Cory's Corner: Tough Challenge Ahead For Matt LaFleur

The 2022 season begins a fresh set of tests for the soon-to-be fourth year head coach. 

The first domino fell when the Denver Broncos hired former Packers offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett to be their next head coach.

He won’t be the last. Packers pass-game coordinator Luke Getsy has been in high demand and could potentially call plays for new Chicago Bears head coach Matt Eberflus. There’s also Packers offensive line coach and run game coordinator Adam Stenavich, who did a remarkable job putting a quality offensive line on the field when most of the starting pieces were lost to injury. He may go to Denver to be an offensive coordinator.

Then there are the players. We have no idea what Aaron Rodgers is thinking. He has a year left on his contract in Green Bay but he could get traded or even hang it up and retire. The Packers have said all the right things, but unless he takes a massive pay cut, it doesn’t really matter. And finally there is Davante Adams, who still has the opportunity to leverage where he ends up and could ultimately wind up playing with his buddy Rodgers. 

So where does that leave Matt LaFleur? Last offseason with the Rodgers drama might have been the most difficult of his head coaching career, but this upcoming offseason will be the toughest. Not only does he have plenty of assistant coaches that could go elsewhere, but he has top talent on the offense and defense that could be gone as well. 

While everyone seems to be focused on who is leaving and how their departures will look, what will remain? 

LaFleur has done a masterful job since he started strolling the Lambeau Field sidelines in 2019. He set an NFL record with an .804 winning percentage through 45 games.

LaFleur has passed just about every test so far. He has a stranglehold on the NFC North, has transformed the offense from one that was stagnant to one with many moving parts and options. He has bolstered the defense with a defensive coordinator that puts more stress on stopping opposing defenses up the middle. 

But for how much listening LaFleur has done, nothing could ever prepare him for what he is about to endure. The 2022 team will look completely different than this past season. The 2021 team will go down as one of Rodgers’ best squads — but the ultimate goal wasn’t materialized. 

Many naysayers have said that LaFleur is in this position solely because of Rodgers. I don’t see that. LaFleur is a really good tactician, many of the problems were in execution. And of course, his reluctance to hold the special teams accountable didn’t help either. 

Next year, he will be trying to hit the reset button on more than just personnel. It will be coaching and philosophy but the culture should remain the same. 

That’s why I think Green Bay wins the NFC North for a fourth straight year. Not just because the Bears, Lions and Vikings are flimsy, but because LaFleur’s way has been battle tested. He has the trust of his players — and they know what to expect. 

I have said that LaFleur should win this year’s Coach of the Year for climbing the mountains of adversity. But if LaFleur wins the division again next year, his name should be at the top of the list. 

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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 (37)

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

January 29, 2022 at 07:00 am

Proof of the coaching success is how many coordinators on offense are getting serious looks/hires from other teams.

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Dragon5's picture

January 29, 2022 at 07:20 am

Or perhaps how good your QB was/is.

Holmgren tree has been phenomenal.

Belichick's tree? Next question.

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stockholder's picture

January 29, 2022 at 07:41 am

Hackett to Denver. So what. He was part of the reason this offense went flat. Luke Getsy- Another guy who failed. Especially when it comes to Love. Rogers didn’t Lose the Game. The Sts did. But he didn’t do anything to win it either. The thought to a trade, or return, is in his court. MLF has done a good job. He got Rodgers to buy into the offense. Showing you can teach a old dog new Tricks. But the demand of Adams coming back has to stop. 30 mill for a wr is just asinine. The offense needs faster WRs. The separation just isn’t there. So MLF will go as far as the replacements go. Rodgers will complain. But the writing has always been on the wall when it comes to replacements. The Draft will be part of the solution. The other is Cast offs. Rodgers doesn’t want to be part of a rebuild. But that has already happened. This offensive Line has changed. Steinavich just might be the new OC to keep him away from Denver. MLF won’t have any problems. If MLF is to be successful, Fix the STs .

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Oppy's picture

January 29, 2022 at 12:25 pm

Everyone is a reason the offense went flat, except the QB who actually executes the offense. Got it.

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MarkinMadison's picture

January 29, 2022 at 08:02 am

Ultimately, whether Rodgers stays or goes I think MLF will get this team on a winning track. There may be a down year or two (I think people here are underestimating the potential of the rest of the North a bit), but we've seen how Belichick has risen this year after finding his new QB. The Packers will do the same, either with Love or someone else.

