GREEN BAY, Wis. -- There are no statistics, no numbers to measure exactly what a quarterbacks coach does for a team. It makes the loss of Ben McAdoo, who tutored the Green Bay Packers quarterbacks the last two seasons, difficult to gauge from that standpoint.
But listen to Aaron Rodgers talk about his position coach -- not just McAdoo but all of the ones he has had -- and you'll know why it's an important job.
“He listens when you talk,” Rodgers said recently on his ESPN Milwaukee radio show when asked about McAdoo's role. “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.”
In other words, that person needs to be sounding board.
With McAdoo off to the New York Giants, who on Tuesday hired him to be their offensive coordinator, Rodgers needs a new sounding board. The Packers have a natural one already on their coaching staff in Alex Van Pelt, who was hired two years ago to coach running backs.
Van Pelt played quarterback in the NFL -- something Rodgers thought he needed two years ago when McAdoo was hired -- and also coached the position for four years, two with the Buffalo Bills and two with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers sandwiched around one season as the Bills' offensive coordinator.
Not only could Van Pelt serve as a confidant for Rodgers but also will bring a fresh perspective to the quarterback room much like McAdoo did coming from tight ends coach.
Last week, Van Pelt was asked how coaching running backs the last two years has changed his perspective on the offense.
“Obviously I've learned so much about the run game the past two years,” Van Pelt said. “It's been a huge experience for me. It really has. I really threw myself into it. I enjoyed it. I love it. I'm sad to say when the 7-on-7 [passing drill] comes on the [video] screen, I kind of buzz through that quickly now, which is sad. I'm more excited to get to the inside run game, so it's been a good experience.”
Whether coach Mike McCarthy promotes Van Pelt or hires someone else, the Packers next quarterbacks coach not only needs to work closely on the day-to-day aspect of preparing Rodgers to play at his best, but also must develop a capable backup so they avoid the situation they were in this past season, when they failed to come out of training camp with a No. 2 quarterback.
“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 last week on his radio show. “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.
“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.”