It was a rough season for Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. TheSuper Bowl XLV MVP broke his collarbone in week six of the season, derailing what had looked like a solid season for the franchise. Rodgers returned to the lineup in Week 15 against the Carolina Panthers as the team clung to playoff hopes but they abandoned those hopes soon after, placing Rodgers back on injured reserve to finish out the season.
Rodgers has been in Minneapolis this week as the Patriots and Eagles get set to square off in Super Bowl LII. He’s been talking about how his collarbone feels good and that he’s well on his way to getting back in action next season. When he does return to the field for the Packers, he won’t be joined by quarterback coach Alex Van Pelt. Van Pelt left the Packers once the season was over to take the same role with the Cincinnati Bengals in part because the team didn’t sign him to a contract extension. Rodgers, apparently, feels as though Van Pelt was pushed out, and he doesn’t seem thrilled about it according to his interview with ESPN Radio’s Golic & Wingo on Thursday.
“My quarterback coach didn’t get retained. thought that was an interesting change — really without consulting me. There’s a close connection between quarterback and quarterback coach. And that was an interesting decision.”
Van Pelt and Rodgers spent four years working together as QB and QB Coach. According to ESPN, Van Pelt didn’t sign the contract extension offered last year because head coach Mike McCarthy apparently doesn’t let assistants interview for coordinator jobs during the offseason.
The Packers went through quite a bit of turnover after the season. Team president Mark Murphy replaced general manager Ted Thompson with Brian Gutekunst and McCarthy fired both defensive coordinator Dom Capers and offensive coordinator Edgar Bennett, as well as other assistants. It’s unclear if Van Pelt would have been fired had he not taken the Bengals job. McCarthy did say last month that Van Pelt decided to let his contract run out in order to interview for offensive coordinator positions elsewhere. McCarthy ended up hiring Joe Philbin as his new offensive coordinator.
When asked by reporters last month about Van Pelt’s departure, McCarthy said,”when you get to this point, frankly this decision was made last year. I don’t want to speak on Alex’s, his thoughts, but this is a moment he’s prepared himself for.”
— Aaron Rodgers (@AaronRodgers12) February 1, 2018
So what to take away from Rodgers’ comments on Thursday? It would be quite a leap to say he wants out of Green Bay, but instead, it’s more likely that the team’s franchise player simply wanted it known that he still wants a say in how the Packers rebuild and get back to Super Bowl form. A form he thinks they might get back to soon enough.
“I’d say we’re not too far off. 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.”