Cory's Corner: Give Matt LaFleur His Due

The Packers head coach guided a team with an average age of 25 to a playoff win — something that nobody saw coming. 

Things got bleak for the Packers this past season and there were some people that wanted Matt LaFleur fired.

The fact that the Packers were sitting at 6-8 on Dec.17 after losing at home to the Buccaneers speaks volumes about what kind of a coach and motivator he is. Green Bay’s backs were to the wall and they responded with three straight wins and a trip to the playoffs. 

The argument can be made that he hung on to defensive coordinator Joe Barry too long. I was surprised when LaFleur brought Barry back for the 2023 season because there were noticeable chinks in the armor last year. 

But do the Packers make a run at the playoffs if LaFleur gets rid of Barry at midseason? I’m not sure. The Packers gave up 13 first downs in their last two games — the lowest amount since a Week 9 home win vs. the Rams. 

LaFleur came into this season knowing that he had a tall order. Coaching a team with an average age of 25 isn’t easy. And not not mention, those young guys had to believe in a quarterback that was making his go-around at the starting job. 

And there was a huge question mark at the offensive line. Veteran David Bakhtiari only played in one game this year and the entire unit was held together with duct tape. That’s a big ask for a young quarterback throwing it to even younger receivers, but somehow he kept this team together. 

But as we look to the 2024 season, the pressure gets turned up a notch. This team went to Dallas and thrashed the Cowboys. And it wasn’t just that they blew them out, the Packers destroyed a team that played its best ball at home all year. Then the Packers played the 49ers and had a real shot to win the game after having a lead to start the fourth quarter. 

LaFleur has coached through a lot of challenges. He has coached through COVID-19, losing the team’s top wide receiver and then the top quarterback and going through a new special teams coordinator.

Next year will be a lot of familiarity and the team that nobody saw winning a playoff game has a real shot of winning the NFC. 

And it’s all because of how steady LaFleur has been during constant chaos. There were plenty of people upset and frustrated with how the Packers were doing this year, but he stayed the course and remained confident in his band of young pups. 

That affirmation paid off and now those young pups are about to pay him big dividends next year. 

 

PLEASE SUBSCRIBE TO OUR CHEESEHEAD NATION WEEKLY NEWSLETTER HERE.

__________________________

Cory Jennerjohn is a graduate from UW-Oshkosh and has been in sports media for over 15 years. He was a co-host on "Clubhouse Live" and has also done various radio and TV work as well. He has written for newspapers, magazines and websites. He currently is a columnist for CHTV and also does various podcasts. He recently earned his Masters degree from the University of Iowa. He can be found on Twitter: @Coryjennerjohn

__________________________

NFL Categories: 
6 points
 

Comments (28)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
Coldworld's picture

February 17, 2024 at 06:57 am

As far as I’m concerned, the driving factor this year was the above reasonable expectations performance of Love and the skill position rookies.

Is that something that LaFleur deserves credit for? Yes, to some extent. It seemed that in the second half of the season LaFleur seemed to start trusting them and implementing something like we had expected from him when he arrived. Early on his first half calling and scripted plays were dreadfully unsuccessful.

Is that a win? It could be. LaFleur seemed to be becoming the offensive coordinator we hoped he would be when hired and it now seems clear that Rodgers frustrated to a larger degree than many thought. It could be that this was his breakout season as an OC.

LaFleur as head coach remains a question. One that Hafley will play a large part in answering as well as if the talent on can continue to build on last season and the offense incorporate all the pieces optimally and inventively.

We won one more game than in 2022 but in a season where it looked like the young players grew significantly during the year. We all agree that there’s talent on O. This is a roster that next year should perform better. Not only should the young players get better, but their second half performance was far better than the overall record.

If LaFleur deserves praise then next year is set up to validate that and allow him to showcase it. He has his slightly left field choice at DC and seemingly a different philosophy with it. On O we have a QB who was as good as anyone over the stretch and skill positions that matched that. We know what we have, it knows it can play with the best of them. We should compete strongly. The stage is set for LaFleur.

7 points
12
5
Bitternotsour's picture

February 17, 2024 at 08:19 am

We're mostly in agreement on LaFleur. I don't think either of us realized how much PTSD he carried from having to cope with Rodgers, and it took him a fair amount of time (I think) to trust himself and his instincts again. Where I might disagree with you is that I believe there's talent across the board on the team, not just on offense, and that everything is primed for major success next year.

