Matt LaFleur Fails to Land Top Choice for DC

After Jim Leonhard turned him down, Matt LaFLeur hired Joe Barry to be his defensive coordinator. 

Matt LaFleur found his next defensive coordinator, but it wasn’t his first choice. LaFleur reportedly offered the job to Wisconsin defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard, but Leonhard chose to remain at his alma mater rather than transition to the NFL. That pushed LaFleur into hiring Joe Barry, the team confirmed Monday.

LaFleur narrowed his search down to Barry and Leonhard, which is interesting because the two come from very different backgrounds. Barry has been in the NFL for virtually all of the two decades. He served as a defensive coordinator for both the Detroit Lions and Washington Football Team, but neither stints lasted more than two seasons. LaFleur and Barry worked together in Los Angeles when both were apart of the Rams staff in 2017. Barry was the assistant head coach under Lafleur’s close friend Sean McVay and also coached the linebacker group.

LaFleur’s preferred choice, Leonhard, has only been coaching since 2016. He joined Wisconsin as a defensive backs coach in 2016 before being promoted to defensive coordinator the next year. Leonhard had quite a career as a player. He started his journey as a walk-on safety for the Badgers and eventually played 10 seasons in the NFL. Leonhard would actually play under former Green Bay Packers defensive coordinator Mike Pettine during his three seasons with the New York Jets (2009-11). Leonhard adopted a lot of Pettine’s defensive philosophies, including the implementation of a 3-4 system.

According to multiple sources, it was Leonhard’s job to have. However, as reported by Tom Oates of the Wisconsin State Journal, Leonhard turned down LaFleur’s offer.

 “It was me choosing UW,” Leonhard said. “I want to stay at UW. I want to be at this level right now. Extremely flattered. Awesome opportunity. But it was not the right time for me to go back to the NFL.”

It’s not hard to see what attracted LaFleur to Leonhard and why he was atop his list of candidates. In just a short time, Leonhard has led one of the best college defenses in the country. Over the last four seasons, he has coached the second-best defense in the FBS in total defense. Wisconsin also had the third-best scoring defense, allowing just 17 points per game.

Ultimately, it was Leonhard's decision to stay with the Badgers. He very well could get another shot at the NFL, but coaching for the Packers might be a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Well, someone had to be next on LaFleur’s call sheet.

Next in line were Barry and Ejiro Evero, both of whom LaFleur worked alongside in Los Angeles. Between the two, most people favored Evero.

Evero, 40, is a well-respected and up and coming defensive mind who has spent the last four seasons leading the Rams’ safeties. Giving Evero his first coordinator job would have been risky, but at the same time, it had the potential to be very rewarding. During his tenure in Los Angeles, Evero guided players such as Lamarcus Joyner, John Johnson III, and Taylor Rapp. In 2020, Los Angles had one of the best secondaries in the league, and it’s not a stretch to believe Evero had a direct impact. However, LaFleur would not choose Evero.

LaFleur chose Barry, who, by and large, was the safer pick. Barry laps both Leonhard and Evero in experience and has also been a defensive coordinator twice in his career. However, neither of those stints will instill much confidence as both left a lot to be desired.

As a coordinator, each one of Barry’s defenses finished between 28th and 32nd in total yards allowed. You could point to personnel deficiencies as an exacerbating factor. There is truth in that he had very little to work with in both Detroit and Washington and this may have severely impacted his coaching style. Also, in neither case, did the defense go through dramatic turnaround following Barry’s departure. The Lions finished dead last in total defense the year after letting go of Barry and the Football Team finished only slightly better at 21st after being 28th under Barry.

Barry has also had great success as a positional coach, which is how he made his first impression on LaFleur. In 2017, Barry coached the Rams linebackers and oversaw Alec Ogletree and Mark Barron. Barry was also in the process of helping Corey Littleton develop into a player who would total 259 tackles, 7.5 sacks, five interceptions, four fumble recoveries, and two forced fumbles over the 2018 and 2019 seasons.

However, Barry won’t be tasked with focusing on one position when he arrives in Green Bay. Instead, he will be leading an entire defense, which hasn’t been his calling at the NFL level. For a reason that has yet to be uncovered, LaFleur believes that will change. Perhaps, being in charge of a championship-caliber defense will ignite something in Barry’s capability that wasn’t previously seen during his last two tries at coordinator. There’s also the possibility that Barry’s track record will continue on its trajectory, and his hiring will become a major flop.

