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The Packers’ Three L’s

Have you seen those fun posts based on some Net Gen Stats? As of October 10, they went like this: “Bill Belichick would need to win 310 consecutive games to match Matt LaFleur’s win percentage.” Now that MLF has added another regular season win, he stands at 31-7, a win percentage of 81.6, so Next Gen will need to adjust its number accordingly.

While the Belichick comparison is fun and games, it does strongly suggest that the Packers have a rare talent in the former quarterback from Saginaw Valley State in Michigan.

I believe that except for George Seifert, who inherited the Super Bowl champion 49ers in 1989, no other new head coach has gotten off to such a successful NFL start. Lest we forget, LaFleur took over for a team coming off of two consecutive losing seasons.

Sep 13, 2020; Inglewood, California, USA; Dallas Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy wears a face mask before the game against the Los Angeles Rams at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Recent New NFL Head Coaches

The media is agog, right? Hardly. They are too busy forecasting who will be the next great NFL coach. They got all excited this year when college legend Urban Meyer became head coach of the Jaguars. The Jags, who just won their first game of the season, are pretty pathetic, but on the other hand they’re always in a great position to draft future NFL stars: they selected QB Trevor Lawrence with the first overall pick this year, and had the 9th and 7th overall selections in 2020 and 2019. We’ll see if Meyer, and Lawrence, catch fire in the pros.

In 2020 the big-name candidates were Mike McCarthy and Matt Rhule. Big Mike, who most agree inherited a better roster than did LaFleur, went 6-10 last season. Rhule is currently 8-14 with the Panthers. At this early stage, it looks like Kevin Stefanski, who had many coaching jobs with the Vikings from 2006-2019, has been the best of the class of 2020, going 11-5 in 2020 and 3-3 so far this season.

In 2019, John Harbaugh was named AP NFL Coach of the year; he got 27.5 votes while Matt got 3. Last season Kevin Stefanski. got 25 of the 50 votes – and Matt again got three.

In 2019 Bleacher report had the two top new head coach candidates as Chuck Pagano and Jim Caldwell. Pagano instead stayed out of coaching and retired, at age 60, earlier this year. Caldwell, who the Packers interviewed to succeed McCarthy, wound up taking a leave of absence over health issues, and hasn’t returned to the NFL since. It’s a tough and emotionally draining business.

Maybe Kliff Kingsbury is the real deal. He became an NFL head coach the same season as LaFleur, and he’s led Arizona to a 6-0 record so far this season. In his first two seasons with the Cardinals, however, he failed to achieve a winning record – his current record is now 19-18-1.

Both the media and most NFL owners seem to have very low success rates when it comes to predictions concerning NFL head coaches. If memory serves, however, Packers management had LaFleur as their clear top choice from early on in their selection process. At any rate, let the national media yawn – Packer fans are, and should be, quite satisfied with their unassuming 41-year-old coaching phenom.

Green Bay Packers head coach Matt LaFleur congratulates wide receiver Allen Lazard (13) on his one-yard touchdown reception during second quarter of their game Sunday, October 17m 2021 at Solider Field in Chicago, Ill. The Green Bay Packers beat the Chicago Bears 24-14.
Packers18 13

Boy Next Door

What accounts for Matt LaFleur’s success? I’d say it has less to do with his football knowledge and tactical theories, but more to do with his personality and leadership traits. This is not to overlook that he’s plenty smart when it comes to the X’s and 0’s of the game.

Matt isn’t a stern taskmaster like Lombardi; he’s one of the guys, and the players have responded to that. Also s important, however, is that he’s an effective and honest communicator. Recently, the media gave Matt some flack over his comments about the shoulder injury to Jaire Alexander. By not relaying a diagnosis for several days, or saying whether surgery would be required, many journalists thought he was playing games, and trying to hide the truth of the matter. It now appears, however, that it did take a number of days for a medical diagnosis to be obtained – in fact, the doctors still haven’t determined whether surgery will be required. I believed Matt then and I believe him now, as he’s proven to be a straight shooter with the fans and the media. Additionally, I never saw any good reason for Matt to flim-flam about Jaire’s condition.

A bigger controversy that comes to mind is MLF electing to kick a late field goal rather than going for it on fourth down in January’s NFC championship game. That was a flip-a-coin decision – had he made the other choice and still lost the game, he would have had almost as many critics. When members of the media blamed Matt for losing the game, Matt explained his thinking and even acknowledged that it might have been the wrong call. Maybe it was, though I don’t believe so. Either way, I’m not going to be eager to second-guess a coach who’s been so right so often.