On the praise front, his young team seems to be a team. They seem to genuinely relate to MLF and I wasn't sure that he had that in years past. It was Aaron's team. Matt was tolerated. Now, he needs to go get some silverware.

6 points
7
1
Coldworld's picture

February 17, 2024 at 10:16 am

I wasn’t intending to imply that there is no talent on D. I do reserve judgement on exactly how much and where. Part of me thinks that Hafley might unlock some pieces and I definitely think that the backfield will benefit from his mindset and history of playing to player strengths not system templates. Not playing not to lose instinctively will be a plus.

However, none of us really know what Hafley intends. His past is such it’s hard to tell how effective he’s been in NFL terms or at least how much was down to him, in my opinion. It’s all extrapolation from prior rather different environments. The draft may give us hints, but until I see it it’s hard to predict which ugly ducklings become swans and how effective it will be overall.

I am quite optimistic about 2024. However, I am even more so about 2025.

1 points
3
2
Rory P Scrotem's picture

February 17, 2024 at 08:34 am

Hey COLDWORLD - Did you ever play football? All of your comments are an easy hindsight is 20/20, sit back & try to make yourself look like Zeus operating down a path of keyboard righteousness.

So coming out of the preseason, what was the goal for the Packers this season?

When you answer those very basic 5 or 6 questions, the job Matt LaFleur did was just short of amazing. And, with a way-beyond-his-prime (if there ever was any prime) Defensive Coordinator.

Second half of the season after the team got rolling...like WOW! The big games the Packers won, all showcased on national television too!

Two play-off games...no one would have predicted that in September.

Matt LaFleur, to those who played football...he's a football genius.

As you look at all the other teams in the league...teams who are trying to accomplish the same results as the Packers...Go write about "their" head coaches.

COLDWORLD...time to stop writing dumb, obvious stuff & sit back and enjoy!

-3 points
5
8
Bitternotsour's picture

February 17, 2024 at 08:42 am

It is always so cute when Vikings fans enter the chat rooms...

1 points
5
4
LLCHESTY's picture

February 17, 2024 at 12:12 pm

Vikings fans have scrotums?🤔

2 points
2
0
10ve 💚's picture

February 17, 2024 at 02:17 pm

They do... however, those said scrotums are empty, or at most contain one item.

1 points
1
0
Oppy's picture

February 19, 2024 at 01:11 pm

incorrect. The difference between regular scrotums and vikings' fans scrotums is purely a matter of logistics.

You can find the scrotum of regular NFL fans between their legs, but Vikings fan scrotum is typically found resting on their chin.

0 points
0
0
Oppy's picture

February 19, 2024 at 01:12 pm

Rory,

as our newly appointed "Did you ever play football?" guy, please do us all a favor and post the resume'.

What position(s) did you play? At what level did you compete? Can you name the teams and years played?

Thanks.

0 points
0
0
Gman1976's picture

February 17, 2024 at 03:11 pm

I too am reluctant to give MFL a ton of praise as the head coach, but will give him much more so as the offensive coordinator. His not taking the 3 points and failing on 4th down, his time management of the clock leaving us too little too late, his not replacing a player who is not making the grade (this year it was our kicker), his facial expressions that bring despair and not fight during team let downs, and again his keeping the DC who failed again and again at critical moments. He has us believing in his offense once again. Make us believe he is a great head coach who has learned some tough lessons and wins with solid play in all 3 phases and doesn't accept defeat nor doesn't reward incompetent/repeatedly failing performance.

3 points
3
0
NickPerry's picture

February 17, 2024 at 08:41 am

"Things got bleak for the Packers this past season and there were some people that wanted Matt LaFleur fired."

I was one of those people. When the Packers were 2-5 there just wasn't much to be excited about. They had played 7 games, went 2-5, and really the only game they looked good in was week one against the Bears. They were very fortunate against New Orleans when the kicker missed a FG to get that win.

But it was the way they LOOKED when getting to 2-5. That was some really ugly offensive football by this Packers team, and there was NOTHING that I saw that suggested the Packers had their guy in Jordan Love, OR that LaFleur deserved to be the HC.

Then something really started to change against Pittsburgh in a loss, got better in a win vs the Chargers. Then it all seemed to all start to come together on Thanksgiving Day. Motion was alive and well in the Packers offense again and the 2 yard bubble screens to WRs only happened once in a while instead of every play. The Packers offense actually stated to LOOK like an NFL offense again.

