Matt LaFleur Has Owned the NFC North Since Taking Over as Packers Head Coach

Matt LaFleur has enjoyed a lot of success since he took over as head coach of the Green Bay Packers in 2019. Although he had never been an NFL head coach prior to taking over as head man of the Packers, he has put together a record of 31-7. The Packers earned a bye in the playoffs in each of his first two seasons, having been the second seed in his rookie campaign and the number one seed in the NFC last season. They have also gone to back-to-back NFC Championship Games although they came up short in both games.

One of the reasons for LaFleur’s success as head coach has been his outstanding record against NFC North opponents. In the two-plus seasons LaFleur has been with the Packers, his teams are 13-1 against their three division rivals, the Minnesota Vikings, Detroit Lions and Chicago Bears.

In 2019, the Packers went 6-0 against NFC North opponents and outscored the opposition 121-84. In 2020, LaFleur’s team went 5-1 against division foes and scored 214-148. This season, the Packers have already defeated the Lions at Lambeau Field and the Bears on the road in Chicago by a combined score of 59-31.

By comparison, in the two final years of Mike McCarthy’s coaching tenure, the Packers were just 3-8-1 against the NFC North and they failed to make the playoffs in either season.

Many of the wins have been in dramatic fashion. In 2019, the Packers beat the Bears in Chicago in LaFleur’s first game as coach 10-3 with Adrian Amos intercepting a pass in the end zone late in the game to seal the victory for Green Bay.

Later that season, the Packers defeated the Lions twice on last second field goals by Mason Crosby despite not leading in either game until Crosby kicked the field goal in each on the game’s final play.

In 2020, the Packers wins were more dominant as the closest victory they had was a 31-24 win over the Lions which saw Green Bay up by 14 points early in the fourth quarter and by 10 points with 3:30 left on the clock before Detroit made it close with a field goal in the final 1:49.

The Packers only loss to a division foe under his coaching tenure came in 2020 at Lambeau Field against the Vikings. Dalvin Cook scored four touchdowns in that game and was dominant throughout while the Packers offense was hampered in that game by wind gusts that made it extremely difficult to pass the ball downfield.

While the NFC North has not been the strongest division in the league during LaFleur’s time with the team, they haven’t been the weakest either. In both 2019 and 2020, the Packers and one other team from the division qualified for the playoffs with Minnesota making it in 2019 and Chicago in 2020.

So far this season, the Lions are the only team in the division that is below .500 although they are off to a dreadful 0-6 start. Both Minnesota and Chicago are now tied for second place with 3-3 records.

LaFleur recognizes the importance of winning games within the division. “These games are so meaningful because if you can come out with a win, you’re obviously adding a loss to a divisional opponent and that’s a full game,” LaFleur said after the Packers win in Chicago last Sunday. “So, every divisional game is so important.”

In fact, LaFleur is the only head coach in the NFL since the merger in 1970 to win his first seven division road games. No other head coach has accomplished that feat, not Mike Ditka, Mike Holmgren, Andy Reid or even Bill Belichick. LaFleur will have a chance to extend that streak to eight games when the Packers travel to Minnesota on November 21 to take on the Vikings and possibly to nine in the regular season finale when the Packers travel to Detroit.

Despite his overwhelming success in the division and his overall .816 winning percentage, LaFleur still does not get enough recognition when the so-called experts discuss the league’s best coaches.

While there is no doubt the Aaron Rodgers owns the Bears because of his success against them since he became the Packers starter, Matt LaFleur owns all three NFC North opponents. If he continues his dominance of the division, the Packers will likely be celebrating another division title under his leadership in 2021.

 

You can follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers

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8 points

Comments (45)

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

October 21, 2021 at 12:04 pm

**Knock on wood**

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GilMartin's picture

October 21, 2021 at 02:01 pm

Here, here, dobber. Hope he keeps it up. Thanks for commenting.

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TarynsEyes's picture

October 21, 2021 at 12:19 pm

MLF is doing an awesome job as HC, however owning what has been for two decades, less the couple under MM and Rodgers injury seasons, it isn't much to boast about, especially when the Division has the Lions, the continuous QB fodder of the Bears, and the Vikings playing with the hot/cold spigot of play. MLF has done what has been done over and over and now he must do what hasn't been done regularly but should have been over that last decade-plus.

I get it. Everyone wants to put his name in lights on the great HC lists. He needs to win the games that have eluded this team too often and twice under his leadership in his short career, and no. getting to the NFCCG isn't a qualifier for great, it just keeps you atop the B'List, the owner of the step before the precipice thinking on what could have been as we fans have been doing a lot of since 2010.

