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Cory's Corner: Matt LaFleur Is A Home Run

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Cory's Corner: Matt LaFleur Is A Home Run

Don’t waste your time getting upset about the Matt LaFleur hire.

Nobody knew much about Mike Holmgren and he ended up winning 75 games in Green Bay. He led the Packers to the playoffs in six of seven years — with a Super Bowl win in 1996. The same can be said about Mike McCarthy who won 125 games as the Packers head coach. That included nine playoff appearances in 13 years and a Super Bowl win in 2010. 

Was the hire a curveball? Maybe, but remember that LaFleur has cut his teeth under Kyle Shanahan for two years and Sean McVay last year before being the Titans offensive coordinator this year. 

If you’re still unsure, this is what Trent Dilfer tweeted after the news broke on Monday: “Matt LaFleur is Mike McCarthy before McCarthy stopped grinding.” That’s a monumental tweet because if the Packers replaced McCarthy with a better, younger and a fierier coach, then the Packers are in a great spot.

LaFleur has coached Jared Goff, Matt Ryan, Marcus Mariota, Kirk Cousins, Matt Schaub and DeShone Kizer. Now you can add Aaron Rodgers to that list. And that’s exactly why LaFleur was hired. He must coach and hold Rodgers accountable while keeping him comfortable.

On the surface it looks like an odd hire because LaFleur led a Titans offense that was ranked 25thin yards and 27thin scoring in LaFleur’s rookie season as a play-caller. Tennessee only scored 30-plus points twice this year. But the Packers stuck to the recent trend of hiring young minds to lead innovative offenses.

“You look at Matt LaFleur and where he's been, it seems like successful quarterback play follows him,” said McVay in a Jan. 3 2018 interview for KNBC. 

There is also another element to this. The lone bright spot in a lackluster season was the defense. New defensive coordinator Mike Pettine was dealt with plenty of injuries and he still managed to cobble things together with guys that general manager Brian Gutekunst pulled off the street.

Green Bay made a priority to keep Pettine and that is likely the X-factor in this. Maybe LaFleur was the only one who agreed to keep Pettine, but regardless of how it went down, it shows that LaFleur will not have his fingers on the defense, allowing Pettine to continue to be creative.

This hire is also interesting because LaFleur, 39, is the third-youngest head coach in the league behind, you guessed it, McVay and Shanahan. He’s only four years older than Rodgers, which should open the doors for communication. The most important aspect of this hire is No. 12. The reason McCarthy was shown the door was because that relationship had frayed and now it’s up to LaFleur to not only solidify a relationship, but to do it quickly. 

Welcome aboard LaFleur. You’re walking into a tricky situation. It’s a high risk, high reward job that has bloated expectations because of past successes combined with an elite passer.

The Packers still have a lot of personnel holes, but the head coaching position just got nailed down. 

 

 

 

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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

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (89) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Samson's picture

Gute & LaFleur. (sounds so much better than TT & MM)
Look out NFL!!

dobber's picture

Who's the good cop?

dblbogey's picture

Just amazing to me that someone would actually "dislike" your comment. I guess there are a-holes in every forum.

Jonathan Spader's picture

2xBogey it's Samson's hate club doesn't bother him don't let it bother you. People thumb down based off a person's name rather than their post. People are petty and the internet gives then ambiguity. Focus on the insightful thinks posters like Samson say and not on the popularity contest. The world is full of a-holes.

Lare's picture

Andy.

The TKstinator's picture

I was always totally comfortable not having my own “preferred list” of HC prospects. Kinda figured it would be someone I’d never heard of. Let’s give this guy a chance. Lots of positives (as opposed to ‘pawsitives’) on his resumé.

Guam's picture

Perfect philosophy TK. I didn't want McDaniels because of the Colts kerfuffle and what it said about his character, but otherwise was completely comfortable letting the experts do their job.

