GREEN BAY, Wis. – Remember that time when Aaron Rodgers was supposed to clash with his new, young coach, Matt LaFleur?
Or, do you remember that time when Rodgers was supposed to be bitter because the team drafted his successor?
None of those things have happened. Rodgers is loving life and having an MVP-caliber season in driving the Green Bay Packers toward the NFC North championship and a potential No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs.
Rodgers threw four touchdown passes as the Packers clobbered the Chicago Bears 41-25 on Sunday night. For the 10th time in 11 games this season, Rodgers threw two-plus touchdown passes and fashioned a passer rating of better than 105.
Afterward, Rodgers again and again pointed at the game plan formulated by LaFleur that shredded a defense that entered the game ranked sixth in points allowed. Chicago hadn’t allowed more than 26 points all season. The Packers had their 41 points with 16 minutes to play.
“I thought it was a really good game plan executed to near perfection in the first half, which is what we needed to get off to a fast start,” Rodgers said.
The praise of LaFleur was a common theme in his postgame Zoom. Of his 12 questions fielded by Rodgers, he found a way to credit the coaches seven tmes.
Asked about the number of open receivers, Rodgers pointed to the “footing issues” that come with playing on a chilly evening. Then, he added, “schematically, I thought Matt did a great job. We had some guys free today, which was nice.”
On the Packers piling up 182 rushing yards, Rodgers said, “I thought Steno [offensive line coach Adam Stenavich] had a really good plan this week. In the run game, I thought Matt was dialing it up and going back to calls. I think it was an expert-level way Matt called it tonight and, obviously, we executed the way we needed to. Really proud of the guys up front.”
On having one of his best seasons ever, Rodgers said, “I think the beauty in this year is the subtleties of simplicity that I feel like Matt implemented in the offseason. It’s really allowed me to feel super-comfortable with the plan every week, with my responsibilities with my checks. I think that’s why I’ve been playing well.”
Against one of the best defenses in the NFL, the Bears neither sacked nor hit Rodgers. That’s a credit to the offensive line, Rodgers said. Then, he added, “I’ll go back to it again but I think schematically, we had a really good plan and it was executed great, which the coaches don’t have a part in but the plan that was laid out in front of us, I think we all felt really good about. I thought Matt dialed up a beautifully called game tonight.”
Rodgers’ fourth and final touchdown of the night was a 39-yarder to Robert Tonyan. It was a similar play to the one in which Rodgers missed a wide-open Davante Adams in the second quarter. “I was glad he went back to it. It was a similar play. Bobby was running the same route that ’Te ran just to the opposite side but I gave him two fingers and said, ‘I’m not missing that twice.’ I really liked that call from Matt.”
Last season, the Packers were 13-3 but offensively were no better in 2019 in Year 1 of LaFleur than in 2018 under Mike McCarthy and Joe Philbin. Through 11 games, Green Bay is second in the NFL with 31.7 points per game – just 0.1 behind Seattle, which plays on Monday night. It has scored a league-high 44 touchdowns. That equals last year’s full-season touchdown total.
“I’m going to go back to what I said earlier,” Rodgers said, “and I really believe it’s the subtle simplicity that we added to the offense – or subtracted, whatever way you look at it. I think it was great by the staff in general of really looking at what we liked, what worked, what doesn’t fit our personnel. I thought again tonight, Matt repeated a bunch of calls, which was great, it was working. The confidence to go for it on the fourth downs, loved that. I just feel like he’s settled into his role as head coach. Him and I have been really on the same page all season. There’s just a beautiful trust that I think has blossomed even more this year between him and I, and I think that’s an important part of us being successful is the QB and the coach being on the same page.”