Cory's Corner: Matt LaFleur's Biggest Victory

The Packers head coach is entering his fifth year in Green Bay. But to him, he doesn't feel like a seasoned veteran. 

Everyone at Packers training camp has been straining their neck trying to get a glimpse of Jordan Love. Can he play? Can he lead? Does he really have that “Aw shucks” personality in the locker room?

But while the transformation for No. 10 is going on, there is something interesting happening with Matt LaFleur. He is entering his fifth season as an NFL head coach with a sparkling 47-19 regular season record — including three straight NFC North titles. 

Yet, that isn’t the approach that he is taking this year. 

“It feels like Year 1, quite frankly,” LaFleur said this week. “It feels like we’re right back where we started when I first got hired here. That’s exciting.”

Think about that for a second. LaFleur has proven that he can coach in this league. He has massaged the ego of a first ballot Hall of Famer while stressing the importance of the run game. Since he has been hired in 2019, the Packers have been ranked 15th in offensive points, first, 10th and 14th.

That quote is interesting to me because it screams that there is more to LaFleur’s system just waiting to get out. He has watched one of the best wideouts in the game in Davante Adams get traded then saw the best passer I’ve ever seen in Aaron Rodgers get traded. 

Deep down, he knows that a lot of people have questioned his worth mainly because the success has always been attributed to a top quarterback and top receiver. 

But this year is different. It’s different because he finally gets a chance to put his thumbprint on this team. Sure, he has been the head coach for some time, but the mouthpiece of the team has always been Rodgers. Now that responsibility falls squarely on him. And I think he relishes it. Obviously, having a quarterback like Rodgers that put the ball anywhere on the field is a tremendous weapon and it also makes the defense sometimes overthink where they have to be in order to stop the maestro from slicing up the secondary. 

But now he’s got a guy in Jordan Love that has only had limited time on a football field. It seems like forever ago that the Packers traded up to take Love 26th overall in the 2020 NFL Draft. I mean, Love is so unknown, he didn’t even dress for one game during his rookie season. How unbelievable is that? Would a rookie that was taken in the first round even allow a team to do that nowadays?

That’s why this is a fresh start season for LaFleur. He knows that he will not be getting a plethora of magic throws from Love, but at the same time, he also knows that he will not be bombarded by Love’s ego either. That is what ultimately derailed things with the Packers and Rodgers and why the Packers opted to roll the dice on a guy that may in fact be another Don Majkowski. That wouldn't be terrible — aside from Majkowski’s dead even 56 touchdowns and 56 picks in six seasons in Green Bay. 

The crazy thing is, this team can still win if Love is average. He doesn’t have to be great. The defense has plenty of firepower to win games. The key will be for the offense not to give games away. 

And that’s where LaFleur comes in. If he can keep Love’s turnover numbers down while he gets up to speed in the NFL, then that will be LaFleur’s biggest victory. 
 

 

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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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5 points
 

Comments (45)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
ko40489's picture

July 29, 2023 at 06:24 am

The last sentence says it all. Keeping Love's turnovers down is a key. And given his stats in Love's last year of college ball (20 TD's against 17 INT's), MLF has his work cut out for him. That depends not only coaching up Love, but also play calling and game strategy. These are completely uncharted waters for the team, MLF, and a lot of us fans. Let's hope for the best, but (at least for this year) be prepared for the worst.

-5 points
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Savage57's picture

July 29, 2023 at 07:36 am

People who are quick to bag on JL's stats his last collegiate season are either unaware or refuse to acknowledge the wholesale change USU went through in 2019 when Gary Anderson came back after mucking things up at Wisconsin and Oregon State and losing four of his OL starters.

11 points
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dobber's picture

July 29, 2023 at 07:50 am

There's a lot more to the story than just aggregate stats, that's for certain. People would have less of an issue with Love if the numbers from his 2018 and 2019 seasons were reversed.

8 points
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greengold's picture

July 29, 2023 at 09:40 am

True. Andy Herman did a fantastic 2 part analysis a few years back exploring each of his 2018 & 2019 seasons.

While I’m a huge fan of the Love pick, the distress he endured under constant pressure with unfamiliar WRs in 2019 did point to some bad habits he needed to clean up. He’s had 3 years immersed here in the same system, and has had most of the TC reps as QB1 (w AR’s camp absences 2022) going on 2 years now.

I’m confident he’ll show he’s a different player now. Better.

