LaFleur Can Do More With Less

Last year, head coach Matt LaFleur steered the team to a 4-0 record while Davante Adams was injured. 

If you’re looking for differences between Matt LaFleur’s and Mike McCarthy’s offenses, look no further than weeks five through eight from last season. The Green Bay Packers did not have their star receiver Davante Adams during that stretch but still managed to win all four games. How is that possible without such a prominent player? Perhaps LaFleur can do more with less.

McCarthy’s system did not have the same luck when Jordy Nelson was lost for the year in 2015. Despite their 10-6 record that season, the Packers weren’t the same team, especially on offense. While the run game remained relatively average, Aaron Rodgers’ numbers dropped to some of the lowest totals of his career. James Jones, who could never be labeled “the guy,” emerged as the leading receiver with 890 receiving yards on 50 receptions.

At the time, it was no secret that McCarthy’s scheme thrived on star power. Rather than scheme guys open, he tried to free up his receivers by putting them in one on one situations. In 2015, not many receivers in the league were better at going one on one than Nelson and that is why his void was a huge blow.

Now that role is held by Adams with arguably less talent behind him. In large part that was why many believed his absence last year would be a major hurdle. A fair assumption, however, Rodgers and company pulled through.

During that four-game stretch, the Packers put 292 yards through the air per outing. By comparison that was nearly 60 yards more per game than their yearly average. Rodgers also posted 10 passing touchdowns to one interception, a 69% completion percentage, and a quarterback rating of 118.7. It was one of his more impressive stretches through the season and it happened without his top target.

Somehow with Adams sidelined, the offense became augmented from unlikely places, including Allen Lazard, Jake Kumerow, Marquez Valdes Scantling, and most notably, running back Aaron Jones.

Jones was a man possessed in those four games, posting 271 yards on the ground and 280 via reception. He added four rushing and three receiving touchdowns also. This sort of stretch in terms of rushing and receiving by a running back was virtually unheard of during the McCarthy era. Furthermore, when McCarthy’s offense had less to work with it, it often fell short. This doesn’t appear to be the case under LaFleur.

The scenario of losing Adams again for an extended period of games is not one I wish to imagine. But if it did come to that, I am more confident in their current group consisting of Jones, Lazard, Valdes-Scantling, Kumerow, Equanimeous St. Brown, and now Devin Funchess than I would be if McCarthy were still around. As all great coaches are able to do, they can find a way to win when the circumstances are not ideal.

It’s only been one year, but LaFleur might be better at it already than his predecessor. When adversity inevitably strikes in year two, be confident that Green Bay’s head coach can rise to the occasion yet again.

 

 

Brandon Carwile is a Packers writer who also enjoys watching and breaking down film. Follow him on Twitter @PackerScribe.

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Comments (41)

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ptarushsharma1's picture

June 01, 2020 at 06:33 am

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gkarl's picture

June 01, 2020 at 07:06 am

Ok cheesehead tv followers, please don't rush to call, your going to make it impossible for Mitch to get his call through.

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nostradanus's picture

June 01, 2020 at 07:39 am

Very good observation Brandon! I was absolutely shocked and disappointed when the Packers didn’t land a top WR in the draft, but the Packers are not devoid of offensive talent and they now have a coach that knows how to use that talent creatively!

RB - Jones-Williams-Ervin-Dillon
A diverse group with explosive players to run jet sweeps, push passes, wheel routes and screens as well as running the outside zone and now Dillon as “the hammer”

TE- Sternberger-Lewis-Deguara-Tonyan
No proven stud has emerged yet (except Lewis blocking) but I am expecting big things from Sternberger as a “Big slot” and Degura as the “all everything H-back.

WR - Adams-Lazard-Funchess-EQ - MVS -Kumerow-Begelton
Of course Adams will catch close to 100 balls, Lazard and Funchess will “box out” there way to 40 catches each and EQ & MVS should catch their share of deep balls. This group also blocks well which is very underrated and essential in a MLF offense.

