Cory's Corner: Scheme Remains Undefeated

This is what an innovative head coach does. 

I was very surprised when the Packers gave Mike McCarthy a pink slip after leading them to a lackluster 4-7-1 record in 2018. If anything, I figured the team would wait until the season was over and then start the usual coaching search. 

But there was something different about that move. The franchise had seen enough.

They no longer wanted to be just good enough. 

So they brought in Matt LaFleur, who had never been a head coach before. It seemed like a swing for the fences move. 

But after the Packers destroyed the Falcons 30-16 on Monday night, LaFleur's regular season record now sits at 17-3. What's even more impressive is that the Packers won despite not having Davante Adams and Allen Lazard, the team's No. 1 and No. 2 wideouts. Overcoming challenges is the true mark of a winner and the Packers have done that through four weeks. 

"Every year is different, every year has its own challengs," said Aaron Rodgers who completed 82 percent of his passes with 327 yards and four touchdowns. "And there's always chemistry that needs to be worked out. Obviously (my) confidence has never wavered. I just feel like Matt and I are really on the same page. Not that we weren't last year, but this year we're doing so much more."

Scheme matters and it's impossible to argue with Rodgers. With LaFleur, the Packers have a running game, are affording Rodgers time to throw and are keeping him upright and clean. Most importantly, LaFleur is scheming his guys open. Rodgers doesn't have to tightrope his receivers open, now he has the luxury of motions and play-action bootlegs to do that.

Rodgers has thrown 13 touchdowns and zero picks — only Rodgers, Patrick Mahomes and Derek Carr have zero picks through four games played. But Rodgers also has 11 passes of 25 yards or more and is getting 8.73 yards per pass attempt. 

The most important thing about LaFleur's scheme is that it is always changing. He has split running back Aaron Jones out wide, he has relied on tight end Robert Tonyan and has given the ball to Tyler Ervin in space. The best thing about this offense is that there are no hard parameters. LaFleur is young enough to realize that he still needs to evolve and change in order to win and Rodgers, in his 13th season as a starter, knows that as well. Rodgers may have been close with McCarthy, but he also knew that you cannot be a rigid offensive mind in this game and be a consistent champion. You have to be willing to be fluid and change. 

As the Packers head into the bye week, the smartest move that LaFleur has made has been the usage of Jones, the team's most dynamic player. Jones has had only one game over 20 touches and that was 22 vs. Detroit in Week 2. Every other game has been right at 20 or just under. That may make a lot of folks upset, but LaFleur sees the big picure and he knows that this team is going to need him come December. 

The Packers have scored 30 or more points and committed zeo turnovers through their first four games. How good is that? Well, the 2010 Patriots hold the record with seven. 

This team didn't need to draft a wideout last spring, because it had their own offensive mindbender the entire time.

What LaFleur is doing with receivers that may not be on half the league's rosters is amazing. 

His scheme has so many moving parts that it may seem like noise, but the Packers have turned those movements into a winning symphony. 

 

 

 

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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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Comments (37)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
Since'61's picture

October 07, 2020 at 06:53 am

MLF’s offense has been a masterpiece through the first four weeks of the season. Hopefully we will get most of our injured players back after the bye and keep up the pace.

The key factor has been the execution by the OL. They have blocked well for both the run and the pass.

On defense we need Clark back and need an ILB to emerge. They won’t be great but they can get the job done.

MLF has 2 weeks to prepare for Tampa Bay which will be a big challenge especially for the defense in stopping Brady. We will need strong pressure up the middle to move him off his spot. I expect MLF and Rodgers to come up with a game that will score points and keep Brady off the field. Go Pack Go! Enjoy the bye. Thanks, Since ‘61

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Archie's picture

October 07, 2020 at 10:47 am

Couldn't agree more re: MLF's offense.

