Media Availability Rodgers & LaFleur - That's What Cheese Said

A special That's What Cheese Said is back to highlight key takeaways from Matt LaFleur and Aaron Rodgers' media availability. 

Quarterback Aaron Rodgers and Head Coach Matt LaFleur spoke with the media last Friday which means we’ve got another offseason edition of That’s What Cheese Said to get to. 

Naturally, the elephant in the virtual conference call was the drafting of quarterback Jordan Love, as this was Rodgers’ first public media availability since the draft took place in April. 

As was to be expected, Rodgers handled the entire situation like a consummate pro. 

“I understand the organization is thinking not only about the present but the future, and I respect that,” he said before adding that the guys in the front office get paid to worry about the roster both in the now and long-term. 

“You can only control what you can control. I think any great athlete, there’s things that are just out of our control.” Rodgers said when asked about the idea of finishing his career in Green Bay. 

“What I can control is how I play and making that decision, at some point, a very hard one. If I were to retire on the organization’s time table, then it’s an easy decision. But if there comes a time where I still feel I can play at a high level and my body feels great, then there’s other guys who have gone on to play elsewhere.”

Perhaps the other, smaller elephant on the call was the fact that the Packers opted not to draft a wide receiver in a class many described as historically deep. Rodgers addressed that as well, taking time to give individual acknowledgements to Allen Lazard, Equanimeous St. Brown, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Jake Kumerow, and newest addition Devin Funchess. 

The optimism is there that the current players in the locker room will be able to get the job done on offense, and what might have excited Rodgers the most was the re-signing of Marcedes “Big Dog” Lewis. Rodgers highlighted not only his importance in the run blocking scheme, but also his locker room leadership. 

LaFleur agreed, calling Lewis a “pro’s pro.” 

“I still think he’s playing at an extremely high level,” said LaFleur, who called Lewis not only one of the best blocking tight ends in the league but also added that he’s able to produce in the passing game when called upon, too.

Despite a virtual offseason having its challenges, LaFleur still reiterated that the plan remains the same until they hear otherwise from the NFL. 

“We’re going to keep operating in this virtual space until told otherwise. Will we have a plan if things change, absolutely, but it’s going to be more or less, those plans will kind of come together once we get clear direction,” said LaFleur.

He was also quick to point out that the Packers benefitted from signing inside linebacker Christian Kirksey right before the pandemic caused everything to shut down, noting how useful it’s been with everything moving virtually to have a veteran join the team who already has a familiarity with Mike Pettine’s scheme.

“We do know this, at some point in time, this will all end and we’ll be back together. We’ve just got to make sure that everybody understands the importance of maximizing the time that we have right now and that when we are ready to go that we hit the ground running.”

Speaking of hitting the ground running, both the head coach and quarterback acknowledged the expectations going into next season following a 13-3 campaign and an NFC Championship Game appearance. 

“There’s so many advantages to having that first year under our belt,” said LaFleur. “Now we understand that also, going into year two, especially with how we performed in year one for the most part, there’s going to be some heavy expectations, and we’ve all got to be ready to embrace those and make sure, again, that we’re doing everything in our power to get better each and every day so we can live up to those.”

Rodgers added that a bigger challenge might be finding the cohesion in the locker room that seemed almost next level for much of 2019.

“I love our chances. I love our team,” Rodgers said. ”The key will be to find a way to recreate that chemistry.”

He added that while expectations may change this season, he really does believe the Packers will be “in the mix” when it matters. 

“I like our chances, I like our squad.” 

Something that will help the Packers stay in the mix, despite Rodgers already liking the team’s chances? An improved run defense. LaFleur was asked about the team’s answer to stopping the run since the team didn’t seem to make any glaring moves at shoring up one of the weaker positions on the team. 

“I think when you go through a season with your guys, you kind of find out who’s good at doing what, and you find out what you really are good at doing,” said LaFleur. “It’s our job as coaches to make sure that we’re putting our guys in the position to be successful and really showcase what it is that they do well.”

“I think our guys are working hard at understanding where they fit within each play,” LaFleur added, emphasizing the run defense and gap soundness specifically. 

Both LaFleur and Rodgers also touched on the changes being made to the offense, too, with LaFleur addressing the team’s desire to move to a more up-tempo, no huddle offense at times. 

