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Aaron Rodgers represents QB maestro Matt LaFleur's biggest challenge yet

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Aaron Rodgers represents QB maestro Matt LaFleur's biggest challenge yet

-- Establishing a connection with the franchise's cornerstone starting quarterback is undoubtedly one of the most important obstacles facing first-year head coach Matt LaFleur. 

Officially introduced as the 15th coach in the Green Bay Packers' distinguished history on Wednesday, LaFleur's pedigree in working with quarterbacks in the past is presumably one of his most favorable qualities.

It'll also aid him in establishing that partnership with Aaron Rodgers, who will be playing under a new head coach for just the second time in his career as the team's starter. 

"I can't wait to get to work with him," LaFleur said on Wednesday during his introductory press conference. "I think he's equally excited. There's a lot of work to be done in front of us, but I'm just looking forward to that opportunity."

For the past 13 seasons, Rodgers has answered to Mike McCarthy, who helped lead the Packers to their first Super Bowl title in nearly a decade-and-a-half. In a sense, LaFleur's hiring hints at a similar tune to when McCarthy was hired in 2006.

An experienced offensive mind and a widely-proclaimed "quarterback guru," McCarthy was tasked with fixing Brett Favre after a dismal 2005 campaign. He was majorly responsible for molding Rodgers through his "quarterback school," helping acclimate his passing mechanics and fundamentals before he became Favre's successor in 2008.

In LaFleur's case, he doesn't need to fix anything with Rodgers, but more so find a way to rejuvenate someone whose interest levels and belief in the system have descended below healthy levels. As one of the brightest, most innovative minds in the league today, that should seem like a typical day at the office for LaFleur.

But it all starts with the groundwork: Getting on the same page with Rodgers and accepting the concept that he'll have his ideas and LaFleur will have his own. Conjoin, mesh, transform into a dynamic, offensive-oriented team to keep pace with the rest of the NFL.

That start came early -- before LaFleur was even officially hired or notified that he was the Packers' choice. He received a phone call from Rodgers himself on Monday, and according to LaFleur, it went swimmingly.

"I can tell he's a passionate guy and he wants to win," LaFleur said. "I think that holds true for me as well. So I think we're in alignment there because, like I said before, this game is about winning. I know that he wants to add to his legacy, and the only way we're going to accomplish that is to win a world championship."

According to President and CEO Mark Murphy, the Packers conducted meetings shortly after the season ended with their leadership council which contains team leaders from nine different position groups. The whole purpose being to gather a consensus on what qualities should be sought after in a new head coach.

After their own series of interviews in the midst of what was a busy weekend, nobody really jumped out. Whether you ask Murphy, general manager Brian Gutekunst or Executive Vice President Russ Ball; the Packers weren't sold on any potential hire until their interview with LaFleur on Sunday.

They certainly didn't hesitate to wrap him up to a four-year contract either. LaFleur was officially signed on Tuesday, inking his future in Green Bay.

Rodgers doesn't have his Sean McVay, but with his excellence in playing his position and handfuls of talent on offense, there's no reason why the Packers can't be as successful as the McVay-led Rams.

"Certainly we're going to have a foundation in place of how we run our system," LaFleur told ESPN. "I think it's a system that's really predicated on building the run game with the pass game. We like to have plays, we like to say plays that start off looking the same but are different, plays that play off of plays. It lessens the predictability of what you're trying to do.

"If there's one thing I can say in regards to a guy like Aaron, if you give Aaron time and you are unpredictable, he's going to excel, because we all know what talent he has. That's how we're going to build this thing."

__________________________

Zachary Jacobson is a staff writer/reporter for Cheesehead TV. He's the voice of The Leap on iTunes and can be heard on The Scoop KLGR 1490 AM every Saturday morning. He's also a contributor on the Pack-A-Day Podcast. He can be found on Twitter via @ZachAJacobson or contacted through email at [email protected].

