Mark Murphy: Packers' Aaron Rodgers has to embrace change

-- The general consensus seemed to be in full agreement: Any success the Green Bay Packers intend to celebrate in 2019 will largely be as a result of the relationship between quarterback and coach.

But these aren't Mike McCarthy's Packers anymore.

Much like the hundreds upon thousands of fans who have grown accustomed to seeing McCarthy's face in post-game press pressers and stalking the sideline during games in each of the last 13 seasons, Aaron Rodgers will have to undergo an adjustment period in working with McCarthy's successor, Matt LaFleur.

Rodgers could have no problem welcoming back a familiar comrade in Luke Getsy as his position coach, or even Nathaniel Hackett as his offensive coordinator. But LaFleur will be at the helm of the Packers' on-field operations, and Rodgers has made it apparent in the past that he has his own ways of running the offense.

However, that was under the watch of McCarthy -- the only true head coach Rodgers has ever known -- whose relationship with Rodgers had seemingly expanded to dangerous levels, all the way to the day of McCarthy's firing on Dec. 2.

Turning the page to a new regime, a slightly revamped offense and a 35-year-old quarterback who may need to adjust the way he's typically played for over a decade in order to complement that offense, the Packers are hoping to engineer a quick turnaround -- from 6-9-1 to a playoff berth.

Team President and CEO Mark Murphy made it clear on Tuesday at the NFL Combine: Rodgers and LaFleur will figure it out.

They have to.

"He has to embrace it," Murphy told ESPN's Rob Demovsky. "And I think he is. I hope he adapts well. I'm excited. I know he's excited. I've had some discussions with him."

Rodgers underperformed last season in regards to his typical MVP caliber of play, still throwing for 25 touchdowns -- a career low -- to just two interceptions. He never truly got back to the same level of comfort as he did when he first stepped on the field for the team's season opener against the Chicago Bears in September, not long before he suffered the knee injury that would loom irritatingly through the remainder of the year.

It's why LaFleur hired on two quarterback-oriented coaches to help revitalize Rodgers' career, a practice that will require them challenging their franchise quarterback and hitting him from "all angles."

"He's driven. He wants to win championships, and I think he knows that he's got only so many years left.

"I'm excited. I think he and Matt, I think that relationship is going to be crucial. He's the head coach, but he's the play-caller."

Murphy's excitement stems from the aspect of change and what he believes incited a similar feeling from Rodgers, whose input during the hiring process was sought-after by the Packers' brass.

LaFleur's past experience working with quarterbacks at the professional level could be vital in helping Rodgers buy into the pedigree he brings to the table. He served as the Los Angeles Rams' offensive coordinator in 2017 during Jared Goff's breakout season and Matt Ryan's position coach for two seasons, which included his 2016 MVP campaign.

"I think he knows Matt's background and the work he's done with quarterbacks. Change is hard, but it's good. And I think he's excited about the change."

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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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Comments (43)

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Skip greenBayless's picture

February 26, 2019 at 09:43 pm

I hear a lot of hope and change in Murphy's words. Would like to hear from the man himself.

Dash

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Leatherhead's picture

February 27, 2019 at 08:56 am

Does anybody remember the last time this happened?

McCarthy came in and Favre had to embrace the change. We saw how well that worked. "I'm gonna play the way I play".

I'm not seeing Rodgers as a stay in the pocket and throw darts kind of guy. I'm skeptical that this is going to work.

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crayzpackfan's picture

February 26, 2019 at 10:55 pm

All I want from the coaching is a willingness to run the ball. All I want from Rodgers is a willingness to dump the ball off to backs and TE’s. I hate Tom Brady, but he’s a genius at a simple 3-5 step drop and just getting the ball out. When Favre was at his best, we had a running game, dink and dunk (lots of screen passes), and then PA down the field for big plays. The last few years Rodgers seems hellbent on homeruns. We need to get back to 8-12 play drives so the defense can catch a breath. Easy does it Rodgers. Listen to the coaches and go get another super bowl.

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haseo's picture

February 27, 2019 at 12:05 am

Very, very well said!

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TarynsEyes's picture

February 27, 2019 at 12:19 am

I mentioned awhile back that Rodgers needs to buy into this new culture that will have him needing to NOT play as he wants to.

It's hard for someone who has slyly taken control of a team, it's direction and then believe he will simply relinquish what he has worked for over the last few years because he got what he wanted,MM gone and now all will be well with the new HC.

