Drama aplenty followed around the Green Bay Packers last season, especially in relation to star quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Whether it was words about his former head coach Mike McCarthy or issues with the higher-ups, the headlines followed them as they fell far below expectations and finished their season with a loss at the resurgent Chicago Bears.
Several months later, the Packers have a new coach and made several offseason moves to shore up the team’s weaker areas, but it hasn’t stopped members of the media from searching for more drama to discuss.
The latest headlines involving Rodgers teased disagreements with first-year coach Matt LaFleur after the two gave different impressions of the joint practices the Packers held with the Houston Texans on Monday and Tuesday.
Where LaFleur would “absolutely 100 percent” welcome similar sessions in the future, Rodgers said with his usual candor that he “wouldn’t mind if they didn’t do it for another 14 years” when asked about it after practice. And just like that, the words “clash” and “irritated” began filling the space between the legendary quarterback and his new coach. After all, it was LaFleur’s choice to bring the joint practices back to Green Bay for the first time since 2005.
Rodgers took it a step further when he took aim at LaFleur’s decision to run live special teams drills, not calling out his head coach by name but criticizing the drills and saying the NFLPA should look into the matter.
“I don’t think doing live special teams drills is very smart,” Rodgers said. “I think the [NFL]PA is going to look at that, for sure. The kickoff especially is one of the most dangerous plays in football, and that’s why they’ve tweaked different things over the years. Close to a live kickoff drill I don’t think is best use of a [joint] practice.”
—Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, via ProFootballTalk
No doubt, Rodgers is peeved about a number of things in recent practices, but does it really go as far as to suggest a bad relationship between him and his first-year head coach?
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Drama Spreads Like Wildfire
As can be the case with star players, critical comments had hardly left Rodgers’ mouth before they were being shared across social media and news sites this week.
By Wednesday morning, Max Kellerman was discussing the subject on ESPN’s “First Take,” choosing to lecture Rodgers over his comments and insisting he is taking the wrong approach with LaFleur in his first season.
The conversation circled primarily around Rodgers’ and LaFleur’s differing impressions about the joint practices while not exactly addressing some of the more positive signs that the two are getting along just fine in Green Bay.
In fact, when LaFleur criticized the Packers’ slow pace in and out of the huddle after Tuesday’s workout and the “no energy” between snaps, Rodgers agreed when asked about his coach’s comments that they could do a better job of getting to the line of scrimmage faster.
“Overall, we’ve got a ways to go yet,” LaFleur said Tuesday. “Again, it starts with the way we operate. I think we’ve got to coach these guys better and just develop a standard of how we operate on a daily basis.”
Remains to Be Seen
Rodgers has been the chosen one in Green Bay since the end of the Brett Farve era and oftentimes has played the part on the field.
A relationship between a quarterback and his coach is important, but remember it was only a few months ago when through a Bleacher Report story details emerged of the longstanding toxic relationship between Rodgers and McCarthy, who coached Rodgers in all but his rookie season in Green Bay prior to this year.
If all accounts in the story are to be believed, and Rodgers still ended up a two league MVP and seven-time Pro Bowler, how much is there really to worry about in the early days of LaFleur’s regime?
The short answer: Nobody on the outside knows. Certainly not enough to spin post-practice comments into a narrative about divisiveness between two of the most important people this season in Green Bay. A difference in opinion and outright conflict are two very different things.
Cracks also start to show in that storyline when you look back at Packers Family Night. Not known for his close-knit relationships with teammates, Rodgers was laughing and joking around with LaFleur before pranking him and wide receiver Davante Adams during warmups.
The relationship between Rodgers and LaFleur won’t be tested much during the preseason as Rodgers will likely sit for much or all of Thursday’s kickoff against the Houston Texans. So rather than reading into comments and fretting about the state of affairs between the two, sit back and let the season play out how it will.
The truth, as it seems, often finds its way into the spotlight eventually.