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The TKstinator's picture

A couple O-linemen and a tight end wouldn’t hurt, either.

dobber's picture

I hope they'll hurt SOMEONE...

Daren726's picture

Only time will tell. Sounds like Aaron is excited... but it was only one phone call. It will be a lot of work for both of them. Let’s just hope Aaron is up for it, and Lafleur is as advertised.

PAPackerbacker's picture

The future has yet to be written, but the excitement is there. I'm sure there will be disagreements, but on the other hand I'm sure there will be common ground as well. MLF conducted himself very well during his introduction. He has gained the trust of the brass, now he needs to work on gaining the trust of the rest of the team. I hope he can command the respect from everyone and given a chance to prove what he can do. Let's hope he lives up to his expectations and joins the list as one of the great coaches of the Green Bay Packers. He has some big shoes to fill, but I think he is up to the challenge. Time will tell.

Nick Perry's picture

Because of MLF's reputation working with QB's and the multiple examples on multiple teams while doing it with multiple QB's, I'm liking this hire more and more. Rodgers has said more than once he WANTS to be coached. Well get ready Rodgers because your wish has been granted.

Most know I wanted McDaniels to be the next Packers coach, BUT the hiring of MLF is growing and growing on me by the day. Now it's up to our new HC and our QB who SO MANY here seemed to have given up on and I think they'll be up to that challenge. Rodgers over the course of his career has thrived best when motivated. With all the talk from the "Experts", the media, and his own fans, I'd expect AR to light it up next season.

Murphy has done his job since he wouldn't let Gutekunst do it himself. Now Murphy needs to get the hell out of the way and let MLF build his OWN coaching staff and let Gutekunst build a Championship roster. I have faith in Gutekunst and right now am thankful as hell he didn't sign Mack to all the millions the Bears did, and he's got those 3 picks in the first 45 picks or so. Just look at what the Colts did adding a Guard in Quinton Nelson and a LB in Darious Leonard plus a few FA. Or what the Saints did the year before with a few draft picks. Gute can do the same thing THIS season. Rodgers just needed to be coached and have an offense like MLF is bringing to GB.

JDK52's picture

Agree with most of what you've said, NP. The only thing I would caution is getting too high on a first-year HC dealing with all the changes this team has and will continue to go through. I probably will take a year to get to the point where we're looking at a legit contender again, but I have confidence we will get there soon.

Bearmeat's picture

I never wanted McDaniels. Glad he's not the coach. My fav was Fitzgerald, but I understand why he didn't want to take an interview. LaFleur was in my top 3. Despite the offensive ranking from last year, what he managed to do in spots when his team was healthy was very impressive. I think we're going to have a cutting edge, explosive offense for the first time since 2011. And I do think the defense will improve with continuity.

I still think the depth is not there to make a title run. We're going to have to get lucky with injuries, in addition to augmenting the team via the draft and UFA.

Minniman's picture

"I still think the depth is not there to make a title run."

With so much invested into the next 5 years of Aaron Rodgers career, it isn't difficult to see the Packers being very active in the Free Agency and on the contract restructuring front to replenish that depth......a "home run" draft class this year and next would be the only way that this happens in time for Rodgers' perceived "window".

Re Free Agency this year, is it just my interpretation or are there A LOT of teams with cap space, who are knocking on the proverbial door, and just need a couple of key pieces?

I think that there's some players who get seriously PAID this off-season (more than previously). I also see a number of Safety's getting good coin again too this year!

...... meaning that I may be a bit pessimistic here but I will be pleasantly surprised if enough of those key FA pieces are in the Packers budget or if the "more than the usual number of needy teams with cap space" will over-pay for the talent and drive prices up even for "depth" players.

EddieLeeIvory's picture

Oh really, you're thankful the Bears have Mack & not us?

