No matter what the outcome of the ongoing Aaron Rodgers soap opera, Green Bay Packers head coach, Matt LaFleur is going to face his biggest challenge in 2021 trying to overcome numerous distractions and getting his team ready to play and hopefully win.
There are only three possible outcomes to the Rodgers saga and in any of them, LaFleur will face definite challenges.
- Rodgers Is Traded
If the Packers eventually conclude that this relationship cannot be repaired and that they must trade Rodgers, LaFleur will face a new set of challenges.
For the first time in 13 years, the Packers will be starting with a new quarterback whether it’s Jordan Love or a player they sign in free agency or acquire in the trade for Rodgers.
The focus of the entire sports media universe will be on whoever that quarterback is and how he’s doing in practice. There will be a million questions asked every day of training camp and speculation on what kind of quarterbacking the Packers will be getting after nearly 30 years of Hall of Fame level play at the position from Rodgers and Brett Favre.
The new quarterback will have to be taught the Packers offense and get used to his new teammates. Depending on when the trade was made the new quarterback may need to undergo a crash course to get up to speed in time for the new season.
LaFleur will also have to unify his team behind the new quarterback and get harmony restored to the locker room. The team cannot afford to have any players thinking that management screwed Rodgers over and I might be next. Team morale must be kept high and the players must dedicate themselves to winning football games this season regardless of who is under center. The team will also have to unite around the new quarterback and his leadership and LaFleur will have to help make that happen.
- Rodgers Returns
Even if the Packers resolve the controversy with Rodgers and sign him to an extension that makes A-Rod happy, speculation will be high about the relationship between the quarterback and the team. Again, LaFleur will have to restore unity in the locker room and make sure that the business of Rodgers’ contract situation is behind everybody.
The media will also likely spend a lot of time speculating about the relationship between LaFleur and Rodgers, Rodgers and his teammates and Rodgers and the Packers organization.
This is most likely the easiest of the three possible outcomes and it’s something LaFleur has dealt with before. When he first came to Green Bay, there were all kinds of questions about whether the young, inexperienced coach could get Rodgers’ respect and get the future Hall of Famer to buy in to his new offensive system.
He did both by compromising on the playbook in the first season and mixing in some of the familiar plays that Rodgers ran so well under Mike McCarthy. In the second season, he and Rodgers added more of LaFleur’s system to the playbook and the Packers led the league in points scored.
His relationship with Rodgers was one of mutual respect and the duo worked well together. There has been no report that any of Rodgers’ complaints have anything to do with his head coach.
- Rodgers “Retires” or Holds Out
This may be the toughest of the three possible scenarios. Even if Rodgers announces his “retirement,” speculation will continue about possible trades and about what happens if he returns. This will be a daily distraction for the team.
Even if LaFleur and the entire Packers organization say they won’t be talking about the situation, Rodgers and his camp can say something to the media, make a comment on social media or otherwise keep the speculation alive in the press almost constantly.
Under these circumstances, LaFleur will have to keep his team together while this controversy swirls around them. He may also have to switch gears midway through training camp or even midway through the season if Rodgers changes his mind and decides to return.
The situation also may change if Rodgers retires or holds out and the Packers then trade him midway through training camp or in midseason.
It will be LaFleur’s job to keep his team focused on the task at hand and to not let the Rodgers fiasco to become a huge distraction.
In two years as head coach of the Packers, LaFleur has already faced numerous challenges. His 26-6 regular season record and two trips to the NFC Championship Game show he has dealt with most of those challenges well.
But the current situation will present different types of obstacles for LaFleur. The sooner this is ultimately resolved, one way or the other, the better it will be for LaFleur, Rodgers and the Packers organization.
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