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The prevailing thought is that top candidates will look at the Green Bay Packers as a prime job opening. Who wouldn’t want to coach Aaron Rodgers?
That’s not to say it’s perfect. Ask Mike McCarthy.
Cris Collinsworth, on the Packers-Vikings “Sunday Night Football” broadcast a couple weeks ago, kept calling coaching Rodgers a blessing and a curse. On one hand that’s ridiculous — ask a coach if they’d rather be coaching Rodgers or someone like Blake Bortles — but there is a little bit of truth within it. All candidates will have to ask themselves about it.
When you take the Packers job, you better win a Super Bowl, and fast. Rodgers turned 35 on Dec. 2. He might play at a high level until he’s 40 … but even if that happens, that’s only five more years (and it’s not like Rodgers has played at his usual MVP level this season). If, at the end of those five years, you haven’t won a Super Bowl? Well, again, ask McCarthy. He went 125-77-2, actually won a Super Bowl, and was fired midseason amid a ton of criticism about why he hadn’t won more with Rodgers.
Look what has happened since McCarthy’s firing. Fox’s Terry Bradshaw ripped Rodgers and practically blamed him for McCarthy’s firing. Associate head coach Winston Moss was fired after a tweet insinuated Rodgers needed to be held accountable. And Rodgers had to defend himself and his relationship with McCarthy.
Aaron Rodgers under some scrutiny too
Rodgers is under some scrutiny. Any time you have the highest average salary in NFL history, are quarterbacking a 4-7-1 team and your coach got fired with four games to go, you’re going to get questions.
But Rodgers discussed his relationship with McCarthy and dispelled any notion there was a problem.
“I don’t need to respond to every pundit out there,” Rodgers said, according to Packers Wire. “I don’t know many times I’ve got to stand here and tell you, I don’t feel like I need to convince anybody about Mike and I’s relationship. It’s a close-knit relationship. And we would finish every time that we talked – whether it’s Monday afternoon up in his office, or the Thursdays we used to spend in the team room, or Friday upstairs, or Saturday in the QB room – and we’d hug each other and tell each other we love each other. I mean, we had a close-knit bond. Again, I don’t need to respond to every person out there who’s got an opinion. That just opens up a whole door of stuff that I don’t want to be a part of.”
He’s correct that he doesn’t need to respond to every opinion of him, and whether he got McCarthy fired.
But the candidates the Packers talk to will all wonder about the Rodgers-McCarthy dynamic too.
How good is the Packers’ opening?
Again, whatever drawbacks and pressure there might be coaching a living legend like Rodgers, it’s infinitely better than coaching a quarterback who will surely get you fired. Nobody would argue that.
But compare the Packers’ opening to the other NFL head-coach opening in Cleveland. The Browns have been so bad for so long, 8-8 will look good. Rookie Baker Mayfield is on the rise. If you go five years without a Super Bowl, there won’t be any headlines about wasting Mayfield’s prime. And while Rodgers might not have gotten McCarthy fired, the notion that McCarthy hadn’t done enough with Rodgers did. McCarthy was the Packers’ coach since 2006 and had two full losing seasons, in Rodgers’ first year as a starter and last season when Rodgers missed most of the season due to injury. And as he was fired, everyone wondered how his relationship was with his all-time great quarterback.
“Him and I, like any relationship, we have our amazing times and we have our times where we butt heads,” Rodgers said, via Packers Wire. “The basis, like I said, was built on mutual respect and communication. We spent a lot of time here, talking, off the field, at my house or his house, spending time together and growing in our friendship. We accomplished a lot together. We’ve had some incredible moments.”
The new coach and Rodgers will have some incredible moments too. There better be, and fast. Pressure will be on immediately. The Packers are going to attract some great candidates and will likely hire an exciting name as their new head coach. That doesn’t mean it’s a perfect opportunity.
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