Football

David Carr: Rodgers might not have say in hire, but Packers coach all about No. 12

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers passes during the second half of an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals Sunday, Dec. 2, 2018, in Green Bay, Wis. Arizona won 20-17. (AP Photo/Mike Roemer)
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers passes during the second half of an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals Sunday, Dec. 2, 2018, in Green Bay, Wis. Arizona won 20-17. (AP Photo/Mike Roemer) ASSOCIATED PRESS

So the Packers ditched Mike McCarthy after a loss to Arizona left them 4-7-1, and made it clear that Aaron Rodgers wouldn’t have much of a role in hiring the next coach.

Input, sure. Part of the process, no.

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David Carr

That’s the right thing to say, obviously, but the Packers have to be very careful because there are a lot more ways to get that next hire wrong than there are to get it right.

From a distance, it appears that McCarthy was fired because his offense was too vanilla, too basic, in a world with the likes of Sean McVay pushing the envelope with creative offense. But digging a little deeper and talking with some people who have played with Rodgers, the consensus is that Rodgers is the one who likes to keep it simple and play fast and then utilize his ability after the snap to make the offense go.

He doesn’t like it when it’s all manufactured for him before the snap with shifts and motions, and I understand that. As a quarterback, you feel like you’re stuck in a certain pattern of how you have to play, because you have to make this play work specifically to this receiver or to these two receivers.

There were times when the Packers were trying to be creative and trying to do things a little differently, and then by the second quarter it was all out the window and it was back to what Rodgers has been doing forever.

Sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn’t.

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A fan holds up a sign during the fourth quarter of the Green Bay Packers 20-17 loss to the Arizona Cardinals Sunday, Dec. 2, 2018, in Green Bay, Wis. Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy was fired after the game. Jeffrey Phelps ASSOCIATED PRESS

Green Bay has a bunch of young receivers – Davante Adams not included. Adams is a special player. But Jordy Nelson is not there. Randall Cobb has been banged-up. And if Rodgers doesn’t really trust his new guys, he’s not going to pull the trigger. He’ll go to the next play.

It’s interesting because the same things that were said about Andy Reid when he was fired in Philadelphia are said now about Mike McCarthy. He’s not progressive enough. He doesn’t do enough with formations. But now look at Andy Reid. That’s all he does. Maybe he said , ‘If I want to continue to do this, I have to reinvent myself. I have to really look at stuff coming from the college game and how can I make this offense go.’

I think Mike McCarthy is capable of doing that, as well. It will be interesting where he goes next, to see what happens.

But the Packers, they have to make sure they bring in the right guy, a guy Rodgers instantly respects. If they don’t have a guy who can show that he’s competent and show that he’s going to be able to put the offense in a good position consistently, then Rodgers will just do it himself. I guarantee you that’s what Rodgers feels.

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There are guys like Lincoln Riley, the coach at Oklahoma, who are great football coaches, very progressive. But I just don’t think Green Bay is the right situation for him. I think that would be a nightmare, trying to bring him in and change what Rodgers has done for 14 years. It would not make sense to go search the college ranks and try to find an innovative guy who’s going to put Rodgers in the spread.

So what can the Packers do? Here are two scenarios:

As soon as this guy’s name comes up there will be questions about how his last situation went down, but Josh McDaniels, who was the Colts coach for about an hour last year before he backed out, would be the first guy on my list.

It’s clear from his comments that Rodgers has a lot of respect for what Tom Brady has done.

If the Packers brought a guy in from that building, I think Rodgers would be all ears, and I think McDaniels would run a system that would give Rodgers a lot of freedom at the line of scrimmage.

That’s a little more difficult to pick up and guys are really going to have to be on it. It’s demanding, but it can be fruitful for an experienced quarterback.

In the same fashion, the Packers could pursue John DeFilippo, who was with Derek Carr in Oakland and now is Minnesota’s offensive coordinator.

Green Bay can do that, or the Packers can go to the defensive side of the ball.

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Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy speaks in a post game news conference following a 20-17 loss to the Arizona Cardinals Sunday, Dec. 2, 2018, in Green Bay, Wis. McCarthy was fired after the game. Mike Roemer ASSOCIATED PRESS

That’s not an automatic connection – “Lets bring a defensive guy in here” when they have one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time. But if they got a guy like Vic Fangio, the Bears defensive coordinator, they could keep a guy like Joe Philbin as the offensive coordinator, and Joe has been there with Rodgers forever.

Maybe they’re thinking. “If we can get back to producing how we have on offense and we play good defense, then that’s another way to go.”

It’d be interesting to look at that scenario. But whatever they do, it has to start with No.12.

Question of the week

From Elijah Rooney: Playing tackle football has been a dream of mine for a long time. However my mom has been very reluctant to allow me to do so due to the research being done on concussions and CTE. I am going into my freshman year and I have heard that you should not play football until high school so I was wondering now that I’m in high school do you think I would be safe to play football? And if not what age/size/grade should it be allowed?

Football has had a lot of negative publicity the past few years and it’s understandable – it’s a violent game. But they’ve taken some tremendous steps in improving the safety.

I talk about this all the time with the young athletes who are training with us at our facility – when is the appropriate time to play tackle football? I think there are a lot of things that you can do up to 13 or 14 years old that can help you understand the game. My son, Cooper, who will be 13 next month, he has been playing flag football since he was 7. He hasn’t played tackle football yet. He has grown so much just from that experience and the NFL has done a great job with those programs.

You can look on the NFL website and find organizations near you. Flag football has been instrumental in learning the game, the concepts of the game. I think that’s a great place to start. You can jump into the game later on, if you have the skill set. You can take steps to where a child can still get really competitive football and still have fun.

When they do go play tackle football, make sure the coaches are Heads-Up Football certified, make sure they’re tackling with the correct technique.

You want to keep you head out of the tackle. There’s a gator tackle – it started up in Seattle with Pete Carroll. People call it a rugby tackle, as well. The way we were taught to tackle 15 or 20 years ago is completely different than the way it’s taught now. It used to be, ‘Get your head across and cut off the opponent’s line of where he’s trying to go with your head.’ Now the head is behind the opponent and you roll them to the ground.

All of this is available online, and I would ask a ton of questions. Football is a fantastic game. It can be dangerous, but as long as you’re with the right supervision and you have the right coaching staff and they’re looking out for the best interests of their players, then I think you’re good to go. The game has come a long way with safety. They’re trying to keep certain hits out of the game, and I think it’s only going to improve the game.

David Carr is a former Fresno State quarterback, NFL No. 1 draft pick and Super Bowl champion. Now he’s an analyst for the NFL Network and writing a weekly column in collaboration with The Bee’s Robert Kuwada. The column is sponsored by Valley Children’s Hospital.

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