Speaking of Love, I heard a radio caller yesterday talk about how he was scared of Love's decision-making. I thought yeah, that's right. It would really suck if we had a QB who couldn't work through his progressions and instead locked in on one or two guys because he couldn't mentally process the field. That would really hamstring our offense. It would be sooo different from, oh, wait, I guess not.

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Guam's picture

January 29, 2022 at 08:10 am

Fantastic last paragraph MinM! Many thumbs up if I could. LMAO

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BradHTX's picture

January 29, 2022 at 08:19 am

Very well played, sir. My thoughts exactly.

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NickPerry's picture

January 29, 2022 at 09:45 am

Thanks Mark, excellent comment, especially the last paragraph.

5 points
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Guam's picture

January 29, 2022 at 08:07 am

Hackett is gone, Getsy has a foot out the door on the way to Chicago, but Stenavich is apparently staying per a report in a local Wisconsin newspaper. The report wasn't sure whether Steno just got a big raise and will stay as O-line coach or whether he will be promoted to OC.

I think next year the fans will find out just what kind of head coach we really have. His gaudy regular season record and his very mundane post season record mirrors that of our HOF QB. Has MLF been the beneficiary of working with a HOF QB or has he been saddled with an un-coachable diva (or something in between)? I have no idea, but I think we will find out next year.

I like MLF's offense when it has motion and some focus on the running game. I don't care for the empty backfield, static, throw the ball downfield look. MLF needs to get better at in-game adjustments or at least find an OC that can make in-game adjustments. He needs to own his bonehead mistake with Drayton and find a ST coach that can elevate the Packer STs to at least average. And he will now need to reload his offensive coaching staff. It will be an interesting year for MLF and I suspect a telling one as well.

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Coldworld's picture

January 29, 2022 at 08:24 am

LaFleur is good tactically? Really? He brought a good concept of scheme with him but in my opinion he has been overmatched tactically in every playoffs he has been a part of. Furthermore, he has seemed to be unable to learn from these: repeating the mistakes.

One can’t knock Barry as an improvement at DC, but equally one can’t overlook the thoroughly inappropriate hire of Drayton, the refusal to acknowledge the extent and relevance of that mistake subsequently and even after it led most directly of all to the early end of this season. To rub salt in the wound, LaFleur continually claimed STs and Drayton were actually doing well and not an issue going forward. After the season he still has not severed the connection.

I see LaFleur as a questionable man manager and as a tactical neophyte. If it’s true that part of the former is being subservient to Rodgers, that just amplifies the latter. Where is this evidence of tactical wizardry?

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Guam's picture

January 29, 2022 at 11:47 am

Not sure I agree with your last paragraph CW. I think LaFleur was in a no win position between Rodgers and management. LaFleur was brought in to work with Rodgers, not piss him off by forcing him into a new and uncomfortable (for Rodgers) system and alienating a future HOFer.

I remember a "meeting of the minds" between MLF, Hackett and Rodgers after their first season together to sort out the offense and create an offense that incorporated elements that everybody liked. All of a sudden there was less motion, less two back sets, less "illusion of complexity" and more old McCarthy (empty backfield, static WRs, etc.) in the offense. That was clearly Rodgers' hand in designing the offense. And I think MLF had to accept that or force a showdown with Rodgers. With twenty-twenty hindsight I wish MLF had forced that showdown, but I can certainly understand why, as a young coach, he didn't at the time.

I am not excusing MLF for his terrible handling of the Drayton mess or his inability to make in-game adjustments, but I really don't believe we have seen his full offense or tactical abilities yet and won't until Rodgers leaves.

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LambeauPlain's picture

January 29, 2022 at 11:58 am

I see Matt as good with strategy but deficient at times adjusting his tactics to the flow of the game.

Example: The short quick passing game with lots of motion worked early vs SF. For some reason, after Big Dog fumbled, he or Rodgers decided they could go deep on the SF secondary and here comes the 5-7 second deep drops. The SF front stopped it cold in the 2nd half and played cover 2. For some reason the 2-3 second passes and "illusion of complexity" disappeared as the O continued to flounder with 3 and outs...as the STs imploded.

Tactically adjusted the game plan and played right into the strength of the SF D.

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Dragon5's picture

January 29, 2022 at 08:28 am

'61 likened a Rodgers departure to "rats leaving a sinking ship." We may have more holes than a slice of Swiss to start and and Gute needs to bring his A game. Money (talks) aside, we would be entering a phase where, until our QB is perceived a winner, we may be stuck in FA purgatory with a conservative FA acquisition stance. For LaFleur fans, he would unfortunately be thrust in a position of competing with a reduced talent pool; without talent, a coach will not exceed expectations. It's a perpetual cycle--grooming Love to at least an above average game manager is imperative to preventing a lost decade.

