Cory's Corner: LaFleur & Rodgers Will Determine Fate

Cory Jennerjohn examines the most important factor for 2019: The relationship between rookie head coach Matt LaFleur and quarterback Aaron Rodgers. 

The 2019 season is a whisper away. 

It’s been an exhausting offseason with the subtraction of a 13-year head coach and the addition of a rookie head coach. 

The Green Bay Packers are celebrating their 100thanniversary this year. Unfortunately, no first-year head coach has ever led the Packers to the playoffs in franchise history. 

That isn’t what you wanted to hear is it? 

The reason the Packer will buck the trend is because LaFleur knows what it will take: a running game. Granted, we don’t have the privilege of knowing how many times Aaron Rodgers checked out of a run last year. To make matters worse, Rodgers had 59 throwaways last year — the most since the stat started being tracked in 2006 — and his mechanics were terrible. He was throwing off one foot, dipping his shoulder and locking on to one receiver. 

And that’s why LaFleur is so important to this team. The marriage between LaFleur and Rodgers isn’t just the most important storyline for the Packers, it’s one of the most important storylines in football. 

The reason is simple: If LaFleur can solve Rodgers’ mechanics and get him to buy in to his outside running scheme, the Packers will flourish. 

But there is a caveat. Rodgers has a large ego. He is easily one of the best passers in the game and he knows it. Every pro athlete at a moment in time thinks they can make every play, but the best ones realize that they need help to get to the pinnacle. 

Think back to the Super Bowl winning season of 2010. Greg Jennings looked like Antonio Brown that year and Clay Matthews had a career year in his sophomore season.

Rodgers is easily the most important player the Packers have. But until he realizes that he doesn’t have to do it all himself, the Packers will continue to struggle. 

And that’s LaFleur’s biggest challenge. He needs to stroke the ego of the 35-year-old Rodgers, while doling out tough love and challenging one of the smartest minds in the game. 

Many don’t think the Packers can respond so quickly after getting their feet wet with LaFleur. The MMQB even pegged Green Bay with an uninspiring 8-8 record, which would make three straight playoff misses, the first time that has happened since 1990-1992. 

Many people roll their eyes with relationship chatter between LaFleur and Rodgers. They can roll their eyes all they want, but that relationship is the foundation for the foreseeable future. 

Can LaFleur tame Rodgers like McCarthy tamed Brett Favre back in 2006 after Mike Sherman let Favre walk all over him? I think he can because LaFleur approaches the game with data and metrics that Rodgers can sink his teeth into. Conversely, McCarthy also coached on feel, which didn’t help things last year when everything started to go sideways. 

Rodgers is on the precipice of a great season because he really wants to prove that last year’s accuracy and fundamental struggles are behind him. 

It all depends on how well Rodgers knows and understands what LaFleur wants to do. He can see a running play called and instantly see a missed opportunity in the passing game, but LaFleur is trying to soften the secondary for later in the game by keeping the running game honest. 

Rodgers will be pushed by LaFleur, but it all depends on how much Rodgers is going to push back. 

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Cory Jennerjohn is a graduate from UW-Oshkosh and has been in sports media for over 15 years. He was a co-host on "Clubhouse Live" and has also done various radio and TV work as well. He has written for newspapers, magazines and websites. He currently is a columnist for CHTV and also does various podcasts. He recently earned his Masters degree from the University of Iowa. He can be found on Twitter: @Coryjennerjohn

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Comments (20)

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carlos's picture

July 23, 2019 at 07:26 am

Rogers mechanics were off and throwing on one leg was due to injury. Hopefully he can stay healthy this year.

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dobber's picture

July 23, 2019 at 08:29 am

I think this is where we find out how serious ARod was when he said he "wanted to be coached." He's got essentially three QB coaches (LaFfy, Getsy, and Hackett) watching him on every snap. There are flaws to be caught, some due to his compensating for injury and some due to bad habits learned. We'll see how he really does respond, but his style of play will always lend itself to unorthodox throwing motions and footwork.

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TheVOR's picture

July 23, 2019 at 10:07 am

Dob, my thoughts keep coming back to a simple truth. I don't think people have any idea of how long a leash, and for how long Rodgers has basically "Called his own game" ? You had ex-players saying he'd listen to the call coming in, and while in the huddle say, "Nope, we're not calling that one" and he'd routinely override the call prior to ever leaving the huddle.

