Cory's Corner: The Matt LaFleur Effect

The Packers love LaFleur because he listens. 

The No. 1 scoring team in the NFL doesn't reside in Kansas City. 

It's from Green Bay. The Packers are averaging 31.6 points a game, followed ever so closely by the defending champion Chiefs. 

The reason why it's interesting is because the Packers were 15th a year ago, 14th in 2018 and 21st in 2017. 

That is the Matt LaFleur Effect. 

"I think Matt's definitely more comfortbale in his second year," said Aaron Rodgers in September. "That's natural. Any leadership position you're always going to learn and probably be most critical of yourself between years one and two. I think he's very comfortable and explaining things really, really well. He's been super creative this offseason, this training camp."

But it hasn't just been LaFleur's success with the offense and the myriad of challenges it poses for a defense. It is how LaFleur has changed a culture. When Mike McCarthy was the head coach, you didn't see as much smiling and you saw a reluctance to new ideas. The most important aspect that LaFleur brought is that he was willing to listen. He was willing to listen to a new defensive celebration and he was willing to put on different music at practice. LaFleur even changed the seating arrangement in the team meetings, forcing players to have a new mindset with new expectations. He also had the walls painted white and even had some murals done. 

LaFleur did all of those changes in his rookie season and the Packers went 13-3. Then COVID-19 happened and made his job infinitely more difficult.

"It is much more challenging in this day and age when you're trying to keep your players further than six feet apart with all the contact tracing that they have to wear," LaFleur said in November. "It is a challenge. I think everybody has just accpeted that this is the relaity for now. Hopefully, we'll keep making progress in regards to being able to combat this virus. We'll see what the future holds but certainly it has been trying on everybody."

Despite all that, the Packers could clinch their second straight NFC North crown on Sunday and are a game out of securing the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs. LaFleur is 22-6 in the regular season as the Packers head coach, which includes a sparkling 8-1 division record.

LaFleur is utilizing Rodgers' mastery of the play-action to destroy defenses. But Rodgers isn't just zinging 30-yard passes from the vaunted play-action bootleg, he is getting more time to throw. According to ProFootballReference.com, Rodgers has only been hurried 29 times, which is 22nd in the league — well behind leader Justin Herbert's 79 hurries. In 2019, Rodgers was eighth with 57 hurries and in 2018 he was third with 90. 

LaFleur has figured out that the only way to win consistently is by keeping Rodgers upright and comfortable. And the best way for that to happen is by moving the pocket. Even though Rodgers just celebrated his 37th birthday on Dec. 2, he is still nimble enough to get to get outside the tackle box and even make a throw on the run. 

LaFleur is making defenses second guess themselves because he is showing so many looks for one play that they cannot pinpoint what will happn presnap. In the past, you could see a formation and know where the ball was going. With Aaron Jones in motion, it could be a pass or run and the ball could end up in any direction.

The Matt LaFleur Effect isn't just about a 41-year-old coach driving the rest of the league nuts. It's about evolving the position of head coach in this league. It's about giving your players a voice and letting them be vocal about their concerns. Many older coaches aren't willing to listen to players because they take that superiority to heart. Those coaches usually don't last very long though. Their concepts and schemes may be solid, but after awhile, the players will tire of playing for a coach that isn't willing to be more empathetic.

LaFleur genuinely hears his players. He knows what makes them tick. He knows which ones to push and which ones to back off of.

But each and every player knows that LaFleur will listen if they have a comment or concern. There isn't a lot of that in today's ego driven NFL.

And if you peeled it back, that is the essence of the Matt LaFleur Effece: selflessness.  

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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.
Renllaw's picture

December 12, 2020 at 06:52 am

"LaFleur genuinely hears his players. He knows what makes them tick. He knows which ones to push and which ones to back off of." This remInds me of another legendary packer coach. I do believe we are in good hands.

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KenEllis's picture

December 12, 2020 at 12:31 pm

The #1 Offense resides in Green Bay under Matt LaFleur and the #32 Defense (last) resides in Dallas under Mike McCarthy.

Coaching matters.

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murf7777's picture

December 12, 2020 at 07:45 am

I know many don’t like Murphy and the FO, but their decision to hire MLF is under appreciated. You don’t have to like every decision they make, the reality is the team just keeps winning so they must be doing more right then wrong.

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fastmoving's picture

December 12, 2020 at 08:13 am

I would say many like MM a lot. The mob is often loud and very optionated but I would guess thats not more than 20 % of the fanbase and Im not even sure if we can count them as fans.

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Jared's picture

December 12, 2020 at 09:23 am

So, believe what you believe otherwise you’re not a fan??