Kris Barnes has emerged at ILB. When we get Kirksey and Martin back we will be fully manned. Not to mentions Ty Summers is looking like a decent understudy and may develop much more before he is a finished product. All in all, things are looking good at both ILB and OLB for the first time in a long time.

Either Gurley is a only ghost of his former self or the Packer run defense had one helluva game Monday night. Stay tuned.

Is it a coincidence that Raven Greene is back in the lineup and this defence played much better? Stay tuned.

I'll admit. easy MNF win was a surprise to me given our injury situation but I grossly underestimated how decimated the back end of the ATL defense was. Add to that two star WRs who were not ready to play anywhere near 100%. Time is catching up with Matt Ryan - huge arch o his deep throws and a sub 90 mph fastball on intermediate throws in middle of field. But yes, their run defense was pretty damn good.

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jannes bjornson's picture

October 07, 2020 at 08:47 pm

Pack by two scores. Brady will not be able to deal with ZaDarious and Gary. Hopefully King is back to match with Evans.

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Spock's picture

October 07, 2020 at 07:12 am

Scheme matters. Yeah, the old maxim, "Players not plays" may hold true but a really good scheme can allow good (not necessarily great) players a chance to shine. It helps if you have an "otherworldly" QB moving the ball around. Hope all the guys who were injured (obviously Deguara won't be) are back after the bye. Holding out Clark and D. Adams looked like a sound move after seeing Julio re-injury himself in the last game. Love the energy from the team last game (including the D). My favorite thing was the woman locker room reporter after half-time quoting MLF, "Keep the foot on the gas for another 30 minutes." That kind of half-time quote never came from MM (and I was a supporter). GPG!

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Guam's picture

October 07, 2020 at 08:13 am

Well said Spock. Scheme certainly does matter. I was an MM supporter (although lukewarm by the last season) and have been shown the error of my ways. The Packer offense now is so much more diverse and balanced than it was under MM.

I find it interesting that Dallas is 1-3 despite a ton of offensive talent (good OL, Ezekiel Elliot, first round WRs, etc. etc.). I know their defense is not good (sound familiar?), but with that much offensive talent they should be better than 1-3 (and their one win was the miracle over Atlanta). Congrats to the Packer FO for moving on from MM and finding and hiring MLF.

GPG!

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flackcatcher's picture

October 07, 2020 at 05:29 pm

Dallas is scoring 30+ on the offensive side. Dallas' defense cratered during the last half of last year. That's what happens when an owner spends all his money on offense. (This is Jerry Jones we're talking about. There are no easy ways for Dallas to fix that. Well hire Elliot Wolf, and Jerry's not going to that)

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jannes bjornson's picture

October 07, 2020 at 08:54 pm

Low character guys lead to losses from that D.

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Coldworld's picture

October 07, 2020 at 08:42 am

Couldn’t agree more. “Players not plays” is fools gold in cap world. Yes, every team needs players who just win regardless. Rodgers, Adams, maybe Jones fit that mold. However, those players are rare and expensive. Would an ideal team be made up of them? Certainly. Will such a team exist? No. There simply aren’t enough of them, which is why the cap saved the league.

So if no team can simply be better all round, the need is to make your players the best they can be. One can design a scheme and try to find players to fit it, but that doesn’t match up evenly against other teams and it doesn’t survive the attrition of an NFL season. What one cant do is expect to win by forcing players to play away from their strengths. In the NFL, you can’t afford to make players worse than they could be.

MM wasn’t always like this. Early on he was more flexible, adapted for personnel. At some point after the Super Bowl, he seemed to have cone to believe that he had “the system” and that was all that was needed to win. Helped by a great bunch of receivers, he believed he had the recipe. In reality, I have come to think that Rodgers’ brilliance meant that he covered the gap by bending the system to suit his team mates. While our offense was talent laden, that endured we remained competitive for a while.