4 points
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NickPerry's picture

January 29, 2022 at 10:20 am

I finally listened to MLF presser, the one from Monday or Tuesday I believe it was. One thing about LaFleur is he'll never throw a player of coach under the bus, which IMO is a great quality. The buck does stop with the HC even though a person with even less than prefect vision can see it's NOT ALL on on him.

I didn't listen to it very intently because I was at work listening while I was working. I may have missed some things but 2 things I did hear stuck with me. The biggest was when asked about the 3rd and 11 play, Aaron Rodgers last pass as a GBP possibly. He was asked if the play was intended to go to Lazard. MLF didn't blink, didn't bite, and didn't say yes even though IMO it was CLEARLY supposed to go to Lazard and Rodgers choose the wrong time once again for hero ball. Locking onto the ONE player he has locked in on at various times the last 3 seasons, and the player he locked into the ENTIRE game last Saturday.

That image we've all seen over and over of Lazard in the middle of the field, ALONE, will haunt me just like and probably as much as the Jerry Rice fumble in 1998, the MANY different F-Ups in Seattle in 2014, the OPEN slant to Lazard on 2nd and goal from the 8, and the 3rd and goal from the 8 when he didn't run. SF wasn't going to let Adams beat them like he did week 3 in 37 seconds and SHAME on Rodgers for not getting that, and shame on Rodgers for never even looking at Lazard!

When MLF was asked about Mo Drayton, he said he hasn't really thought about those types of changes. I'm sorry Matt, but getting Mo Drayton OUT of the building, and finding a decent ST coach while some may still be available, should have been one of the first things on the agenda.

We don't know what Love is yet so to call him a bust is just wrong IMO. He's probably not Rodgers or Favre, but I bet he's better than Garoppolo who's in his 2nd NFCCG in 3 seasons because he FOLLOWS Shanahan's script. Love WILL play within the MLF system, 100 % of the MLF system 100% of the time. Not sometimes or when he feels like it, but all the time. We haven't seen what that looks like, not really except perhaps when Adams has been injured or as in Arizona this year when EVERYBODY was injured and Rodgers HAD to play within it. Oh, and BTW, the Packers are undefeated under MLF when Adams has been injured.

Things that make you go Hmmmmmm...

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Coldworld's picture

January 29, 2022 at 11:39 am

Some things are so blatant that one shouldn’t need to think. Some things are so obvious that the need to second guess is a real red flag.

Drayton led a historically inept ST unit. His tactical gaffes were identified by other teams in all phases. He had the 31st worst team excited that they could win on STs! And they did! And he was super confident that week.

Drayton wasn’t just bad, he was naive to an unheard of extent. He clearly wasn’t ready (admitting in season he was studying how other teams use kick blockers to learn how they do it, for example).

There is no need to have a replacement because there is no argument that there aren’t better ST coaches out there. There will be less soon now teams are appointing GMs and head coaches. Go out and talk to Joe Judge, for one.

LaFleur Is digging himself into a hole and providing evidence that he lacks judgment or the ability to make hard decisions, maybe both. Both are fatal in a HC.

8 points
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croatpackfan's picture

January 29, 2022 at 12:17 pm

I dream that now, when Packers already decided to decline Broncos request for Adam Stenavich and decide to check outside who is available for possible OC, they, at least call Sean Peyton to see if he would be interested in position. Also, that may put under pressure MLF to be more decisive for the sake of the franchise.

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flackcatcher's picture

January 31, 2022 at 01:18 pm

Sean Peyton has made it very clear that he is done with pro football for at least a year. Understandable with the total strip down and rebuild the Saints are about to go though. On the other hand, Lafleur's contract is up after this year. Hmmm....

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dekan51's picture

January 29, 2022 at 02:03 pm

all good points. i'm not sold on berry. at the end, ran plays to open up the middle of the field so Garop would have an easy target over the middle. That's what we should have taken away, and made him throw to the sidelines, where he is uncomfortable and dangerous. but our D was too easy and predictable, and SF exploited that. they took Adams away, wherever he went. we should have taken the middle away from them.....

