The first snippet emerged on Friday, and it wasn’t a great look for a franchise quarterback with a propensity for passive-aggressive commentary. The full story has now landed, and it’s clear that both Packers coach Matt LaFleur and Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers currently don’t see eye-to-eye regarding the issue of audibles, and that they’re not bashful about publicly discussing it.
“Aaron and I have had some good talks, and we’re going to have to talk a lot more — and one thing we have to work through is the audible thing,” LaFleur told Mike Silver of NFL Media. “We’re running a system I first picked up while working with Kyle [Shanahan] in Houston a decade ago, and we’ve never really had a quarterback who’s had complete freedom to change plays at the line, because that’s not really the way the offense is set up. But, I mean, this is Aaron Rodgers. He’s had a lot of freedom to make those calls, and deservedly so. Now, how do we reconcile that, and get to a place where we put him in the best position to succeed?”
However they do it, it’s clear that Rodgers wants more control than the offense currently gives him. Here’s the full version of the quote that made a stir over the weekend.
“It’s a conversation in progress,” Rodgers told Silver. “I don’t think you want to ask me to turn off 11 years [of recognizing defenses]. We have a number of ‘check with mes’ and line-of-scrimmage stuff. It’s just the other stuff that really not many people in this league can do. That’s not like a humble brag or anything; that’s just a fact. There aren’t many people that can do at the line of scrimmage what I’ve done over the years. I mean, obviously, Tommy [Brady] can do it, no doubt. Peyton [Manning] could do it. Drew [Brees] can do it. [Patrick] Mahomes will be able to do it. Ben [Roethlisberger] has called the two-minute for years. There are a few of us who’ve just done it. It’s kind of second nature. And that’s just the icing on the cake for what I can do in this offense.”
The real question is whether LaFleur wants his cake to be iced.
“[W]e pride ourselves on having concepts that have answers for whatever,” LaFleur said. “Now, it might not always be the best answer, but you have an answer. But when there are plays that are called that have maybe not a very good answer, we typically call two plays and we run one or the other, based upon the look that the defense is giving us. The quarterback chooses, and there are criteria: We try to teach him the criteria for why we would want this play over the other play.”
There’s the core of the debate. LaFleur’s system has two plays and one or the other is used. Rodgers would like to have the freedom to broaden that menu. The challenge for LaFleur will be to get Rodgers to buy in to the approach, and then to perhaps exercise some discretion when it’s time to go through his reads.