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Partnership between Aaron Rodgers, Mike McCarthy was bigger than football -- and still is

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Partnership between Aaron Rodgers, Mike McCarthy was bigger than football -- and still is

Oddly enough, as someone who has been involved in most of the brunt regarding his relationship with his former coach, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is having the toughest time of anyone dealing with the recent developments.

The Packers relieved Mike McCarthy of his duties as their head coach after Sunday's abhorrent loss to the Arizona Cardinals at Lambeau Field. It was the first time since 2008 that McCarthy had lost a home game in December with Rodgers as his starting quarterback.

For the last few seasons, the Packers' offense has been an enigma at times. Ranging from unstoppable with Rodgers playing at his highest caliber to sluggish with receivers running into each other because of their befuddling route concepts. Ironically nothing has been befuddling about figuring out what they're trying to do on offense.

That's part of the reason why the Packers opted to cut ties with McCarthy during the season as opposed to drawing out the inevitable.

"It’s an odd day for sure," Rodgers said on Monday, via "I’m the only one in this locker room who was around in 2005 when Mike Sherman was let go at the end of the season. It’s a weird day. It's a tough day. Obviously, the emotions of a frustrating defeat at home, a game we expected to win, and then getting the news later on last night was definitely tough."

McCarthy was hired in 2006 as Sherman's successor, trotting out Brett Favre on Sundays while Rodgers was groomed in the shadows. Rodgers was nowhere near the quarterback he'd come to be in his early years as the starter before McCarthy got a hold of him and ran him through his "quarterback school," transforming his mechanics and fundamentals to create a more sustainable, NFL-appropriate signal-caller.

Since then, the Packers have enjoyed an NFC-high 125 wins under McCarthy along with a surplus of success. McCarthy and Rodgers, meanwhile, cultivated an off-the-field friendship with each other that helped stoked their bond and kindle a flame that will presumably burn for years to come -- even while McCarthy kickstarts a new opportunity coaching elsewhere.

"We’ve met more this year than any other year. We spend a lot of time on Mondays and Wednesdays and Fridays and Saturdays. A lot of it is about the gameplan and the stuff that we like or don’t like, but a lot of that is just talking about life," Rodgers said. "Those are the conversations that I really enjoy with Mike over the years.

"We started doing that a lot in 2010; Thursday afternoon was our time, and we’d spend anywhere between 90 minutes to four hours. Some about football, but a lot about life. Lessons, thoughts and dreams. I really always appreciated that time with Mike getting to know him on a personal level. As much as was made and conjectured about him and I’s relationship, it's -- as always -- built on mutual respect and communication and that’s why this is a different day for myself and the guys in the locker room."

Much like any occupation, players who form tight bonds with staff members and teammates who are fired or released often have to quickly adjust to life without them in the locker room and during the weekly preparation process while tossing any personal feelings or emotion aside. Like robots.

For the first time in 13 years, Rodgers will have to experience this with his head coach.

Rodgers won't have a say in who the Packers' next head coach will be, but President/CEO Mark Murphy and general manager Brian Gutekunst are open and available for input from Rodgers on the future hire.

Next season will see Rodgers turn 36 years old. He would be exactly where Favre was in his career entering the final year with Sherman as his head coach (2005) and a year before McCarthy was brought on.

That was also the year in which Rodgers was first drafted.

Rodgers isn't getting any younger, and he, as well as the rest of the organization, are well aware of this. It's why this next coaching hire could be the face and voice that is paired with Rodgers for the remainder of his career, making it all the more significant and detrimental that Murphy and co. make the right move.

Someone young, innovative and fresh-minded who also comes with inexperience? Or an older, wiser, veteran option who would be capable of reaching Rodgers on a more personal level and instill complex designs to keep the Packers' offense on par with the rest of the vastly-changing league?

Whoever it is, they have to be able to mesh and coexist with Rodgers, who often carries the personality traits of a coach himself.