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PackerAaron's picture

October 21, 2021 at 12:22 pm

"...it isn't much to boast about."

You have no idea what you're talking about.

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TarynsEyes's picture

October 21, 2021 at 01:28 pm

I stated the reality of what and where the team and ORG have been and are now still. Your response says I don't take into account what it takes to play the game. I have considered such, and it says what anyone with a grasp of knowledge would say, the Packers have had the better team and ORG for the better part of two decades plus and have achieved yearly that which was and still is expected in a division with those teams with the sub-par team and ORG abilities to altar expected outcome. The Packers are the Patriots of the AFCE without the Championships. The only challenge and was won by a division team were the Vikings and that was because they got a former Packer QB, Farve, and that lasted one season for them.

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nygary's picture

October 21, 2021 at 01:51 pm

You are such an asshole.

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TarynsEyes's picture

October 21, 2021 at 02:32 pm

And the internet 'tough' guy appears to speak a few words that were likely very challenging for him to create in a sentence.

Just makes me want to hide. I'd bet you get your ass kicked all the time when you say that to a person's face, don't you? But you probably don't because your a punk and always was and never said such to a person face to face. The Internet, the sacred ground for your kind.

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PearlyBakerBest's picture

October 21, 2021 at 08:33 pm

Says the pot…again.

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GilMartin's picture

October 21, 2021 at 02:04 pm

Does MLF need to win a championship to truly be an all-time great coach? Probably, although Marv Levy and (until recently) Andy Reid got a lot of respect without winning a title. Yes, the NFC Championship Game losses have been frustrating and hopefully the Packers take that next step this year.
As for the division's weakness, it isn't the best division in the league, not even close, but to win 13-of-14 games in the NFL against your rivals is most definitely an accomplishment. I hope he keeps that up. Thanks for the comment.

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jannes bjornson's picture

October 21, 2021 at 08:17 pm

Cannot freeze in the big moments. He has to learn and be focused on the game 100%. He pays people to run the offense and defense.

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Qoojo's picture

October 21, 2021 at 03:03 pm

Belicheck was a genius, then Brady left. Not hearing that word tied to him as much this season. MLF pulled out a carrot that interested Rodgers, and suddenly the packers improved. But right..., MLF has dominated the North.

I will say that at least MLF did not hang onto DCs too long.

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TarynsEyes's picture

October 21, 2021 at 03:48 pm

"Belicheck was a genius, then Brady left"

So if it was Brady, and Rodgers is the assumed/alleged Goat by many in and out of the media, why hasn't Rodgers been playing against Brady all those times in the SB? Surely the talent level of each team over the years has been equal or slanted towards the Packers. Is it as simple as one being a winner and one just being a statistician's model?

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Oppy's picture

October 22, 2021 at 06:06 pm

It has a lot to do with the kicker, some would say.

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Packers0808's picture

October 21, 2021 at 05:11 pm

Sensation shocker is what you try to be.

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LeotisHarris's picture

October 21, 2021 at 05:41 pm

Yoda?

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Minniman's picture

October 21, 2021 at 12:50 pm

Owned refers to past-tense.

Respectfully Gil - come back in a decade on this one.

Go.Pack.Go

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GilMartin's picture

October 21, 2021 at 01:55 pm

Minniman, I hear you and there is some merit to that, but 13-1 is just off the charts outstanding and I feel it was worth discussing. Thanks for commenting.

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jannes bjornson's picture

October 22, 2021 at 01:44 am

Let's not go down the Marty Schottenheimer road. He has to bring the bling with his HOF QB.

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splitpea1's picture

October 21, 2021 at 12:58 pm

MLF has done just about as good a job as you can do in the regular season during his tenure. Not to take anything away, but he's had a top-tier HOF QB at his disposal. The more difficult test is going to be developing Love and restructuring the offense around his abilities. One more note: although the season is only about a third over, the hire of Barry doesn't seem nearly as questionable as some may have thought--just have to get that red zone defense straightened out.

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GilMartin's picture

October 21, 2021 at 01:59 pm

Agree on LaFleur but having Rodgers is a double edged sword. Before MLF was hired, everybody was talking about how tough it was to work with Rodgers who many viewed as a coach killer. LaFleur has worked well with Rodgers and the two of them created an MVP season for AR-12 at age 37. I think he deserves some credit for that.

Re: Love, yes, that will be a different challenge when that does take place whether it's next year or further down the road.