Here's the thing about draft picks, even 1st & 2nd rounders: more often than not, they're whiffs.
See Kevin King.
See Damarious Randall.
See Justin Harrell.
See Derek Sherrod.
See Datone Jones.
See Quinten Rollins.
See Brian Brohm.
See Pat Lee.
See Dix. Haha Clinton.

Quentin Nelson was a top-3 talent who the Colts stole ar #6.
There's nobody like him this year, and surely not at #12.

Let's not kid ourselves. Mack is a very rare, special type of talent.
We had an opportunity to add another guy still in his "prime" who could help make a defense get better immediately. We got Reggie White 25+ years ago, and we got Charles Woodson in 2006. This would have made it 3 monsters, and each could have led to a ring.....

Now we gotta go against this guy for 4, 5 years whereas who knows what our draft picks will become like. Ahmad Carroll? Justin Harrell? Josh Jones? Jeremy Thompson? BJ Sander?

Ustabeayooper's picture

The most important word in this article is unpredictable. Everyone who has watched the pack over the last few years has seen how predictable we have become. Snapping the ball with 1 second on the play clock, running the ball straight ahead on short yardage situations, lack of creative plays using talent available on the roster, no trick plays, continuously making receivers win one on one situations
rather than running a scheme that allows the receiver to get open. We don't have to do this in every game but we have to show that we can do it and make teams have to prepare to defend it.

RCPackerFan's picture

Listening to a local radio show the other day, they talked to the Rams radio guy. No clue who he was. But he was talking about the hiring of LaFluer and what his impact will be on the team. He said basically expect a lot of the game ran through the RB's. Meaning they will do a lot of runs to set up passes. A lot of play action and screens. But they will also us motion to disguise what they are going to do.

But the part that really stood out to me was he said when the Packers played the Rams this season Rodgers told people both before and after the game that he would love to play in an offense like theirs.

If Rodgers is excited about the direction this offense is going to go, that will honestly only mean good things for us!
I don't think we will have any problems with Rodgers wanting to buy into this new scheme. But it will be a huge thing to get each other to be on the same page.

Not only will it help Rodgers but it will help other guys too. Aaron Jones could be an even bigger part in the offense.

I'm looking forward to seeing the new offense!

Jonathan Spader's picture

Packers are going to have to draft a RB at some point in 2019. Jones and Williams just isn't enough depth after trading TY and cutting Mays. Interesting that for the trades Hundley, HHCD, and TY are all FA. Here's hoping MLF can balance out the offense in a way that feels natural not forced like we often saw from MM.

RCPackerFan's picture

Definitely!!

I would not be surprised if they drafted a RB in the first 4 rounds honestly. They currently have 6 picks in the first 4. It would not surprise me if they drafted one with one of those 6 picks.
I am willing to bet they bring in some UDFA's too.

Honestly its pretty impressive they got anything out of those players that they weren't going to keep after the year anyways.

Minniman's picture

The 2019 FA RB group has some interesting options but they may either be too expensive (see my previous post) or too risky for the Packers to dabble there........ So I agree, the draft may be the place where they look for that depth.

packerbackerjim's picture

Funny, I was thinking the same thing and recalling Ironhead Hayward. Haven’t seen his kind before or since. I would like to
See a big back who doesn’t have an eating disorder. A 3 RB rotation akin to the Dolphins of the early 70’s.

D.D. Driver's picture

Eddie Lacy? Najeh Davenport?

blacke00's picture

If you listened to LaFluer"s PC you will notice he made references to setting up the run and giving Rodgers "time to pass". Very interesting! Is that a hint as to where the emphasis will be at draft time? OL heavy? TE early pick? Ahhh! We shall see.

Qoojo's picture

I think this Rodgers stuff is a bit overblown. If your plan is good, it works, and you can communicate it, then you will get buy-in for it. He has to get more than just Rodgers though.