LeotisHarris's picture

Nine thumbs-up, and a tip of the hat for use of kerfuffle!

dblbogey's picture

I, too, will give an upvote for the use of "kerfuffle".

4thand1's picture

This is why I like this site, I learn how to spell words like kerfuffle.

BradHTX's picture

I’ll see your kerfuffle and raise you a brouhaha.

Bearmeat's picture

It's either a home run or a strike out. None of this 8-8 "we just want to be respectable business." Keeping Pettine is nice too.

I'm intrigued and so glad it wasn't McDaniels. Can't wait to see him fill out his staff!

Rak47's picture

I've been saying the Packers need a brilliant offensive minded coach with little to no ego to work with Rodgers and be flexible enough to possibly let Rodgers call plays in game whether he be the HC or the OC. I read an article today on JSO about LaFleur that was written by Joe Rexrode back in August for the Tennessean. In the article Rexrode spoke with some of the Titans players about LaFleur and their Pro Bowl tackle, Taylor Lewan was basically quoted as saying " LaFleur has no ego at all, he's completely flexible with whomever the QB and personnel he's working with". As far as I'm concerned he checks off all the boxes. Young and innovative/brilliant offensive mind. Strong bloodlines and high praise from everyone he's worked with. Success on NFL level, especially with QB's. A former QB and QB coach. And reportedly no ego to clash with AR unlike McDaniels and his 'my way or the highway" philosophy.

Rak47's picture

And as far as keeping Pettine, Ian Rappaport reported that Pettine was on the short list of coach hires LaFleur wanted in GB that he handed over to Murphy and Gute during his interview. And although he's never coached with Pettine he does have a connection as his mentor, Kyle Shannahan was Pettine's OC in Clevland for a year. So I'm sure he knows all about Pettine and the quality of coach Pettine is. And I'm also sure he wants a quality staff with experience he can rely on, and Pettine would fit that bill due his close relationship with Shannahan.

Handsback's picture

Rak, agree with you on the Packer's new coach's needs. I thought he would be the best young candidate available, but it appeared that McDaniel was the lead prospect. I guess we should have learned about fake news by now.

The reason I liked him was his climb up the ladder. Nothing was given to him, and he seemed to earn every new promotion. A lot like MM, but maybe he will continue to be the innovator even after initial success.

A recent article in the Dallas paper talked about the Seahawks loss. They continued to try to run the ball against Dallas w/o success. It was a Pete Carroll trademark and that if he had been flexible to start passing on first down, there could have been a difference in the outcome. Coaches seem to innovate and find what will work and stop even when defenses catch up to what they are playing. That appeared to be MM's problem. I don't think that's the case w/ LaFleur. Also doesn't appear that LaFleur has a huge ego. His intention to keep Pettine shows a lot of understanding in the system and Pettine's capability.

porupack's picture

Or maybe LeFleur was just shrewed, and knew that tagging Pettine was clearly the strong play to get the HC job.

Mojo's picture

Thought the exact same thing porupack. And if that's the case put one in the plus column for someone smart enough to figure that out.

The TKstinator's picture

Or maybe he said, “Shrew you!”

Barnacle's picture

Rak

I am happy that LaFleur had a “Short” list of staff he wanted to retain.

Hematite's picture

I think a new face and a new voice will be a big boost to the players who had tuned out the uninspiring old head coach.

The TKstinator's picture

Agreed. I think coaches definitely have a shelf life.

Irish_Cheesehead's picture

I always assumed that was a beard growing on McCarthy's face. Maybe it was mold?

Razer's picture

Ha, ha

dblbogey's picture

I think those were crumbs from jelly donuts.

Nick Perry's picture

Okay now that I've had a night to sleep on it I'm warming up to the hire. I KNOW the guy is a REAL QB guru with the work he's done with Goff, Ryan and others. I KNOW he's well versed in the "Modern NFL Offenses" we see today from the Rams, Chiefs, 49ers, and (Gulp) Bears. I also like he's VERY well respected throughout the NFL and I still haven't found a negative comment from a NFL source about the hire.

