As quarterback-head coach dynamics go right now, Aaron Rodgers and Mike McCarthy are the anti-Tom Brady and Bill Belichick.
Sometimes when working with someone for a long time, regardless of success together, two people reach a point where fatigue sets in. Much has been written about Tom Brady and Bill Belichick’s strained relationship, without real comment from either guy. But Aaron Rodgers and Mike McCarthy are offering a fresh look at their own strained relationship.
Rodgers offered some passive-aggressive criticism of McCarthy a couple years ago, questioning the energy level on the Packers’ sideline and a players generally not being held fully accountable. Rodgers dismissed speculation about his relationship with his head coach at that time, but after a 22-0 win over the Buffalo Bills last Sunday questions have resurfaced.
Rodgers credited Green Bay’s defense in his post-game press conference, while lamenting the offense’s lack of production and how wide receiver Davante Adams and tight end Jimmy Graham weren’t more involved. It was a direct shot at McCarthy’s game plan. While Adams had 14 targets against Buffalo, Rodgers suggested he should have 20 and ways should have been found to get Adams into “No. 1 spots.”
McCarthy dismissed questions about a coach-quarterback issue on Monday, but he also reacted to Rodgers’ critical comments.
“Aaron’s given a lot of responsibility, and rightfully so,”“He’s earned that, at the line of scrimmage and during the preparation process.”
Rodgers should have a strong say in each week’s game plan, and the autonomy to audible. It’s worth wondering if he’s speaking up enough during the week, or if he’s allowed full ability to change things at the line of scrimmage. McCarthy talked of remodeling the playbook during the offseason, but it’s still primarily his offense ( ideally in concert with Rodgers) and coaches love to take credit for a system.
Brady and Belichick won’t say anything about the deterioration in their relationship. But Rodgers is gently pulling back the curtain on his now 13-season relationship with McCarthy (the 11th campaign since he took over for Brett Favre), and the coach seems ready to publicly engage in an airing of grievances on some level now. But if the Packers continue to underachieve with one of the best quarterbacks of his or any era in place, there’s no doubt who will be gone first.