For all but the last four games of the 2018 season, Aaron Rodgers‘ entire tenure as the Packers’ starting quarterback came under one head coach, Mike McCarthy.
After four games under interim coach Joe Philbin, Rodgers will begin this coming season with Matt LaFleur as his new coach.
How Rodgers reacts to the first-time head coach could dictate his level of success.
“He has to embrace it,” Packers president Mark Murphy told Rob Demovsky of ESPN on Tuesday at the NFL combine. “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 has not spoken publicly since Murphy hired LaFleur, the former Tennessee Titans offensive coordinator, on Jan. 7. Rodgers also hasn’t met in person with his new coach, either. But they’ve had several conversations, according to Murphy, since their initial phone call on the day LaFleur was offered the job.
Rodgers’ relationship with McCarthy became a point of speculation last season, when McCarthy was fired with four games left in his 13th season as head coach. Their partnership appeared to sour for good when Rodgers bashed the Packers’ offense after their 22-0 win over the Bills in late September.
The day after McCarthy was fired in December, Rodgers was asked if he thought he had anything to do with McCarthy’s dismissal and said: “I hope that’s not the reason.”
Murphy acknowledged that Rodgers needs to buy in to LaFleur’s coaching and the changes he plans to implement on offense, especially because at age 35, Rodgers’ window to win another Super Bowl might be starting to close.
“He’s driven,” Murphy said. “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 playcaller.”
“There’s no question, with as much change as we have, there’s going to be an adjustment, but I’m optimistic,” Murphy said. “I think we’ll see improvement.”