My ONLY concerns is his experience and whether or not he can get Rodgers to change many of the bad habits he's developed the last few seasons and if he can get Rodgers to buy in 100%. I'm also a bit anxious to see just who he hires as his assistant coaches.

Keeping Pettine is a plus BUT I'm curious now if Pettine will want to change out some of his coaches. They need to replace Moss and definitely need to add an OLB coach. The next few weeks will be interesting for sure. The Packers made the first hire after getting a jump on the process. Now lets hire a staff that will match and rival the staff Holmgren put together when he came to GB.

Your not in Tennessee anymore Matt...Your in TITLETOWN. Make us Proud!

Rak47's picture

"Keeping Pettine is a plus BUT I'm curious now if Pettine will want to change out some of his coaches". That would surprise me a little bit because I recently read a quote from Pettine where he said the Packers current staff was probably the best staff he's ever been on. And he's been on part of some very good staffs. I think he likes his defensive coaches.

dobber's picture

I think the question will be: how many of the Packers current coaches that they wish to keep will actually return? Maybe MM taps Joe Whitt for his DC if he lands another HC gig. Maybe some coaches decide the grass is greener somewhere else. Hard to say...

Keeping Pettine as a security blanket with HC experience--and apparently NO ambition to be an HC again--shoule be a boost for LaFleur.

...So we had TT and MM. Then BG. Is this now MLF?

Jonathan Spader's picture

"...So we had TT and MM. Then BG. Is this now MLF?"

There is no I in MLF... but there should be.

dobber's picture

Maybe it's MaLF.

King K's picture

I can't believe you said. (as I LOL)

GoPackGo99's picture

I had LaFleur on my top 5 list.....at #5. Honestly, thought we were heading into the Josh McDaniels era.......have to say I'm ecstatic we aren't!

I do think given what we've heard, wanting to keep Pettine around almost certainly ruled out some of these guys that were interviewed quickly.

Bears lose, Packers have a fresh leader, we have a GM who is at least gonna chase Free Agents, and we have some draft capital in April. So far, 2019 is off on the right foot!

Irish_Cheesehead's picture

A big reason the Titan's offense was ranked 25th in yards and 27th in scoring was injuries and lack of talent. It's now up to Gute to bring in some more talent for LaFleur (which I think he will). A new strength and conditioning program wouldn't hurt, either. I know it's a rough game, but something is off in Green Bay - way too many injuries every year.

dobber's picture

True. Delanie Walker played, what, half a game before blowing out his ankle? The guy averaged nearly 80 catches per season from the TE position over the last 3 years. Tremendous security blanket. Gone.

Jonathan Spader's picture

Google onmilwaukee are the packers an injury prone team.

The Packers aren't as injury prone as fans would like to give them excuses for. They are very middle of the Pack. The problem is that the injuries happen to key starters. Wilkerson, Daniels, Clark, King, Perry, and most importantly Rodgers. Firing the staff won't prevent injuries or fans whining everytime a player gets hurt. It's the Not For Long league get used to it and sacrifice a block of aged cheddar to the football gods.

Coach JV's picture

The Pack is in the middle as far as injuries go, but if you look at the specific type of injuries (namely ankles and hammies), it's always the same type of injury all the time. Sure, there are a few outliers like AR's shoulder and BB's knee, but it's mostly ankles and hamstrings... year after year after year after year after year. There's something not right about what our S&C staff is doing.

Guitar dan's picture

I am interested to see how LaFleur fills out his coaching staff. Will he:
>Retain Philbin?
>Retain Campen?
>Fire Ron Zook?
>Have any input on the Defensive staff other than keeping Pettine?
>What about the training staff, weight room, yoga or anyone else that could help this team stay healthy for once?
>Talk to Rodgers about what he needs in a QB Coach?