In fairness to MM, it’s no secret that the roster’s stars aged and the quality behind them decreased in the latter part of the teens. As it did, the deficiencies in the system is all approach became more apparent and exceeded Rodgers ability to hide them. The roster decline would have undone any team, but with MM now inflexible, even unable to see beyond his scheme, he exacerbated it by simplifying the playbook seeing learning as the obstacle. Since the system worked in his mind, it must be the players.

The result was that we became truly predictable. We fans often knew what was coming. Player development frequently failed as we were trying to hammer square pegs into round holes. Rodgers became, I think, frustrated. Other teams took advantage and at the same time our roster depth quality became threadbare. Double whammy.

Some here know, I’ve been very skeptical of Murphy. I feel he bears considerable responsibility for allowing Ball to ascend as TT retreated and that that (not really TT) was what led to a lamentable roster. I still believe that. However, Murphy, once he moved, reportedly ended the search for a HC once he realized LaFleur had a vision that could take the Packers out of the backwaters and rejuvenate the team and approach. It looks very much that Murphy redeemed himself then and there.

Regardless of championships, the Packers roster has improved dramatically in terms of quality and depth, but also in terms of shape. LaFleur is now showing why the shape of the roster was changed. We are now a truly competitive and adaptive team and the process is not over. LaFleur has made us a team built to really compete and to adjust to our players and opponents.

I hope it brings many Championships, but I think we have now returned to being serious challengers. I will go as far as saying that we might even be able to win without Rodgers for a while. That says a lot and makes Rodgers and our chances of winning it all so much greater. It’s been a remarkable shift in culture, vision and efficacy. Let’s enjoy it. It’s fun to watch.

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Archie's picture

October 07, 2020 at 10:54 am

IMHO, one of the best posts ever.

Thanks much for your insight and wisdom.

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Tundraboy's picture

October 08, 2020 at 10:46 pm

I agree. Thumbs up.

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flackcatcher's picture

October 07, 2020 at 06:26 pm

I agree with much that you wrote here Coldworld. Ted and MM got caught flatfooted by the rules changes in 2010, and with so many of the teams players signed, it was going to be very hard to make major changes. Let us not forget that despite the mass injuries, this was an elite team during that period. The MLF hiring was a complete mess, not only from the process itself, but the nasty inside political games it exposed at 1265. Murphy's PR stunt (and that's what it was) put both MLF and Gute in untenable positions. It is to both men's credit that they overcame Murphy's interference and have built the relationship they have today. If there is any good that has come from the saga of Mark Murphy as 'defacto owner'. Is that due diligence and over site must apply no matter the relationship and reputation between the two parties. What's really sad here, is Murphy did an excellent job as steward of the Packer legacy. And then destroyed it all over a silly power trip.

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jannes bjornson's picture

October 07, 2020 at 08:51 pm

They gave themselves contract extensions and big bonuses. No killer instinct with those two.

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jannes bjornson's picture

October 07, 2020 at 08:48 pm

They have the Scheme and the Players. Reality.

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jeremyjjbrown's picture

October 07, 2020 at 07:16 am

This has been a fun season so far. Hopefully the Packers get a lot of guys back after the bye and have better luck with injuries.

I'm looking forward to what MLF comes up with next. It's fun to guess. Eagle formation? It could be anything.

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gkarl's picture

October 07, 2020 at 08:09 am

MLF best formation since he has become our head coach is the victory formation!!

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jeremyjjbrown's picture

October 07, 2020 at 09:12 am

Yeah but I know those are coming! :)

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gkarl's picture

October 07, 2020 at 01:22 pm

OK, just don't get to rich working with all that insider knowledge. They send people to jail for that you know. LOL

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gkarl's picture

October 07, 2020 at 01:22 pm

OK, just don't get to rich working with all that insider knowledge. They send people to jail for that you know. LOL

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arthurl's picture

October 07, 2020 at 07:16 am

Totally agree; the offense has been very efficient and I am impressed at the high level even with some of their WRs out. This last game, the way they schemed their RBs and TEs into the pass time was pretty impressive. The offensive line has been fantastic. All their coaching staff has done a nice job. As for the defense, they are making enough stops to maintain or expand leads; so that has been good. This next game versus the Bucs should be a classic.

