GREEN BAY – As Ben McAdoo prepared Tuesday to interview for the Cleveland Browns’ head coaching job, Aaron Rodgers sent his quarterbacks coach a helpful text message.
“I said, ‘Make sure you put me down as a reference,’” Rodgers said with a laugh on his weekly radio show on 540 ESPN, 100.5 FM ESPN and ESPNWisconsin.com Tuesday.
NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Tom Silverstein were the first to report that McAdoo would interview for the Browns job, and an NFL source confirmed those reports later Tuesday. McAdoo is expected to be a candidate for open offensive coordinator jobs throughout the league, including with the Miami Dolphins, where ex-Packers offensive coordinator Joe Philbin is the head coach and wanted to interview McAdoo for the Dolphins’ coordinator job in February 2012. Packers coach Mike McCarthy blocked McAdoo from interviewing. Philbin fired ex-Packers head coach Mike Sherman as offensive coordinator this week.
“I’m happy for Ben and the opportunities we gets, he deserves,” Rodgers said. “He’s a guy who works extremely hard. We had a long talk yesterday and just continue to echo the things I felt about him and appreciate about him. He’s a guy who really puts the time in. He has an incredible work ethic and I think he’s really worked hard to become a better coach in the time that we’ve spent together.”
Rodgers has admitted in the past that he was disappointed when McAdoo was promoted to quarterbacks coach after Philbin left for the Dolphins and ex-quarterbacks coach Tom Clements became offensive coordinator. The move came after Rodgers had won the NFL MVP award.
As it turned out, though, McAdoo was the right coach for Rodgers at the right time.
“I told him this actually. I said, ‘When there was an opening as Joe left and Tom (Clements) moved up, I said I thought having a guy who played the position was right for me at that point,’” Rodgers said. “But I told Ben this yesterday, ‘Ultimately, I need and have always needed a guy who gets me prepared every week, that can give me the opportunities to reach my potential.’ Ben did that every day the last two seasons for me and the other quarterbacks in the room.
“It was fun to see his personality continue to come out this year as we became closer and he just allowed himself to relax and be comfortable in those rooms. It helped having a great quarterback room with Seneca (Wallace) and Scott (Tolzien) and Matt (Flynn). It was a lot of fun for me and a lot of fun for us, as well.”
Asked what changed about their relationship, Rodgers replied: “Just spending time together. You can’t help but respect Ben the more time you spend with him because he really cares about his job. He spends a lot of time there. He puts a lot of effort into our reminder stuff. He listens when you talk. He asks good questions. He understands the nature of certain conversations that need to stay in the room, which need to be filtered up the chain of command. He’s a guy who wants to learn and takes to heart the things I say or the things he hears from Tom and tried to become a better quarterbacks coach every day and he did.
“I think he’s beginning to really understand scheme and preparation and how to install plays. I think he did a great job the last couple years installing the red zone (plays). You saw him in front of the room every week and every week he got more comfortable and put more into his presentation, and more of his personality came out. There were jokes and an ability to control the room. Obviously, the people who are interested in him for a head-coaching job haven’t seen that, but to me that’s an important quality of a head coach. The ability to control a room with your speech, (or) with humor when necessary. He proved it every day that he was a very prepared coach and I’m happy for him getting opportunities.”
Assuming McAdoo departs, running backs coach Alex Van Pelt is a former NFL quarterback, QBs coach and offensive coordinator. He’d be the obvious choice to move over to the quarterback room. Rodgers’ college coach at California-Berkeley, Jeff Tedford, was just hired to be new Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Lovie Smith’s offensive coordinator and will coach Rodgers’ younger brother Jordan, who signed a futures deal with the team Monday.
As for the type of quarterbacks coach Rodgers feels he needs now, he believes the Packers need someone who will develop Tolzien while helping him and Flynn, if Flynn re-signs.
“I think I’m getting to the point of my career where I need someone who can continue to give me the things I need during the week as far as preparation. Make sure they stay on me as far as fundamentals,” Rodgers said. “I think it’s more of a tandem cooperation between the quarterbacks coach and myself helping out the young guys. That’s kind of my legacy as a teammate is helping out the young players.
“I know Tom was instrumental in my development. Ben helped me out a lot, as well, and wanted to help the young players out. He did a great job with Scott this year. As a quarterback coach, I think you really want to develop young talent and if you have a talented guy like myself now being my 10th season next year, I think it’s more about getting that guy ready to play and getting him all the necessary looks and preparation and conversation that I need before game day.”
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