Should be interesting times
Love it!

GO PACK!

White92's picture

I read someone saying if Zook is kept, then it's a bad hire.

dobber's picture

1000 thumbs up.

King K's picture

I agree with someone!

Coach JV's picture

Probably read that someone in here...

But yeah, Zook has to go.

4zone's picture

He ain't a Harbaugh and his name doesn't start with Mc so it can't be all bad. In the end, the proof is in the pudding. He fits our needs of a fresh offensive mind and it seems is wanting Petine back so I like both of those aspects. Will see how good he is at managing an entire team as opposed to just an offense. With the three headed structure at GB, maybe that will take some of the pressure off him long enough for him to get things rolling. Now we will see how well Gute and he play together to get him all the new fancy toys on his player wish list.

I hope he has someone in mind to replace Zook and I have no clue what he intends to do at OC. Also not sure how he will work with his OC considering his lack of real experience at play calling. Time will tell.

croatpackfan's picture

Ha! Mc is similar to La, just different languages...

But that is OK! More we discuss I'm more convinced Packers (Murphy and Gutekunst!) made right decision to hire Matt LaFleur ...

I see some of fans are worried by Titans overall offensive performance last season. Well, even with that "bad" stats Titans were in the hunt till the last minute of the last game of the season for playoff. It also says something (I believe - very good reference!)

justjan's picture

I read that he is considering Brayden Coombs from Cincy. don't know anything about him, though.

jww061356's picture

I like the hire. Sharp, modern, offensive, continuity @ DC. I'm sure Zook is gone but I'll bet he keeps Campen. Still beating the drum for Van Pelt as OC, I think between him and LaFleur they can reach/teach Rogers. I think it will be interesting to see how he fills out his staff. I also think the point is well taken on strength coach....too many soft tissue injuries. We need to address this as well as personnel. Go get Earl Thomas and the draft for EDGE, IOL, Tackle, and TE in the first four rounds.

dobber's picture

I think Campen has a reasonable chance of sticking, but I wonder what the staff will end up looking like in general: as I understand, the Packers had one of the largest (if not THE largest) coaching staffs in the league last year under MM. It could be that MLF will streamline some, and if that means that Campen has to return to being strictly OL coach, he may choose to move on. Campen seems to be a polarizing figure for some, but I think he's been very good given the pieces he's had to work with.

Razer's picture

I hope he streamlines and gets his men. Some of McCarthy's guys and philosophies need to get swept and LaFleur needs to put his stamp on the staff. I think it is important to have the authority to build as you see fit.

I like Campen because I think he's done a good job with table scraps. I also like Montgomery on the DL because he had two guys for much of the season.

dobber's picture

When they brought in Montgomery from Oklahoma as assistant DL coach a couple years ago, it seemed the DL play picked up. That might have something to do with adding Kenny Clark, too. But I like how things have gone with the DL and hope he sticks.

CheesyTex's picture

I wonder whether or not Philbin fits in all of this. IMO he was an excellent O line coach, and could possibly end up there on MLF's staff. Interesting to think of head coaching experience as assistants on both sides of the ball.

porupack's picture

I agree. Go get Earl! Also, go get 49ers RB Alfred Morris. What a hammer.

dobber's picture

I think they do need another high-end back to pair with Jones. I'd like a better receiver than Morris, though.

Razer's picture

Earl Thomas giving his sideline the finger as he was carted off the field was a true classless act. We don't need that in Green Bay. Draft or FA a fast, young safety early and put this secondary issue behind us.

LeotisHarris's picture

Razer, Earl Thomas and "classless" do not belong in the same sentence. Google Earl Thomas Foundation, and Earl Thomas Football Camp. For extra credit you can read about all he and his family overcame, fromm ADHD to losing everything to Hurricane Rita.