Still, something is unsettling about LaFleur not getting his top choice and that adds to the disappointment. Leonhard had every right to stay put, but LaFleur wasted no time in handing the job to Barry. Obviously, someone had to be second when Leonhard turned him down, but the immediate reaction took only a few hours. LaFleur always could have widened his search before hiring someone to help him win a championship.

What we do know is that Leonhard and Barry were two very different candidates. However, LaFleur’s actions make it seem as if they were neck and neck. Time will tell if Barry is the right guy to lead this defense, but right now, it’s difficult to see LaFleur’s vision.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brandon Carwile is a Packers writer who also enjoys watching and breaking down film. Follow him on Twitter @PackerScribe.

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Comments (99)

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mnbadger's picture

February 10, 2021 at 12:08 pm

I'm not excited about the process or the selection itself. Being a packer fan, I'm optimistic about the future! GPG

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Guam's picture

February 10, 2021 at 12:25 pm

Leonhard has demonstrated at Wisconsin (1) an excellent ability to make in-game adjustments, (2) his players all play hard and fast for him, and (3) he doesn't ask players to do things they don't do well. He would have been an excellent choice, but I am just as happy he stayed a Badger (I am a Badger alumnus and life long Badger fan).

Joe Barry - we will see.........

Mike Pettine was (1) lousy at in-game adjustments and (2) asked his players to sometimes do things they don't do well (see King, Kirksey and P. Smith) just to fit his strategy.

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kbrinkmann's picture

February 10, 2021 at 03:49 pm

As a non-badgers, non-CFB fan, the passion Packers fans had for him, and their disappointment he wasn't chosen, seemed a little hyperbolic. After looking into his work, and hearing him describe his coaching approach, I'm happy to admit he would've been a great Packers coach too.

Your analysis of why LaFleur let Pettine go is spot on, I would only add that LaFleur constantly brought up his desire to see the players "play hard and fast" and it made me think Pettine struggled in that aspect of his job in particular. Could it be that Rex Ryan was more of the motivator betwen the two and their contrasting styles complemented each other on those Jets teams?

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Guam's picture

February 10, 2021 at 04:36 pm

Pettine was an odd combination of skills, at least to me. He seemed to be good at game planning, but lousy at in-game adjustments. His initial plan either worked or failed. He seemed able to identify good players, but then was poor at motivating them and getting them to "play hard and fast". He seemed to have the respect of his players, but occasionally asked them to do things they were likely to fail at. Just a strange combination of skills and weaknesses.

I never thought Rex Ryan was a genius at X's and O's, but he sure as heck could get his guys to play hard and fast. You may be right that Pettine was the brains and Ryan the heart and between the two of them you got a very good defense.

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kbrinkmann's picture

February 10, 2021 at 04:43 pm

Watching Rex on the ESPN NFL Countown show, he always stikes me as more of that kind of guy. Strangely, Rob Ryan seems like he might've gotten more of his father's cerebral side! As a side note, after watching him ruthlesly beat us so many years, I was surprised to see Randy Moss has a high football IQ. Now that I've grown more familiar with his wonderful, down home style I'm mad Thomspon wouldn't give up a 3rd for him in 2007. ESPN is nuts to not put him in the Monday Night Football booth, assuming he'd want that job.

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mnbadger's picture

February 11, 2021 at 01:27 pm

I totally agree about Randy Moss, he sure has grown up. His inside analysis and commentary are honest and passionate without being obnoxiously bombastic and confrontational. After learning more of his life story, I respect him way more than I did when he was wiping his butt on our goal post or downgrading the catering staff as a viking. GPG

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jannes bjornson's picture

February 10, 2021 at 04:50 pm

Who has more experience in the Pro Game and the Fangio scheme?

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Lare's picture

February 10, 2021 at 12:40 pm

First of all, I don't believe the "Reports" about Leonhard being offered the Packers DC job. Multiple sources cite a story from Tom Oates who says that it was according to Leonhard and his agent, Tim Valentyn of Madison. Considering Leonhard runs Pettine's defensive scheme I find it questionable that he would be MLF's first choice. With the trouble GB had with the Buccaneers defense, I'd think it would be logical to get someone from Todd Bowles scheme, however I trust that MLF knows the effectiveness of defensive schemes he has to gameplan against and I'll wait to hear what he says on the matter

I also don't think the DC is as important as the talent he is given to work with. Give Joe Barry the players on the Bucs defense and I think he'd be pretty successful wherever he was.

