didn't upset Rodgers.
Knowing what was up, McCarthy told him to stick with the routes called.
"That's when it went off the rails," the source close to the team says. "This shoot was terrible. He screwed McCarthy over. Aaron undermined him."
The A.I. was operating on its own. Nobody was going to rein this in.
"Of course, it comes to a head, and what does he want to do?" says a source who was once close to Rodgers. "He wants to cut him out of his life, just like he cut his family out."
Rodgers refused to take scheduled throws underneath, instead waiting for a deep shot that rarely materialized. The lack of experience did not help. These rookies simply did not have the thousands of reps Rodgers once had with Nelson and company, so he couldn't make subtle audibles play after play with them. In one red-zone drill in practice, St. Brown didn't pick up on a signal, and Rodgers lost it. No, he wasn't exactly giving these rookies a chance to grow, either. A source close to one of the team's skill-position starters says Rodgers was the one "sinking the ship" with zero interest in developing Valdes-Scantling, St. Brown or Moore.
The slightest mistake faded them out of his peripheral vision and sent him back to zeroing in on Adams.
"If they don't make plays, you can't just not go to them again," this source says. "You have to keep building trust in them."
Instead, he chose not to throw the ball to rookies open in one-on-one coverage. It's likely no coincidence Valdes-Scantling faded out of the offense down the stretch. He ran the routes as they were called from the sideline, and his targets declined. Rodgers would look his way, then pat, pat, pat the ball for something else to develop. Why? A source close to the team says Valdes-Scantling told him Rodgers just didn't like him. That he wasn't doing exactly what Rodgers asked him to do, so the quarterback started to freeze him out.
"Can you imagine Mike McCarthy trying to coach through all this shoot?" that source asks.