"I enjoy being coached. I think any player does," said Rodgers. "You love the conversations, the feedback. I think any great player holds himself to a really high standard, so first you have to be very critical of your own performance. But it’s always nice having a voice in there that’s going to hold you accountable -- and I think any player, especially an older player, they want that. They want that feedback; someone holding you accountable and someone coaching you up.

"I’m not excited about a rebuild, but I don’t think that’s the direction we’re going. I think we have a lot of pieces in place. We just gotta make them fit perfectly and start to play better in all phases. I think Brian’s committed to winning now and Mark’s committed to winning now."


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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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (7) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

croatpackfan's picture

Zachary, nice article...

I have one question. You wrote:
",,, and instill complex designs to keep the Packers' offense on par with the rest of the vastly-changing league."

I remember 2 3 years ago on this very page a huge attack on Packers Offensive minds (namely Mike McCarthy) because those offensive sheming was to complex and not easy to learn. Demand was to simplify everything.

Can people ever decide what they want?

pacman's picture

I just saw the AR interview last night. This should put to rest the thought that AR was throwing poorly on purpose or that there was serious communication problem. Something was wrong with MM's decision making and something is wrong with AR (still unknown). Each said they have to coach/play better but neither has. Buck stops with the HC. But now AR is a bit on the hot seat which is fine with me.

If I were Murphy, I would put a big mirror in AR's locker.

jimtalkbox's picture

Something that I feel that has been overlooked (but is definitely not the sole problem) is that AR simply doesn't trust his (new) receiving core yet.

He went from Adams/Jordy/Cobb/Gernonimo in 2017 to Adams/Geronimo/Cobb/Graham this year. Then when you consider that Cobb and Geronimo have hardly played, you've got Adams/Graham/MVS/ESB.

Graham is in his first year in this offense (and is definitely a shell of his former self) and MVS/ESB/JM/JK are all mid round to late round picks. The young guys are going to flash, but you're not going to get much consistency from any of them. Consistency is what Rodgers desperately desires in his receivers. (He ranted about this exact thing during training camp.)

What do we get? Rodgers continually on the wrong page with his receivers which leads to more sandlot style stuff where he thinks Davante is his only option.

fastmoving's picture

this topic isnt overlooked. since 2012 we talk all the time about this trust issue. back then it was Janis, Abby...actually everyone beside Jordy (now Adams). I dont get that and for me its the greatest weakness of AR and a Diva thing as well.

Brady, Brees, Rivers, Manning, Favre are way better at working with what they got. If you are a quarter of the TC you should be able to throw guys open. And our receiving corps are not worse then other ones. I would even argue they better compared the other NFL powerhouses over AR whole career.

Jonathan Spader's picture

Jim Rodgers has always played sandlot football even when he had Jennings, Jones, Driver, Nelson. It's his style of play like Farve was a gunslinger. Rodgers makes some incredible throws, escapes pressure, and had pinpoint accuracy. The problem with 2018 isn't the receivers watch Rodgers throw some of his throws are just off. He's skipped the ball off the ground to receivers, not seeing open receivers on check downs. Players have off years and the Packers have gone as far as Rodgers can carry them since he took over as the starter.

Since '61's picture

A good and timely article which puts away some of the "AR got MM fired" talk.

The reality is that MM and the relationship between him and AR has run its course. The other key factor is that this team is just not very good.

Time for a new HC and better players. Regroup and get ready for 2019. Thanks, Since '61

croatpackfan's picture

In a large part of the statement you are right Since. When team plays that poor it is never ever one thing, even that important as QB/HC (play caller) relationship.

I was defending Mike McCarthy because he was unjustly attacked here. But, while I feel this may be good decision to part the ways, it is still strange that happened so soon (I'm talking about this season!).

I only hope they will pick up right person to be HC. And, yes, while I do not respect "John Kirk" I believe hard person like Bruce Arien (John Kirk pick) will be, by my opinion ideal for that job. But he is retired by his own choice and he said it is final decision...

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