When a young talented Quarterback enters the league and falls flat, most blame the Quarterback. They say he was a “bust” or maybe he wasn’t truly worth that high pick. Sometimes though, maybe they just didn’t have the right coaching. They didn’t have that Offensive or Quarterback-savvy mind to help them transition to the next level. For thirteen of the last eighteen seasons, the Green Bay Packers have had one of the best in Tom Clements.
Tom Clements has coached six Quarterbacks to Pro Bowl selections in his career. It’s easy to know two of them when you look at his time with the Packers. Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers of course. But after those two Legends, there’s Elvis Grbac with the Chiefs, Tommy Maddox and Kordell Stewart with the Steelers, and Kyler Murray with the Cardinals. I bet you didn’t know about at least those first three. But that’s been the impact of Tom Clements. He will get the most out of each Quarterback he touches. He has a way of maximizing the untapped potential. Or even maximizing a wealth of knowledge in an experienced QB.
Packers Experience Started With Favre
When Tom Clements was hired by Mike McCarthy in 2006 he had two big tasks. The first was to get the most out of the Packers future hall of fame QB, Brett Favre. The second, was to help develop the young QB prospect, Aaron Rodgers.
Brett Favre was notorious for essentially flying by the seat of his pants. He was always known for being basically a backyard football player. Relied on his talent alone and his ability to make something happen. Under Tom Clements, suddenly Favre became a big student of the game. Favre began to prepare in the film room much more than prepare on the field. He came prepared with a greater knowledge of his opponent than before. This led to one of his best years in 2007. Favre completed a career-high 66.5% of pass attempts, surpassed 4K yards and achieved the third best passer rating of his career. Favre was a runner-up in nearly achieving his fourth MVP award.
All at the same time, he was prepping Aaron Rodgers for taking over the helm. After Favre’s departure we all know how that turned out. Aaron Rodgers took over and went on to four MVP’s, a Super Bowl, and a future bust in the Hall of Fame. Tom Clements was coaching one of the greatest Quarterbacks of all time, yet again.
During this first Packers tenure Clements also had another feather in the cap with Matt Flynn. Flynn may not have hit any Pro Bowls or huge accolades, but he was effective if relief for Rodgers which earned him some looks around the league.
Now Tom Clements has returned to the Packers with his next project, Jordan Love. Aaron Rodgers may have lobbied the Packers to bring back Tom Clements for his final year with the team for the chance to reach another Super Bowl. But he also put it out there the impact Clements could have on his backup, Jordan Love. This impact could have resulted in the Packers willingness to move on to Jordan Love in 2023.
What is his impact?
Earlier I talked about young players needing a Quarterback-savvy coach. A coach that can help them reach the next level. It has nothing to do with calling plays for that QB. It has nothing to do with throwing the ball further or harder. With Clements, it has everything to do with fundamentals.
Clements focuses on movement. The ability to adjust your footing based on your reads. Don’t just drop back and look around, get yourself ready to make that throw if it’s available. Many would point out how Aaron Rodgers’ feet were always bouncing around. That’s a credit to Tom Clements teaching him to prep himself for each read.
The QB movement didn’t just stop at passing, it continued in play-action as well. One of Aaron Rodgers’ best skills was his play-action fakes. Clements also taught Rodgers some of the best ways to impact play-action. How to sell a fake handoff with his arm movement and roll out into passing position.
All of this translated into improvement for Jordan Love. Within a year, Jordan Love went from not ready, to absolutely ready to take over. So much of this is due to Tom Clements’ work with the young QB. With Aaron Rodgers sitting out OTA’s and the majority of Preseason in 2022, this made Love the de-facto QB1 for that time. It was like 2006 all over again. Help the legend stay sharp but teach the up and comer how to improve.
So far, these fundamental lessons have seemed to greatly benefit Jordan Love as he’s looking better than he ever did before.
Hopefully Tom Clements decides to stick with Jordan Love for another year or two after 2023 just to insure our next QB has as much of his influence as possible. Clements is 70 years old and has been retired before. It was the enticing offer to coach Aaron Rodgers and develop Jordan Love that brought him back. As Packer fans, if Jordan Love goes on to have a successful career, we owe a debt of gratitude to Tom Clements.
And I will say, outside of teaching young Quarterbacks, I think Clements should have a young coaching intern protege with the Packers so that his knowledge is passed down. So that whenever Tom Clements does decide to permanently retire, the Packers can still benefit from his teachings.
Greg Meinholz is a lifelong devoted Packer fan. A contributor to PackersTalk as well as CheeseheadTV. Follow him on Twitter at @gmeinholz. for Packers commentary, random humor, beer endorsements, and occasional Star Wars and Marvel ramblings.