Why the Rodgers-Love dynamic is being overblown by the media
Twitter is a great place for football fans to exchange views and offer their mixed bag of brilliant, lame and sometimes irrational takes. One common sentiment espoused by legions of keyboard commandos is supporting the idea of their favorite NFL team acquiring the services of a grizzled — but viable — veteran in order to have that player “teach” the young bucks.
The same narrative is currently being propagated by fans and talking media heads alike in the wake of the Packers unexpectedly drafting their quarterback of the future Jordan Love and whether or not the quarterback of the present, Aaron Rodgers, will embrace and serve as a mentor to the first-round pick.
Rodgers, as is common knowledge to most diehard Cheeseheads, wasn’t exactly treated to the warmest of receptions by his predecessor Brett Favre when AR12 first descended upon Green Bay, Wisconsin 15 years ago. Though both quarterbacks are on amicable terms currently, there was a degree of underlying animosity between them back in 2005, as No. 4 had no plans of surrendering his job to some hotshot oozing with California cool.
Judging from his past quotes, the two-time MVP won’t be looking to recreate any sort of tension between him and any other quarterback on the roster, whether that be Love or UDFA addition Jalen Morton.
Going back to his days at Butte College, the future Hall of Famer has consistently made an effort to be a good teammate with all of his colleagues, going as far as keeping track of their birthdays.
So, from that aspect, there’s virtually no reason to expect Rodgers to give Love the cold shoulder.
When one considers the fact, moreover, that Love is very much a tabula rasa in terms of being ready to tackle Matt LaFleur’s playbook, Rodgers shouldn’t be waking up in cold sweats about the prospect of losing his job in 2020.
The new kid on the block is in no way a threat to Rodgers in the here and now.
But while the 36 year-old will undoubtedly pepper the rookie with a handful of tips along the way, one shouldn’t expect him to assume the dual role of player-coach in the development of Love.
As a starting quarterback of a team that was one game away from playing in the Super Bowl last season, it’s simply not Rodgers’ responsibility to coach up and/or “teach” his new backup.
With or without the Packers bringing in his heir apparent, Rodgers has already conceded that he’s on the “back nine” of his career and, as such, he’s fully aware of the limited time he has to recapture that unique sense of accomplishment that comes with winning a second (and maybe a third) Super Bowl.
Furthermore, the concept of Rodgers administering any modicum of hands-on mentoring on Love probably goes against LaFleur’s game plan when it comes to molding his new toy.
It’s hardly a secret at this juncture that AR12 doesn’t quite match what his head coach expects from his signal caller — or better yet game manager — who dutifully orchestrates the offense precisely as it’s drawn up.
In his Jan. 9 article, Bleacher Report’s Mike Tanier compared Rodgers to an “old stage actor who refused to stick to the script,” when recounting how the long-time triggerman would often direct the offense efficiently during a game’s first few drives, only to later go into full artist mode and improvise.
Rodgers’ ability to ad-lib is part of what makes him that special one-of-a-kind gridiron maestro, who can author some of the more extraordinary athletic feats, from his “Miracle in Motown” 61-yard Hail Mary to Richard Rodgers or his clutch 35-yard sideline strike to Jared Cook to set up a winning field goal in Green Bay’s divisional round victory over Dallas in 2017.
And while those indelible moments will live on forever, LaFleur isn’t neither a hype man nor a season-ticket holder; he’s a coach from the Mike Shanahan coaching tree whose sole purpose is to win the only way he knows how.
The 40-year-old coach, as explained by NFL Films guru Greg Cosell during his most recent appearance on “The Rich Eisen Show,” believes in a timing-and-rhythm passing game led by a distributor who executes the game plan exactly the way it’s devised by the coaching staff.
Cosell added: “But Aaron Rodgers over the past few years has evolved or one can say devolved into a player that plays a lot outside of structure and outside of rhythm. And when you watch the coaching tape as I do, and this is not an interpretation, this is what the tape tells you. He leaves a lot of throws on the field … I guarantee you that bothers Matt LaFleur.”
By focusing on shoring up the ground game by drafting a 250-pound plow-horse back in A.J. Dillon, an H-back and three offensive lineman, LaFluer and Brian Gutekunst are setting the stage for a run-first attack that may ultimately rein in and/or limit Rodgers from turning on his unscripted magic.
Whether the front office is successful in achieving its goal, they certainly won’t be asking their ol’ gunslinger to take Love under his wing and run the risk of retarding the Utah State product’s growth as Green Bay’s franchise quarterback in waiting.
So, as the buzz about if and how Rodgers will “teach” his likely successor continues to rise to a deafening crescendo in the weeks and months leading up to the regular season, the reality is that both players have completely different agendas in 2020 and most likely in 2021.
In short, Rodgers is there to win and Love is there to learn. Until the old man remains in uniform, he won’t be anybody’s Mr. Miyagi.——————
When ~Reverend~ Ralph Mancini is not tackling hard news in New York City, he enjoys analyzing his favorite sports team, the Green Bay Packers. You can follow him on twitter at ReverendRalph.