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flackcatcher's picture

January 31, 2022 at 01:25 pm

More a personnel issue than a scheme issue with SF. Green Bay had Savage on Kittle? for most of the game, and their outside rush didn't allow their QB time to sift though the route tree. GB secondary out manned and out played SF WR and TE for most of the game. When Savage went down Gary put Douglas on Kittle? who ate Douglas's lunch till GB adjusted their cover. Game within the game...

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baldski's picture

January 29, 2022 at 07:48 pm

So, how do you control a QB and make him follow the script when he is paid $30 million/yr.? Bench him? This is the problem. How would you make Arod follow the game plan? All you coaches out there, tell me what you would do in MLF's position to control Rodgers? Bench him and you are sitting your most valuable asset. What is left?

3 points
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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

January 30, 2022 at 04:48 am

There are people who think 100% of every players salary should be guaranteed. How do you make someone follow a script if their salaries for the next three years are fully guaranteed?

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Coldworld's picture

January 30, 2022 at 09:11 am

Interesting hypothetical, but I’d say it’s rather like members of Congress being willing to let us pay higher income tax while they suppress capital gains to make earned income an afterthought.

If I don’t need to worry about my next contract i am effectively free to do as I please. If I do need to earn more in future, not so much.

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KnockTheSnotOutOfYou's picture

January 29, 2022 at 10:34 am

Cory,
I do not see this upcoming offseason to be nearly as difficult as his first year as head coach. The Packers were coming off two losing seasons in a row when he became head coach. He was inexperienced and with a new team. He had to find and select his assistant coaches and coordinators.

Yes, he will have to replace a couple key offensive coordinators but I'd rather have him do that than have to replace Barry as defensive coordinator.

LeFleur will be just fine! The bigger thing will be who on the roster stays and goes. Even then I'm confident MLF will do just fine. I have said many times on CCTV that should Rodgers go to Denver that as part of the trade Drew Lock should be included. The Packers need a veteran QB to compete with Love. Drew Lock is 6'4" and 228 lbs. and drafted with the 42 pick (Rd 2) of the 2019 season. He is only 25 years old and from reading he has steadily been improving. Between Love and Lock the Packers should have 2 solid QB's that will push one another and continue to improve. I have a strong belief Love is going to be a pretty good QB once he gains experience. How good one never knows or how long it will take. I'm in disagreement with some posters that it will take several years. I predict by mid-season next year barring injuries Love will be impressing many of us.

Get the additional draft choices and a few players in trade. Improve the DL, and LB group. Draft a WR with one of the two 1st round choices. Resign Williams and Rasual on defense. Possibly Preston! I just read where it is projected the Packers will get a 4th round compensatory pick for Corey Linsley, and a 7th for Jamaal Williams. The Packers could very well end up with a slew of draft choices and players. Have a WR like Jeudy included in the trade, and possibly Hamler (though I'd prefer Bradley Chubb at OLB) if Adam's was included to Denver the Packers will be a very formidable team as Love gains his experience. A strong defense, a strong offensive line with a powerful running game. That all adds up to a very solid core that can win hard fought games in the trenches.

All this negative doom and gloom bull shit is over the top. Knee jerking and emotion from many solid and knowledgeable posters who I have come to respect. Change is inevitable, however in his short time Gutey has shown amazing talent and will not rest. Again...with a few players added to the draft choices for Rodgers and Adam's combined with a couple compensatory draft choices I like the Packer chances moving forward. I would not be if TT and MM were still at the helm but feel confident with Gutey and MLF. We will be okay! Just R-E-L-A-X!

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Coldworld's picture

January 29, 2022 at 11:42 am

My opinion of LaFleur has fallen considerably as he shows his tactical and leadership shortcomings in game and now with Drayton.

5 points
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Starrbrite's picture

January 29, 2022 at 05:51 pm

Agree!

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wildbill's picture

January 29, 2022 at 12:10 pm

Yea we will be fine with two JV QBs, always enjoy a good laugh

1 points
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KnockTheSnotOutOfYou's picture

January 30, 2022 at 12:14 pm

Being that they both were either a 1st round pick and a high 2nd round pick yes I would be willing to have those two young and upcoming QB's in the Packer stable. Having one of these guys playing and gaining valuable experience with a young and strong team around them with all the extra draft choices and player exchanged vs an older deteriorating QB with less talent around him following Rodgers re-signing.

2020 - NFCCG - let's see do I run the ball in the end zone with no defenders around or do I force a pass to Adam's with two players on him?
2021 - 3rd down at end of game...do I throw the ball to an open Lazard for a significant gain, or do I throw a low percentage pass way down field to Adam's who is double teamed with virtually no chance of a completion?