What happened was LaFleur took off the kiddy gloves. He began to run HIS offense and either Love, his teammates, AND LaFleur were going to either sink or swim and they swam all right...BIG time.

I can't imagine what it was like trying to be a HC with a QB in his first season starting, Romeo Doubs, AJ Dillon, and then NOTHING but rookies after them. Watson was out more than in. Jones was nowhere to be seen since week one, those rookies weren't doing much right, AND Joe Barry was STILL your DC.

I like the changes LaFler has made to his staff. I like the Hafley hire and some of the new assistants on the defensive staff. But IMO one of the biggest things was keeping Tom Clements. I hope Tom stays longer but I think 2024 is the season Love takes another big step forward, and Matt LaFleur does too.

8 points
10
2
Leatherhead's picture

February 17, 2024 at 08:41 am

He has the highest career winning % of any current HC, and one of the highest of all time. He's made the playoffs 4 out of 5 years. He's won playoff games on the road. If you're not sold on him by now, then I don't know what's going on in your head. It was hard this past year to read the same negative nabobs hammering on LaFleur, identifying him as "The Problem", and calling for him to be replaced. Thank God the people who run the show aren't so clueless.

13 points
16
3
Guam's picture

February 17, 2024 at 08:44 am

I saw significant development from LaFleur this year in two areas (1) offensive game planning and (2) motivation and guidance of the players. Lafluer's offense looked significantly more creative and versatile than in years past. How much of that was true development and how much was the removal of Rodgers' preferences I don't know, but I suspect that Rodgers' preferences were an inhibitor for Lafleur. Lafleur also did an excellent job of managing, motivating, and guiding a very young team last season and should be given major props for that accomplishment.

The shadow over Lafleur's reign as head coach has been his selection of some assistant coaches. Mennenga, Drayton and Barry ranged from poor to awful hires. Drayton should never have happened and passing on Evero for Barry was a serious blunder. Lafleur largely corrected his special team gaffes with Bisaccia. Whether Lafleur got his defensive hire right remains to be seen. I like what I have heard about Hafley, but the proof will be on the field next season.

Lafleur is maturing as a head coach, but he has yet to get the defensive side of the team right. If Hafley succeeds, Lafleur will be acknowledged as a very good head coach. If Hafley fails, consecutive defensive failures will be a blot on Lafleur's record as a head coach.

9 points
9
0
BA4Pack's picture

February 17, 2024 at 08:57 am

Reinforce the Oline and RB rooms this off season and this offense will be magical next year.
“Can’t wait”!

5 points
5
0
Leatherhead's picture

February 17, 2024 at 09:59 am

I totally agree. Get ALL the pieces around Love.

3 points
3
0
Turophile's picture

February 17, 2024 at 12:36 pm

Add (in the draft) a slot corner, an ILB and a Safety that can play single high with some of the 6 picks in rounds 1-4, then the defense can move towards holding it's own, as well.

1 points
1
0
Leatherhead's picture

February 17, 2024 at 05:58 pm

Well, we could do a little trading around, too, and maybe get one more pick in that Top 100. Get a guy like Morgan, or Paul, who can start right away at LT, and he's backed up by Walker, so that position looks good. Get Myers replacement at Center. Get a premium RB, because we are losing Dillon and Jones has to be kept fresh for an entire season. Our RB touches the ball on half of our plays, so if it's not Jones, let's make sure it's somebody like Brooks or Allen.

1 points
1
0
Tundraboy's picture

February 17, 2024 at 10:41 pm

As with all the above comments, good stuff. Just can't get over how far the team has come in just a year. Now we are looking at filling fewer key positions , have lots of picks and some free agency money left over as well most likely. Good times sooner than expected.

0 points
0
0
CoachJV's picture

February 17, 2024 at 09:33 am

I think that early in the season, LAF was calling "safe" plays in an attempt to help Love. But somewhere in there, he realized that his "safe" plays were holding this young gunslinger back. It's when LAF opened up the playbook and let Love be Love... let him start slinging it.

LAF designs some great plays. And all coaches do some bonehead things from time to time (like relying on analytics) but you gotta admit, the game against the Cowboys was a masterclass in play calling.

I don't believe for a single second that LAF was ever on the hot seat (except in some fans minds). And I don't think he will be for a long time. He's gonna be long tenured like Belichick or Tomlin.

