NFC Notes: Bears, Lions, Packers, Rodgers & Love

     

Aaron Rodgers & Jordan Love

  • Regarding the future of Packers QB Aaron Rodgers, Packers HC Matt LaFleur told reporters Rodgers will remain “for a long time” as the team’s starter: “Is that a trick question? Absolutely. There’s no doubt about it. You’re talking about the guy who’s going to win the MVP of the league. We’re not in this position without him.” (Wood)
  • In his season-ending press conference, Packers GM Brian Gutekunst reiterated the team’s commitment to Rodgers: “I don’t think I have to do a lot of assuring him, because I think his play speaks for itself… I don’t think there’s anything we have to do. He’s our quarterback, and he’s our leader.” (Wood)
  • Gutekunst said Rodgers is a key part of what they hope is a push for the Super Bowl in the coming seasons: “What we’re trying to do as an organization, and what we’re trying to accomplish, we can’t do without Aaron Rodgers right now….He’s an exceptionally big part of what we’re doing, and what we’re trying to do in the future.” (Wood)
  • Added Gutekunst: “He’s going to be a part of our future, and we look forward to all the runs we’re going to be able to make here over the next few years.” (Wood)
  • Gutekunst refuted the report that the Rams made a “run” at Rodgers last week, saying there was “no truth” to it. (Schneidman)
  • He said “absolutely not” when asked if there was any potential scenario where he could see them trading Rodgers this offseason. (Wood)
  • As for the future of first-round QB Jordan Love, Gutekunst didn’t sound like he’d have any issues sitting Love behind Rodgers for multiple seasons: “I view Jordan as a very talented prospect that we’re excited about developing. I know that’s not the norm having quarterbacks sit for a long time, but we certainly believe in that.” (Wood)
  • Gutekunst also didn’t close the door on drafting another quarterback at some point: “It’s not the norm to have a quarterback sit … but we believe in that. This probably won’t be the first time we draft a quarterback and try to develop him.” (Demovsky)

Bears

  • NBC Sports’ Peter King says at least one other team had an offer on the table for QB Matthew Stafford that included two first-round picks and did not stretch them as far into the future as the Rams did. 
  • Pro Football Focus’ Brad Spielberger speculates the other team could have been the Bears, as they were reportedly interested in Stafford and would have needed a huge offer to entice Detroit to trade him within the NFC North. 
  • The Bears are hiring former veteran S Mike Adams as an assistant DB coach. Adams played 16 years in the league, retiring after the 2019 season. (Adam Hoge)

Lions

  • Per Justin Rogers of the Detroit News, new Lions HC Dan Campbell highlighted OL Halapoulivaati Vaitai and LB Jarrad Davis as two under-the-radar players that stood out to him as he was evaluating the roster. 
  • Buccaneers DC Todd Bowles said he never interviewed with the Lions after they decided to hire Campbell before speaking with him: “They canceled the interview. I never got to interview. I think they didn’t feel like waiting. They had their mind made up.” (Pro Football Talk)
  • Bowles has coached with Campbell before and called him a good coach, saying there are no hard feelings. 
  • Ravens defensive coaching analyst Brian Duker will be joining the Lions’ coaching staff. (Jeff Zrebiec)

Packers

  • Per Ryan Wood of the Green Bay Press-Gazette, Packers HC Matt LaFleur said he didn’t enter this season thinking it would be DC Mike Pettine‘s final one in Green Bay but ultimately decided “new leadership” on that side of the ball would be better: “He was a guy I really leaned on. Anytime you make a decision like this, it’s never easy. It weighs heavy on your heart.”
  • LaFleur says he will interview at least one internal candidate to replace Pettine and ESPN’s Rob Demovsky highlights DB coach Jerry Gray as an option who has prior experience as a DC. 
  • LaFleur added the blame for the end of the first half play call in the NFC title game that resulted in a touchdown for the Buccaneers was his responsibility: “That was just a flat-out miscommunication, and ultimately anytime something like that occurs, that falls 100 percent squarely on my shoulders.” (Wood)
  • He also defended his decision to kick a field goal in the fourth quarter to cut it to a five-point deficit before kicking the ball back to Tampa Bay: “In that moment, it was like, ‘Well, you could do either.’ Just felt it was the best thing to do to give us the best opportunity to win the game was to kick a field goal.” (Wood)
  • LaFleur said he’s considering giving up offensive play-calling to OC Nathaniel Hackett next year to have more of a firm grasp on overseeing the whole team operation. (Matt Schneidman)
  • LaFleur commented on the promotion of Maurice Drayton to special teams coordinator: “We’re really excited about what he brings. He’s an excellent teacher and communicator. He’s got so much energy and really think he can elevate our level of play in that area.” (Wes Hodkiewicz)
  • LaFleur thinks Packers WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling “has a lot more confidence in himself” after the 2020 season and he wants him to continue building on that. (Wood)
  • Packers LT David Bakhtiari could be back before the start of the season after tearing his ACL in December but GM Brian Gutekunst said the team will be careful: “We’re not going to rush that one because he’s too important to us.” (Demovsky)
  • Gutekunst acknowledged the reduced cap in 2021 is a challenge he’s spent the past several months working on — “You certainly don’t plan for a pandemic.” — but Green Bay should be able to make changes “without really gutting our team.” (Wood)
  • The Packers traditionally don’t like to push a lot of cap to future years but Gutekunst pretty much said they won’t have a choice this year if they want to stay competitive. (Tom Silverstein)
  • Their cap situation will make it a challenge to re-sign players like RB Aaron Jones but Gutekunst is receptive to the idea of it: “We would love to have Aaron back. I think he’s such an important part of our offense this year, he’s a dynamic player. He’s absolutely everything we want in a professional football player. … So we’d certainly like to bring him back.” (Wood)
  • Packers offensive QC coach Kevin Koger is joining the Chargers as their new TE coach and senior analyst Butch Barry is joining the 49ers as their new assistant OL coach. (Wood)

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