Packers Head Coach Matt LaFleur Deserved to Be a Coach of the Year Finalist

The NFL named its five finalists for Coach of the Year and Packers head coach Matt LaFleur was not on the list. While you can argue there are other strong candidates for this award, leaving LaFleur off the list of finalists is an unjust decision.

The Packers head coach overcame many challenges to get his team to the playoffs. He had the youngest roster in the league. The Packers starting quarterback had exactly one career NFL start prior to this season. No starting wide receiver or tight end on this roster had more than one year of NFL experience.

The Packers were 2-5 through seven games. The team’s inexperienced receivers were running the wrong patterns and making poor reads. Too often, multiple receivers ended up on the same spot on the field which drew a large group of defenders to the area. Those plays rarely worked well.

Quarterback Jordan Love was having issues with accuracy and reading defenses. The offense couldn’t score in the first half as they suffered through a four-game losing streak.

GM Brian Gutekunst seemed to give up on the season when he traded starting cornerback Rasul Douglas to Buffalo along with a fifth-round pick for a third-round choice at the trade deadline at the end of October.

But LaFleur kept working with his young players. They all persevered and improved. By the second half of the season, the Packers finished 6-2 and Love had a quarterback rating of 100 or better in seven of the team’s final eight games.

LaFleur led the Packers to the playoffs. The team won its final three games when they had no more margin for error. Then, they went into Dallas and crushed the Cowboys. The Packers led 27-0 before Dallas even got on the board. Dallas scored two late touchdowns in garbage time to make the game appear closer, but the game was extremely one-sided.

The Packers then went to San Francisco and gave the top-seeded 49ers all they can handle before ultimately losing the game 24-21 in the closing moments.

The Packers also overcame numerous injuries when turning their season around. Many of their best players missed significant time. Running back Aaron Jones, the catalyst of the offense and one of the few experienced skill-position players, missed six full games and was limited in many others. The offense went to a different level when Jones was fully healthy and able to contribute.

The team’s top receiver, Christian Watson, missed eight games and was limited in several others due to a pair of hamstring injuries. Starting tight end Luke Musgrave suffered a lacerated kidney and missed six games entirely.

All Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari played only one game before being lost for the season. Former All Pro inside linebacker De’Vondre Campbell missed six games while former Pro Bowl cornerback Jaire Alexander missed 10 and was limited in others.

LaFleur also had to overcome the often-ineffective work of his defensive coordinator, Joe Barry. After three straight games where the team’s passive defensive approach made mediocre quarterbacks look like Hall of Famers, LaFleur stepped in. He told the meida he would spend more time working on the defensive game plan in the final two regular-season games. The defense played better in those games even though it took time away from LaFleur’s usual job of preparing the offensive game plan and scripting out plays.

Finally, LaFleur managed to overcome the criticism that all of his prior success was due to the fact that he had a future Hall of Famer at quarterback in Aaron Rodgers. LaFleur showed he could actually win more this year without Rodgers than he did last season with Rodgers under center.

I am not saying LaFleur should win the award outright, but for him to not be one of the five finalists is simply wrong. The job LaFleur did this season was outstanding, and he deserves serious consideration for NFL Coach of the Year.

Of course, one Lombardi Trophy would be worth 10 Coach of the Year awards, but that LaFleur will have to earn.

 

 

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11 points
 

Comments (43)

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

January 27, 2024 at 11:12 am

LaF deserved to be considered. Most of the finalists did what they were expected to do. My choice would be DeMeco Ryans.

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MainePackFan's picture

January 27, 2024 at 07:48 pm

Agreed. MLF should be on the list, but Ryans should be the unanimous choice without a doubt.

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Brewcity_BearsFan's picture

January 27, 2024 at 11:25 am

Not to take away from the job La Fluer did, but of the 5 guys nominated who would he replace?

DeMeco Ryans? Took over a 3 win team, with a rookie QB, and wound up in the post season, and winning a game. He should absolutely win unanimously.

Kevin Stefanski? Browns were on their 4th string QB, before catching lightning in a bottle with Flacco.

Dan Campbell? Lions weren't a playoff team a year ago. They came in with a lot of hype, and he kept them focused. Won the north going away.