As for Barry, he has looked good and I'm impressed with the overall play of the defense despite missing their best pass rusher and cover corner. The red zone does need to get cleaned up and the schedule is about to get harder.

Thanks as always for the comment, splitpea1.

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jannes bjornson's picture

October 21, 2021 at 08:22 pm

Or Mc Carthy a QB killer, quid pro quo. He's not calling the plays in Dalllas.

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Oppy's picture

October 22, 2021 at 06:08 pm

Rodgers didn't work well with MLF until the Packers drafted Jordan Love.

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13TimeChamps's picture

October 21, 2021 at 03:19 pm

Slightly off topic, but I've always wondered why Sean Payton has gotten so much more respect as a coach than McCarthy (before his last two seasons anyway) ever did. Both became a HC the same year. Both had 1st ballot HOF QB'ing from day 1. Both have gone to...and won...one SB. And, I believe, before his last two seasons, McCarthy actually had a better overall record.

And, yes, MLF absolutely has to win a championship to be considered an all-time great coach. Let's hope it happens this year. I think he is a very good young coach. His true test, of course, will be after AR12 leaves.

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Oppy's picture

October 22, 2021 at 06:12 pm

I can explain that.

Payton didn't have a word-twisting douchebag QB who was always willing to let his HC fall on the sword with some very deceptive-but-not-technically-untrue post game comments.

MM was always careful not to throw his future HOFer and franchise Icon QB under the bus, because he knew the boy wonder had paper-thin skin and a fragility like no other, matched only in intensity by his ego.

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croatpackfan's picture

October 21, 2021 at 01:39 pm

I suppose those articles about who owns who would not be written if AR didn't shout that to the Bears fans.

Nobody owns anybody. This is childish. Packers were dominant through long time in NFCN and that is fact. There is no masters and slaves any more. There is only well managed franchize and not so well 3 others. And fans of that franchize are/were happy during that time. Be less arogant, more humble...

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GilMartin's picture

October 21, 2021 at 02:00 pm

Thanks for the comment, croatpackfan, always good to hear from you. I don't think "owns" was meant to be taken literally, just as in they defeat them time after time. MLF has done a great job against NFC North opponents.

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croatpackfan's picture

October 21, 2021 at 04:01 pm

Thanks for clarification, but for me it is to selfglorifying, and I tend to have more humble approach. If you say that others are not good, you diminish your success, therefore you are also less succesful.

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TarynsEyes's picture

October 21, 2021 at 05:34 pm

What is being said when the winner, in any field of endeavor, raises their arms in victory? It says the others weren't good enough at the time. Is it self-glorifying as you said? Absolutely and also demand from those who watched or participated in the success. Should they stand idle with arms to their side and beg forgiveness for being better? The only thing that all share equally is being a human being. All that comes after is what you earn, by the toil of your sweat and that of those with you. If anything allows you to be self-glorifying is when you prove yourself BETTER than the other human being. It's nature, it's an embedded trait that seemingly has bypassed the WOKE generation who want all for doing nothing but crying about what they not only can't do but won't even try.

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jannes bjornson's picture

October 21, 2021 at 08:24 pm

Dominate !

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TarynsEyes's picture

October 21, 2021 at 02:14 pm

How the hell did you find anything about masters and slaves in the content offered? Are you a 'WOKE' person who finds that kind of crap in everything you read, hear, see? Please explain where you mined that ore of crap in the article.

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croatpackfan's picture

October 21, 2021 at 03:56 pm

I'm affraid to answer your question because you may find I offended you. So, think what you want, but if you own any or many persons that means that he/she or them are your slaves. Pure logic...

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TarynsEyes's picture

October 21, 2021 at 05:18 pm

If was so easily offended I would have stopped coming here long ago. What does offend me is your type who at an instant attempted to put racial issues into an article that had none on any level.

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Oppy's picture

October 24, 2021 at 10:44 am

You should re-read the comments and you won't find a mention of race.

Just a guy in croatia who speaks English as a second language making a literal translation.

It looks like you're the one who couldn't help but drag politics into a non-political discussion. I think we just discussed this the other day.

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PatrickGB's picture

October 21, 2021 at 02:28 pm

It’s just my personality but if I am asked if we “own” our division I would just wink, smile and say that we have done quite well. A sly understatement shows a confident person better than loud rude phrases. And I own that opinion. ;-)

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Ferrari-Driver's picture

October 21, 2021 at 10:30 pm

I would have picked LaFleur as the "Coach of the Year". He has a demeanor which seems to work with these younger, richer, and more independently minded super athletes. He also has a creative mind and has implemented a more exciting and successful offensive scheme than his predecessor, Mike McCarthy. McCarthy and the Packers were struggling at the end and even lost to the lowly Cardinals which doomed McCarthy.

