Aaron Rodgers is back playing at an MVP level as the Green Bay Packers are steamrolling through the stretch run of the regular season. Many are clamoring for Rodgers to be the repeat MVP winner, and among those making the most noise is analyst Michael Lombardi. In supporting Rodgers Thursday on The Pat McAfee Show, Lombardi also took some odd shots at Packers head coach Matt LaFleur along the way.
Lombardi loves Rodgers and spent most of his segment basically describing him as a super hero, even going so far as to insist he will be the league’s first $50 million doller player. But Lombardi started making his case by stating that Rodgers, time and again, continues to play at the highest level despite the roster crumbling with injuries around him. No eyebrows raised there. As Lombardi continued towards the offensive line issues he stumbled his way into an odd shot at the head coach.
“That offensive line, he (Rodgers) covers up for that too. I mean the two tackles last week, he’s got Dennis Kelly over there playing right tackle and he’s got some rookie playing left tackle and of course LaFleur doesn’t give any help to either one of them you know, he just figures Rodgers will make a throw.”
First off, the “some rookie playing left tackle” is Yosh Nijman, who has been in the league sine 2019. While he’s not a regular starter, he’s also very much not a rookie.
Secondly, Lombardi saying LaFleur doesn’t give help to his offensive linemen is pretty tone deaf. Is he at practices? Is he partaking in team meetings? Where is that information coming from? It’s completely fair to give Rodgers his flowers and recognitize that he is the engine that makes everything go for Green Bay. LaFleur has also fairly objectively been a terrific coach in what is now his third season. The execution of the offense is far more consistent under LaFleur than it was under Mike McCarthy in his last couple of seasons with the Packers. Lombardi didn’t stop there with his criticism of LaFleur.
“Look I don’t want to dismiss LaFleur, but you know LaFleur’s got, what, an 80% winning percentage? I mean, take away that guy. Take away that guy.”
It’s hard to know if Lombardi is referencing taking away Rodgers and seeing what LaFleur’s winning percentage would be or if he’s saying Rodgers would still have the same successes if LaFleur wasn’t in the picture. Either way, it’s a criticism of the coach’s abilities and a bizarre line.
Take Patrick Mahomes off the Kansas City Chiefs and tell us how they’d do. Do the same with Tom Brady in Tampa Bay while you’re at it. If you take away a superstar MVP-winning quarterback from their team, obviously things aren’t going to be better off. Lumping in LaFleur’s success as though it’s only happened because of Rodgers is foolish. Rodgers is great. LaFleur has been great. It doesn’t have to be one or the other.
Who knows what it will take for LaFleur to change the mind of Lombardi, but he likely doesn’t give a rip. The goal this year is winning the Super Bowl, regardless of who gets the most credit for it.