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Bruiser's picture

February 10, 2021 at 12:50 pm

Barry is a two time loser at Detroit then at Washington where his defenses ranked near the bottom of the league. I have zero confidence in this clown.

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murf7777's picture

February 10, 2021 at 02:36 pm

Long time Madison Atty Tim Valentyn, is Leonard's Father-in-law. Not that it matters, just an interesting side note for those who don't know Jim L. very well.

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flackcatcher's picture

February 10, 2021 at 05:28 pm

I think most folks don't understand how tight Wisconsin football coaching staff is as a group. To call them family would not be an understatement...

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jannes bjornson's picture

February 11, 2021 at 10:26 am

Sometimes, incest is not best.

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LeotisHarris's picture

February 10, 2021 at 07:41 pm

And, Murf, Valentyn was a basketball standout at Kimberly High School, and later played three years for Ken Anderson at UW-Eau Claire. The Wisconsin roots run deep in the family.

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kbrinkmann's picture

February 10, 2021 at 03:55 pm

It will be interesting to see how LaFleur describes the process when he has his press conference. Was it more: "After a process of elimination, we chose Leonhard. He turned us down, catching us off guard, so we backtracked and went with plan B." or, was it rather, "When we got down to the final four candidates, and brought them in for a more in depth look at their schematic acumen, and ability to grasp the defensive concepts LaFleur want's the Packers to run, Leonhard decided he'd rather stay in Madison and have more controll over his vision, and stay in his comfort zone. Lafleur then chose the guy with the most understanding of the Fangio/Staley scheme."

Only time will tell!

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jannes bjornson's picture

February 11, 2021 at 10:30 am

I thought the top DC was Todd Bowles? Didn't he have some rough spots on his way up and own the ladder?
The Defense needs two more competent CBs, a DE and another EDGE guy to replace P.Smith. Another ILB from the third to fourth rounds. I would keep Kirksey on a re-fi.

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Coldworld's picture

February 10, 2021 at 08:17 pm

Personally, I think it was more the coach than his scheme that was the problem on this particular occasion. I think the talent on the Packers D showed at times despite Pettine’ calling and his use of personnel, especially when games forced his hand.

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jannes bjornson's picture

February 11, 2021 at 10:33 am

Not the Dline with the exception of Clark. Need two more and run more four-man fronts.

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Coldworld's picture

February 11, 2021 at 12:15 pm

That was a choice Pettine made. He seldom used 4 and he seldom went heavy. We wondered for weeks why Winn liked great over 5 snaps, then repeated the experience with other bug guys.

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TarynsEyes's picture

February 10, 2021 at 12:28 pm

LOL!!!
No sooner had Jersey AL in his Polluted Mindset article where he says we should wait and see what Joe Barry does, CHTV posts an article that will immediately make the former request moot.

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BrandonCarwile's picture

February 10, 2021 at 03:25 pm

Interesting takeaway.

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MarkinMadison's picture

February 10, 2021 at 06:24 pm

What, you want Nagler to impose a party-line mindset at CHTV? You want everyone to say the same thing?

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TarynsEyes's picture

February 10, 2021 at 10:45 pm

I don't want or expect them to do anything. I just looked at it with the irony it was and laughed.
As to people saying the same thing along a party-line, read deeper the comments of the vast majority.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

February 11, 2021 at 04:46 am

It is not uncommon for that to occur on CHTV. The authors aren't bots, nor do we submit our articles for approval prior to publishing them.

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Coldworld's picture

February 10, 2021 at 08:30 pm

Find it interesting that the article postulates that LaFleur can be excited about one individual, infers that the two must have been close, but yet asserts that he was somehow misguided in going straight to the second. Sounds like he in fact had two clear favorites that he liked.

Interesting that Barry is deemed the safe candidate. Personally, in this case, I’m sure that was premised on his having experience but I’m not sure it is right. Barry’s past is such that it seems a much less safe option than an up and coming coach, unless Barry is better than his record as a DC. LaFleur went out in a limb with the pick of a twice failed DC. Brave and insightful or deluded? As Al said, we will have to see.

