GREEN BAY, Wis. – The Zoom meetings between the Green Bay Packers offensive brain trust -- coach Matt LaFleur, coordinator Nathaniel Hackett, quarterbacks coach/passing game coordinator Luke Getsy -- and quarterback Aaron Rodgers required no use of the mute function.
They were open dialogues, not one-way communication, that originated from the coaches’ homes in Green Bay and beamed to the quarterback in Southern California.
Even without an in-person offseason program and myriad practices, meetings, installations and film sessions that would have accompanied a normal spring of workouts, there’s a chance Rodgers and LaFleur sparked something more simpatico in their second year together.
This eventually will become LaFleur’s full-fledged offense -- a run-first, play-action system that general manager Brian Gutekunst kept in mind when he drafted running back A.J. Dillon in the second round and H-back/tight end Josiah Deguara in the third -- but not without Rodgers’ say.
Rodgers sounded enthused about the process when he spoke in May, mentioning the regularity of the virtual meetings.
“His input through this offseason has maybe been the best I’ve been around, to be honest with you,” said Getsy, who starts his sixth season with the team. “We’ve included him in so much, and we needed him to be included in so much. He’s been huge. He’s clarified things for us, we’ve clarified things for him. I feel like there’s no question that we’re moving into this summer with our staff being on the same page with him as good as I’ve ever been with him.”
A year ago, LaFleur’s charge was to return Rodgers to an MVP candidate. Their first season together instead produced a surprising 13-3 run and an appearance in the NFC Championship Game despite uneven quarterback play and an offense that finished 18th in yards.
LaFleur’s task now is to make the offense more explosive even though Gutekunst decided against picking a receiver in a historically deep draft at that position and signed only one veteran wideout, Devin Funchess. The better Rodgers understands what LaFleur wants, the better the offense might be.
“We had so many great conversations,” LaFleur said in an interview with the Packers website at the close of the offseason program. “We really were able to talk out and talk through every concept that we run, both in the run game and pass game; just the expectations of every play. Certainly, he’s got a lot of experience and always want to hear his input.”
Perhaps LaFleur went out of his way to include Rodgers as a way to placate him after Gutekunst drafted Rodgers’ possible successor, Jordan Love, in the first round. But maybe LaFleur wasn’t just humoring Rodgers all offseason, and Year 2 between them will be more productive.
“I know that fire still burns in him deep,” said Packers left tackle David Bakhtiari, one of Rodgers’ regular offseason workout partners even during the quarantined portion of the offseason. “He still will in his own way make sure that he’ll still try to win in every facet. He’s the most competitive person I’ve met, and yes, I always expect the most out of him because I know that he can at least for my expectations, that he can deliver on that end.’’
Said Getsy: “He’s in a great place. He’s always been a great teammate the entire time I’ve been around him – not just a good teammate, he’s been a great teammate. I know once you’re actually in the same room, I know Aaron’s going to be the best teammate to Jordan and anybody else. I don’t have any doubt about that part of it. He’s been great. He’s excited to get going in the fall. He grinded through this offseason with us. We got a lot accomplished in this unique style. I’m looking forward to applying it once we get together.”