Jeff Jagodzinski had a rather interesting connection to the NFC Championship. The longtime football coach was a tight ends coach for the Packers from 1999-2003, spent the next two years on staff in Atlanta, returned to Green Bay in 2006 for a one-year stint as offensive coordinator, and was the head coach at Boston College in 2007-08.
That means he coached Aaron Rodgers and Matt Ryan. Ryan, of course, was in college, while Rodgers was still backing up Brett Favre.
Jagodzinski believes sitting for three years helped Rodgers immensely. In fact, his level of play when he finally became the starter surprised a lot of people.
“I don’t think anybody could have predicted that,” Jagodzinski said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “I really don’t. I remember talking to Mike McCarthy and I asked him, ‘Did you see this in this guy?’ And he goes, ‘I didn’t. I didn’t think he was going to be as great a player as what he was.’ There was a lot of guys that payed behind Brett that became Pro Bowl players. (Matt) Hasselbeck did. Aaron Brooks became one. (Mark) Brunell was a Pro Bowl player behind him. So there’s a lot of guys that played behind Brett that became Pro Bowl quarterbacks, and Aaron Rodgers was another guy. He has that ‘it’ factor. He could take guys around him and just make them better – and he did. And he’s continued to do so.”
Ryan, meanwhile, has become one of the best quarterbacks in football. Jagodzinski isn’t surprised.
“He’s one of those guys that has that ‘it’ factor,” he said. “I don’t know how you explain it, but he just had it about winning. Everybody followed him, he brought everybody up around him – he just had that. One of the things that I was really impressed with was how smart he was. He absorbed that playbook so fast. He became just a really, really great player. I didn’t know how good he was going to be until he started playing his senior year and then he really took off.”