For a team to have such a dramatic turnaround and record of success, I see Matt LaFleur as the catalyst and leader who caused it with the help of a talented General Manager, Gute, playing an important role as well.

Thus, I would cast a vote, if I had one as follows:
Coach of the year for LaFleur and Executive of the Year for Gute.

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jannes bjornson's picture

October 21, 2021 at 08:29 pm

Creative in the sense that he understands the basics of the WCO. Walsh won Super bowls off his defense and Rathman leading Roger Craig as much as Joe and Jerry.

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Packers0808's picture

October 21, 2021 at 05:14 pm

Can't always be the big winner in so called big games, but will 13-3 any day over 3-13. MLF yes he has Rodgers and Adams but has proven can win without them if necessary! I will take MLF any day over almost every present NFL coach. They all have their ups and downs!

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13TimeChamps's picture

October 21, 2021 at 05:27 pm

I'm a huge MLF fan, but when exactly has he proven he can win without Rodgers?

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Ferrari-Driver's picture

October 21, 2021 at 10:44 pm

You make a valid point, but Mike McCarthy was unable to win more games than he lost in his last season with Rodgers as his quarterback and Matt LaFleur won 13 the following year.

Now Gute took over the GM job in 2018 and Matt was hired in 2019. That was also the year that Gute signed both the Smith linebackers along with Amos which greatly improved the defense. That certainly helped LaFleur win more games.

As I said you make a valid point, 13Time Champs, and it may just be a combination of a better head coach, and aggressive and creative general manager, and an overall management team that is able to get the most out of the talent available.

I certainly like the coaching staff that LaFleur has assembled. Is there a better offensive line coach in the league?

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dobber's picture

October 22, 2021 at 07:45 am

The "what has he shown without ARod?" argument isn't really argumentation at all. He hasn't had to try...so if 13's argument is that this team is only winning because of #12, all you have to do is go back to 2018 to show that to be a bit of a reach.

I agree with you in that most of the coaching and management pieces are better now than they were 3-5 years ago. The lockerroom has improved. The team is just plain healthier in terms of climate and coordination. #12 was there when this wasn't true...and they struggled.

I agree with 13: nothing will be proven in this regard until #12 has moved on, but I give this current coaching staff and management team a far better chance at being successful sans QB1 than I'd ever give the previous regimes.

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Guam's picture

October 22, 2021 at 08:32 am

Cookie for Dobber!!

I very much agree that MLF's balanced offense is well suited to working with a young QB learning his way in the NFL. A strong running game, a good O-line and a less complicated passing scheme are all best friends to a developing QB (and not bad for a veteran QB either).

And MLF's choice for DC, Joe Barry, is looking better than I ever expected him to be. Other than special teams, this is looking like an outstanding coaching staff.

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dobber's picture

October 22, 2021 at 10:14 am

The transition is underway. The same formula for supporting an aging QB is likely also the best formula for grooming a young QB, though.

Ken's article about #12 having too much fun to move on is nice and all, but in the end, this ship is pulling up the gangplank and getting ready to leave port.

"And MLF's choice for DC, Joe Barry, is looking better than I ever expected him to be."

The Packers do a pretty good job of owning clock and limiting possessions, though, so I can't help but wonder if the aggregate yardage and scoring stats are a little misleading. Still, the point differential (post Saints) is meaningful.

Certainly they're getting TOs, and that helps a bunch.

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13TimeChamps's picture

October 22, 2021 at 09:31 am

"so if 13's argument is that this team is only winning because of #12, all you have to do is go back to 2018 to show that to be a bit of a reach."

That's not what I was implying at all. I was simply responding to the orig poster that claimed MLF has proven he can win without Rodgers. What is that based on, considering he has never coached a game without Rodgers? Way too much was read into my comment. Once again...I'm a huge MLF fan.

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dobber's picture

October 22, 2021 at 10:10 am

I getcha.

I didn't read the original post that closely.

<<tips hat>>

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Packers0808's picture

October 22, 2021 at 09:32 am

Do you really think Rodgers and LaFluer were on the same page totally in LaFluer's first year? It sure looked like a lot of things done had to be pushed by LaFluer that Rodgers had a hard time swallowing. 2nd year seems Rodgers turned the page and accepted more of LaFluer style. An observation in my opinion as why I said what I did.

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