I fear LaFleur and the Packers will see yet a different side of Rodgers that won't garner the praise previously given him for his subtle backhanded quips.

I could be off on my opinion but we'll see in 5 months who wins the battle...Rodgers or LaFleur. The odds on favorite is Rodgers, as he has the leverage that was bestowed upon him, via a contract extension that was so unnecessary at the time of its doing.

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KnockTheSnotOutOfYou's picture

February 27, 2019 at 01:15 am

BS!

I will go on record and state if Rodgers doesnt adhere to LF's game plan Murphy and Gute have given LF permission to bench Rodgers. However, it will never come to that as Rodgers is above that BS.

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Coldworld's picture

February 27, 2019 at 07:07 am

Where is this recorded?

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dobber's picture

February 27, 2019 at 07:52 am

I would've thought that if the rift between ARod and MM was as bad as people were saying that HE would've done this. He never did. My guess is that there's not much that management is going to be able to do about an in-game decision like that.

In the end, it's all on ARod, now. If he cares at all, anymore, he's going to have to perform to show that it hasn't been him that was the problem since they 'ran the table' in 2016. This is really a tremendous challenge to him and his legacy. I hope he sees it that way, too.

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Minniman's picture

February 27, 2019 at 03:23 am

I tend to agree with you Taryn.

One of the widely documented issues between McCarthy and Rodgers was that in the end Rodgers was either changing McCarthys plays at the LOS too often to be comfortable - or becoming increasingly critical of them.

I think that it is a safe statement that MLF - a bit of a "dark horse" candidate to start with - was only selected because he philosophically aligns to how Rodgers wants to play; and to that end there probably were many discussions held with Rodgers (formally or informally) on this in order to select the right candidate to avert a repeat..... there's too few years left with Rodgers at the helm and the Packers are already all-in with him - thus as far as the Packers see things, this has to succeed.

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fthisJack's picture

February 27, 2019 at 08:47 am

do you blame Rodgers for calling his own plays? MM's offense was so stagnant that the defense knew what was coming. i believe Rodgers top priority is WINNING no matter how it gets done and will do anything to get back to being a SB contender. he desperately wants another ring.

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TarynsEyes's picture

February 27, 2019 at 11:19 am

Has Rodgers play changing made this team a winner? How do you know that Rodgers play changing wasn't a factor in the predictability that is blamed on MM?

Everything thing is opinion and I spoke mind and you call me a troll. You speak your opinion and you believe yours to be true..how do know what went on...you don't. That makes you what you call me...a troll using a forum that caters to mostly those who drink Kool-aid by the gallons.

Can maturity please come to from here.
: )

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Minniman's picture

February 27, 2019 at 01:26 pm

No, I don't blame Rodgers at all, who would want to stand by and watch a train wreck if you could avert it?

My point is that the Packers management clearly have a bead on the style of play that Rodgers wants to run and that in part MLF was selected because he thinks accordingly.

I don't view this any differently to when Peyton Manning went to the Broncos and promptly assumed the role as the unspoken offensive coordinator. Smartly, Elway and Fox knew to go with him, hence he agreed to sign on.

If my above theory is right, then there should be some bolts from left field in FA and the Draft as the Packers re-tool for this - it's going to be an interesting couple of weeks in that respect, we will start to see some of the tangibles to what the new MLF Packers look like (and where the priorities are).

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fthisJack's picture

February 27, 2019 at 08:49 am

the Queen of trolls speaks!

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Skip greenBayless's picture

February 27, 2019 at 12:29 am

Agree Taryn. I almost feel sorry for LaFleur. He never stood a chance.

Dash

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KnockTheSnotOutOfYou's picture

February 27, 2019 at 01:16 am

Dumbest comment I have ever read on here. Obviously trolling...

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Coldworld's picture

February 27, 2019 at 07:18 am

Dash, while I agree that this question is both real and critical, I don’t see that it is reasonable to assume Rodgers and LaFleur will not work it out.

It is as critical to Rodgers to win as it is for LaFleur. It is in both their interests to work together rather than repeat the dysfunction. If not, LaFleur moves on and likely gets another chance while Rodgers will be almost out of time to burnish his career after the season or two it would take for the dysfunction to lead to a clear out, likely of both and Murphy.

