For the majority of Aaron Rodgers’ career, as the starting quarterback for the Green Bay Packers, his lack of success has fallen on the shoulders of his head coach – Mike McCarthy – for his simple and underwhelming offensive playbook. In the spring of 2019, Rodgers was given a new head coach in Matt LeFleur – an offensive-minded play caller who was invested in getting the ‘Pack back to their winning ways. Finishing the 2019 season at 13-3, he’s done just that, but Rodgers continued to have another underwhelming season. Is he approaching the end of the tunnel in his career?
Show Me the Money!
From 2006 to 2018, Mike McCarthy followed an offensive game plan that consisted of short passes via slant and stick formations in order to march up the field. He utilized a scheme that was, at the time, efficient against defenses that focused on stopping the run in a running back-dominated league. By 2017 however, the inefficiency of his strategies were consistently underwhelming, as the rest of the league begun to adopt the spread-offense; making the passing-game the focal point of an offense. Rodgers was being underutilized and often took matters into his own hands by commanding the offense in order to win, as McCarthy’s performance in play calling for final drives was feeble. Aaron’s frustration grew in an alarming rate to Green Bay fans, as many believed that he wanted a new look in a different city, leaving Titletown in shambles. In order to convince him to stay, general manager Brian Gutekunst was forced to make him the highest paid quarterback, at the time, with a 4-year / $134 million contract with $98.7 million of it guaranteed with a $57.5 million signing bonus to go along with it. Who can say no to that? The “Bad Man”, as Stephen A. Smith calls him, was more than happy to accept the cash, but it did not change the relationship that was dwindling between McCarthy and himself.
Get Out of Town
The relationship between a head coach and a quarterback is often misconceived, as it can appear to be toxic, but it is often two passionate minds conflicting with emotion. This duo though, was beyond toxic, as reports claimed that Rodgers would often ridicule McCarthy for his low football IQ and poor play-calling. Rodgers also wasn’t afraid to take potshots at his coach, as during film one day, McCarthy made a wise crack about passing up on a trivial matter. Rodgers responded by stating “oh like how you passed up on me for the first overall pick in San Fransisco?” (per, former Packers WR Greg Jennings). The 2017 and the 2018 NFL Regular Season campaigns were the deciding factor to terminate Mike McCarthy’s contract with the Green Bay Packers, after 12 games with a 4-7-1 record with a healthy Aaron Rodgers in 2018. The speculation was that New England Patriots’ offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels would land the head coaching gig in Green Bay, as he is the mastermind behind QB Tom Brady’s legacy. Despite the pursuit by other teams for McDaniels, he openly admitted that the only team he would leave New England, in order to be a head coach for, was the Packers. The excitement grew among fans, as they eagerly waited for the announcement of the hiring of the offensive-mastermind to join the ‘Pack. Instead, GM Gutekunst signed first-year OC Matt LeFleur of the Tennessee Titans, a decision out of left field that sparked outrage and confusion among every football fan.
Leave Britney Alone
Even after facing immense skepticism about his role in Green Bay, LeFleur silenced critics when he became not only the first head coach in Packers history to finish with a winning record in their inaugural season, but he finished with a 13-3 record, along with the No. 2 seed in the NFC. Their success has been unusual though, as before, Rodgers was forced to put the team on his back and carry them to victory. Now, with a defense that is able to forced turnovers to put the ball in A-Rod’s hands, the Packers have found ways to win games by any means necessary; whether it is through Rodgers, the defense, or their dynamic running backs in Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams, they always found a way in 2019. Even with all of the positive growth for the team, the quarterback’s stats remained stagnant even with a revamped offensive playbook. Rodgers’ throws have continued to be inconsistent at times, and his playmaking abilities have been on the decline in pivotal moments. While people continue to pursue the idea that “Rodgers’ legacy hangs in the balance”, nobody is stating the obvious reason as to why his stats are considered “average”.
New Coach New Me
Whenever there is a coaching change, there is a scheme alteration that follows it. The coach will bring in his own staff and create a game-plan with his philosophy as opposed to the previous coach before him. When LeFleur arrived in Green Bay, his goal was not to make Aaron Rodgers a quarterback that will throw 6,000 yards and 55 TDs in a season. LeFleur’s offensive scheme is a zone run, west coast passing scheme. In other words; the game is played through running the ball. Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams are the reason why Green Bay is so dynamic this year. By focusing on the run, it allows Rodgers to use his arm strength by amassing huge gains through play-action passes downfield. This new playbook does not force Rodgers to do it all himself, nor does he even have to anymore. This is a run-first, pass-second offense. His stats are a reflection of such. His legacy does not hang in the balance simply because he is not the only one on offense anymore. Rodgers is still one of the best quarterbacks to ever play the game, the only difference is that he does not have to carry the offense anymore, as the focus is through the run-game and no longer the passing-game.