New Packers coach Matt LaFleur is 39 years old. That makes him four years older than Aaron Rogers, the franchise quarterback whose offseason to date has consisted of refuting a story that portrayed him as mercurial, difficult and passive-aggressive during much of his tenure in Green Bay.
This is important if you think Rodgers, as Bleacher Report’s Tyler Dunne wrote earlier this month, held a grudge against former coach Mike McCarthy, wasn’t considered to be a much of a leader by some teammates, and, in general, was difficult to work with. But LaFleur, who was the Titans offensive coordinator last season, isn’t worried about the past.
“Honestly, I haven’t put a whole lot of thought into that,” he told SI.com’s Albert Breer. “I wasn’t here, so I don’t know what happened. And quite frankly, I don’t really care what happened. All I care about is how we move forward as a football team. All I care about is the partnership that we’re forming, how that goes, and our communication. That’s all I really care about.”
For his part, Rodgers has defended himself against the story, telling ESPN.com’s Rob Demovsky, “This was a smear attack by a writer looking to advance his career talking with mostly irrelevant, bitter players who all have an agenda whether they’re advancing their own careers or just trying to stir old stuff up.”
Meanwhile, Dunne writes that the issues between Rodgers and McCarthy date back to 2005; McCarthy, then the 49ers‘ offensive coordinator, passed on Rodgers with the No. 1 pick to take Alex Smith. And maybe LaFleur hasn’t thought much about how things went off the rails in Green Bay but he certainly understands in general terms how important it is to be on the same page with the best player on the team.
“That relationship is critical, and it’s not necessarily because I’m the head coach — it’s because I’m the play-caller,” LaFleur said. “You have to develop relationships with everyone in that building. But when it comes to Aaron, it’s so critical, because I’m the play-caller. And so anytime you’re the play-caller, you better have a relationship with that quarterback. I do believe this, and I’ve said it from Day 1 — it’s a partnership. And I’ll tell you what, I don’t care what’s been said, I’ve spent a week with him, and I’ve really enjoyed every second of it.”