We’ll see soon enough.

2 points
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LambeauPlain's picture

July 29, 2023 at 10:40 am

You win the cookie, Dobber.

In fact, if you compare Love's stats at USU to Rodgers at CA, they are remarkably similar. Love had more yards and TD passes, Rodgers a slightly higher QB rating.

2 points
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ko40489's picture

July 29, 2023 at 05:08 pm

So a new system justifies poor decision making? And moving from Utah State to the NFL isn't wholesale change?

0 points
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Coldworld's picture

July 29, 2023 at 06:51 am

This team is seeming built to be less reliant on its QB offensively. It’s also invested heavily in defensive talent. It ought to be able to succeed without excellence at QB. However, to do so, it’s going to need very good coaching, strategically and tactically.

LaFleur, as an individual offensive mind and in the context of his supporting cast of coaches is going to have to be good. This year is likely to give us a very much more defined concept of LaFleur as an individual offensive mind and head coach. Will he emerge as a gem or a pretender? Well, for me that’s always been the foundational question this year.

7 points
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dobber's picture

July 29, 2023 at 08:20 am

I think that first paragraph sums up the philosophy of the Gutekunst era, starting with that 2019 draft and FA period. There needs to be pressure on the defensive talent to take over games. Yes, the coaching on that side of the ball has been meh, but at some point talent has to make plays, too.

"Will he emerge as a gem or a pretender?"

He's had a four-year grace period leading to this season. There's no real sign that he's on the hot seat at this point, but if the season goes really badly, they get poorer as the season progresses, or it's clear he's lost the locker room, that's usually a ticket to a quick exit.

1 points
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jannes bjornson's picture

July 29, 2023 at 03:17 pm

This defense has to create Turnovers aggressively. THEY have to get the Job done. No excuses. Give the offense favorable field position and hold the line when it's crunch time in the fourth quarter.

2 points
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Savage57's picture

July 29, 2023 at 07:00 am

The best part of this season is going to be able to watch a team play football for the first time in about a decade.

Not a ME and 52 other guys.

As great as ME was, it wasn't a championship winning formula once his ego metastasized, as was proven over and over again.

11 points
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10ve 💚's picture

July 29, 2023 at 08:19 am

That is savage, Savage 😁👍

5 points
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HawkPacker's picture

July 29, 2023 at 08:31 am

Myself, I believe the most important thing for the Packers is to be able to find out if Love is really the answer to lead the pack now and in the future.

I have seen it mentioned on numerous occasions that Love only has to be average for us to win. I really don't want and average qb but someone certainly above average. To what extent, I am not certain. Certainly, I do not expect to be as good as Rodgers and no one should, as Rodgers is one of the best ever at that position.

That said, it should be a fund season ahead for all of us packer fans.

4 points
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dobber's picture

July 29, 2023 at 09:11 am

"Myself, I believe the most important thing for the Packers is to be able to find out if Love is really the answer to lead the pack now and in the future."

We're like-minded on this: too many people say this off-season was an indication that Love is the man. I think he's the first man in line. They need to be honest with themselves in their assessments and act decisively on Love based on his play. If he's the guy, great. If not, they can't hang on him hoping that he'll eventually look good.

This off-season was a return to the transition-plan that the 2019 draft signaled was in progress. It was a recognition that maintaining a structure to appease and support 12 was not sustainable, and that the commodity that was ARod was expiring--and they both got draft value in return and cap relief for the future.

" I really don't want and average qb but someone certainly above average. "

I agree here, too: it's hard to win titles with average play coming from your QB. Yes, we can cherry pick examples where QBs who aren't high profile names have won SBs, but the majority of SB wins over the last 20-ish years have coincided with good-to-elite QB play. Even the counter examples mostly come from the hot hand over an extended stretch (Foles, Eli) where those guys were playing good football.

5 points
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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

July 29, 2023 at 05:18 pm

Agreed. If Love is average, the 2023 team will be at best average, and probably will lead to a sub .500 team. I don't believe the mantra that Love only has to be average, unless we are referring to the 2023 season only.

0 points
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dobber's picture

July 29, 2023 at 08:46 am

Early in his career, ARod and MM ran very much a catch-and-run/slant-and-go kind of offense with Jennings and Driver...even that has fallen by the wayside. With the exception of most of 2020 and part of 2021, we've seen largely the same offense for most of that ten-year period you talk about.