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Coldworld's picture

December 12, 2020 at 08:09 am

LaFleur is great offensively. He certainly seems connected with the players as well, but as yet I have to reserve judgment on his ability to motivate and manage coaches.

We have seen multiple games with flat performance. We have 2 of three coordinators struggling (the one who isn’t is on his side of the ball). Great coaches listen but they also lead and they can get performance from all three phases. Listening is important but only if one can inspire too.

LaFleur is young. He may well be all we hope for, but as yet he’s installed a great offense but he hasn’t demonstrated that he is a great coach yet.

One note on MM: the comments certainly reflect what he became, but initially he seemed to listen and be innovative and produced some explosive offenses. He struggled with defense and special teams leadership too, and later became incredibly inflexible. LaFleur has to be able to address what MM could not and avoid retreat into rigidity if he truly is to be a great coach.

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Since'61's picture

December 12, 2020 at 11:23 am

Coldworld - your comments about MM are accurate. To me he was never the same after the NFCCG loss in 2014 combined with the sudden and unexpected loss of his younger brother only 10 days later.
He often seemed to be going through the motions after 2014.
Thanks, Since ‘61

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Coldworld's picture

December 12, 2020 at 02:10 pm

I hadn’t connected the two, but that’s certainly a plausible trigger and about the right point in his tenure.

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LeotisHarris's picture

December 12, 2020 at 04:13 pm

'61, I recall stating that in response to one of your posts a few of years ago, and I still believe it to be true. Those were wounds that never healed. It's easy for us to forget these highly paid professionals are human, and while everyone in football appears "strong", not everyone is resilient. I think Joe Philbin showed tremendous resiliency to be able to return to Green Bay and work after his son drown here. Mason Crosby's year last year showed remarkable resiliency. From the outside looking in, we can never be sure what another person is carrying.

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Since'61's picture

December 13, 2020 at 08:03 am

Agree on Philbin. I didn’t think he would ever return to GB. But. He did. Thanks, Since ‘61

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mnbadger's picture

December 12, 2020 at 08:51 am

I wasn't a fan of the pick at the time. it seemed risky. as if M Murphy put a guy in that he could control. In reality, he ceded control to his coach and indirectly to the players. As long as you have players that won't abuse the opportunity, it will work great. If bad apples come along. we need to remove them. Coach of the year if we win the NFC. Indeed, we're in good hands. GPG

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fastmoving's picture

December 12, 2020 at 08:19 am

MLF is a great coach and an even better person. His record speaks for himself. Just the right kind of guy. We could be use way more of that sort these days.
If the Ditkas and Rex Ryans of the world had that kind of record, they would let you know every second of the day.

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TarynsEyes's picture

December 12, 2020 at 11:50 am

Some here sure do throw the word 'great' around easily.

https://youtu.be/GKoqxCOijRU

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fastmoving's picture

December 12, 2020 at 12:44 pm

They may have learned it from the orange clown and his looosers. But you are right.
Im different there...... I just use it if its really fitting........nearly never. But its kind of made for LaFleur and what he did.
Lombardi was even greater but MLF is just getting started

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TarynsEyes's picture

December 12, 2020 at 01:02 pm

Your closeted love for the orange man, whom you mention at every instance, is really showing and is no longer hidden by the negativity you attempt to espouse about him. This is a classic sign of being under the duress of a clique. Break free or at least try to refrain from evoking politics into every retort or is just me getting under your skin.

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stockholder's picture

December 12, 2020 at 08:25 am

Tell the players what you want. Give Rodgers Time. Listen to meaningful suggestions. Get Results. The Offensive players Trust LeFleur. The defense though is a different set of numbers. And MMs downfall was his Defense. If LeFleur does not change those numbers. He will be shown the door. Rodgers is a Leader. And thats just what the Defense lacks. Leader/Leaders! This Defense isn't; All for one, and one for all. It lacks unity! It lacks strength. Sure they know how to celebrate after a turn-over. But any good Defense is about STOPS!! It lacks TRUST. And if were going to build up LeFleur. He must have that Leadership on both sides of the ball. REMEMBER: GET Results!! The offensive side has achieved it. The Defense hasn’t. For LeFluer to be that coach we praise. He must get those Defensive Leaders to emerge. A Reggie White, Butler, Charles Woodson, Nick Collins, Ray Nitscke,ETc. Players whose character couldn’t be assassinated. LeFleur was a needed change. His stats are favorable. He’s gaining respect.

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Since'61's picture

December 12, 2020 at 09:30 am

22-6 are pretty good results to me. Thanks, Since ‘61

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Coldworld's picture

December 12, 2020 at 02:15 pm

Though those figures are possibly inflated by inheriting a great QB and the division being perhaps the worst it’s been in decades. He is promising, offensively talented, but winning when one shouldn’t and when it matters is what earns accolades. Not there last season, as the 49ers out coached him and outplayed us twice. Encouraging, but as yet unproven.

