We Need to Talk More About Matt LaFleur

Aaron Rodgers is having a renaissance season, but that’s not breaking news. He’s squarely in the MVP conversation, though still behind Patrick Mahomes in the race. What hasn’t been talked about enough is the fantastic job Matt LaFleur has done in two years as head coach of the Packers. He inherited a team that went 6-9-1 — where Rodgers started all 16 games — and they have since gone 23-6 in the regular season and won the NFC North twice.

I’m old enough to remember the NFL Draft when everyone was screaming at the top of their lungs that the Packers had not selected a wide receiver. They thought Aaron Rodgers was bereft of weapons. That was not true. Davante Adams is, for my money, the best wide receiver in the NFL. Depending on the day, Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Allen Lazard have emerged as strong options. Robert Tonyan is tied with Travis Kelce for the most receiving touchdowns in the league by a tight end with nine. Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams provide a stout running game.

Now, if you had argued that the Packers needed a middle linebacker or perhaps another pass rusher, then that would have been valid. After all, they instead picked Jordan Love as Rodgers’ possible successor in the first round and running back AJ Dillon, who has barely seen the field, in the second round. But that wasn’t what people griped about. The Packers clearly have an explosive arsenal of weapons.

I’m also old enough to remember what the chatter was like when Matt LaFleur was hired. He was coming off a mediocre season running the Titans offense with Marcus Mariota. People joked that anyone who had been so much as a pen pal with Sean McVay qualified for an NFL head coaching job.

Then, after that, there was an endless narrative cycle that LaFleur could not gel with Aaron Rodgers. For example, here is former Rodgers teammate Greg Jennings prognosticating that the partnership would not work:

I don’t want to put LaFleur in Canton just yet. He and Rodgers and the rest of the Packers still need to prove they can play well enough in January to reach the Super Bowl, much less win it. But we have reached a point where everyone who thought LaFleur could never coexist with Rodgers should admit they were wrong.

 

Written by Ryan Glasspiegel

Ryan Glasspiegel grew up in Connecticut, graduated from University of Wisconsin-Madison, and lives in Chicago. Before OutKick, he wrote for Sports Illustrated and The Big Lead. He enjoys expensive bourbon and cheap beer.

10 Comments

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  1. Could it be that his record is more indicative of the weak nature of the NFC? Look at the competition Green Bay has faced the last two seasons.

    They played seven games against teams with winning records in 2019. Five in the regular season and two in the playoffs (because you’re going to be forced to play teams with a winning record in the playoffs). They beat the Vikings twice and Kansas City without Mahomes in the regular season. They beat Seattle in the playoffs. They got demolished by the 49ers twice and lost to the Eagles. 3-2 in the regular season. 1-1 in the playoffs.

    It is generally the same thing in 2020. They’ve only played three games against teams with winning records this year. They beat the Saints and have lost to Tampa Bay and Indianapolis. At the moment, the only other team with a winning record they’ll play is Tennessee.

    Look at the other teams in the division. The Bears lost 6 in a row after beating up on a mediocre schedule. The Vikings are average at best. The Lions are the Lions and forever will be the Lions. Is LaFluer better than McCarthy? Maybe, but an honest look says LaFluer hasn’t exactly faced the most difficult schedule out there either in his two years as coach.

  2. Nuvikes, could you be a disgruntled Vikings fan? Fact is the Packers are one of the best offenses in the NFL and if the defense and special teams improve they have a chance make a serious run this year. I doubted the hiring as well but I can see now that much improvement has taken place the last couple years.

  3. Matt LaFleur deserves strong consideration for coach of the year. Although I think that either Kevin Stefanski or Mike Tomlin will get the award. Aaron Rodgers deserves the MVP over Patrick Mahomes just for the simple fact of what each QB has to work with. Mahomes has an all-star team of weapons while Rodgers has a bunch of also rans, other than Davante Adams. Rodgers elevates average players to good and good players to great. He has done that his entire career.

  4. Greg Jennings is a putz. He will never pass up an opportunity to rip Aaron Rodgers. Whenever Colin Cowherd wants somebody, other than himself, to rip Rodgers, he can always count on Jennings to come on his show.
    Jennings should get down on his knees every single day and thank god that he had Aaron Rodgers as his QB. He wouldn’t have had the career production, money, or his cushy TV job without Aaron Rodgers.

    At the end of his career Jennings signed with Minnesota and totally disappeared. I’m talking Witness Protection Program. That’ll happen when you leave Aaron Rodgers for Christian Ponder. Cowherd and Jennings can’t say much now with the season Rodgers is having.

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