I'm not a huge fan of gimmicky college offenses, but the NFL has adopted a lot of those concepts and the Packers are behind the curve on that. Just by shifting QBs this offense should be providing a lot of unscouted looks for opponents early on, and without the full-scale change and confusion that goes with a replacement of staff and institution of a new scheme.

4 points
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Packers0808's picture

July 29, 2023 at 01:42 pm

Couldn't be any more correct. Rodgers became the not so hidden hideous disease on the Packers!

0 points
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2
Rebecca's picture

July 29, 2023 at 07:20 am

The ghost of Aaron Rodgers haunts this team. I hope he’s been exorcised by opening day. And no more gunslinger own’s da bears celebrations. Rodgers got old real fast last season. Movin on from that b.s.

10 points
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dobber's picture

July 29, 2023 at 08:50 am

I think his actions this off-season show how much the drama of the last couple years was on him.

4 points
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Rebecca's picture

July 29, 2023 at 06:35 pm

That’ my conclusion too.

1 points
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White92's picture

July 30, 2023 at 02:44 pm

What bugs me is him taking a pay cut and showing up for all the off-season workouts. Why couldn't he do that in GB? I hope the Jets suck this year

0 points
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TxFred's picture

July 29, 2023 at 07:59 am

MLF will run the offense he wants. Plays he calls will be run. No more self-serving manipulating the plays to get a comical mvp. Talent, youth, positive attitude, speed & team bonding is going build and develope as the season rolls on. GPG !!!!@

8 points
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egbertsouse's picture

July 29, 2023 at 08:13 am

It’s definitely “put up or shut up “ time for LaFleur. Personally , I hope we’ve seen the end of hero ball. Maybe I can go the whole season without seeing a 50 yard sideline pass on third and one.

7 points
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dobber's picture

July 29, 2023 at 08:58 am

LaF has a lot to prove. He didn't have a prolific track record of calling plays prior to coming to GB, and he's had 12 working under C for the last 4 seasons. Just like 12 now has the impetus to show he "wasn't the problem", LaF needs to show that 12 was holding him back.

"Maybe I can go the whole season without seeing a 50 yard sideline pass on third and one."

I don't mind if they convert that play at a meaningfully higher clip...12 was throwing it so often that defenses weren't caught napping on it.

4 points
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stockholder's picture

July 29, 2023 at 08:21 am

Love won't be MLFs victory!
He will be Guteys victory.
Quite frankly; Rodgers pay cut said it all.
Love was drafted for the glory of Gute.
And MLF will be the fall guy now.
He knows it. So it's back to square one.
And if anybody questioned the Barry extension.
MLF can give his full attention to the offense.
A offense that won't need Rodgers or LOVE!
A offense that is so potent.
The Back up QB can do it.
Thats What MLF should be judged on.
Being the next Bill Walsh/etc. Goes beyond the QB.
And if you remember Montana, and Steve Young.
You'll know a great coach, when you got one.
And something like the West Coast Offense.

-5 points
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Savage57's picture

July 29, 2023 at 08:57 am

Do the walls of your house have a lot of sticky notes and string all over them?

2 points
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dobber's picture

July 29, 2023 at 08:59 am

Just a lot of foam padding.

2 points
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dobber's picture

July 29, 2023 at 08:58 am

"Quite frankly; Rodgers pay cut said it all."

It did, but I don't think it says what you think it does.

3 points
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stockholder's picture

July 29, 2023 at 10:02 am

I think he was prepared to take a cut to
keep Lazard and Tonyan.
He stated a pay cut on Air.
Yet most hater's felt it was a ploy.

-3 points
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Oppy's picture

July 29, 2023 at 07:29 pm

Are you really this big of a push over?

AR is basically doing everything he refused to do in GB now that he's in NY, from OTAs and putting in extra time with his new, unfamiliar receivers, to putting in effort to get to know the younger players on the team, to taking a pay cut to help his team keep a team around him.

He's doing all this shit because he -knows- how he conducted himself in GB the last many years wasn't in the best interests of the GBP, and he desperately has to prove to the world he'll have a successful season in 2023, and moreover, he needs to attempt to control the narrative about the type of team mate he is.

In short... his girlfriend dumped him and he's trying to prove how awesome of a boyfriend he really is.