“I don’t foresee a future where I won’t need to wear a wristband,” Rodgers laughed, adding that it helps relay communication between himself and LaFleur which allows for checks at the line of scrimmage.

Rodgers also took the opportunity to acknowledge his health and the way he’s maintained peak physical performance despite the virtual program making his normal routine more challenging, adding that former coach Mike McCarthy used to say the legs are the most important thing for a quarterback. 

“Last year I felt amazing. And I’ve kind of really figured out how to get my body in peak performance shape,” Rodgers said. 

“The goal is to play into my 40s. That hasn’t changed,” he added. “That remains the same, but I know the key to that is my physical body. That’s what I focus on. That’s really my motivation is to give myself, physically, the opportunity to play as long as I want to play and that’s going to be my continued motivation.” 

LaFleur called Rodgers one of the most competitive people he’d ever been around, adding that “Jordan is going to have the ability to learn from one of the greatest to ever play the game.”

“The more questions they have the more answers I have,” said Rodgers when asked about working with his backups. “I really, truly embrace those relationships and it’ll be the same with Jordan.”

Before his conference drew to a close, Rodgers was asked to clarify one thing since his initial verbiage on the Love pick was that he wasn’t “thrilled” by the selection. ESPN’s Rob Demovsky asked Rodgers if this was due to the pick being a quarterback who could one day replace him, or because he wanted a weapon to help put the Packers over the edge. 

“I think it was more the surprise of the pick based on my own feelings of wanting to play into my 40s and really the realization that it does change the controllables a little bit because as much as I feel confident in my abilities and what I can accomplish and what we can accomplish, there are some new factors that are out of my control,” said Rodgers.

 “And so my desire to start and finish with the same organization, just as it has with many others over the years, may not be a reality at this point. And as much as I understand the organization’s future outlook and wanting to make sure they’re thinking about the team now and down the line, and I respect that, at the same time, I still believe in myself and have a strong desire to play into my 40s, and I’m just not sure how that all works together at this point.”

Regardless of what happens as we get closer to the 2020 season, Rodgers and LaFleur are going to prepare as if the season will take place as normal, and Rodgers is set to control his controllables until that no longer becomes an option. And as we all knew well before Friday’s presser, Rodgers remains All-Pro on and off the field.

 

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Maggie Loney is a writer for Cheesehead TV, podcaster for the Pack-A-Day Podcast and Pack's What She Said, and hosts a weekly live show called Happy Hour through Game On Wisconsin. Find her on Twitter at @MaggieJLoney.

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Comments (6)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
dblbogey's picture

May 19, 2020 at 03:13 pm

It all depends on how each QB plays. It's nice having a talented back up for now and it'll be interesting to see how Love develops and if he pushes Rodgers.

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Lphill's picture

May 19, 2020 at 05:08 pm

A talented backup with no NFL experience ?

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Bure9620's picture

May 20, 2020 at 12:45 am

You have talented starters with no NFL experience with Burrow, Tagovialioa and Probably Herbert.........

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NickPerry's picture

May 20, 2020 at 04:37 am

I'm not sure when the "Switch Flipped" with you but it wasn't that long ago I used to enjoy your comments, opinions, and perspective.

No offense Bro but I can't remember a comment you've made recently that was really negative or a shot at the team. I GET your disappointment with the Packers draft, I really do. I GET they didn't do what you and half of Packers Nation including myself thought they should.

The facts are we don't know and WON'T know for a few years how this class pans out. These hacks who hand out grades 15 seconds after the pick probably have never put on a J-Strap and even if they have how much can they REALLY know what the guy will bring to a team?

And YES, Jordon Love IS an upgrade over ANY QB on the Packers roster not named Rodgers.
Time to get behind this class. These new picks and UDFA are PACKERS NOW, and believe it or not, they ALL bring something to the team.

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PatrickGB's picture

May 19, 2020 at 03:40 pm

Finally, a sane article and honest assessment of the situation. We get to read the whole story not just some hacks opinion.
1. Rodgers wants to play until the wheels fall off or until he quits.
2. The team has to make sure they have a plan in place in case he cannot.
3. MLF wants to keep the transformation going and win games.
4. Everybody in the organization knows that.

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Brandip's picture

May 19, 2020 at 05:03 pm

Well written and thought out article. Always a pleasure hearing your thoughts Maggie!

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