Play calling for Aaron Rodgers? Peyton Manning doesn't and neither will he

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- How many of you had this thought when Mike McCarthy decided this offseason to give up play-calling duties: The Green Bay Packers' coach should just hand the job over to Aaron Rodgers and let the quarterback call plays like Peyton Manning does?

Except there's one problem with that.

"Well, Peyton doesn't do that," Rodgers said during a recent interview. "Nobody does that."

In one statement, Rodgers not only acknowledged the importance of a playcaller but also debunked a popular myth about the five-time NFL MVP.

Sure, the best and most experienced quarterbacks in the NFL have more freedom at the line of scrimmage than the neophytes. But to hear Rodgers tell it, there's no such thing as a combination quarterback/playcaller. Even the great ones, Manning included, receive plays in their helmet speaker from someone on the sideline or in the coaches' box.

"I think everybody would want a starting point," Rodgers said. "We all have moments where we have [called the plays], whether it's a no-huddle situation or two-minute. Everybody wants a starting point. It's tough to have to call every single play, so it's always nice when you can have a good starting point and you can make a slight adjustment if you have to."

Even Manning has recently referred to someone else as his playcaller.

"I feel like I can execute whatever plays the coach calls," Manning said earlier this offseason. "I feel the different offenses I've been in that I've executed the plays that the coordinator has called. I feel like I can do that."

Since 2011, the Packers have relied more heavily on the no-huddle offense as their base concept. In the process, Rodgers has gained increased control to make adjustments at the line of scrimmage -- a skill Manning has all but perfected.

To hear former longtime NFL center Jeff Saturday tell it, Rodgers and Manning are almost identical in that regard.

"Peyton has -- and Aaron did as well when I was there -- the freedom to change if they see something they like differently," said Saturday, the only player who has ever snapped to both Manning and Rodgers. "It's what you call the 'check-with-me' system. You've got two runs and two passes in your head when you walk to the line of scrimmage and whatever defense they give you, you have what you like best and that's how you go."

Those pre-snap possibilities almost always have been rehearsed. Every scenario -- from first-and-10 to third-and-inches and everything in between -- has been planned in meetings and practiced during the week.

"As you're prepping through the week, you've got your play-calling sheet, and the quarterback and the playcaller have already talked about, for example, on second-and-8, here are my five favorite plays," Saturday said. "As they're prepping through the week, that's what they give [the quarterback]. Here's what we're expecting the defense to be, and here are my favorite five plays or my favorite 10 plays -- however far down the list they want to go -- and then as you're walking to the line of scrimmage, Peyton would already know what we were going to call anyway if the defense stayed true to what you were prepping for. Aaron was the same way."

Rodgers said McCarthy discussed in recent years the possibility that he would hand off play-calling duties, but even Rodgers did not know it would happen until McCarthy announced in February that Tom Clements would handle that job going forward.

In reality, though, it may not a big difference.

From his time as quarterbacks coach (2006-2011) and offensive coordinator (2012-2014), Clements, now the associate head coach, always was closely involved in the play-selection process during planning meetings even if he was not calling the actual plays.

"Mike met with [Rodgers] a lot," Clements said earlier this offseason. "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."

ESPN Broncos reporter Jeff Legwold contributed to this report.