1 points
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Spock's picture

July 29, 2023 at 10:17 am

"I don't think it says what you think it does." Maybe SH should watch The Princess Bride to get a hint. :)

-3 points
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stockholder's picture

July 29, 2023 at 10:49 am

Most hate implies an emotional aversion
often coupled with enmity or malice.

1 points
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PeteK's picture

July 29, 2023 at 03:00 pm

Referring back to your original statement. You're on the right path, MLF and Gute will be judged by how well Love performs. A coach and GM are usually attached at the hip when it comes to winning and losing. I see the talent, but you have to coach it out.

4 points
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dobber's picture

July 30, 2023 at 01:10 pm

Normally, the GM outlasts his HC and uses the HC as a fall guy when things go south. In the Packers' system, since the GM doesn't hire and fire the HC, it's a different world.

0 points
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UdderApocowlipse's picture

July 29, 2023 at 10:52 am

You emphasize multiple interesting points, I think, like MLF becoming the fall guy for Gute, as one example, but at times it can be tough to discern those thoughts through your shtick. One example of what makes your ideas unclear would be using new lines instead of compound sentences and commas to explain your nuanced ideas.

And agree with me or not, I think your mind contains nuanced thoughts.

Often what you write lacks the emotional gravity I imagine you are trying to give it because it can be incoherent. Taking a break from your style/shtick might allow you to communicate your thoughts more effectively.

Just a friendly consideration. Please keep sharing your valuable opinions as the team and franchise remain interesting to you.

-1 points
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stockholder's picture

July 29, 2023 at 11:26 am

style/shtick and nuanced thoughts?
I guess you got that from the reply of others.
I have posted a lot of comments.
Most used English and grammar, to attack them.
Lately; it's the disconnect between their reality,
and a difference of opinion.
I try to keep to the article as much as possible.
And not use long sentences.
It's easy to condemn, and harder to defend.
I have always kept to whats appropriate.
Others have not.

-1 points
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jannes bjornson's picture

July 29, 2023 at 03:30 pm

Absolutely, this is Gutedkunst's gambit. How Love sails will either sink his boat, or win the regatta. It is Gutey's show. Will he be cancelled?

1 points
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2
greengold's picture

July 29, 2023 at 08:36 am

“It feels like Year 1, quite frankly,” LaFleur said this week. “It feels like we’re right back where we started when I first got hired here. That’s exciting.”

ATTITUDE

This is huge, and exudes a contagious positive energy through a young & talented team. A Year 1 feel for LaFleur, with 4 seasons of Head Coaching experience.

“If you could do it all over again,” comes to mind. WHO gets to do THAT? Rare opportunity for LaFleur and Green Bay.

I think that part of the equation for this 2023 Packers season cannot be overstated. The excitement, confidence & attitude coupled with accountability permeates this team, top to bottom.

Young players exhibiting personal accountability to the TEAM. LaFleur walking out for home the other night, seeing Kraft & Musgrave still reviewing film says a lot.

4 points
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0
TarynsEyes's picture

July 29, 2023 at 09:45 am

"The crazy thing is, this team can still win if Love is average. He doesn’t have to be great."

Average is all you need is the mentality of an already accepted lost season, and hoping for a jump through the uprights that always move and prevent it. You don't draft a QB in the first round to 'be' average. If he happens to end up being that, then you had best have a Top 5 Defense or just sit back and except the playoffs will likely get further and further away, less winning in them.

The QBs being drafted today, and over the last few years, are not sitting for three years, unless the team, or HC is embedded in the old style of grooming one. Those days are gone, though I'm not saying it's always for the better. However, a win now league wants QBs that can excite early with their athleticism, a reason why RBs are crying about money, and throw a decent pass. These types might not last as long as the more pure passer, but while that passer sits, you'll already behind the league, and being average when it's time, just isn't going to cut it.

No, the belief that Love needs only to be average is a fool's game already lost, but a victory, if your expectations are a give or take around .500 that always has you 'hoping' for instead of 'realizing' significant goals, less the ultimate one.

Average or less QB play places an extremely larger burden on any Defense, even Top 5, which this team's Defense isn't.

Love has two years to prove himself not an average QB, and the FO best accept the need to move on as soon as it's realized if that's all he'll ever be. Watch carefully, and keep hope in check, because false hope can keep this ORG in playoff drought for a long time.

Average isn't winning anything that the AFC is in contention for, unless that isn't on the agenda.

