Matt LaFleur had 'great' phone call with Aaron Rodgers before Packers offered job

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- In the hours before the Green Bay Packers offered their coaching job to Matt LaFleur on Monday, his phone rang, and it was Aaron Rodgers on the other end.

"That's kind of how I had an idea that maybe I was in the running for it," LaFleur said.

Now, his job is to get Rodgers back to playing like a two-time MVP and former Super Bowl champion.

That was the focus of much of LaFleur's public introduction Wednesday at Lambeau Field. From a 42-minute introductory news conference to a 33-minute side session with beat writers to a one-on-one on-camera interview with ESPN, much of the talk was about how the 39-year-old first-time coach would work with the 35-year-old quarterback to put the Packers back in the playoffs after a two-year drought.

In fact, just before team president Mark Murphy turned the microphone over to his new hire, Murphy said: "All right Matt, it's been two long years here in Green Bay, we are ready to get back winning."

While Rodgers did not take part in interviews with any of the 10 candidates, it's believed the only phone call he made to a candidate during the process was to LaFleur.

"The conversation went great," LaFleur said. "I can tell he's a passionate guy, and he wants to win. And I think that holds true for me as well. So I think we're in alignment there because, like I said before, this game is about winning. I know that he wants to add to his legacy, and the only way we're going to accomplish that is to win a world championship."

Rodgers and eight other players met with Murphy before he hit the road with general manager Brian Gutekunst and director of football operations Russ Ball for the final seven interviews. Before that, they had met with Chuck Pagano, Jim Caldwell and Packers interim coach Joe Philbin.

"I think they wanted somebody that would hold players accountable," Murphy said. "And the other thing that, and Brian can speak to this as well, he was there, [the players] talked a little bit about how they felt a complacency had set in among some players and coaches. So in my mind, that was something that as we went through the process, was kind of in the back of my mind, is there something we can do that can kind of shake people up so we don't have the complacency."

After the initial three interviews, the Packers talked to Patriots offensive and defensive coordinators Josh McDaniels and Brian Flores, Saints offensive assistants Dan Campbell and Pete Carmichael, Buccaneers offensive coordinator Todd Monken and former Dolphins head coach Adam Gase.

"Went through the nine, and quite honestly, no one really stood out," Murphy said. "There were a lot of strong candidates, but there wasn't one that just jumped out at us."

And then came LaFleur, who had just finished his first year as the Titans' playcalling offensive coordinator after previously working under Sean McVay as the Rams' non-playcalling offensive coordinator and under Kyle Shanahan as the Falcons' quarterbacks coach.

LaFleur's connection with two of the NFL's most highly thought of offensive minds intrigued Murphy for how it could revive Rodgers, who just completed his least productive season as a starter. LaFleur not only will coordinate the offense in Green Bay but also will call plays.

"Anytime you're the playcaller, you want that collaboration with your quarterback," LaFleur said after his news conference. "Certainly we're going to have a foundation in place of how we run our system. I think it's a system that's really predicated on building the run game with the pass game. We like to have plays, we like to say plays that start off looking the same but are different, plays that play off of plays. It lessens the predictability of what you're trying to do, and it keeps a defense more off-balance. And if there's one thing I can say in regards to a guy like Aaron, if you give Aaron time and you are unpredictable, he's going to excel, because we all know the talent he has. That's how we're going to build this thing."

"The one thing I'll lean on is going back to Atlanta and coming in when you're dealing with a guy in Matt Ryan who had had eight years in the league. So I'm going to draw back on that experience. Again, it comes down to developing that relationship, that trust, especially with the quarterback. Honestly, I'm not going to have any preconceived notions moving forward. I'm just want to try to develop the best relationship with Aaron because he is a key piece to the puzzle and a key reason why we're going to get to where we want to go."

Shortly after the phone call ended with Rodgers, LaFleur's phone rang again. It was Murphy and Gutekunst.

Murphy offered him the job.

"It went kind of quiet [and Murphy though], 'Oh, geez, did the connection break?'" Murphy said. "The first thing Matt said was, 'I'm speechless.' I knew then that this was genuine excitement. I'm really, really excited. I think we have found a gem in Matt and really excited about the future under his leadership.

LaFleur was in the car at the time. His wife, BreAnne, was driving, and they were on their way to pick up their two young sons, Luke and Ty, from school.

"I thought we were going to get in a car accident," LaFleur said. "She was at the wheel. It was incredible. When I tell you I was speechless, I was speechless because there's just so much tradition here, and I can't think of a greater place to be a head coach in this league, and really in all of sports. This is a dream come true for me."