Post-Draft, Looking on the Bright Side – Part 4
A few months ago I compiled a list of the first-year new head coaches in the NFL, alongside their win-loss records. I then neglected to finish the piece and send it on to Jason – something I probably do a lot. The first sub-section is a portion of that piece.
NFL Coaches’ Class of 2019
LaFleur’s win percentage is .813. The cumulative percentage of the other six new head coaches is .414. Congratulations to Brian Gutekunst and Mark Murphy for the way the selection and firing processes were conducted, and for choosing the BCA – best coach available. Below are the first-year records for the new Class of 2019 coaches:
Matt LaFleur (GB) – 13-3
Adam Gase (NYJ) – 7-9
Vic Fangio (DEN) – 7-9
Bruce Arians (TB) – 7-9
Kliff Kingsbury (ARI) – 5-10-1
Brian Flores (MIA) – 5-11
Zac Taylor (CIN) – 2-14
One takeaway on these stats is that it’s exceedingly difficult to move to a new team, get to know a new set of players, and establish a whole new program in one year’s time.
Well, Matt LaFleur did it much more successfully than last year’s other six new coaches. Not only that, but it’s reasonable to surmise that Matt will be a better head coach in his second year.
Year 1 vs. Year 2
Here are comparisons with some notable first-time NFL head coaches (Coach – team – years – W-L records):
Kyle Shanahan (49ers) – 2017-8 – 6-10 and 4-12
Jason Garrett (Cowboys) – 2011-2 – 8-8 and 8-8
Mike Tomlin (Steelers) – 2007-8 – 10-6 and 12-4
Mike McCarthy (Packers) – 2006-7 – 8-8 and 13-3
Sean Payton (Saints) 2006-7 – 11-5 and 7-9
Mike Sherman (Packers) – 2000-01 – 9-7 and 12-4
Andy Reid (Eagles) – 1999-2000 – 5-11 and 11-5
Pete Carroll (Patriots) – 1997-8 – 10-6 and 9-7
Tony Dungy (Buccaneers) 1996-7 – 6-10 and 10-6
Mike Holmgren (Packers) – 1992-3 – 9-7 and 9-7
Bill Cowher (Steelers) – 1992-3 – 11-5 and 9-7
Bill Belichick (Browns) – 1991-2 – 6-10 and 7-9
George Seifert (49ers) – 1989-90 – 14-2 and 14-2
Bill Parcells (Giants) 1983-4 – 3-12-1 and 9-7
Bill Walsh (49ers) 1979-80 – 2-14 and 6-10
Vince Lombardi (Packers) – 1959-60 – 7-5 and 8-4
In sum, in their second year of being a head coach, nine of these coaches had a better record than before, three had the same record, and four had worse records. The only coach who started out as hot as LaFleur was the 49ers’ George Seifert, but he inherited a team that under Bill Walsh won the Super Bowl the previous year.
No other coach on the list won more than 11 games in his first year as a head coach. LaFleur’s team improved by seven wins, from 6-9-1 to 13-3 – a feat unmatched by anyone else on the list. That should engender a big dose of optimism out there in Packerland.
The McCarthy-Shanahan Spectrum
If we were to put Mike McCarthy’s offensive scheme on one end of a spectrum and Kyle Shanahan’s on the other end, where should the Packers’ offensive scheme of 2019 be placed? I’d say LaFleur’s scheme was much closer to McCarthy’s than to Shanahan’s (or to that of the Rams’ Sean McVay).
I was disappointed in how little the Packers’ offense appeared to change last season. I was bursting to see more play-action, more options, more players in motion – more deception and creativity in general. I now suspect my desire for such a rapid transformation was unrealistic.
I am willing to accept that Matt was unable to install much of the offense he has in his head in just one year. The bright side is that, unlike in 2019, we are likely to see LaFleur’s fully implemented offensive design and play calling on display in the upcoming season.
Could it be that when Matt executes his full offensive game plan, it will more than make up for what many fans perceive as a less talented roster of players than that of last year?
I’m starting to look forward to the LaFleur 2.0 version of the Packers offense.