Shannahan, and Harbaugh has their conferences best records. Purdy was still a question mark to start the season. In the off season for whatever reasons, no team seemed to want Lamar Jackson.

So, which of those 5 does La Fluer replace? Yes he did a great job. There were just 5 others who did a better.

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GregC's picture

January 27, 2024 at 11:47 am

Thanks, you saved me some time with that reply!

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13TimeChamps's picture

January 27, 2024 at 01:19 pm

I'm not saying I would replace him with MLF, but if I had to take someone off the list it would be Shanahan. With all the talent SF has on both sides of the ball, I think any number of good coaches could have won as many games this year as Shanahan did. They lost 5 games this year and got outplayed for 3+ quarters by the 7th seed in the playoffs. I've always thought he gets way too much credit.

I agree with most that it should be DeMeco Ryans pretty much hands down.

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PeteK's picture

January 28, 2024 at 10:39 am

I would add Stefanski, with that seasoned good defense and receivers and then get blown out in the playoffs.

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dobber's picture

January 28, 2024 at 10:50 am

I think the ballots are all cast prior to the playoffs.

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Brewcity_BearsFan's picture

January 28, 2024 at 12:06 pm

They are. Post season games have no bearing.

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Coldworld's picture

January 27, 2024 at 12:36 pm

LaFleur also just, as widely expected in the NFL world, just fired the defensive coordinator he went out on a limb to retain a year ago. That typically wouldn’t recommend a HC for such an award.

I can see some validity for arguing that he might be in the conversation for OC of the year based on the emergence of Live and the skill players. However, this is an award for Head Coaches, not for OCs. There is very big difference in those roles, that seems to get lost by many, including in this article.

I agree with Dobber, the obvious standout candidate for me is Ryans. The others deserve their mention for reasons BrewCity summarized neatly,

7 points
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EnemyTerritory's picture

January 27, 2024 at 01:48 pm

Good points. My only objection is that the lack of interest in Lamar Jackson was laughable. Not one offer sheet. Not one visit. Could it be more an issue of owners not wanting the best FA QB since Brady to reset the salary structure aka Watson rather than a question of his capabilities? (Read that collusion). Given that I’d give the nod to MLF despite my own history of calling him an empty designer sideline suit…

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Bitternotsour's picture

January 28, 2024 at 11:00 am

Crazy. To be fair though, Lamar is where he should be, in a town that loves him and with a team that is designed around his talent.

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zeke's picture

January 28, 2024 at 04:14 pm

Lamar Jackson was insisting on a fully-guaranteed contract, a la Deshaun Watson. If not for that I'm guessing that it would have played out differently.

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canadapacker's picture

January 27, 2024 at 11:33 am

Lots of good points in his favor - but didnt he have to fire his DC? He also had a hard time getting the offense in gear and the lack of offensive scheme in the middle of the season wasnt the high level that was needed. My biggest concern was the lack of team discipline - especially on defense ( he is responsible for that as well) bad dumb penalties and the lack of hustle and soft off the ball periods of play - all are the responsibility of the top guy. So I am not trying to be too negative because I am really optimistic about next season and believe we are a team on the upswing - but having to win out to get into the playoffs isnt credentials for coach of the year IMO.

6 points
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ChrisD's picture

January 27, 2024 at 05:34 pm

He chose to replace his DC. That takes and shows leadership. And for the rest, you’re missing the bigger picture. He took this group of young players and guided their progress through the season and they WERE ABLE to win out. You don’t think he and his staff were coaching their ASSES off in October and November to get them up to speed?!? THAT is what a COTY does. Not take a loaded veteran team that has been together for years and let them lose three in a row.

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Brewcity_BearsFan's picture

January 28, 2024 at 12:09 pm

He replaced the DC after the season ended. After voting is complete. That has absolutely nothing to do with the award. He stuck by Barry for the whole season. That isn't leadership. Its stubbornness.

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4thand10's picture

January 29, 2024 at 01:14 pm

So replacing the DC mid season would have turned things around? With who?I don’t thinks so.

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SoCalJim's picture

January 27, 2024 at 11:44 am

I can agree to saying MLF is a good coach, but, I cannot agree that he’s a great coach. Not coach of the year material. The staff he’s put together and his management leave a lot to be desired.