Since '61's picture

Agree Qoojo. It's mostly driven for ratings and click bait. The media has become vey good at creating frenzies out of nothing. Thanks to social media everyone has a platform and every chooch out there uses it to express their senseless thoughts without facts to support it.
Thanks, Since '61

Lare's picture

The media doesn't have a job if they don't create controversy to get people to listen to them or read what they write. The people that are always negative live for that and are going to find anything they can to be negative on LaFleur.

The rest of us will just wait and see and hope that he can do what Packer's management is convinced he can do. After all, if he fails our lives go on as normal, the complainers keep complaining and they lose their jobs.

Barnacle's picture

Since ‘61 said
“........every chooch uses it(social media) to voice their senseless thoughts”.

Would you advocate cleansing this site of “every chooch”?

Are all thoughts that are inconsistent with yours “senseless”?

Thanks Since 61.

Bert's picture

Bingo Qoojo! Way too much focus on AR when in reality LaFleur's biggest challenge as a HC is getting buy-in from all 53 guys on the roster. This is a team effort not just a "fixing AR" effort. Granted AR is a key guy to get onboard but certainly not the end of the challenge by a long ways.

Since '61's picture

So far so good. I posted earlier this week when so many were concerned if Rodgers would be willing to accept Lafleur that "Rodgers and Lafleur may. have already spoken." That has proved to be true.

It's way too early in this process to tell but it looks and sounds like the Packers are off to a good start.

OL and pass rush heavy are where we good to go with the draft. A safety and a TE would be good as well. we can also sign a Safety and OL depth via FA. The 2019 off season appears to be off to a good start. Thanks, Since '61

Lphill's picture

I agree also about all the talk of Rodgers being hard to coach was exaggerated, the Guy wants to win and the offense was flat under MM , this was long overdue and I think we will see positive results sooner rather than later. A lot of people here saying Rodgers is done are sadly mistaken.

Community Guy's picture

i really hope the Packers fortify their defense in the coming draft. between the power that Rodgers wields within the organization, and having an offensive-minded head coach: now, THE ONLY path to getting a good defense is to, once again, prioritize defensive needs in the draft.. that, even if this year's biggest FA signing is also a defender.

Packers0808's picture

If there is a QB in the first 2 picks they like the Packers better pick one for obvious reasons. Rodgers head has gotten too big and he thinks he knows better than anyone else as to how things should be done! He has become a head case IMO! LaFluer and the Packers have their work cut out for them!

Tarynfor12's picture

I'll wait and see what happens after LaFleur and Rodgers finish getting to know each other and see their agreement on the field.

4thand1's picture

That's the only thing that anyone can do Taryn, let it play out.

Packer Fan's picture

I think the GB job is a big step for LaFleur. Keeping Pettine will help him focus on fewer things. Reading other articles, it seems that LaFleur said and did the right things to put BG, Murphy and Ball at ease. Something the other candidates did not. And I can see that with a guy like McDaniels would have not happened, the ease thing.

REgardless, here is our new coach. Will the Pack be in the hunt next year. I am not counting on it. GB is not a good team. Discipline, attitude and confidence improvement may make them a winner but not a Super Bowl. BG will need to find better players. Thompson left the barn empty, except for Rodgers and a few others. But being on the plus side of .500 will be welcomed relief.

ricky's picture

If the Rams win on Saturday night, it will be McVey's first playoff win. So, all this talk about how "successful" he's been need to be limited to regular season production. Which is nice, but irrelevant if you don't win in the post season.

D.D. Driver's picture

Right? There is all this talk about McVey, Shanahan and Nagy, etc. *None* of those guys has ever won a single playoff game. Shanahan has never guided a team to more than 6 wins. While the hype may some day be warranted, its way too premature right now.

JohnnyLogan's picture

All the discussion why he was hired no longer the issue. He was hired. He didn't come out of college, he's been a pro coach for years. Knows the NFL. He's got a tough, smart defensive coach already in place. Pettine is like a tough Sergeant to this young 1st Lieutenant. I've known terrific 1st Lieutenants who you'd follow anywhere. Will he become a General Lombardi? Why not? Because he was a little nervous at a press conference? I was nervous the first time I jumped out of a plane too. Lombardi's greatest qualities; motivating men, and knowing football. Preaching my guy has to beat your guy. A seal here, a seal here, and we run it up the alley. I see something in this young Lieutenant, determination, intelligence, and I think the Packer players will see it as well.