Razer's picture

I don't know what Earl Thomas does off the field. I was referring to giving the sideline (coach presumably) the finger during the game. Your team is trying to win a game and a playoff spot and you think it is okay to middle finger the man leading the team. Not classy under any foundation.

RCPackerFan's picture

Matt LaFleur was my darkhorse prediction. This

The biggest reason was he was a former QB coach. His background was working a lot with Kyle Shanahan and spent a year with McVay. Which suggest that he should have a great offensive mind.

While some will say that the Titans ranked low offensively in LaFleur's only year as an offensive playcaller, lets not forget that he was working with Mariota and Blaine Gabbert. Not exactly the cream of the crop...

While we will have to wait and see how he does as a head coach I feel pretty good about the hire. But we won't truly know for a while how good or bad of a hire this is.

One of the best things that I have heard since last night is that he wants to keep Pettine as the DC.

Bure9620's picture

Not to be a negative nelly but how do we know this is a home run right now? It could be. It may not be. The head coach has significantly more on his plate than offensive scheme. Don't get me wrong, I am glad the offense is moving into this century but this could be a home run or a disaster. I know Kirk and others have reservations. Lets let things play out.

dobber's picture

Agreed!

D.D. Driver's picture

I look at it like this: Ron Wolf was as good a GM as you will find. He hired 3 coaches. Only one of them was any good. That's a 33% hit rate for a HOF GM.

Trying to predict who will be a successful coach is a bit like playing craps except with worse odds.

dobber's picture

Mike Sherman won a lot of games as Packers HC. Just not a lot in the post season. He was also overmatched as GM and ran the roster (and dynamic with #4) into the ground.

BradHTX's picture

None of us knows whether this is a home run or not. But a sports blogger can’t write a column entitled, “Matt LaFleur Hire Might Be Good. Or Not.” That’s not much of a way to generate clicks.

dobber's picture

In a coaching field that felt as even as this one did, I don't know that I'd call MLF a homerun, but I think he's got as good a shot as just about anyone in the pool. How he handles a locker room will be important, and it's my hope that Pettine guides him strongly.

I think that if MLF is smart, he'll get his OC on board and immediately involve #12 in installing an offense. Getting ARod to take ownership for the scheme that way might be one of the more original challenges he'll be asked to undertake.

Besides, this way they can still put in a new offense, but keep some--if not most--of the old terminology to help smooth the transition for the young receivers.

Razer's picture

...How he handles a locker room will be important, and it's my hope that Pettine guides him strongly. I think that if MLF is smart, he'll get his OC on board and immediately involve #12 in installing an offense...

Good thoughts. The head coach needs to lead and the player need to follow that lead. Commanding the locker room is important. Perhaps a sense of this came through in the interview.

White92's picture

Has Rodgers commented yet? I guess maybe after they officially introduce him as head coach..

byu.tech's picture

first move to be done:
kick zook ass off green bay.

King K's picture

Politely usher him out of Green Bay... maybe even buy him a home in Chicago.

Jonathan Spader's picture

Charles Robinson of Yahoo sports made so.e good points in his article.

"Can LaFleur handle Rodgers, who ran over McCarthy for much of 2018 and might be in need of both scheme innovation and someone who will check him when necessary? Why did Atlanta Falcons coach Dan Quinn let LaFleur leave the team before the 2017 season, when he was the most sensible replacement for Shanahan? And following LaFleur’s 2017 offensive coordinator season with the Rams, why did McVay let LaFleur depart that franchise for Tennessee, rather than giving him some play-calling duties?"

stockholder's picture

1. La Fleur can handle Rodgers. Rodgers does not want the monkey on his back for MM. 2. He more than likely saw some bad things with Quinn. People don't listen. 3. The Rams have several coordinators from what I hear. Zac Taylor was considered. 4. I like the hire. He's keeping Pettine. So it's not like starting over. The more he shifts duties to other people. The more time he has to fix whats broken.

porupack's picture

Good response Stkholdr; I agree Rodgers should very much want to respond positively to Lafleur. You can buck one coach at some point with good rationale, but twice is a trend. Rodgers will have every motivation to hit reset just like the team hit reset.

