Congratulations are in order the Green Bay’s first-year head coach. It’s 10 wins and counting, something no other Packers’ head coach achieved in his first year at the helm.
I had commented back in early 2019 that LaFleur was far and away the best head coaching candidate available – that now seems to be an understatement. At the time, a commenter advised me never to go “all-in” on such a prediction. But Matt was one of three young, ingenious coaches who had risen rapidly through NFL assistant coaching ranks. He was smart, energetic, highly praised by insiders, and the offensive tactics he espouses were starting to prove to be potent.
Under Mike Shanahan’s guidance in Washington DC, Kyle Shanahan (now the 49ers’ HC), Sean McVey (now the Rams’ HC), and Matt helped create or refine several new offensive strategies that were being recognized by many experts even before the tactics had achieved great success on the field. To date this year, the Packers, Rams, and 49ers are a combined 29 wins and ten losses.
Here’s the latest Win-Loss updates (best to worst) for the class of 2019 – the numbers speak for themselves:
Matt LaFleur (GB) – 10-3
Bruce Arians (TB) – 6-7
Freddie Kitchens (CLE) – 6-7
Vic Fangio (DEN) – 5-8
Adam Gase (NYJ) – 5-8
Kliff Kingsbury (ARI) – 3-9-1
Brian Flores (MIA) – 3-10
Zac Taylor (CIN) – 1-12
Next in line, but well behind LaFleur, is Bruce Arians (67), the oldest of the new coaches. Outside of LaFleur, it’s been a bumpy start for the four other youngest new coaches: Taylor (36), Flores (38), Kingsbury (40), and Gase (41). Fangio is 61, and Kitchens is 45.
Also, already on the season there have been two midseason firings and hirings. On October 7, the Redskins, after starting 0-5, fired Jay Gruden, and named Bill Callahan as interim head coach. Callahan has gone 3-5 to date. On December 3, Carolina replaced 57-year-old Ron Rivera (5-7), and named Perry Fewell (0-1) as interim head coach. Both interim coaches, who were already assistant coaches on their teams, are in their mid-fifties.
So there is no confusion, I’ve supported nearly everything LaFleur has done since he was named head coach on January 8. The exception is, and remains, his overly cautious and conservative usage of running back Aaron Jones. I’ll have more to say about Jones’s transcendent performance against the Redskins shortly.
While at it, it would hardly be fair to salute LaFleur, and the job he and his hand-picked coaching staff are doing, without a tip of the hat to President/CEO Mark Murphy, general manager Brian Gutekunst, and everyone else involved in that selection process. Here’s a reason for optimism: what they’ve done might well keep Green Bay at or near the top of the standings for the next two decades!