My concerns are that he has a new coach, that wants to call and offense, and a game. Should he be allowed to audible? Absolutely! Should he be overriding calls before ever walking up to the LOS? Man I hope not!

I hope the guy tries to run the offense! I'd like to see if it can work in a more disciplined flow. I hope GB can execute it! My concerns are what happens when they game planned a team, the game plan isn't working, will Rodgers revert back to "Nope, Not Running That One"?

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hobowilly's picture

July 23, 2019 at 06:50 pm

again, just goes to "indicate" that AR knew so much more than MM as i figured as much but here's another testimony per se, thanks VOR. Fans could usually count on MM to win the next game coming off bye weeks (and, they essentially had the Rams beat last year, but then Ty happened--sorry, that is what you call discipline...MM said, something like, "he was trying to make something happen" in an effort to "cover" for him, (when the Rock asked him about it in a post game interview) but the last 3 years of MM winning really tapered off. Let's all try to ignore the hype (there is no current controversy!!) and let's watch these 2 pros (MLF/AR) plus Getsy, Hack and so forth work it to happen. Being an optimist but above all a diehard fan, YES: i have GB making the playoffs (shy of major injuries and idiotic game stealing calls). MLF makes history and why not!?

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Lare's picture

July 23, 2019 at 07:28 am

I don’t expect there to be as much conflict between Rodgers and LaFleur as many people are predicting simply because it’s in both their best interests to make this work. They’re both very intelligent people and know that making this work will help them win, both games and in their careers in the future.

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dobber's picture

July 23, 2019 at 08:24 am

Exactly! Tremendous pressure on QB1 to show that he wasn't the problem.

Chatter in recent years is casting #12 as a prima donna and a malcontent, at least in the context of his relationship with MM, and potentially a coach killer. Rodgers knows that how he'll be remembered, and what his post-football employment prospects look like, will be determined by these last 3-5 years on the field. His legacy will rely on his looking like a model citizen, at least in front of the press and on the field, and winning a lot of football games.

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hobowilly's picture

July 23, 2019 at 07:04 pm

AGREE! Look, AR has meant a lot to GB's success, period! IMHO, he shook off the pick #24 chip well, carrying the clipboard for 2-3 years and has become one of the best QB's in NFL history. Listen to what leader Aaron Rodgers consistently states.....sorry, i DO NOT think he's the prima donna folks make him out to be. I think he is a confident superstar and sometimes egos become elevated, fair enough. For me, he's a very good locker guy, typically speaks well of his teammates and by his seen/unseen actions causes folks around him to get on the same page, IMHO. Could it be that he has high standards??? Does he expect WR's to correct their mistakes and make adjustments?? Was he frustrated with his overall performance last year? Did he bemoan his significant injury all throughout the season? Yes, he was "off" last year: based on HIS standards. Will MLF have him hand off more this year and get the ball out quicker??! I love what the organization has done this post season and we will all see the results...better get your playoff tickets!!!!!!!

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RCPackerFan's picture

July 23, 2019 at 07:29 am

I truly think Rodgers is excited to have LaFleur. We have heard the comments from him being impressed with the Rams offense. We heard him talking to Chris Simms about what the 49ers offense looked like.
Now he is playing in an offense very similar.

Also its not just about LaFleur. Listening to that Simms conversation its also about the other coaches he has now. Hackett and Getsy. You could hear his excitement to having those guys as well.

I'm excited! I think this will be a huge turn around year. I can't wait!

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KnockTheSnotOutOfYou's picture

July 23, 2019 at 07:39 am

Thanks to the phenomenal coverage on CCTV For all the things mentioned since MM's termination and Lefleur's hiring how can a Packer fan not be excited? Throw in Gutes master handling of the NFL draft these past two seasons and this year's FA. The Pack has a nice combination of savy vets and young talented and upcoming players. This is an exciting time and I for one have wonderful expectations.

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hobowilly's picture

July 23, 2019 at 06:31 pm

been say'n the same. Great pickups since MM was let go (no one should forget 2014 when he threw away GB's second chance under him) but now with Gutey and his staff (i'm thinking he always gives credit as it takes a village) making these positive changes--let's just see, it's SOoo Exciting!!

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fthisJack's picture

July 23, 2019 at 07:49 am

i'm with you....so freaking pumped!

