Packers' play-calling change could give Aaron Rodgers even more control


GREEN BAY, Wis. -- If Aaron Rodgers is the quarterback, it probably doesn't matter who calls the plays for the Green Bay Packers.

Mike McCarthy.

Tom Clements.

Or Rodgers himself.

"He has," Packers quarterbacks coach, Alex Van Pelt, said when asked if Rodgers could call plays. "He could. Sure. Definitely."

Don't think Rodgers' vast experience didn't have something to do with McCarthy's decision to give up play-calling duties for the first time in his tenure.

Officially, he handed them to Clements, who was promoted from offensive coordinator to associate head coach/offense earlier this offseason. But with Rodgers entering his 11th NFL season and his eighth as a starter, there's not much he hasn't seen or can't handle.

"He’s pretty active during all the games," Van Pelt said. "Yeah, he's a coordinator on the field."

Rodgers, in his first comments since McCarthy announced he would give up play-calling duties, said he did not think the change would impact the Packers' offense, which led the league in scoring last season.

But it could actually give Rodgers even more control over play selection, and he already had perhaps more say in the offense than any quarterback this side of Peyton Manning.

"I've always had a lot of freedom," Rodgers said. "It's just occasionally the personnel groupings restricts some of the checks you can make. But that's kind of a natural progression for a quarterback who's been in a system for a long time, if they can handle it to do more things. I have always liked a good starting point for a play and then have the ability to get us in a better play if you can do it quickly and it’s clean."

Clements would not say just how much freedom Rodgers has had in the past -- or will have now.

"Obviously, he's a veteran and he has a lot of experience and he has thoughts during the week and during the game," Clements said. "And we try to take all input."

It’s not like much needs to change. The Packers led the NFL in scoring (30.4 points per game) last season. Rodgers won his second league MVP award in four years. And the Packers have their entire starting 11 on offense back this season thanks to general manager Ted Thompson's decision to re-sign receiver Randall Cobb and right tackle Bryan Bulaga before they hit free agency in March.

"We’re going to have the same offense," Clements said. "We're going to run the same plays. We're going to tweak things here and there. Mike met with him a lot last year. I'll meet with him. I'll be in meetings with him throughout so that when we reach game day, we're on the same page. So I don't think much will change."

Rodgers has some experience as a playcaller. McCarthy actually gave him those duties in the 2011 regular-season finale against the Detroit Lions as a way to keep him involved even though Rodgers was held out of the game to rest for the playoffs. In that game, backup Matt Flynn threw for 480 yards and six touchdowns -- both team records at the time.

The play-calling change is just another reason for Rodgers to be a full participant in these voluntary OTAs, something he has done throughout his career.

"This is why I need to be here, because there's a couple of offenses; there's one that's on paper, and there's one that's run in the game," Rodgers said. "You're always trying to build a bridge between the two, and that's when you do it is right now."