Again, we were all aghast when the Packers didn’t get that top WR we all wanted, but these are not McCarthys Packers anymore. MLF proved last year he is a very innovative offensive mind.
The best chefs are the ones who can can whip up something excellent with whatever they have in the cupboard.
Gute and MLF have the kitchen stocked, now let’s let them cook!

Go Pack!

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BuckyBadger's picture

June 01, 2020 at 08:24 am

Lets see them start to convert 3rd downs before we start praising how great MLF is great at offense. The offense struggled through out the season to stay on the field vs good teams.

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murf7777's picture

June 01, 2020 at 08:30 am

Very true Bucky and I believe that is why they took Dillon and Deguara. They have a plan and it is coming to fruition in front of eyes right now.

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nostradanus's picture

June 01, 2020 at 09:15 am

Would you have put money on that? Just curious?

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murf7777's picture

June 01, 2020 at 09:14 pm

No I wouldn’t have,especially with the love pick, but in hindsight having a chance to think about their strategy it makes sense.

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Tundraboy's picture

June 01, 2020 at 12:15 pm

Enter Dillon.

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Leatherhead's picture

June 02, 2020 at 12:40 am

Hey Bucky, you are correct about converting third downs. According to football outsiders.com, we were particularly weak on third and short. Leading up to the draft, I liked the idea of getting a pile driver RB to help with that and Dillon is the best pile pusher in the draft,

We had an average offense last year with two key exceptions: We rarely turned it over, and we were especially efficient in the red zone. I think we’ll be much improved this year, but you are also correct on pumping the brakes based on what we’ve seen so far.

I personally think Dillon is going to make a big difference.

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Leatherhead's picture

June 01, 2020 at 09:10 am

I was not aghast. I repeatedly told people we weren’t drafting a WR. This is a different offense than we’ve had over the last 30 years.

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murf7777's picture

June 01, 2020 at 12:35 pm

I'm with you Leatherhead as I wasn't surprised, especially how the draft went down with so many WR's taken before the 1st and 2nd picks. The O is changing and we saw some of that LY with more to come. MLF and Gutey are willing to put more resources into running and TE's then in the past. Quite frankly, I don't think it is as big of a deal as the pundits make it as long as you are getting weapons, IE: RB and TE vs WR's. They are all offensive weapons! And, there are fewer busts at RB's vs the WR position.

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mvprzy's picture

June 01, 2020 at 04:58 pm

It occurs to me, with so many top WRs other teams may pass vs run, a defense weighted against pass is a good thing.

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Leatherhead's picture

June 02, 2020 at 12:29 am

I think that’s true. Take our opener, for example, against the Vikings. We return our entire staring secondary, plus some situational guys. The Vikings lost both their starting CBs in FA and it looks like they’re going to be starting rookies. Gladney, who they took at #31, and Dantzler, who they got at the end of the third round. They spent their highest pick on a run fast jump high weapon for Cousins, who’ll be going against our vets.

Somebody is going to have to do something with Rodgers to Adams in their first NFL start. The other guy is going to have to match up against veterans that are much bigger. Personally, I don’t think the season is going to start well for the Vikings.

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Handsback's picture

June 01, 2020 at 08:11 am

Ptarushsharma1 has a point...I just don't know what the point is....
The Packers were extremely focused when they played w/o Adams and frankly with Adams were a lot more sloppy. I think adversity brought the offense together and they played better as a team. What was very important was those games served noticed that the Packers could use the play-action-pass and still be effective w/o having top receivers. They proved that they could run the ball effectively and now by adding Dillon, expect a real pounding run game that will make those safeties play a lot closer to the LOS.

I think those games were a real eye opening for MLF and the other coaches.
Just as Ptarushsharma1 can open your eyes to whatever.......

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Gort's picture

June 01, 2020 at 12:24 pm

I wonder if Ptarushsharma1 is the new alter-ego for Dash Riprock?

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NickPerry's picture

June 01, 2020 at 08:23 am

Last year MLF didn't have EQ who IMO is going to be better that MVS, Begelton, and he should be better than Lazard. Now I LOVE Lazard and actually think he'll be better this year with a year under his belt. But EQ was one of my favorite picks in the 2018 draft for the Packers and I still think he'll prove to be a steal.