Jared's picture

We don’t know if Dan Quinn ‘let” him walk away. I don’t think forcing someone to stay when they want to leave is beneficial to either party. I’m guessing McVay did the same thing, McVay is the play caller why give it up? And maybe both of those guys saw the potential that MLF has and knew he’d be gone shortly anyway.

Chris Vachio's picture

McVay is on record as saying almost exactly that.

Razer's picture

Don't know Matt LaFleur from Guy LaFleur but I like that the Packers made a call early in the year. They obviously saw and heard something that they liked. I hope that Gute led the charge.

I would have preferred a HC who was a generalist rather than a callsheet guy. McCarthy ignored a lot of chronic team problems because he had a fulltime job with the offense. Keeping Pettine and firing Zook should help with my concern.

I hope he gets:
- full authority over the staff
- more talent
- full support from our QB

If he can maximize Aaron Rodgers for the next 4 years, it will be a big win. Welcome and good luck Matt.

Jonathan Spader's picture

Razer, from the same article I quoted earlier:

"Part of the underlying suggestion is that while LaFleur represents risk, he is also a hire who carries the attraction of not being a threat to an existing power structure. He’s going to be in Green Bay to coach, whereas candidates like McDaniels or Gase would have certainly pressed on the personnel department as well. There is no ambiguity about whether LaFleur will have more influence than second-year general manager Brian Gutekunst. He won’t. There is also no ambiguity that Packers president Mark Murphy is firmly at the top of the franchise pyramid, with little worry of surrendering any juice whatsoever to a head coach."

porupack's picture

Razer,
The main difference I can see is that one of the Lefluers is just a Guy.
LoL

Razer's picture

Ha, ha

Razer's picture

BTW - there are 3 HC in the NFC North who's first name is Matt. Truly a copycat league.

RCPackerFan's picture

Time for the Vikings to get with the program!

BradHTX's picture

So are we the “Door Matt Division,” then?

Anyway, better than a fourth Mike in GB.

egbertsouse's picture

Home run? More of a Texas leaguer. Is this guy related to Peter LaFleur? Now, he would be a home run!

Mark Washack's picture

Interesting that Lafleur coached Kizer. Last chance to groom him ?

Packerpasty's picture

we will soon see how it all works out...hey Yoopers, did you know he was on the coaching staff at NMU 2006 ...I think it was...qb coach..

dobber's picture

He's originally from Mt. Pleasant, MI, which is only about 15 minutes up US-127 from us here.

Barazinho's picture

I'm willing to bet that him being from the area (a yooper) was another + mark for him.

4thand1's picture

Yes Packerpasty, 2 hours from Houughton, NMU- Mich tech big rivalry.

4thand1's picture

Lot of questions how AR will work with Lafleur. AR has no choice but to. If for some reason they started butting heads, AR will look like an uncoachable player and diva who no one will want be work with.

TXCHEESE's picture

Absolutely spot on! AR will be motivated to show that MM was the issue, not him. I also believe Lafleur will respect AR's knowledge and take suggestions more readily than MM may have. I'm excited to see how this shakes out, and so grateful McDaniels was not selected. I was literally going to have to find another team to root for after 50+ years of rooting for the PACK.

Jaypack's picture

It's a ballsy move. I like it. We've been so predictable for so long and we must take advantage of Arod's last years. Glad we didn't go the "safe" route with McDaniels. Go Pack!

ollie418's picture

Don't like the pick.

BradHTX's picture

OK, then.

Doug Niemczynski's picture

Again, only time will tell. Let's wait until this time next year.

Cheezdik's picture

Fire Joe whitt and Ron Zook. They are both garbage coaches. Whitt has had "too much" time t turn the pass defense around and Zook has done a horrile job with Special teams.

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