Packers will have 'three quarterback guys' working with Aaron Rodgers
GREEN BAY - Given the chance to build their offense from scratch, the Green Bay Packers’ decision makers instead chose to chart a familiar course.
They hired Matt LaFleur as head coach. They approved his decision to hire Nathaniel Hackett as offensive coordinator. Both run versions of the West Coast offense, using a similar system as former head coach Mike McCarthy.
The Packers could have used this offseason to implement major change. Instead, while injecting new voices and ideas, they largely left the foundation in place.
“I think a lot of the same concepts kind of cross over,” said Hackett, whose father Paul was a longtime coach and McCarthy mentor. “Just kind of the emphasis of some of the things that we want to do that are going to be different. When you take a guy like Aaron Rodgers, who’s a very good football player, he’s one of those guys we can do pretty much a lot of everything.
“So I think a lot of it is going to carry over. I think some of the language will be different, but it will be a lot of the same premises for him.”
It isn’t hard to see Rodgers’ influence over the Packers’ current direction. His effect isn’t much different than any other franchise quarterback. If the Packers did not have a future Hall of Famer advancing toward the twilight of his career, president/CEO Mark Murphy and general manager Brian Gutekunst perhaps would have found it enticing to depart from the offensive foundation Rodgers has built on since becoming a starter in 2008. But that is not their reality.
Even with McCarthy gone, the quarterback remains.
LaFleur, along with the offensive staff he introduced Monday, will be charged with helping Rodgers play like the two-time MVP he has been, not the erratic quarterback who guided the Packers to a 6-9-1 record last season. He has struck a collaborative tone, one his offensive coordinator and new quarterbacks coach Luke Getsy adopted.
Together, the triumvirate of LaFleur, Hackett and Getsy will balance their relationship with the quarterback. Each will have his own role in making Aaron Rodgers great again.
“We’ve got three quarterback guys,” LaFleur said, “that are going to be hitting him from all angles.”
As play caller, LaFleur knows it will be “absolutely critical” he has a strong relationship with Rodgers. Over the course of a season, LaFleur said, he doesn’t foresee ever missing a quarterback meeting. To be so inseparable, as McCarthy was for more than a decade with Rodgers, LaFleur will need an offensive coordinator to handle many of the administrative details.
For much of his tenure, McCarthy had Joe Philbin run meetings and keep things on schedule while he devised the weekly game plan. For LaFleur, it will be important for Hackett to assume many of those responsibilities as he and Rodgers decide which plays are best against a specific opponent.
“He is one of the more organized guys I’ve ever been around,” LaFleur said, “and that was evident when I interviewed him. Just because I had a relationship with him, you don’t really know until you work with somebody. Absolutely put him through the ringer on the interview, and I thought he did a great job.”
When LaFleur is tending to head-coaching responsibilities unrelated to his quarterback, he will rely on Getsy to continue his message. Getsy will be an extension of LaFleur, guiding Rodgers in the direction the head coach is steering.
“Right now,” Getsy said, “coach LaFleur is leading the show. This is his deal, and we’re all learning from him. It’s his voice, and it’s our job to hold people accountable to that message and deliver the message when he’s not here.
“We’re going to make sure we’re delivering the message he wants us to.”
LaFleur said it wasn’t a prerequisite for his new quarterbacks coach to be someone who’s previously worked with Rodgers but acknowledged the quarterback was among references he consulted before making the hire. Rodgers was fond of Getsy during his four years in Green Bay, which included being a receivers coach in 2016 and '17.
That should help Getsy’s relationship with Rodgers. It can be delicate gaining the quarterback’s trust. After the Packers parted ways with longtime quarterbacks coach Alex Van Pelt, replacement Frank Cignetti Jr. never appeared to click.
Getsy said he has already chatted with Rodgers on the phone, though the collective bargaining agreement prevents them from discussing football. They caught up on his past year, when Getsy took an offensive coordinator position at Mississippi State. Getsy said he left that conversation believing the 35-year-old quarterback still wants to be coached, something Rodgers has said publicly multiple times.
“No question about that,” Getsy said. “He’s as big a competitor as I’ve ever been around. He has that desire to win more than anybody I’ve been around. Whatever you want to call coaching, it’s delivering the message and holding people accountable to that message, and he wants that as much as anyone.”
The message — and the messengers — will be different than what Rodgers has heard in the past. It might help that the core, base philosophies will be similar. At 35, Rodgers won’t have to start all over. He’ll have plenty of familiarity to pull from.
“We’re not really reinventing the wheel,” Hackett said. “We’re just trying to make it a little bit better.”
Packers coaching staff
Here's how new Packers coach Matt LaFleur's staff lines up:
Coordinator –Nathaniel Hackett
Quarterbacks –Luke Getsy
Wide receivers – Alvis Whitted
Tight ends – Justin Outten
Running backs – Ben Sirmans
Offensive line – Adam Stenavich
Assistant offensive line – Luke Butkus
Offensive quality control –Kevin Koger
Offensive assistant – Jason Vrable
Coordinator – Mike Pettine
Defensive line – Jerry Montgomery
Inside linebackers – Kirk Olivadotti
Outside linebackers – Mike Smith
Defensive backs – Jason Simmons
Assistant defensive backs – Ryan Downard
Quality control – Christian Parker
Quality control – Wendel Davis
Coordinator – Shawn Mennenga
Assistant special teams coordinator – Maurice Drayton
Special teams quality control coach – Rayna Stewart
STRENGTH AND CONDITIONING
Coordinator – Chris Gizzi
Assistant – Mark Lovat
Assistant – Thadeus Jackson
Assistant – Grant Thome