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Coldworld's picture

December 12, 2020 at 02:15 pm

Though those figures are possibly inflated by inheriting a great QB and the division being perhaps the worst it’s been in decades. He is promising, offensively talented, but winning when one shouldn’t and when it matters is what earns accolades. Not there last season, as the 49ers out coached him and outplayed us twice. Encouraging, but as yet unproven.

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Since'61's picture

December 12, 2020 at 10:14 am

The first quality of good/great leadership is personal integrity. Without it you cannot make decisions which are in the best interests of the organization or it’s people.
Next is commitment. Commitment to your vision for the organization and for its future.
Third is effective, on-going communications, which starts with listening. Effective communication empowers everyone which is the key to achieving organizational success.
Fourth is mentoring. Leaders must mentor their people to enable their success. This inspires people to find what is in themselves.
Fifth is inclusiveness. Make everyone part of your organization. Employees, partners, customers, vendors, etc.
Give everyone a personal stake in the organization’s success and it will become much easier to keep everyone on the same page and rowing together in the same direction.

“The new leadership is in sacrifice, is in self-denial. It is in love, it is in fearlessness. It is in humility and it is in the perfectly disciplined will. This is also the distinction between great and little men.” Vince Lombardi

MLF is heading in the right direction. But no one gets there alone. In his case he needs 2-3 more good defensive players. A DL and an ILB at least. He also needs control over his coaching appointments for DC and ST.
He is a very bright guy, and is demonstrating and evolving into the leadership qualities mentioned above. Unlike Lombardi he is not the GM and he does not have control over the team’s finances but he is getting his players to perform at a high level for the most part and that is what he does have control over. Thanks, Since ‘61

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TarynsEyes's picture

December 12, 2020 at 10:34 am

It's great that the HC listens to the players or was that 'really' listens. Unless an SB win or appearance at the least comes from this 'effect' and the longer it takes or if happens at all with Rodgers as the QB, the MLF Effect will begin to be whispers of malcontent, less those enamored with Division Titles.

This season is near a replay of the 2011 season and looks to be the best chance for an SB appearance and victory. This team can be really different next season due to salary cap issues alone, not to ignore other reasons, and can have us fans waiting through another 10 year drought or longer for another chance with equal promise.

Is this a true Super Bowl or bust season, it very well could be.

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Lphill's picture

December 12, 2020 at 10:41 am

We all know the Defense not the offense will decide how far the Packers go, no other way to put it , some may be in denial but its a fact.

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PatrickGB's picture

December 12, 2020 at 12:11 pm

Unless (of course) the offense scores more points than the other teams and our special teams don’t crap the bed.

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PearlyBakerBest's picture

December 12, 2020 at 05:41 pm

How many points exactly did the offense score in the two first halves of the 9ers games? Y’all think the D is what is going to send us home in the playoffs? I beg to differ.

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Befuddled's picture

December 13, 2020 at 05:42 am

They last 2 NFC title games the Packers lost by over an average of 40 points .

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marpag1's picture

December 13, 2020 at 01:37 pm

Uh, no they didn't lose "by over an average of 40 points." They lost by 17 (37-20) and by 23 (44-21). That means they lost by an average of 20. I get it that they GAVE UP just over 40 points on average, but the previous poster's comment is perfectly valid. The offense crapped the bed in the first half of both games, scoring an average of exactly zero points.

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Leatherhead's picture

December 13, 2020 at 01:51 am

Thats completely wrong. The Packers are built to win with offense, and when the offense plays well, we win. When it turns it over, we don’t.

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ricky's picture

December 12, 2020 at 12:07 pm

Yes, MLF has rejuvenated the offense. Rather than the MM mantra of having the WR's beat their coverage one-on-one, which didn't work, but keep doing it anyway, and never committing to the run, though lip service would be offered to that goal regularly. However, LaFleur also has Aaron Rodgers as his QB. And that can't be underestimated. Rodgers reads defenses, changes plays, and makes the difficult throws look easy. Rodgers on the field is similar to having another head coach under center. Yes, there is a synergy between the two, and it's great. But the true challenge for LaFleur will come when the Packers decide to move on from Rodgers. And that move is coming sooner than later, IMO. Then, we'll see what he does without a great QB running the offense.

