Murphy: Rodgers must embrace Packers’ changes

INDIANAPOLIS — For all but the last four games of the 2018 season, Aaron Rodgers‘ entire tenure as the Green Bay 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 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.”

LaFleur parted ways with most of McCarthy’s offensive staff but brought back a former McCarthy assistant, Luke Getsy, to coach quarterbacks. Getsy spent last season as Mississippi State’s offensive coordinator after spending the previous four years with the Packers. While LaFleur will call the offensive plays, he said Getsy and offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett all will have a hand in coaching Rodgers.

“We’ve got three quarterback guys that are going to be hitting him from all angles,” LaFleur said last week. “I’m going to do part. I know that I need to be in that room, especially as much as I possibly can because I am going to be the playcaller. I think that relationship between the playcaller and the quarterback is absolutely critical. So I will be in there as much as I can. I don’t foresee ever missing a quarterback meeting.”

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.”

When asked specifically what Rodgers is excited about, Murphy said: “I think the change. And 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.”

Still, recent Packers history suggests the change may not pay immediate dividends. McCarthy didn’t make the playoffs in his first season in 2006, but he took the Packers to the NFC title game in Year 2 and won the Super Bowl in Year 5 (Rodgers’ third year as the starter). Mike Sherman missed the playoffs in his first season (2000) and Ray Rhodes missed in his only season (1992). Even Mike Holmgren failed to make the playoffs in his first year (1992).

However, Murphy pointed to the success that first-year Bears coach Matt Nagy had last season, leading Chicago to the NFC North title.

“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.”

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