4 points
6
2
Alberta_Packer's picture

February 17, 2024 at 11:34 am

Like many of the young Packers - I think that this was also LaFleur's breakout year. It seems that he and Love have had similar trajectories - having to wait for Rodgers departure - before both could fully showcase their capabilities. Still, for me, LaFleur's final HC report card is pending - subject to how his newly re-structured D performs this year.

6 points
6
0
Turophile's picture

February 17, 2024 at 12:22 pm

Let us not pretend that because the season turned out well, the team didn't have some serious problems early in the year.

Being the head coach, Matt takes a good chunk of the blame for the early season poor showings. He looked indecisive in that period.

Equally, he gets credit for the turnaround and the big jump in how his players played down the stretch.

All I'm saying is, don't get totally caught up in recency bias. He did not do very well early on (and yes, there were reasons for that).
Then he did do well and seems to have dealt with a major part of the problem, the DC, who effectively, he hired, and he turned over some of the other defensive position coaches.

3 points
3
0
Leatherhead's picture

February 17, 2024 at 12:44 pm

The early season problems

An inexperienced QB
Inexperienced WRs and TEs
Injuries to Watson and Jones
A line that was a work in progress.

Once the line gelled, and Love and the receivers found the rhythm, and Jones returned to the lineup, the problems kind of disappeared.

6 points
6
0
LeotisHarris's picture

February 17, 2024 at 02:59 pm

Oof. Backs were against the wall, there were chinks in the armor, a unit was held together with duct tape, pressure got turned up a notch, the Packers had a real shot to win, but LaFleur stayed the course, and young pups are about to pay dividends next year.

If all that isn't enough, "next year will be a lot of familiarity and the team that nobody saw winning a playoff game has a real shot of winning the NFC." That's right, loyal readers, that's a second "real shot" in addition to "a lot of familiarity." I need to take a knee.

3 points
3
0
Bitternotsour's picture

February 17, 2024 at 03:27 pm

Taking a knee gets you blackballed.

1 points
1
0
Coldworld's picture

February 18, 2024 at 09:18 am

It may if you take it full on.

0 points
1
1
Tundraboy's picture

February 17, 2024 at 10:28 pm

Happy to officially eat crow. Fine job and worthy of leading the Green Bay Packers for years to come. Assuming the D changes are what they look like, solid.

2 points
2
0
CanPackFan's picture

February 18, 2024 at 11:33 am

IMHO, I still feel that LaFleur needs further growth to become a stellar HC. Yes, he's good on the offensive side of the ball. But as many have suggested above, his coaching choices have been suspect. His training wheel approach to Love suggests he's slow to recognize player strengths. The same likely applies to the Oline. However, once he does, it's full steam ahead.

I think the AR12/Davante Adams involvement on his team had likely stunted his overall growth as a HC responsible for ALL aspects of the team. Now that they are gone, I feel he'll develop into a better HC who will be worthy of COTY honors.

0 points
0
0
PhantomII's picture

February 18, 2024 at 02:03 pm

This Season we had a pretty easy schedule. Early in the season our OL was hit and miss in Pass blocking and underwhelming in run blocking. One of our 2nd year WR's was hurt most of the year. The Rook WR's were running wrong routes and dropping the ball. Our TE1 and RB1 were injured most of the season. Our CB1 also hurt most of the year. Our DC was playing soft at worst possible times. Later in the Season our OL Jelled in the run and pass pro. WR's began running good routes , getting open and catching the ball. JL had time to go thru progressions and looked comfortable in the pocket. Kraft started to develop at a pretty good clip. RB1 got healthy. CB1 got healthy.
ST kicker was iffy most of the year...A lot of long snaps all over the place and holder was probably a basket case from it and K was not always reliable. That mess never got cleaned up. We got some folks back from Injury at the right time. WE found out we belonged back at the upper echelon of NFL Playoff Contenders and " WE COULD HAVE MOVED ON.....AND SHOULD HAVE MOVED ON. ML for the first time I had seen used game tape from previous game and changed what the normal play was and exploited other defense because of them watching our tape. The knocks are: ST never got fixed....DC only changed his MO until an immense amount of pressure was applied to him from ML....Then DC reverted to his past in the SF game. TO DO LIST: Better IOL play in pass and RUN blocking where we do not HAVE to use TE's to block in the pass game. 1-Pro Bowl level Safety plug and play. Starting level 220 lb. RB. Hog DL run stopper. ILB/ MLB. Next season is a brutal amount of winning Teams we play.

1 points
1
0