- A new report paints an ugly picture of the strained relationship between Aaron Rodgers and ex-Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy.
- According to the report, McCarthy and Rodgers butted heads over the offence, with Rodgers increasingly taking control of what he thought was an out-dated, stagnant offence.
- While some blamed Rodgers’ ego and leadership, others blamed McCarthy, who had reportedly become checked-out during the 2018 season, skipping meetings to get massages.
- The tension between McCarthy and Rodgers continued for years, was never addressed, and according to the report, was left to “fester” until McCarthy was fired in December.
The Green Bay Packers missed the playoffs last season while finishing below .500 for the second straight year. The disappointing season cost long-time head coach Mike McCarthy his job in Week 13.
A new report from Bleacher Report’s Tyler Dunne paints an ugly picture of internal strife in the organisation, particularly of the relationship between McCarthy and Aaron Rodgers.
According to Dunne, sources within the Packers say the relationship between Rodgers and McCarthy was never great because Rodgers held a grudge over the 2005 draft, when McCarthy, then with the San Francisco 49ers, took quarterback Alex Smith over Rodgers.
Things were reportedly smooth enough early in the relationship because the Packers were winning and the offence worked. However, as the team’s skill players aged or left and the team failed to replace them, things became tenser between Rodgers and McCarthy over the offence.
One source told Dunne that games became play-calling “contests” with Rodgers taking his freedom to change play calls to a new level. According to Dunne, some estimated that Rodgers was changing about one-third of McCarthy’s play calls this past season, often leaving skill players confused over whose calls to follow.
Some of the people who spoke to Dunne blame Rodgers, believing his ego took control of the team. Former Packers running back Ryan Grant compared Rodgers to A.I. taking on a life of its own.
“When you put a quarterback in a position, and you talk about how cerebral he is, and you give him flexibility to make some changes, guess what? … You develop A.I. because it has the capacity to run without you. And then when it runs without you, it’s like, ‘Wait a minute!’ But in the same breath, if you’re not actually able to stay ahead of it, it’s going to outthink you, and it’s going to say, ‘Me making the decision is the better decision.'”
Former Packers tight end Jermichael Finley told Dunne that when Rodgers signed his new contract, a four-year, $US133 million extension, he became emboldened.
“You gave a man $US200 million,” Finley told Dunne. “He’s the GM. He’s the organisation. He’s the quarterback. And he’s the head coach. He has a sense of entitlement already, and then you give him $US200 million? You make him one of the highest-paid in history. It comes with the territory, man.”
Others, however, blamed McCarthy for a stagnant offence he failed to innovate.
According to Dunne, some within the Packers felt McCarthy thought he was to credit for the team’s success on offence and wanted to be seen as an offensive guru.
As things spiraled in 2018, others also said McCarthy checked out, losing grip on the team.
According to Dunne, McCarthy was often absent from weekly meetings. Sources told Dunne that McCarthy often went upstairs and got massages, leaving sessions to be run by assistants. According to Dunne, some believe the move was meant to give control to his assistants and have a more hands-off role, but it became a bad look.
A front-office source told Dunne: “If you’re not a part of meetings, and then you’re trying to be pissed about execution, nobody’s going to really respect you. They’re going to look at you like, ‘Where have you been all week?’ It sounded like he was really just chilling.”
Packers players eventually grew to feel as if they knew more about their positions than McCarthy, with defensive players feeling like McCarthy never gave them the proper attention.
All of this created a rift between Rodgers and McCarthy, but it was never truly addressed. One source said the unspoken tension left the relationship to “fester.”
The Packers hired Matt LeFleur this offseason, hoping a younger, more innovative coach can help turn things around. While they didn’t add many pieces on offence, they did make several big free agent signings.
According to Dunne, the Rodgers-LeFleur relationship will be crucial in trying to turn things around as Rodgers heads into his twilight. The Packers are hoping LeFleur can challenge Rodgers and win him over and that Rodgers will accept and embrace a new coach.
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