Tarynfor12's picture

Very possible and very possible he 's the LT that gets shot by his own men for cowardice.
Let's see what kind of squad he has to go do battle with come Aug and witness some war games first.
Who knows...The High Command may already think the war is won with his hiring and no more artillery is needed except for the ONE....as they've proved to do again and again and again.

JimR_in_SoCal's picture

The Packers have already cut loose Ron Zook, Taryn, so the chances of a friendly fire accident have diminished.

Tarynfor12's picture

Yes, one bullet spent but the hesitancy of the trigger pulling can be an issue still moving forward.

Lare's picture

Well if it doesn't work out Taryn, I'm confident you'll be here to remind us over, and over and over again.

Tarynfor12's picture

I suggest perhaps listening the first time.

However, I haven't made a claim with LaFleur as I had with numerous players. Making a claim about a HC is much deeper and harder as even those thought to be really good have failed...to many reasons, as seen of recent in GB....namely...GM and FO failures.

I'll stick with players...easier to see if it's scheme, individual use, player talent etc.

JimR_in_SoCal's picture

JohnnyLogan said: "I was nervous the first time I jumped out of a plane too."

I'll bet it got easier for you, after they started letting you use a parachute.

Nice post, by the way, Johnny!

Tarynfor12's picture

That was awesome!
: )

JohnnyLogan's picture

Thanks Jim. A parachute does help but sometimes it comes down to who's packing that chute. I'm just feeling positive about the team direction right now. Gute and ML are young but they've both been in the game a long while and both come across as very smart. If I was a young Packer today I'd be chomping at the bit to get to the start of the 2019 season. Davante, Aaron Jones, Kenny Clark, Alexander, MVS, Bak, Lindsey, and
Rodgers. All potential All Pro's. Lots of other good football players; Martinez, Jackson, hope we sign Breeland... good draft possibilities -- Gute will pack the chute and we'll be flying. Think positive!

JimR_in_SoCal's picture

Yep. It should be exciting.

Lare's picture

I agree JL, it's an exciting time to be a Packers fan. We're going to see a lot more spirit and dedication from the coaches and the players.

Will be nice after seeing people just going through the motions the last few years.

PatrickGB's picture

All this military terminology! Reminds me of my time on active duty with the 82nd.

alforno54's picture

Seems a few folks on this thread really have some great ideas. Wish I could get transcripts of their GM interviews....

Packmaniac's picture

Nice, Al. Well-played.

alforno54's picture

Seems a few folks on this thread really have some great ideas. Wish I could get transcripts of their GM interviews....

Lphill's picture

Dash is ruining cheesehead TV , just no reason for him to be here .

packergal's picture

Lphill,

What brought that on???

It appears Dash is bashed for his tongue in cheek commentary and his point of view on "Matty Nice" and Taryn is bashed for refusing to drink the Green and Gold Koolaid.

Since each is thoughtful, funny and quite creative in their approach to Packer fandom, can't we all just get along?

Bashing a different point of view is TIRING.

KnockTheSnotOutOfYou's picture

I like diverse ideas from all the posters which is what makes this place so enjoyable. What I dont like is if someone DOES NOT agree with an opinion that some posters either try drowning one out, try forcing their opinion on others, or calling them names, stupid, etc.

Let's face it some never learned in elementary school to stay between the lines and play nice, and so it goes...

Packmaniac's picture

I’m done reading the comments section at this site. Ridiculous. I went through the whole thing just because it was like a trainwreck and I couldn’t look away. But once you’ve seen one trainwreck, you’ve seen em all. Have fun. Wow. Just wow.

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