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splitpea1's picture

February 10, 2021 at 12:39 pm

I'm not going to criticize either the selection of the DC or the special teams coordinator because we've yet to see how they're going to perform. But doing a less than exhaustive search and settling for the "safe" choice was predictable as far as the Packers go with their somewhat insular tendencies. But you knew the Packers weren't going to get radical and blow up the defense, anyway-- they're not dominant, but they're not bad, either. Had they made the right call or done a couple of other things right, they would have been the ones playing in Tampa.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

February 11, 2021 at 04:49 am

That's fine. I blasted Menenga immediately. The forum is for opinions, after all.

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Bruiser's picture

February 10, 2021 at 12:46 pm

A terrible hire by Lafleur. The absolute worst guy gets the job. Pettine was bad but could coach circles around this moron. Another year watching the defense struggle.

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Dtrsi's picture

February 11, 2021 at 09:21 am

I was not overly excited about this hire, however to state unequivocally that it is a terrible hire is a joke. To make that statement I would have to assume you are deep rooted in the NFL and have great inside knowledge of how all the available choices operate. A great DC can help elevate great players and make up for small deficiencies. However a great DC cannot make up for bad talent all around. As i said i was not overly excited but Barry needs to be given a chance with much better talent than he has ever had.

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Lphill's picture

February 10, 2021 at 12:53 pm

The Green Bay Packers, soft football for soft fans .

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fastmoving's picture

February 10, 2021 at 01:28 pm

...said the softest snowflake who likes nothing more than weak unsecure Morons who hate everything America is all about. Must be all fun in the parallel universe, where the hardnosed crybabies are heros.....
I would guess you played a lot of sport.....as hard as you are, as a player and a fan. My guess would be golf or table tennis......

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kbrinkmann's picture

February 10, 2021 at 04:28 pm

:o WOW

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fastmoving's picture

February 10, 2021 at 01:28 pm

...said the softest snowflake who likes nothing more than weak unsecure Morons who hate everything America is all about. Must be all fun in the parallel universe, where the hardnosed crybabies are heros.....
I would guess you played a lot of sport.....as hard as you are, as a player and a fan. My guess would be golf or table tennis......

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TarynsEyes's picture

February 10, 2021 at 01:20 pm

The FO doings are proof that their proclivities are etched in the proverbial stone.

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murf7777's picture

February 10, 2021 at 02:16 pm

Hmmm....like hire Mlf?

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TarynsEyes's picture

February 10, 2021 at 03:18 pm

Like MLF hiring friends and then having to defend their retention when things go south. Obviously, it hasn't happened yet, but I'll wait and see. Right Jersey AL?

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kbrinkmann's picture

February 10, 2021 at 07:10 pm

I'm amazed at your ability to keep your disappointment at bay, anticipating the worst, 4 or 5 moves ahead. A master of the form.

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TarynsEyes's picture

February 10, 2021 at 10:49 pm

It is indeed a rare talent, and one in which I have no shame in sharing with the lesser, and endeavor to open the eyes and minds of the brainwashed blind optimist.

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murf7777's picture

February 11, 2021 at 09:48 am

Taryn, even in the most optimistic situations you find a way to take the low road with the majority of the time being inaccurate. IE: the last two years you predicted around a 9 win season while most were predicting anywhere from 10-13. Brainwashed with blind optimism, hardly, just a more realistic approach based on talent, FO and coaching.

You like controversy and that's ok, just don't call others brainwashed as that is unwarranted derogatory allegations.

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Demon's picture

February 10, 2021 at 07:49 pm

We saw more than enough of that with McCarthy. I hope that's not going to repeat itself again

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Stroh's picture

February 10, 2021 at 09:37 pm

Every coach at every level in every sport hires associates he has previously gad a connection too. Its HARDLY a Packers specific problem ot trend. But thanks again for proving your complete lack of sports knowledge!

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Coldworld's picture

February 11, 2021 at 08:44 am

Which friends has LaFleur hired? None, as you admit. I’m open to criticism of LaFleur as a personnel manager, but fantasy criticisms based on no evidence aren’t prescient even if they turn out to be coincidentally accurate.

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Fabio's picture

February 10, 2021 at 03:49 pm

yet we are born from the Lombardi era where we were really hard ..... maybe they replaced the stone .....

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kbrinkmann's picture

February 10, 2021 at 04:30 pm

I'm wondering if someone accidentally broke the mold when we were losing in the 70s and 80s

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TarynsEyes's picture

February 10, 2021 at 10:53 pm

Maybe the male species stones are re-ascending or not descending anymore. The latter is more my belief.