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canadapacker's picture

December 13, 2020 at 11:33 am

I think that MM and AR relationship kind of got strained near the end of the tenure. AR didnt like some of the calls - AR was kind of checking out of them a lot. The play calling most truly was very predictable and stagnant. Good defensive co-ordinators could figure it out and several of them had a lot of success against AR/MM. Year 1 of Lafluer /AR was far from perfect and there was some undercurrents of conflict. Did that get quashed by the Love selection? Not sure or was AR just going to pick his game up. He definitely this year is hitting the early open guys rather than waiting. He definitely is more on target with his swing passes and out into the flat. He definitely is getting the ball out faster and getting sacked less. I dont think that there wil not be growing pains when AR moves on , GB went from 13-3 to 6-10 when going from Favre to AR. But I dont think that AR is going to play the mindgames that 4 did near the end of his career.

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fastmoving's picture

December 12, 2020 at 03:06 pm

The drama queens here wasting their prime.

At least the 3 biggest...weakest ones......

This is football. Just in case you missed it.

Just relax, dont worry and have some Ben und Jerrys icecream. They are the best!!

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Dave Van Allen's picture

December 12, 2020 at 03:01 pm

Good story. Fix the typos.

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fastmoving's picture

December 12, 2020 at 03:07 pm

Im not smart enough to fix them. Sorry. Hope you know what I mean anyway

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Stroh's picture

December 12, 2020 at 04:28 pm

As usual Cory gets it all wrong! Its the Rodgers effect! As in Rodgers is much more comfortable in the LaFleur offense, with some integration of what Rodgers liked from the McCarthy offense.

LaFleur is a good HC, but it the Rodgers effect, make no mistake about it.

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Crankbait's picture

December 12, 2020 at 08:09 pm

You take away Rogers and we are pretty much the Chicago Bears.
Go Pack !

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Leatherhead's picture

December 13, 2020 at 02:02 am

I think that would depend on how his replacement plays.

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canadapacker's picture

December 12, 2020 at 08:27 pm

It is hard to stay on top for decades. If we look at even the best of coaches they need to either move on or somehow update themselves. There is only one Bill B - and the apples off of his tree are not that tasty - maybe Joe Judge might be but we saw 2 of them fired this year already. Even with great QB's it is hard to win the SB - Favre got one, Manning 2 - one in Indie and one in Denver, Elway was going to be deemed a flop ( from a superbowl perspective ) until he won 2 very late in his career. MM was good when he came in and was successful - but he kind of stagnated - now some of that could be blamed on TT for not drafting as well as he could have. Harrell, Dix, Perry D Jones Sherrod - all were not what you should expect out of the first round. MM or TT should have probably gotten rid of Capers earlier - but that is conjecture. Now at least with Lafleur and Gute they are willing to do new things including bringing in free agents and a new offensive strategy. It takes more than one or two years to fill all the holes and we still need defensive help especially in the middle of the defense. But now we got AR back and humming and if we look at Elway's and even P Manning's late career success we should not expect much of a fall off of AR. So whilst I am not hopeful this year about going all the way - unless the cards fall favorably - I expect that we will be even better next year. One also needs to recognize that after going 13-3 we had a very strong strength of schedule this year. I expect year 3 of Lafleur to be even better than this year especially since Covid will be done and a full and active preseason will help us. I also expect Jones to be resigned somehow.

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Turophile's picture

December 13, 2020 at 12:13 pm

Over time the good franchises do their best to keep what works and change what doesn't.

For a long time the Packers stayed with McCarthy because with a QB like Rodgers even an average coach can do well.

LaFleur has re-energised the Packers, the offensive philosophy has changed to where players are schemed open rather than just relying on receivers to beat their defender(s). The old system worked well when the Packers top four receivers were almost always better than the guys that covered them, but we are not starting Driver/Nelson/Cobb/Jennings now, we have one true no.1 WR and others that help. McCarthy is not the head coach for the team we have now.

LaFleur is a keeper. Murphy seems like a keeper. Gutekunst looks like another. Some position coaches (like OL coach Stenavich) look to be brilliant choices. I hold the view that any new(ish) head coach should ALWAYS make changes to deal with any weaknesses in his position coaches and coordinators over his first few years. When a head coach is hired, he is limited in the choices of his coaches to who is available in his first year. Now, two years down the road, he has greater respect among other coaches due to his record, and should be able to improve any weaker members of his group (maybe a new DC and certainly a new ST coach, for example).

Is there anything else to improve ? Certainly. I'd like to see more obvious gameplan adjustments through a game when some things are not working well. There needs to be a plan for a post Aaron Rodgers team (and we've seen signs of that with the drafting of Love). If laFleur continues to listen to others and encourages that in his staff, the Packers have a very good chance to remain an elite franchise for many years.

PS If there was ever an article I would love to read it would be one about the quality of the coaches under LaFleur, not just the coordinators, the position coaches as well.

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