The Green Bay Packers made some changes to their coaching staff in the weeks since their season ended. One didn’t sit too well with quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
On ESPN Radio’s Golic and Wingo Thursday morning, Rodgers noted coaching changes on both sides of the ball, including both coordinators. He seemed content with the coordinator moves, but said some “other changes” are “a little strange, maybe.”
Pressed for specifics, Rodgers pointed to head coach Mike McCarthy’s decision not to retain quarterbacks coach Alex Van Pelt. Curiously, Rodgers, who is entering his 14th season with the franchise, was not consulted about the move.
“My quarterback coach didn’t get retained. I thought that was an interesting change — really without consulting me,” Rodgers said. “There’s a close connection between quarterback and quarterback coach. And that was an interesting decision.”
The Packers are on the heels of a 7-9 season that resulted in the franchise’s first playoff absence since 2008. The team started 4-1 but things went south after Rodgers suffered a broken collarbone in Week 6 against the Minnesota Vikings. The playoffs were still a possibility when Rodgers returned in Week 15, but he was shut down for the rest of the year after a 31-24 loss to the Carolina Panthers.
The changes began once the season came to a close. McCarthy fired both offensive coordinator Edgar Bennett and defensive coordinator Dom Capers while president Mark Murphy moved on from general manager Ted Thompson (and subsequently brought in Brian Gutekunst). In Van Pelt’s case, McCarthy said Van Pelt — who spent four seasons as Rodgers’ QB coach — let his contract expire so he could go after an offensive coordinator job.
In interview with @620wtmj, #Packers coach MIke McCarthy didn't necessarily rule out AVP's return: "Alex Van Pelt was more a personal choice from a contractual standpoint. He desired to be a free agent after this season. He wants to look at other opportunities."
— Tom Silverstein (@TomSilverstein) January 4, 2018
That OC gig never materialized, and Van Pelt landed in Cincinnati with the Bengals as quarterbacks coach. With Van Pelt in the AFC, Green Bay brought in Frank Cignetti Jr. from the New York Giants to be the new quarterbacks coach under Joe Philbin, who has returned as offensive coordinator. Philbin held that role with Green Bay from 2007-2011.
Asked how far the Packers are from returning to the Super Bowl, Rodgers said the team is “not too far off.” It starts, Rodgers said, with defense.
“If you look at the final four teams that were in it, three of the four have dominating defenses, and the other one is the Patriots, who are often the most well-coached in the NFL. So you’re looking at what Jacksonville did this year with their defense, what obviously Minnesota, they do with their defense, and Philly was phenomenal.
“We’ve got to get back to playing championship defense. We’ve got a new coordinator, actually on both sides. Joe Philbin came back, and his last year with us was ’11, and we had a pretty damn good offense that year. So it’s exciting having him back. Some other changes that are a little strange, maybe, but we’ll see how they all play out.”
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