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SoCalJim's picture

January 27, 2024 at 11:45 am

I meant “his game management”

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Gman1976's picture

January 27, 2024 at 11:52 am

No doubt MLF did a great job with the offense, but as a head coach, he gets down graded for our defense and special teams (since he absolutely refuses to make in season changes when it is obvious that there's changes that desperately need to be made). We might be in NFC championship game if he made those changes.

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PhantomII's picture

January 27, 2024 at 11:56 am

What I have noticed is when an enormous amount of pressure was applied to ML, he finally got very involved in the DC issues we have had for years and made his imprint on it in the way he wanted it to be to win ball games...until it raised it's head in the SF game at the end. This is the first season I have noticed ML change up plays from a prior game with adjustments and exploit other teams who have been watching our film. Basically there is some growth that has been noticeable and with the DC being let go and strength and conditioning coordinator let go. I expect us to get a better DC, some new Defensive players and a few OL and get back at it with a NFCC appearance and hopefully more while having home field advantage.

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LambeauPlain's picture

January 27, 2024 at 12:07 pm

"LaFleur also had to overcome the often-ineffective work of his defensive coordinator, Joe Barry."

Gil, you are advocating for ML to be in the top 5 for HC of the year, not Comeback OC of the year, no?

I think Matt would get accolades for his Offense...but the selection committee also looked to the performance of his Defense and STs, both his responsibility. And they were not among the top of other NFL teams. So Matt gets 33% thumbs up and 66% thumbs down.

It is clear to me why he continues to get no Coach of the Year love, even with Love.

4 points
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porupack's picture

January 27, 2024 at 12:16 pm

You give some good merits for MLF as a good coach, but I agree with other posters here that he isn't top 5 and there is no disrespect to him by leaving him off the list. Its probably for his own good that peers place other coaches above him, and that MLF still has another level to reach in his career if he wants to attain greatness. Such awards and honors can be detrimental to some players at least, emphasizing individualism and get into egos. But, wouldn't believe coaches, and especially MLF would have that issue. Still, leave MLF to go one level higher...and start at that level from the beginning of the year....not just mid season.

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Coldworld's picture

January 27, 2024 at 01:14 pm

I think the league gives Tom Clements considerable credit for Love too, that many fans assign to LaFleur. Clements is very widely respected in league circles.

7 points
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ChrisD's picture

January 27, 2024 at 05:38 pm

And LaFleur hired him

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Coldworld's picture

January 27, 2024 at 05:59 pm

Actually, Rodgers very publicly made that happen. LaFleur did not appear to try to block it, it’s true.

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MainePackFan's picture

January 27, 2024 at 07:55 pm

Perhaps they both were instrumental in Jordan's development. I think most Packers fans see it that way.

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splitpea1's picture

January 27, 2024 at 01:45 pm

You could also make a small case that Gute deserved to be in the top five for Executive of the Year, but he was also absent from the list. Holmes of Detroit won it, and the rest included the executives of Houston, Baltimore, Miami, and Philadelphia. I would have considered Gute before the last two based on his most recent draft.

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Coldworld's picture

January 27, 2024 at 01:52 pm

Gute had quite a good case based upon this year’s harvest and the speed of turn around of this roster. I agree, certainly the better opportunity to make a valid argument for a snub.

5 points
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LeotisHarris's picture

January 27, 2024 at 02:03 pm

Whatever man. Lombardi only won the award once (1961) and he had a few pretty okay years imho.

How long has the reality TV show that is the NFL been announcing COTY *finalists*? I mean, I'm just like the rest of you; I freakin' cannot wait for the camera to zoom in on the smiling faces of all the nominees at the NFL Honors ceremony as Jay-Z says "and the 2023 NFL COTY award goes to...." Maybe if Matt attends the ceremony, Erin Andrews can ask him about the COTY snub when he's interviewed on the red carpet. Lawd-a-mighty, we'll be havin' us a time!

Hey! And, are there odds? Where can I lay five large on Dan Campbell placing third in the voting? What are the odds that Taylor Swift will be a presenter? Worry not, I'll never chase my loses and will bet responsibly just like Kurt Warner wants me to, but I cannot get enough of this NFL action.

Do you guys think The Masked Singer will be a presenter at NFL Honors?