2 points
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5
White92's picture

July 30, 2023 at 02:50 pm

Word

0 points
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croatpackfan's picture

July 29, 2023 at 09:58 am

I want to see balance. Balance! That is the path to success. Not just scheme, not just talent. Balance between HC/OC ideas and capability of the team to execute those ideas. Of course that you have to put ideas into the schemes and of course you need to have talent to execute those ideas - that balance!

I want to see MLF+Love type of the offense that include all players from offense. Same with defense and ST. Maximazed talent and players capabilities. I do not want just schematic plan, but adapted scheme to players strength. That will gives team balance ans success.

Go Pack Go.

4 points
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1
LambeauPlain's picture

July 29, 2023 at 10:59 am

Comparing Love to be a potential Majik? If he plays like Majik did in his 10-6 season maybe MLF will be labeled the best Packer HC in history as the fans labeled Infante back then.

At least Cory didn't compare him to a possible Rich Campbell.

I am positive on Jordan Love. He's talented, a leader, and has intangibles I admire...especially how he has handled adversity...the loss of his mentor and Dad at 12 years...working hard to keep the USU team together after the HC and most of his O starters left...and the class and character he displayed through Rodgers Swan Song of Selfishness in Green Bay.

4 points
6
2
greengold's picture

July 29, 2023 at 11:13 am

A++++++++

Jordan Love is different, and mature beyond his years. I believe he's going to make a great leader on this team, and he's willing to literally be that all important extension of the HC on the field as QB1.

Can't help but feel after about 4-6 weeks to work out some kinks, this is going to get really, really good.

Nicely stated, LambeauPlain!

1 points
2
1
vin0770's picture

July 29, 2023 at 03:21 pm

Sam Darnold has said how the system always has someone wide open and wonderful that is, and Purdy last year threw lots of balls to guys running wide open. I hope MLF takes in everything his buddy does in scheming guys open that well.

Hey coach you want Love to keep his picks down? How about this, you be brilliant as your buddy and scheme open a bunch of plays/route concepts and get guys running free in crossing routes, etc.

I’m already tired of hearing we don’t want Love to try and be AR. The GOOD AR (not last year) was a magician and threw guys open, well coach, how about not having plays that EXPECT Love to have that kind of accuracy if you’re concerned he doesn’t have that kind of accuracy?

The biggest thing that Love doesn’t have is that consistent accuracy the good AR did. He’s athletic enough, he’s got enough arm talent, we’ll quickly see if he’s smart enough or a quick processor enough to be qb1…just don’t give him lots of throws where he’s got to be Uber accurate with receivers that have half a step.

3 points
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1
packerfanroy's picture

July 30, 2023 at 03:01 am

Everybody in this thread saying that the main problem with this team was Arod are gonna be in for a long season just watching the Packers alone, never mind if the Jets catch fire behind a vengeful and motivated (I STILL own you!!!) Arod. Don't take my word for it, I know you wont anyways. Take MLF's word, "We need to temper expectations". Take Mark Murphy's word (I just threw up in my mouth a bit) "The defense is gonna have to carry us". Take the word of the GM Gutekunst, "The consistency part is what we're looking at for all our young players. It's one thing to flash or make plays off your natural ability and what you've known in the past." So from the Team president, GM and HC, the Packers are, in a nutshell, looking for the defense to carry them while the offense learns to play consistent and that we need to temper our expectations. Meanwhile a large part of the fan base, who hate Arod with a passion coincidentally, are looking at all these players with little to no experience (college experience doesnt count) and thinking a North Title maybe/maybe not but definitely a Wild Card and playoffs because we got rid of the Arod problem. Saying you are all blinded by bias is being nice. With all of you clapping and cheering that Arod is FINALLY gone you probably didnt hear that loud bang that happened when Arod was traded....it was our Super Bowl window getting slammed shut, probably for 2-3 years at least, and thats only if things work out well for the Packers. Again, you dont have to take my word for it....

0 points
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Boneman's picture

July 30, 2023 at 06:11 am

The top dogs of the organization preaching caution and patience is purely SOP. The Chiefs organization did the same with Mahomes. If Love starts tearing it up in the regular season then it will be cautionary about Love staying consistent or Love playing well in big games or 'can he win in the playoffs'. Let's face it, in the NFL it's always "prove it" until you win a SB then you become anointed like AR and everybody starts to continuously defend you even if you may not currently deserve it.

1 points
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