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Matt LaFleur Is on His Way to an Illustrious NFL Career

In his inaugural season as the majordomo of the Packers, Matt LaFleur had a very good year. All signs point to him being in store for a bunch of truly great years in Green Bay.

In virtually everything other than the x’s and o’s, LaFleur excelled. For being such a youthful guy, he displays remarkable talent, intelligence, and maturity. LaFleur is a quick study, and he’s soaked up a great deal of knowledge in his 16 prior years of steadily climbing up the coaching ladder.

One of his biggest successes was getting 53 guys to fully embrace the “team” concept. The Packers have customarily been a disciplined and cohesive group, and LaFleur’s guys built on that tradition last season. There was plenty of esprit de corps, and very little internal dissension, throughout the year. Several players commented following the season that it was one of the most enjoyable times of their careers.

LaFleur’s team was for the most part well prepared and mentally ready to play. They were especially adept at keeping their composure in the games’ final moments – enabling them to come away with several narrow wins. LaFleur’s team actually wasn’t as good as their record suggests, so fans should be aware that it will be very difficult to approach 14 wins this season.

Add to that the fact that LaFleur underwent surgery for a a torn Achilles tendon on June 2, but didn’t allow it to interfere with his job, and you get an idea of how mission-oriented and focused he is. He’s a planner, not a seat-of-the-pants decision maker.

Fans are understandably thrilled – or maybe relieved is more like it – with the way this team rebounded after enduring back-to-back losing seasons. At the same time, LaFleur is such a selfless guy that he probably doesn’t get the credit he deserves.

Rodgers with MVS and coach LaFleur

November 24, 2019; Santa Clara, CA, USA; Green Bay Packers head coach Matt LaFleur (white pullover) talks to quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) against the San Francisco 49ers during the third quarter at Levi’s Stadium. Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Coach of the Year

On February first, the Ravens John Harbaugh was selected as NFL Coach of the Year by the AP. My vote would have been for the 49ers’ Kyle Shanahan, though I liked Matt as the runner-up. Shanahan went from records of 6-10 and 4-12 to 13-3. The Packers went from 7-9 to 6-9-1 to 13-3. The Ravens went from 9-7 to 10-6 to 14-2. In the playoffs Harbaugh went 0-1, LaFleur went 1-1, and Shanahan went 2-1 – losing 31-20 in the Super Bowl to the Chiefs.

Harbaugh received 27.5 votes; Shanahan got 14.5; LaFleur got 3; Mike Tomlin (PIT), Sean McDermott (BUF) and Sean Payton (NO) got 2 each.

While Harbaugh did a fine job last year, it’s taken him a dozen years with the Ravens to get there. He made the playoffs in each of his first five years, but then missed out four of the next five tries. It took him all that time in Baltimore to attain more than a 12-win season, while Matt did in in his first year. Matt is seventeen years younger than Harbaugh.

I marked Harbaugh down for not exercising more control over enormously gifted quarterback Lamar Jackson. In his sole playoff game last season, Jackson had some bad breaks early on, and emotionally melted down over the final three quarters. On the other hand, not many coaches would have allowed such a valuable property to run 176 times (for 1,206 yards) during the regular season.

Harbaugh basically handed the reins over to his second-year superstar. He recognized that he had a special player; it was by maximum utilization of Jackson that the Ravens achieved those 14 wins.

Does LaFleur have room for improvement? Oh, yes! Having lavished him with praise here, I’ve also hinted about two major areas in which the coach needs to work on. I’ll expand on that in an upcoming post.

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Rob Born

I’m with Matt: “You gotta make those chunk plays!”

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5 Comments

  1. PF4L April 19, 2020

    I’m going to change the subject because i’ve been on Ted Thompson lately, and some questions need answers.

    How the F is he still on the payroll going into his 3rd year from moving back to Texas? Some of the obvious questions are…..

    No one heard of a buy out?

    His contract…just how long is it?

    At first i figured that Murphy did with Thompson as he did with McCarthy, give him a secret contract adding a year or two before getting fired, or in truth…giving him a fake job title before he moves to Texas. Has anyone asked Murphy how long Ted’s contract is? Like..idk…maybe a reporter, someone in the media? Am i the only one who wonders why he’s on the payroll 3 years after the fact?