Despite the unprecedented disruptions that the Rodgers drama has caused, Matt has not wavered. He once again has this team, and his prickly star player, united and inspired. I’m starting to find it hard to imagine that Rodgers would want to part ways with so talented a head coach, and one who has faced up to his star’s discontent, and dealt with it soundly and fairly.

As for Matt’s humility and his lack of interest in being the center of attention, I can’t think of a less self-absorbed sports figure – he’s right up there with Bart and Jordy! His quiet self-confidence, his discipline in the face of adversity, and his attention to all facets of the job of coaching (I suspect that this includes special teams, which he’ll help get worked out), I think will make it likely he’ll eventually be right up there with Lambeau and Lombardi in the hierarchy of great Packers coaches. The three L’s!

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Rob Born

Smart drafters don’t select the best available players, they fill a team’s positions of greatest need.

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14 Comments

  1. Ferris October 20, 2021

    Just wonder if he will become a “former genius” once Rodgers leaves…and Adams. Win a Super Bowl with the next man up at QB and then we will bow down. Or figure out a way to keep Rodgers happy and paid and win or win a Super Bowl this season. Good luck with that.

    Reply
  2. Mick October 20, 2021

    Good article Rob! For a guy who has never been a head coach, and being as young as he is; he’s done a remarkable job. Young coaches are no different than young players———they learn more as they get more experience.

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  3. Tom M October 22, 2021

    Matt LaFleur did go for it on 4th down at the goal line against the 49ers earlier this year and got nothing. It almost cost us the game. Buffalo Bills HC Sean McDermott went for it on 4th down against the Titans and lost. Does that make McDermott less of a HC? Your always the hero if it works and a goat if it doesn’t. It’s hard for me to criticize a HC on 4th down calls. Those are usually done by feel. While Matt LaFleur’s 31-7 regular season record is no doubt impressive, it’s also unsustainable. Bill Belichick would much rather have his six championships. And so would Packer fans. Well, most of us, stat lovers not withstanding. Big Mike most certainly did not inherit a better roster than Matt LaFleur. The Packers having the better QB, RB, WR, LT, OLB, CB. What Big Mike has done in Dallas is nothing short or remarkable. He’s completely changed the culture and has the Cowboys as an elite team in the NFC. I agree, MLF’s humility and lack of ego is refreshing among those in the NFL and is a page out of Ted Thompson’s book. I also agree with Ferris here, ultimately both he and Brian Gutekunst will be judged on what comes after Aaron Rodgers. As they prepare for the inevitable and get push back by some Packer fans.

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  4. NobodysBurfect October 22, 2021

    Ted Thompson was an absurdly arrogant person. He shrugged off or refused to answer questions from the media, and when people (rightfully) asked him about his decisions, he’s snidely say something along the lines of “I know a thing or two about football players.” I’ll admit that I was harsh on Gute this summer, before we knew that Aaron’s beef probably comes down to Murphy, but even then I would have still said “Gute has been more forthright with the fans and reporters than Thompson ever was.”

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  5. Tom M October 22, 2021

    Ted was undoubtedly awkward with the media. But he was never arrogant. Bob Harlan used to say, I hired to Ted to run the draft, not to be a media darling. He was right. Aaron Rodgers, David Bakhtiari, Davante Adams, Aaron Jones, Kenny Clark, Mason Crosby aren’t just players still with the team some three years after the fact. They’re still the best, or close to it, at their positions. Thanks Ted. GM’s are most visible in the months leading up to the draft. Where scouts will tell you if a GM’s talking he’s either lying or misleading. Ted never did either. He simply said nothing. He kept what he knew close to the vest because he believed it in the best interest of the Green Bay Packers. This frustrated both fans and media alike. Brian Gutekunst is more eloquent but virtually says nothing as well. Conversely, Andrew Brandt was a smooth talker and loved to tell you how smart he was. Personally, I never trusted him. For me, he came across like a used car salesman. You always knew what you got with Ted. Who always came across as unassuming. As for Mark Murphy I give him credit. He took the beef between Rodgers and Gutekunst and made it about him. He purposely poked fun at Rodgers. Essentially saying, if your going to be a little bitch, bring that shit to me. Don’t distract my GM from doing his job. That’s what leaders do. But I’m sure that’s over your head.

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  6. Killer October 23, 2021

    Rob, I didn’t get the title until you pulled it together at the very end.

    A lot of people don’t know this but Lombardi was a really nasty jerk. True scum. So it is a little insulting to compare LaFleur to him.