Yes, Wildbill let's talk about a good laugh!

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PhantomII's picture

January 29, 2022 at 11:52 am

If AR walks I would trade for Tyler Huntley from the Ravens. I like how mobile he is when plays break down and design keeper run plays after fake handoff. I'd say he's perfect for ML system. He has 72% completion rate so far in a small sample size. He played well as a QB against us. I would let Tyler and Love compete for it. ML has a lot to learn about a lot of things even after 3 great season starts and 3 not so great failures of complete outcoaching and zero adjustments in playoff games. ST fiasco is huge and has been for years. The further in the playoffs...the more defensive starters must be on ST during critical moments. This problem is magnified by a lack of 2nd tier JAG talent on ST as a whole. Having a long snapper weighing 225 is just a joke as was shown on national TV and a playoff ending moment he was on skates to the blocked punt the punter obliged by taking 2 steps instead of one...something I learned in H.S ...NOT TO DO!

Gute needs to get 2nd tier players like Summers/Burks that will by year 3 be starters and not JAG players that really barely fill in for a couple plays a game and are not highly rated ST personnel either. I cannot remember a single kickoff or punt that our ST made a decisive stop on the first man down field.

0 points
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Alberta_Packer's picture

January 29, 2022 at 12:03 pm

The STs is not an easy fix as the units have been historically bad since the Wolf era. A new philosophy and attitude will be required for the STs to perform at a competent level - which begins with Gutekunst.

3 points
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Coldworld's picture

January 29, 2022 at 04:33 pm

I do not see that it begins with Gute. It begins with who appoints and agrees to pay the ST coordinator. GMs provide bodies, Coaches instill attitude and direction for the most part.

Recruiting is or should be by LaFleur and that ST Coordinator better be tasked with changing that culture by LaFleur and better have shown ability somewhere in the NFL. Any less is on LaFleur entirely. If Ball won’t pay, stand up to him, Be s big boy when it matters. That would be a very easy battle to win in public and probably even at board level,

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Starrbrite's picture

January 29, 2022 at 05:53 pm

Completely agree with you—Huntley is excellent.

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Alberta_Packer's picture

January 29, 2022 at 11:57 am

I think that MLFs 4th year will be the litmus test as to whether he is a top NFL coach or an also-ran. I believe that the jury is still out on his capabilities - with his regular season record being somewhat a work of trompe l'oeil - a deception of the eye.

It is highly probable that the Packers will be re-tooling - both players and coaching staff. If so, gone will be the specter of A. Rodgers and his security blanket (D. Adams) - leaving MLF a half-blank canvas to paint a pretty picture on. In short, he'll have to coach like he's never done before.

8 points
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croatpackfan's picture

January 29, 2022 at 12:10 pm

I’m shocked that no one asked for an interview with Maurice Drayton for the job of Head Coach, and so many clubs are looking for someone for HC position.

This is outrageously!

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PhantomII's picture

January 29, 2022 at 12:41 pm

My ML coaching concerns past is still present: After Dillon coming out party 2020 against Titans...crickets in the playoffs we really needed a heavy dose of him in the NFCC game and was severely under utilized. ML has a bad habit of not using ALL his RB's thru season so he himself is confident in them and also the RB's. 2022 playoffs Dillon is hurt and ML used Taylor a couple run plays...again ML did not rotate the RB's in season and get a good feel for it. Taylor was running well in the Detroit game. ML should have all 3 of his RB's keyed up to play and ready for the playoffs. Gameplan: Everything runs thru the now double teamed/ bracketed DA. SF adjusts after getting gashed on GB first possession. ML NOT knowing this would happen and using it to an advantage and using DA as a decoy. Having DA run routes doubled and taking away coverage from spots and exploit these areas with his own plays in the run or pass game. Dillon comes out Taylor immediately comes in. He's not quite as big but much bigger than AJ. Taylor was not an easy tackle when he does run.

5 points
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Alberta_Packer's picture

January 29, 2022 at 04:00 pm

One more to add to the MLF questionable decisions list - playing Dillon on special teams - where he cracked a rib - so he was unavailable for the second half of the most important game of the season.

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Coldworld's picture

January 29, 2022 at 04:35 pm

Then not even trying Taylor, who is another power runner.

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PhantomII's picture

January 29, 2022 at 04:37 pm

I'm okay using Dillon on an obvious "hands" type situation at certain points of a game with personnel used to handling the ball.

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