Put simply, Rodgers has more to lose than pretty much anyone else other than maybe Murphy from not making this work. One hopes that LaFleur can deliver the goods and the off season results in terms of upgrading the personnel alongside the playbook. One hopes too that Rodgers grasps the gravity of what is at stake for him. Of course, people don’t always see clearly. That is the fear. Rodgers has always seemed fairly acute, so let’s hope that he does and that Murphy made a good choice in LaFleur.

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Leatherhead's picture

February 27, 2019 at 12:17 pm

Coldworld….can you think one of single instance of a rookie HC coming to a team with an entrenched, veteran, future HOFer at QB where it worked?

I can't.

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Skip greenBayless's picture

February 27, 2019 at 01:35 pm

I can't either Old School. To think Aaron Rodgers, the smartest guy on the planet in his mind and the ultimate control freak is going to suddenly come in and give up all his power, influence and control to a guy who's only a few years older than him with no head coaching experience and think this is going to work is absolutely ridiculous. In order for this to work it will have to be LaFleur who will have to give in to Rodgers not the other way around. This is why I wanted a Bill Parcells type person for head coach. The only guy out there was Rex Ryan IMPO. Oh well, either way it will be fun watching these two pretend to get along while both are trying to gain the top dog status. Not a good situation for any rookie head coach which is why I honestly feel a little sorry for LaFleur. As I said, he never stood a chance. Unfortunately I can see into the future where others can't. This doesn't end well. I'll leave it at that.

Dash

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carlos's picture

February 27, 2019 at 06:23 pm

I was thinking, if most of the offensive players buy into MLF system and his approach to the team as a whole and want to go out and play their hearts out, could it cause dissension towards Rogers if he starts doing his own thing. Personally I don’t think Rogers will do that, but there’s a lot of issues in putting a good team together. A lot of personalities. Let’s hope all players will be all in for the good of the team.

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Lphill's picture

February 27, 2019 at 05:41 am

Rodgers has been waiting for change for years now , should have come after the fiasco in Seattle, watch a motivated Rodgers this coming season. All this drama about Rodgers is getting ridiculous now, all the guy wants to do is win .

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Lare's picture

February 27, 2019 at 05:58 am

I agree. Funny how so many people that have never even met Rodgers act like they know everything about him.

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carlos's picture

February 27, 2019 at 06:26 pm

I know friends who ran into him in the Green Bay Area and said he always seemed polite and a nice guy. They said Olivia Munn was also. Of course that was a while back.

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KnockTheSnotOutOfYou's picture

February 27, 2019 at 08:14 am

Amazing some of the perspectives and narrative about Rodgers being circulated when no one really knows what went on with MM and Rodgers. If 2019 proves I was wrong about Rodgers I will be first to admit it. Rodgers is a team player who puts himself on the line game after game. He deserves our respect and support until he proves otherwise.

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carlos's picture

February 27, 2019 at 06:27 pm

Everything gets blown way out of proportion.

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fthisJack's picture

February 27, 2019 at 08:57 am

i agree. people know nothing of what went on behind the scenes. one thing we do know is MM's offense scheme was pathetic. he could never scheme up a third or fourth and 1 play to save his soul.....FB dive. when you have players from other teams saying they knew what play was coming, that's a problem. it was real and Rodgers was sick of it. MM should have been shown the door after 2014 Seattle implosion.

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Minniman's picture

February 27, 2019 at 01:42 pm

"people know nothing of what went on behind the scenes. "

Mostly true, but the suspicions are starting to be validated by snippets from ex-players, so as the saying goes, it's all coming out in the wash.

One interesting one was from and interview with "the-TE-that-shall-not-be-named" and Marcedes Lewis recently who both concurred that Rodgers frequently changed called plays, and in some instances abjectly dismissed them - even in the huddle before he'd even seen the defensive formation!

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Lare's picture

February 27, 2019 at 02:55 pm

First of all, name me one NFL quarterback that doesn’t change play calls at the line of scrimmage. They all do, and ones with multiple years of experience do it more often than younger QB’s.

As to Rodgers changing plays in the huddle it was reported that Rodgers and the offensive coaches would watch film and game plan during the week, McCarthy would skip all those sessions and then on game day call all the plays that everyone else decided wouldn’t work.

No wonder there was dysfunction with the offense last season.

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KnockTheSnotOutOfYou's picture

February 27, 2019 at 04:20 pm

Well stated as usual Lare.

People will think and believe what they want to believe. Even MM upon firing never indicated problems with Rodgers changing plays at LOS. Neither has Murphy, Gute, or either of the 2 back-up QB'S involved in signaling plays, or even last Year's QB Coach, or OC for that matter. However, some want to think Rodgers is a problem. Guess I would rather wait and hear that from the top people.