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mnbadger's picture

February 11, 2021 at 01:37 pm

males are a gender, not a species. but don't let facts get in the way of a good attack. We need to move on to free agency and the draft before we hurt each other!
GPG

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stockholder's picture

February 10, 2021 at 01:58 pm

What are friends for? Barry won't be LeFluers worst enemy. He's survived several bad teams. He doesn't lack confidence. When it comes to a showdown. It doesn't matter who got away.

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jannes bjornson's picture

February 10, 2021 at 05:03 pm

Aranda is coaching Baylor. Wilcox still running Cal. Leonard is comfortable in Madison and he's not the type of guy to bail on his group and his recruits for little bump up in the tax brackets. This defense is three more players away and snag some one-year veterans to delimit the learning curve, especially after a lot of draft prospects have not even played a down since 2019. If Barry can raise the pulse above a doa and raise the voltage like Carroll brings then this defense will be more fluid and accountable.

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baldski's picture

February 11, 2021 at 02:13 am

I look at it from a DC's viewpoint. If you are good and are payed well, why would you move ? if you are secure in a DC position, why move laterally?

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

February 11, 2021 at 04:54 am

College to the NFL is not a lateral move.

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malta1099's picture

February 10, 2021 at 02:05 pm

I have no view on this hire. However, there is something very strange about Leonhard turning the job down. Why would he throw his hat in the ring, then go through first round interviews, and then go through the second round, when all he really wanted to do is stay at UW????? Makes zero sense. More likely, he was (and still is interested) in an NFL job, but he saw something he didn't like in Green Bay. I would be very interested to learn what that is.

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murf7777's picture

February 10, 2021 at 02:23 pm

My immediate thought was the same as yours. After further thought and knowing him albeit not at a close level I think he was sincere in his intent of going to GB. His character and personality doesn't strike me as someone who would interview twice if he wasn't seriously interested. Sometimes you have to be put into a situation to make a life changing decision to really know what you want and that is how I believe it went down. Jim is a classy person and its very obvious to see even if you don't know him.

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packer132's picture

February 10, 2021 at 03:02 pm

Maybe Leonhard was interested and wanted details of the position. He has no NFL coaching experience, only experience as an NFL player. He could have wanted the experience of an NFL interview. He had turned down at least three college DC coaching positions including Alabama. It sounds like it came down to his family and not wanting to move his three sons from their school and friends. We will probably never know why.

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Stroh's picture

February 10, 2021 at 09:42 pm

He didnt pursue the job, LaFleur pursued him. What would make no sense is not listening and not interviewing. God your clueless!

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Coldworld's picture

February 11, 2021 at 08:50 am

I don’t know Leonhard, but by all accounts he is in a very sweet position for both finances and family and, if he is good, a much more stable one. A college head coaching role appears in the offing, and that could, should he want it, equally catapult him into the NFL, but he may not or may prefer to let his family have security for a bit. Some college coaches prefer the very lucrative college lifestyle and atmosphere permanently. To infer this is a rejection of LaFleur or the Packers roster seems something of a stretch.

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nostradanus's picture

February 10, 2021 at 02:17 pm

MLF was not a sexy hire (but according to my GF he is a sexy coach)

I am not thrilled with the hire either but MLF has been very good as a coach so far so let’s give this a chance before Barry is tarred and feathered and run out of town on a rail.

That is all...

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murf7777's picture

February 10, 2021 at 02:32 pm

My understanding is he wants the Vic Fangio scheme of defense and that is what Barry learned in LA and I suspect he told Mlf that is the D he wants to run. You don't get a second much less a third crack at such a high position if you are not very highly regarding in the NFL ranks and have good attributes. The Fangio schemes are different from what he ran in Detroit and Washington, which were "Tampa 2" type. In addition, as stated, this is a team with far greater talent. As an example, Take Mlf for instance, how did he do as the OC at Tennessee? Not so well by the stats, but now he has lead a team to two straight NFC championship games. What that tells us is that it is hard to do great things with below average talent.

Mlf has done nothing but win for the Packers when another head coach MM no longer could with mostly a similar team so I'm willing to give our Coach the benefit of the doubt. Yes, he was wrong with the ST coach, but we all make mistakes, now the big question, does he learn from them. I'm betting he does.

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Archie's picture

February 10, 2021 at 04:06 pm

Would he have asked Leonard to learn/implement the Fangio system? If so, could that be the real reason he turned the job down?