    LaFleur isn’t as innocent and sincere as you like to think. He is a manipulator. I’ll give you an example: When he became coach he changed the full-wall photos of former players, had them painted over, and replace them with current players. A change for change’s sake. Had the wall photos been of current players he would have changed them to former players who had “earned it” and claimed current players need to “earn their place.” And then he would have been lauded for that philosophy by yourself. As you listen to what he says, if you try, you pick up that he is being political and manipulative at all times, and not a sincere and honest person.

    His record is meaningless because it relies on players recruited and drafted and coached up before he ever got here. Does anyone really think he’d have gone 13-3 the last two years without Rodgers? Come on! Also, you need to keep in mind that the refs converted 7 losses into wins for the Packers and none the other way over the course of the last two years. They have so far pitched in heavily once this year, with the blocked punt TD taken away from the Steelers for a phantasm penalty. You need to add that in to your math because coaching did not win those game,s the refs did.

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  7. Killer October 23, 2021

    In other news….

    Aaron is whining again and trying to pull a fast one on the people of the USA.

    He went on the “The Pat McAfee Show” which is like a Republican going on Fox news or a like a Trump white supremacist the-election-was-stolen lowlife nutball appearing on OAN, and whined and bitched away with no time limit and no one reining him in or questioning his bizarre statements.

    First, check it out and see if you can pick up on the things that make no sense:

    https://nypost.com/2021/10/19/aaron-rodgers-has-a-big-problem-with-woke-cancel-culture/

    Now, I will help you. By “you” I mean Piffle and those as much lacking in sensibility as him.

    Rodgers taunted the crowd at Chicago and then blamed it on one lady, one (1), who may or may not exist. Every team has fans like that though, yes, the Bears have more than their share. Still, every QB is exposed to that during almost every single away game. There was nothing new here to cause Rodgers to be do what he did. All QBs could do it during every away game if all it takes is a fan giving them the finger. Rodgers says “… I do stand by what I do” and yet he blames what he did on some woman in the stands! You see how he tries to have it both ways. Then, right after that lie that he stands by what he does, he compounds it by wildly claiming “I like to speak the truth.” Incredible!

    Rodgers goes on to say “If you don’t like it that’s fine, it’s your prerogative.” That is already patronizing because we know that. We know it is our prerogative to feel how we honestly feel. But he had just got done claiming that the people who criticize what he did, the ones that “don’t like it” are, wait for it, this is incredible, are getting off on shrinking people, keeping them small, and keeping them in a box. My God! Aaron is whining that he is the victim!

    He goes on to claim, again quite bizarrely, that people who are criticizing him are “part of this woke culture that gets off on trying to silence people all the time.” My God! He is saying if you criticize his behavior in any way then you are getting off on it and trying to silence him. He is claiming he should have zero accountability and you should give no feedback ever and share no opinion! By the way, cancel culture is, more or less, accountability, and also consists of kicking a person out of an organization or group. Opinions alone are NOT cancel culture and accountability alone is NOT cancel culture. (and, ironically, the ones who most claim victimship of cancel culture, the party that once was the Republican party but now is the Failed Dictatorship party, are actually the main perpetrators of actual cancel culture.)

    Fans, Packers or Bears fans or any fans, literally do not have the power to culture cancel anyone. They cannot kick Aaron out of the NFL. No one has. Aaron is saying he is the victim of a crime that isn’t a crime and that never occurred!

    Aaron also says that what he said was spur of the moment and, while I’m sure that is true, it does not excuse what he did. It is like a drunk driver who spur of the moment decides to drive drunk. If he tells the judge it was spur of the moment should he face no consequences? He also then says he does not regret it… right after making excuses for why he did it…. (including, don’t forget, having already blamed his actions on an alleged unknown woman somewhere in the crowd….).

    One further observation is regarding another one of his excuses and one that I’ve heard a few sports personalities use on his behalf. That is that what he said it true, he has owned the Bears, and so it is perfectly fine to say so. Truth does not excuse behavior. I’ll give a simple example to make it clear to anyone. You see an ugly person. You go up to them and tell them they are ugly. Well, is that fine and good and justified because the person truly is ugly?

    It is just plain poor sportsmanship by Aaron. Then he compounded it by not owning his behavior while blaming someone else for it and then criticizing anyone who tries to hold him accountable for being the immature poor sport that he is.

    That’s your QB!

    Even worse, that is Piffle’s God! No wonder Piffle is the way he is.

    Reply
    1. Ed October 24, 2021

      You sure can type a lot without saying anything.

      SKOL dipshit.