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egbertsouse's picture

October 07, 2020 at 07:53 am

Snacks signed with Seattle. Crap!

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PackfanNY's picture

October 07, 2020 at 07:58 am

Said he signed to Seattle practice squad. Doesn’t sound like he wanted to play for Packers. That’s ok. Better we sign guys who want to be in Green Bay. Just not a good fit for him I guess.

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mrtundra's picture

October 07, 2020 at 08:31 am

I think he did not want to play in GB in the winter. Big baby! How much warmer does he think it will be in Seattle when it starts sleeting? I wonder how much Snacks was paid by Seattle? Was it more than what the Packers offered? Just wondering.

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jannes bjornson's picture

October 07, 2020 at 08:57 pm

They will be visiting Lambeau, in any case, during the Playoffs.

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Coldworld's picture

October 07, 2020 at 08:45 am

If he signed to the PS it may suggest not game ready. It also means we could offer him a contract if they ever don’t protect him. Let’s be clear though, saviors rarely agree to a PS berth or need to. That makes me think he is not the player he was or we need.

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jannes bjornson's picture

October 07, 2020 at 08:53 pm

Winn beat him out. No Worries.

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SwedeBayPacker's picture

October 07, 2020 at 08:08 am

I watched the Cowboys Browns game, and saw MM get outcoached as per usual. I shudder at the thought of us still being stuck with him.

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jannes bjornson's picture

October 07, 2020 at 08:58 pm

Should have sailed after the 2014 debacle.

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Lphill's picture

October 07, 2020 at 08:37 am

Tampa will be the real test, not just Brady but they have a dynamic running back , M Adams only getting 10 snaps against the Falcons does not show much confidence in him , the Packers need another big body for the D line. lets not wait for an embarrassing performance until something is done, everyone here has the same concern about the run D .

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Coldworld's picture

October 07, 2020 at 10:07 am

I’m guessing Adams is on a snap count with his toe. That said, I’d rather see him at DE than NT anyway in our heavy sets.

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jannes bjornson's picture

October 07, 2020 at 09:00 pm

He is a five tech not a NT. They have Clark and Lancaster in the middle. Keke is ascending.

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frankthefork's picture

October 07, 2020 at 08:55 am

Only one complaint for the offense. When in the red zone...score. 3 games now in which we can't run it in and score from the one yard line is the only issue I have for MLF. The reverse rollout and pass to TE or FB works...but running it in is less than 50-50.

As for Pettine D...we will run out of DB's if they have to finish every tackle. Get some line and LB help that can get in the holes and plug it up. Great start, rest up and prepare for a playoff run...GPG.

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Lphill's picture

October 07, 2020 at 12:52 pm

Amazing how well Blake Martinez is doing on the Giants now that he's playing as a traditional hole plugging linebacker .

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jannes bjornson's picture

October 07, 2020 at 09:03 pm

Keep the ball in Rodgers hands. If they are over-playing the inside dive , play fake and toss it in for the score, or boot in that case. Next time.
LeFleur already admitted his call was not his best. He's a great coach. We know how the previous ringmaster would rationalize.

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PhantomII's picture

October 08, 2020 at 10:20 pm

Getting tired of ML not using Dillon where he should be able to help out even if blocking at the goal line as a fullback. 4th and 1, etc. The kid was run to death at his college. Pretty sure he can do it well.

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Packers0808's picture

October 07, 2020 at 09:45 am

Question anyone see a need for Tramon Williams going forward? Harrison to Seahawks!

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Coldworld's picture

October 07, 2020 at 10:09 am

No. Liked what I saw from Hollman. Assuming Sullivan is ok, I don’t think Williams will help.

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PatrickGB's picture

October 07, 2020 at 11:06 am

Saving cap money for 2021 cap?

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