    The other scenario is Tom Silversteins take….that Teds contract ran through 2015, and he was given a 5 year extension. which puts this season as his last on the payroll.

    Questions then remain….why are you giving a man a 5 year extension, when everyone in the building knew he was having problems? He was FAR past his prime, he no longer had command of the draft or player assessment like previous years.

    If any of you remember at the time…Murphy was asked about when Ted should retire. Murphy replied… when Ted wants to retire, Ted will tell him. For those of even average IQ, i shouldn’t have to explain the dysfunction in that statement.

    Maybe if Ted is still on the payroll for a 4th year in 2021, maybe someone will finally do their job and confront Murphy on it.

    The one thing i do know, the happiest people in this scenario is…the beneficiaries in Ted’s will.

    You could make the case Murphy has done well with the future finances of the Packers (time will tell that story for all the money invested building “TitleTown District”.

    But i could make the case that as far as Murphy’s decisions (or inaction) concerning football operations, grade him an F.

    Maybe that’s what you get when you hire somebody with zero previous NFL Executive experience.

    Side note: Murphy didn’t wait until Ted told him he was going to retire. Somebody on the board had to tell Murphy…..to do his fucking job.

    The disease is still in the building.

    Reply
    1. stiggy April 20, 2020

      Speaking of doing jobs….

      **************

      Gutenkusts first draft class is largely a failure…as you can count the actual contributors (alexander) on one finger. To put that its as bad as Ted’s 2015 draft that essentially got him fired….gute should already be on the hot seat just from that draft. The drafting of Josh Jackson ans playing him in a system that doesn’t allow him to utilize his skill set sums that draft up..

      ******

      How does gute respond ? Well…he did a little better his second year drafting a good guard and a safety who appears to be at least someone who will have a job in the league for a long time…however…if rashan Gary is not a dominant player by half way through this season…i will chalk this draft up as an f solely for squandering the 12 pick…

      ,****(*

      This draft is make or break for mr gute…but given our management he probably got a secret extension.

      Reply
      1. PF4L April 22, 2020

        Yea….he kind of set the tone when his first move was to show Nelson the door, and making Jimmy the highest paid T E in the league. That was quite the wtf are doing moment at the time…for me anyway.
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        As good as Jenkins was (is) and hopefully will be, and hopefully Savage can tighten up his over aggressiveness on over pursuing. That will be two good picks if it plays out well. Even though i thought the price was two high on Savage when you consider the two 4th round picks it cost to move up 9 spots. so that draft may not be the train wreck some of his other moves have been.
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        Make or break year…i couldn’t agree more.

        Reply
  2. Big B April 19, 2020

    I thought I was reading a puff piece from Packers.com. Yes. LaFleur had an excellent inaurgural season but I’d be leery about extrapolating to the future this soon. 2019 was a charmed season (minus SF experiences) with a healthy roster and fortuitous scheduling, but let’s pump the brakes and see how things proceed when adversity strikes. Enthusiasm is good Rob, but premature exultation could be hazardous to your health.

    Reply
  3. PF4L April 20, 2020

    ^^ Big B gets it ^^
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    LaFleur had an excellent first year in the W/L column. Everything worked…very few injuries, A. Jones made the end zone his second home. Except for a Glitch in the middle of the season, the defense stepped up, especially in points yielded. The sun shined brightly and the stars aligned.
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    But if i said it once, i’ve said it a 100 times. One year….is….one year. Career’s are not built on 1 season, unless your name is Nick Perry.
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    I’ve seen fans get excited and crown a players performance in one year, only to beg for his release the next. (Way too many times). I’ve even seen a player have a good 3 pre-season games, and fans fall in love with him for years over that. I’ve seen a player make a few catches and he becomes an annual obsession. Reminds me, i still need tires.
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    This season (God willing) the schedule will be tougher. Teams have a season of film on us and our pass rushers. I’m not so sure this off season has made the team better, or worse. Nobody is walking crooked with a chubby over players lost, and players added in free agency. Although we did add a veteran receiver, whose only proven downfall is, that he can’t catch.
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    But in spite of all that, my savings fund for S B tickets has risen to a grand total of $64.82. Which is a about a robust increase of 27% from last financial report. That’s not chicken feed people!

    Reply

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