The running game should be much improved too, just with Ervin now with the team in the start of the season and Dillon. Don't be surprised if the Packers lead the NFL in rushing. Dillon is a beast who's NOT fat and is FAST. I don't know about you, but I can't ait to see 247 Lbs of RB break through the 1st and 2nd levels of a defense and watch Safeties and CB's TRY to stop him. Going to be a lot of NFL RB getting run over by Dillon and past by Jones,

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Tundraboy's picture

June 01, 2020 at 11:51 am

I agree NP, especially on EQ.

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PhantomII's picture

June 03, 2020 at 09:52 pm

MVS was working out w/ Randy Moss this year. From watching a pre-draft workout w/ another player it should make a difference to be trained by a HOF WR. He should make a jump this year. ML is also installing a hurry-up offense which will make a big difference to the offense. EQ is a smooth route runner. Gute wasn't getting a starting WR without moving up with a #3 and #4 pick to go with his #1-30 pick the way things went early on.

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gkarl's picture

June 01, 2020 at 08:38 am

What I'm really hoping for is a changing offense from week to week depending on the opponent. Some weeks we run more other we pass more but we now have the ability and players to do both to take advantage of the defense's weakness'.

IMO that's the FO and MLF plan going forward. More run/pass balance that we'll see over the course of the year but adjustable weekly according to the opposition.

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mnbadger's picture

June 01, 2020 at 09:07 am

Thank you for revisiting our best stretch of games last year.
It shows that if everyone performs their task and is trusted by qb1, this offense can really hum.
But, qb1 MUST look beyond just the receivers he "trusts" to keep opposing defenses honest. No more throwing it only to davonte or jimmyg or throwing it away and pouting.

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Leatherhead's picture

June 01, 2020 at 10:30 am

The question that comes to mind is if our weaponry was good enough to accomplish that without our #1 WR, why all the lamentations about how we absolutely, positively, unquestionably, NEEDED another weapon at WR??

I think this offense is loaded with weapons:

#1. The Rodgers-to-Adams connection is among the league’s best
#2. The league’s top TD producer, Aaron Jones.
#3. A forest of towering WRs who caught 100 passes last year and which is arguably improved.

To that, we add a very good RB who is going to power this offense.

And at TE, we get Sternberger for the whole season, we retained Lewis, added Deguara, and converted Looney (Who I think will beat out Tonyan.)

Put all this behind an above average line and I think we have what we need.

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Tundraboy's picture

June 01, 2020 at 12:17 pm

Oh God, yes!

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PatrickGB's picture

June 01, 2020 at 09:20 am

I have watched a number of CFL games. For those of you who have not watched them I have a personal take on how the WRs play in the CFL. The WRs get a running start before the ball is snapped. Begelton played with a running start. He did not have to deal wIth CBs at the LOS. So, let’s slow down the hype on him until after training camp. He may still be good because he did play in college with the traditional rules in college, but until he shows up in NFL games I will withhold judgment.

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dobber's picture

June 01, 2020 at 10:25 am

True, there will be an adjustment. But there's also a lot to like in watching him play in space and run routes. He's good with his hands and after the catch, can shed (CFL) tackles. Do I think he's going to change the WR landscape in GB? Probably not. But he's a WR with a track record of production, which is a good start.

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Alberta_Packer's picture

June 01, 2020 at 02:44 pm

It is a valid point about the running start for WRs' in the CfL - definitely an advantage. Still having watched Begelton for a couple of years - I think he's big, strong and quick enough to deal with the standing starts. I expect that he will show well in training camp.

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cheesehead1's picture

June 01, 2020 at 09:29 am

I’m pulling for Begelton, seems like a stand up/character guy. There’s a very good article in The Athletic by Matt Schneidman dated May 19. Well worth the read.

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dobber's picture

June 01, 2020 at 12:52 pm

He looks and sounds like a very determined guy. Something you have to have when you don't have any one dominant physical trait.