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      1. PF4L October 24, 2021

        Trust me, that isn’t the 1st time he’s been told that

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    2. Tom M October 24, 2021

      You may be on to something here Killer. We all remember when, as a member of the Minnesota Vikings, Randy Moss scored a TD at Lambeau then pretended to “moon” Packer fans. Everyone was up in arms over it. I’m sure he was getting a rash of shit by the fans. Still, a classless act. I remember back in the 70’s if you were a division opponent and you scored a TD, which happened often, you got pelted in the end zone with snow balls. Fans will be fans. Athletes are supposed to be professionals. I don’t have a problem with what Rodgers said as much as him saying he “blacked out” and didn’t remember. Then pretty much repeated what he said word for word. Don’t be a pussy, man up and take responsibility. And your your right Killer, Pat MacAfee has got his nose so far up Rodgers ass, he’s up there nose to nose with PF4L. Telling us all why he’s so misunderstood. What a baby!

      Reply
      1. Killer October 26, 2021

        Yeah, that Piffle (PF4L)! Webster’s Dictionary is having discussions as to adding the word “piffle” meaning a fan with his head all the way up inside the rectum of a particular player. I hope they do put that in the next edition.

        It’s interesting you bring up Moss because I thought about him as well. It is an interesting comparison. I did, at the time, react badly to it. I was surprised and wished he had not done it and viewed it as all wrong. I soon found out why he did it, because fans at Lambeau have a tradition of mooning the visiting team. He was responding to treatment that was unusual and wrong and happened every year. Still not right because two wrongs do not make a right. However. It was a response to a large number of fans instead of to a single fan like what Rodgers did (if she even exists). Moss was a WR and not the leader of the team and was a young man whereas Rodgers almost needs a cane by now. It is like comparing the actions of a 3-year-old vs. a 15-year-old. We have higher expectations of the 15-year-old.

        Packers fans were horrified and resentful at what Moss did. Many celebrate what Rodgers did. What is that called again? Oh, yeah, hypocrisy.

        Moss was fined $10,000 dollars which would be about $25,000 today but it was back when players made one tenth what they do now. Moss went on to much more than recoup that loss with all the merchandise around the event including when asked how he’d pay the fine and how he said, “Straight cash, homie!”

        https://www.google.com/search?client=firefox-b-1-d&q=randy+moss+straight+cash+homie+shirt

        So, it worked out for Randy. I condemned Randy at first but changed my mind, a bit, when Tony Dungy, one of the best most decent honorable man ever, said he thought it was funny and deserved as the Packers fans certainly had it coming to them. Overall, the Packers helped Moss earn lots of extra money thru their poor sportsmanship.

        But, it is fascinating to see the hypocrisy so alive and well and vibrant in Green Bay. It is also a new shining example of NFL preferential treatment of the Packers and Rodgers. Moss was fined. Rodgers was, basically, lauded and has faced no consequences for his poor sportsmanship. He should be held to higher expectations with his Yoda-like age yet he is held to no accountability at all.

        I know, Piffle will try to say what Moss did was profane. Well, Rodgers was yelling the F word at children at the Bears game.

        Worse, Moss did not complain or bitch about how unfair it was that some people, gasp, did not like what he did. He did not try to hide or to blame those who held him accountable. He manned up and Rodgers still hasn’t and, I’m sure, never will.

        That is why Rodgers is the perfect idol for Piffle. I think they may be alike in many ways. You know, not the athleticism or arm strength, not talent, just in antisocial selfish behavior.

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        1. PF4L October 27, 2021

          Lol….i can see killer staring into a mirror having discussions with Princess Tommi.
          .
          SKOL

          Reply
  8. Deepsky October 23, 2021

    The Cowboys won a Super Bowl with Barry Switzer in his first season. That’s when I came up with the opinion that coaches don’t matter as much as the fans think. When you trace GMs, you would find better association with championships, although I don’t think that is as much true anymore because teams are all pretty good at judging talent, unless an owner meddles. The recipe for winning championships nowadays is a good coach, a Pro Bowl QB on his rookie contract, an excellent GM, and hit on a good starting rookie. Or have Tom Brady.

    Reply
    1. Tom M October 24, 2021

      George Seifert would be another example. However HC and GM Mike Sherman should have won a championship with Brett Favre and Ahman Green but did not. It was Jimmy Johnson, a coach, who built that team Barry Switzer inherited. Just as Bill Walsh built the team George Seifert inherited. Once those teams peaked so did their respective coaching careers. If Sherman had been competent he’d had able to win a championship with the team Ron Wolf built. Coaching matters.

      Reply

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