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kbrinkmann's picture

February 10, 2021 at 04:35 pm

I was thinking the same, Archie! Silverstein's article describes LaFleur sitting down in person with the candidates in the second interviews and going through the Fangio/Staley system in depth, testing their grasp of its nuances. Why would he only want Barry, Evero, and Harris to run this system?

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flackcatcher's picture

February 10, 2021 at 05:42 pm

McCarthy had a massive wave of injuries which destroyed his teams by mid season in back to back years. Even at the end, those Packers teams played hard. MLF has had two seasons of average injuries with good enough player replacements. And MLF had a star QB who got his mojo back. McCarthy had to deal with crazy cranky Aaron the last two seasons. Let's hope for good health for this team next season and beyond.

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SwedeBayPacker's picture

February 10, 2021 at 02:58 pm

Well, it's definitely a selection...

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kbrinkmann's picture

February 10, 2021 at 04:46 pm

Thanks for a thoughtful post, Brandon. I especially like how you emphasized that Barry has had success as a position coach.

I've been wondering about LaFleur's thinking during this process as well, but it's harder to guess until we get to hear his side of it at a press conference, hopefully soon. When Leonhard was considered the leading candidate for the job, I went looking for video or audio of him speaking to get a sense of his personality and wonder how he might transform the defense, if hired. I found an insightful interview of Leonhard done last year by a friend who's also in coaching, Joe Nellis, on the "Coach and Coordinator Podcast." (If interested you can find it on google podcasts under the title "Home Team With Jim Leonard, Defensive Coordinator, Wisconsin Badgers.")

Anyway, listening to this interview gave me a small window into what kind of coach Jim Leonhard might be. One of my big questions about him before was, "why would LaFleur want him when he just let Pettine go, who also runs a version of the Rex Ryan scheme?" The impression I got from Badgers fans was that Leonhard is a tactical genius, who's able to fool college coordinators and QBs with his innovative play design. If that's the case, it's hard to see how Barry could be a guy like that, so settling on him does seem like a big drop. My best guess now is that LaFleur wanted Leonhard because of his rare ability to teach a complex, NFL level scheme to college athletes in such a way that they could play confidently, and as fast as possible. Are we certain that LaFleur wouldn't have asked Leonhard to learn certain concepts from the Fangio/Staley scheme to emulate if he'd been hired?

I think LaFleur was looking for a great teacher and motivator.

Another thing I noticed about Leonhard, after finding a few videos of him on the Badgers practice field, is that he's very LaFleur-like in the sense that he's energetic and hands on with the players, not yelling at them from the sidelines so much as encouraging them, diving into the details alongside them. Do you remember after LaFleur's first few practices when all the beat writers mentioned how he was different from McCarthy in this way? When LaFleur tore his achilles in 2019, they all wondered if it would put a damper on his style.

After watching some of the Rams practice videos of Barry, he has a similar, energetic and collegial coaching style.

Could it be that LaFleur was looking for something he thought Pettine lacked? Pettine knew plenty about scheme, but could he get his players to take what they hear in the classroom and translate it to the field? Could he keep them energzied and motivated throughout a long season, full of ups and downs?

TL:DR

It could be that all the candidates besides Barry and Evero (who LaFleur knew) were recommended to him based on shared qualities: energetic, good teachers, smart, pleasant to work with, etc. It would explain why so many of them were younger. LaFleur took a look at each one on Zoom, and then brought in a few to test their acumen for his preferred scheme. He ended up hiring a guy who wanted the job, and who he knows has the qualities required to get it done.

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Dragon5's picture

February 10, 2021 at 03:34 pm

Barry, born in a DOG year, is an 11 life path influencer. He is entering a personal 8 year that gives him money & power as a DC. Hopefully he's built up good karma since his last 8 personal year.

Special teams coordinator Maurice Drayton, born in a DRAGON year, is also an 11 life path influencer entering an 11 personal year. Suggests his message permeates the special teams unit and they improve.

Likely some friction between these two given they're enemy signs, but it seems the majority of the Packers hierarchy also draws this parallel as Gute, an OX, opposes Murphy, LaFleur, Hackett, and the franchise--all GOATs and enemies of the OX. Has made me wonder if Gute is destined to fail due to this oppositional energy within management; no matter how hard he tries, one man can't do it alone as it takes everyone's execution to propel a team to the summit. Assuming Murphy is still in charge, he should have little remorse severing ties when Gute's tenure has run its course. For the overwhelming majority of Packers fans, Gute's legacy appears to be tied to the Love pick.