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murf7777's picture

July 23, 2019 at 07:55 am

This is the new “west coast” offense and Arod is from there so it’s a perfect marriage in the working:)

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stockholder's picture

July 23, 2019 at 08:03 am

In 8 years TT did Nothing. In 1 year Gute now has changed everything. I find it hard to blame MM or Rodgers now. Had we seen TT make as many changes for the better. I believe Rodgers would not have been so negative/disruptive. After all, Rodgers wanted to reload. He wanted more from the defense. The team was put on his shoulders. He was told to turn it down. MM had to make up for lack of talent and many head cases. Loss of free agents. And drafted talent that failed. The brass failed both MM and Rodgers. When the packers had trouble selling tickets to a play-off game, it was time. TT got rid of Offensive Lineman. And in truth this hurt not only Rodgers, but everyone. We lived on TTs rabbit foot. If it wasn't for the free Agents signed. I doubt we would be excited. Gute did what TT should have. And the monkey is now off Rodgers.

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Rick1's picture

July 23, 2019 at 09:21 am

The preseason is most important thing for a successful season. When you game-plan and make in game adjustments that is when the trust is bonded. Rodgers will give that trust with detailed and successful game plans. LaFluer will have Rodgers ear with precision and well executed plays. The defense is going to give Green Bay time and extra possessions to fine tune the offense.

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Since'61's picture

July 23, 2019 at 09:38 am

Rodgers mechanics were off last season because he was playing through 2 injuries and often with a porous OL allowing defenders through to Rodgers unblocked.

As for the audibles give opposing DCs some credit. They knew Rodgers was playing hurt. So they moved up to stop the run. Rodgers read the defense and checked out to a pass play. The defense sent extra rushers since Rodgers mobility was limited. Plus his rookie WRs often did not make the correct adjustments and the result was too many throw aways.

For 2019 I expect that Rodgers and MLF will be fine working together. MLF will be engaged. MM had progressively checked out after the loss of his brother in 2015. Rodgers and the Packers are in their best situation since 2014 in terms of a balanced team including a defense that should be able to contribute to winning games. Staying healthy will be a bigger factor for success in 2019 rather than the the MLF \AR relationship. Thanks, Since' 61

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Leatherhead's picture

July 23, 2019 at 10:44 am

Winning fixes every thing, but if the offense struggles people are going to want someone to blame.

On paper, this could be the division 's best offense, but we don't play the games on paper. If we’ve learned Anything over the last few seasons it should be that having a healthy Rodgers in December makes a big difference, but he is getting older and does have an injury history, so we can’t just hope that will happen; We have to cause that.

Fewer throws and more runs. Even if it results in lower scoring and reduced stats or even a close loss.....because the payoff is a defense that spends less time on the field and gives up fewer points. And it keeps Rodgers healthy for the final game.

When we throw, the focus has to be getting the ball out of his hands quickly. He’s taken a lot of hits over the last 4 seasons. Rodgers 152 sacks averages out about 4/ game, and then you add in the hits and you see he’s already survived more contact than most humans could. And that’s gotta stop, and it’s likely to be boring and frustrating at times, but if we could just hang onto the rock and grind it like sausage I think we’ll be in good shape at Thanksgiving .

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4thand10's picture

July 25, 2019 at 02:31 pm

I’m trying to stay positive. The defense looks to be an ascending unit although there are question marks at replacing Daniels production. Even with age, being short :-) , limited...he still performed better than many NFL DL. I’m not sure if it was money or injury/ age.

As to the offense... I’m trying to stay positive but it’s tough. Running game looks to be OK, not stellar but OK. But I still don’t see late round yr 2 WRs making this WR Corps anything to be feared. Aside from Devante...what do we have exactly? The Donald Drivers are the exception and not the rule. I realize we have tight ends, but you need every skill position on a roster to be good, not just certain position groups.

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packerbackerjim's picture

July 23, 2019 at 11:57 am

Boy, these articles almost write themselves. This must be 101st column essentially saying the same damn thing. You might want to wait until a little evidence and data are available before mining old territory.

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Samson's picture

July 23, 2019 at 01:03 pm

You've got that dead-on.... Be glad when everything gets rolling in two days (TC), then some real on the field football---- All the mind numbing speculation will become moot.

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Mark Gaedtke's picture

July 23, 2019 at 01:42 pm

Three months of speculation stops now. Time to bring on the players and put a stop to all the BS. . .

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