7 points
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TKWorldWide's picture

January 27, 2024 at 02:18 pm

You’ve done it many times before, and here you go again! 😂

4 points
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SicSemperTyrannis's picture

January 27, 2024 at 10:33 pm

How about the unknown comic? (From the gong show)

1 points
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dobber's picture

January 28, 2024 at 04:04 pm

I think he's touring with Gene the Dancin' Machine.

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TarynsEyes's picture

January 27, 2024 at 02:18 pm

For me, there are only two legitimate contenders for COTY, and they are Ryans and Campbell.

Ryans did a terrific job with a legit rookie as the starting QB, and him a 1st year HC, but before he's crowned, let's see how far from where they got this year to where they land next season. I'd give Ryans RCOTY award.

Campbell has done an incredible job over his few seasons with Detroit, from what they were yearly, and now on the cusp of a possible SB appearance. Just saying it has me voting for him.

MLF ended up with a better than expected season, but as much as he kind of matched the Texans season, winning a playoff game, he did have a three-year QB, regardless of being his 1st year starting, it gave him a huge upper-hand on expected performance by knowing what he should have known in Love. Ryans, from that POV, knew near to nothing.

Many during the first half of the season, at least, were calling for MLF's head along with Barry's. A jump in play doesn't automatically erase that disaster, so many had pending as the end of year result. No, perhaps I'd give MLF a Rebound COTY award.

Like the article about why didn't some Packer players get a PB nod, because they simply didn't deserve it, and neither does MLF deserve consideration for COTY, he just doesn't.

4 points
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TKWorldWide's picture

January 27, 2024 at 03:42 pm

I also noticed the inverse relationship between GB’s success and the strays MLF catches re: his grooming.

2 points
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SinceLombardi's picture

January 29, 2024 at 07:52 am

I’m not giving anything to Campbell.. it’s a regular season award and they won 12 as compared to 9 in 2022. They were predicted to be a playoff team.
There probably should not even be a top 5. To me DeMeco Ryans wins in a landslide.

0 points
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Leatherhead's picture

January 27, 2024 at 03:52 pm

Hey, I like LaFleur and I think he did a fine job, but the Packers make the playoffs all the time. The Lions, on the other hand, go to the Championship game about once every 30 or 40 years, so I think you have to give it to Campbell. This will be the second time since the merger that the Lions have made it to the Championship game.

1 points
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lou's picture

January 27, 2024 at 05:55 pm

Very classy of you to point out the difficulty of the job Campbell did, the fan base has really suffered for so long. It was former Packer QB Tobin Rote who led the 1957 Lion's to a huge victory over a very talented Cleveland Browns team, 59-14. Rote replaced an injured Bobby Layne mid season, he even threw a TD on a fake field goal in that game as the holder. Rote also won an AFL Championship in 1963 with the San Diego Chargers with John Hadl as his backup.

4 points
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egbertsouse's picture

January 27, 2024 at 04:04 pm

Another homer nonsense article.

-9 points
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TKWorldWide's picture

January 28, 2024 at 02:04 pm

That you joyfully devoured?

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Houndog's picture

January 27, 2024 at 07:00 pm

LaFleur likely lost potential votes for hanging on to Barry through the "which QB can we make a HOFer this week" era.
Head Coaches are supposed to be hard nosed decision makers and do what's best for the team. In November and December MLF looked weak.
Even now he's working to find a way for Barry to stay with the team.
Rumors are circulating that one of the janitors is considering retirement, but a parking Valet might be his best position, somewhere he can't see the field.

-2 points
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PeteK's picture

January 28, 2024 at 11:27 am

--I just don't get the disrespect, all he does is win. Took the youngest team, that had many of its pro bowlers injured ,deep into the playoffs and many of you still do not give him the respect he deserves.

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Bitternotsour's picture

January 28, 2024 at 12:04 pm

I don't think it's disrespect to note that there are 5 other coaches who did more and deserve credit above him. That's not disrespect.

Houston did it with a rookie coach and a team that literally sucked last year. This is Detroit's first NFC championship game in a generation!

2 points
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SinceLombardi's picture

January 28, 2024 at 04:21 pm

If DeMeco Ryan’s doesn’t win it, they should do away with the award.

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