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Minniman's picture

February 27, 2019 at 05:13 pm

Lare, I'm a proponent of the QB calling entire series of plays, so I don't have any issues with QB's adjusting based on what they are seeing both defensively and in the ebbs-and-flows of the game - I'd go as far to say that this inability of young QB's to function at this level was exploited by Belichick and the Patriots in the SB.

My point back to the top of the thread is that ex-players are starting to talk and verify some of the rumors that were circulating through last season - as an add-on to your and KTSOOY's posts that we on the outside (rightfully) don't really know what's going in inside the Packers organization, not a critique. Apologies if it was taken that way.

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carlos's picture

February 27, 2019 at 06:32 pm

You’re right about that Lare.

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Minniman's picture

February 27, 2019 at 02:35 pm

double post.

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carlos's picture

February 27, 2019 at 06:31 pm

Yup, his offensive was pretty predictable. A lot of us probably could figure out the play a good percentage of the time before the snap.

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fastmoving's picture

February 27, 2019 at 11:14 am

like everyone else on this planet.......

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croatpackfan's picture

February 27, 2019 at 06:16 am

"Packers' Aaron Rodgers has to embrace change!"

Do Steelers' Aaron Rodgers has to embrace change?

Do Raiders' Aaron Rodgers has to embrace change?

Do Patriots' Aaron Rodgers has to embrace change?

I wonder...

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stockholder's picture

February 27, 2019 at 07:23 am

Rodgers is going to be Rodgers. He doesn't have to change.

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Leatherhead's picture

February 27, 2019 at 08:59 am

That's pretty much how it went with Favre.

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lebowski's picture

February 27, 2019 at 08:51 am

Seeing as how he lobbied for it with his passive aggressive shots at MM he damn well better embrace it.

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TXCHEESE's picture

February 27, 2019 at 09:04 am

It was pretty obvious Rodgers was tired of MM's predictable offense. He knows his reputation is on the line with the new regime. I expect he will work as hard as anyone to get the ship righted and sailing.
I can't blame Rodgers for his surliness over the last couple of years. It became apparent that McCarthy simply got too comfortable with his QB putting the offense on his shoulders.
Let us all remember the comments from the player's leadership group speaking of the need for accountability to Murphy and Gute at season's end. The best thing about this, is all players start fresh with the new staff. Those who perform play. Those who don't hit the waiver wire.

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RCPackerFan's picture

February 27, 2019 at 09:35 am

I have seen a lot of talk on this subject.

We have heard all the negativity about Rodgers. Mostly coming from the former disgruntled players (Jennings, Finley, etc.)

Then you hear from guys like Nelson and get a different perspective.

I fully expect Rodgers to embrace change. I don't see him being combative. Not saying there won't be issues or disagreements, but I think he will be all in with the new direction of the offense.

I do think that LaFleur has done as much as he can to bring in the right people to work with Rodgers. He brought back Getsty with whom Rodgers really liked. He also brought in Hackett who has worked with QB's.

I'm excited to see what happens.

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carlos's picture

February 27, 2019 at 06:35 pm

It’s going to be fun RC, if not interesting.

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CalPacker's picture

February 27, 2019 at 11:06 am

MM really has no business sending mixed messages of confidence and concern at this point. Bad leadership moment from MM, in my opinion.

Rodgers clearly missed having veteran receivers alongside Adams, and apparently the WR coaching made things worse for the rookies. The result is erratic play. Rodgers is capable of moving the chains, just look at the tape. But when receivers aren't getting separation, it falls on Rodgers to compensate with big plays. Didn't happen in 2018.

In my opinion, a couple of strong FA pickups, a nice draft and some better WR coaching will make all the difference this year. And hopefully MM will just put a lid on his public statements for awhile...

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fastmoving's picture

February 27, 2019 at 11:18 am

the WR got a lot of separation in 2018......a lot

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Stu's picture

February 27, 2019 at 03:20 pm

Personally I would trade Aaron Rodgers. Do the Cardinals Jagwire’s or Denver. Get rid of that god awful contract plus realize he is not the same now he is a lot more fragile than Peyton Manning was at this time in his career or Tom Brady or Drew Brees all are different with different health problems and style of play. You could easily get their starting quarterback plus a second or third round pick this year. Do it now before you have to pay the huge price he is due.

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