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Leatherhead's picture

June 01, 2020 at 10:49 am

Here’s my take on Begelton.

I don’t think it’s an accident that the GM has brought so many big WRs to the team, and Begelton isn’t one of them. Neither was Kumerow or Shepard, who worked their way to the bottom of the rotation.

Going into camp, Adams is the obvious #1 and he’ll be on the field most of the time. At the other WR, Lazard is the probable starter, but he has Funchess, MSV, and ESB fighting for snaps. That’s five WRs right there, and unless there’s an injury or something very unexpected, I think these guys are all on the gameday roster.

I see him as a practice squad guy this year..

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dobber's picture

June 01, 2020 at 11:11 am

If Begelton has a good camp, is willing to play STs, and plays them well, it's a fast track onto the roster as a 6th WR and gameday active. Aside from an injury to one of the above WRs, that's his surest route to the 53.

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CheesyTex's picture

June 01, 2020 at 12:08 pm

Begelton has Slot written all over him. No he doesn't measure up to the trees on the roster, but he does come much closer to the prototypical NFL slot receiver.

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Alberta_Packer's picture

June 01, 2020 at 03:15 pm

Definitely he has the courage, physicality and hands for the slot position. But he also reads defenses very well - knowing how to find open space - so intermediate and long routes are not beyond his capabilities.

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Leatherhead's picture

June 02, 2020 at 01:06 pm

And we need a prototype slot? Because our offense uses a WR in the slot?

Times have changed.

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cheesehead1's picture

June 01, 2020 at 11:18 am

I’m not sold on MVS at all. Speedster who seems like a one trick pony, not unlike Mike Wallace (Steelers). We won’t know about Begelton until we finally see him on the field.

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dobber's picture

June 01, 2020 at 11:23 am

If MVS turns into Mike Wallace in GB, the Packers' patience will be well rewarded.

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Tundraboy's picture

June 01, 2020 at 12:20 pm

Well said

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cheesehead1's picture

June 01, 2020 at 11:53 am

Big year for MVS. There just doesn’t seem to be much chemistry between him and Rodgers, at least so far.

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BoHunter's picture

June 01, 2020 at 01:03 pm

Lazard > EQ

The End
BoHunter

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Alberta_Packer's picture

June 01, 2020 at 03:08 pm

The limited sample size (games without Adams) - was proof that LaFleur's offence can work very well in the modern NFL- as A.R. had no other options but to fully adhere to the offensive game plan. Otherwise, I saw A.R, looking for certain players (Adams, Graham) - rather than the entire field - which is more his old habits than new responses. So we now know that A.R. can run the LaFleur offence, but, will he, consistently? If yes, we can expect another fine year for the Packers. If no, the door begins to open for Jordan Love.

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Matt Gonzales's picture

June 02, 2020 at 08:22 am

I think there is something else going on here, too. I don't extensively watch film or claim to be an analyst, but teams were much more consciously trying to take away AJ in the pass game the second half of the season, and he was getting matched up against DBs instead of linebackers more often. Could be that AJ was seeing fewer touches because defenses were starting to adjust to him around the same time Adams came back.

A pounding ground game, if the Packers can get Dillon going, will benefit the passing game as defenses will be more likely to stack the box and load up the front.

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PackerGold's picture

June 01, 2020 at 06:21 pm

Why does the Packer team and Packer nation have to settle for less by a HC who claims to be a able to do more with less? When that same HC managed the 2020 draft with 10 selections and managed the 2019 draft himself ,as well? If there is less to be managed by such a capable person, would that lack of talent be by his own design?

I would say part of the problem is not getting the BEST VALUE in the 2019 & 2020 drafts is the real issue.

ie: trading up to get a QB who would have fallen to No. 30 costing a 4th round selection; taking a No. 12 RB at No. 62 when most people had Dillon going in the 4th or 5th round; taking a No. 18 TE at No. 94 when the No 4 TE Hunter Bryant went undrafted.

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Nate-1980's picture

June 07, 2020 at 02:06 pm

I agree

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