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Pizzadoc's picture

February 10, 2021 at 03:52 pm

Come on guys, these are always funny.

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kbrinkmann's picture

February 10, 2021 at 04:37 pm

I am also thankful for this contribution.

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13TimeChamps's picture

February 10, 2021 at 03:37 pm

"....is a well-respected and up and coming defensive mind"

Which is exactly what I was hoping for. Instead we get another recycled re-tread.
Oh well...at least he had the balls to offer it to Leonhard.

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Lare's picture

February 10, 2021 at 04:17 pm

If Leonhard was offered the job, you have to wonder if he was concerned about the talent he would be provided to work with in GB. Gutekunst didn't exactly give Pettine much to work with this year.

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13TimeChamps's picture

February 10, 2021 at 07:39 pm

Kenny Clark...Jaire Alexander... Z. Smith

Seriously? Not much to work with? You expect Pro Bowlers at every position?

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dobber's picture

February 11, 2021 at 05:36 am

Now I'm confused...I thought we'd decided Pettine was the problem.

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flackcatcher's picture

February 10, 2021 at 04:39 pm

Couple of comments: In fairness to Leonhard, the time frame was really short for him to make a decision if he wanted to leave Wisconsin. With Lafleur in a contract year, there was little to no job security if he left. As pointed out in the article, Pettine and Leonhard are good friends and in many ways, Pettine has acted as Leonhard's mentor. In fact, the scheme Pettine has used since 2019 is Leonhard's. While Pettine started with a 3-5 with three DL, he switch out to a 2-5 with his OLB at the LOS. That's the Wisconsin scheme in a nutshell. The main difference is Bucky DB play press and hand fight at the line. Pettine used to do that till the game officials started to call defensive holding and PI on every down. Green Bay was forced to change their defensive coverage style last year. The problems between Pettine and Lafleur are all on Lafleur for not being able to manage his own ego at the expense of the team. This reflects badly on Lafleur no matter how one wants to spin the Barry hiring. The Packers rarely fire coaches before their contract runs out, and if Gute felt that strongly about Lafleur, then we would have heard about either a contract extension or a new contract from Lafleur's agent. What we got instead is silence from 1265. Then that means that Gutekunst put Lafleur on the Clock, and the Barry hire is the best that Lafleur could do. Oh Joy...

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kbrinkmann's picture

February 10, 2021 at 04:49 pm

Out of curiosity: What record do you think LaFleur would need to have next year to avoid being fired?

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flackcatcher's picture

February 10, 2021 at 05:13 pm

That's the part which bugs me. I think Gutekunst may not renew Lafleur's contract even with a winning record. This goes all the way back to how he was hired. I do not think for a second that Gute has gotten over the way Lafleur was hired. This could be Ted -Mike Sherman's last year all over again. His attitude toward Pettine was horrible last season. That doesn't go unnoticed inside the front office at 1265 or other front offices inside the NFL. Still Lafleur might believe that he has been treated unfairly, and that is part of the reason he is acting out. I think he has a strong case to make. But then, I not the guy deciding his future in Green Bay.

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Stroh's picture

February 10, 2021 at 09:58 pm

Gutey didn't hire LaFleur. Murphy hired him and he also hired Gutey. Those are both feathers in Murphy's hat. Gutey was involved in the process because he and LaFleur have to work closely together. By all accounts they are both very happy how things are working and they have excellent communication. You are barking up a tree that simply doesn't exist! Couldn't be more wrong (about everything) if you tried!

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kbrinkmann's picture

February 10, 2021 at 10:31 pm

Thanks for the reminder of the changed hierarchy. That one really bothered the Packers beat writers, and their attachment to the way things were, but Murphy seemed to make the right call there. I didn't realize at that time that he had been the CEO since 2007. He was more content to stay in the shadows before that series of hirings. I gotta say I've been impressed with him, especially how he addresses Packers fan rants in his "Murphy Takes 5" articles. It's refreshing to have a former NFL player in a position like that.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

February 11, 2021 at 05:04 am

I agree on the Flak's yes and no.

Moreover, Murphy wasn't necessarily content to sit on the sidelines from 2007 to 2015. Ted Thompson had juice by 2007.

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flackcatcher's picture

February 10, 2021 at 11:49 pm

Uh yes and no Stroh. This is where it gets messy. Murphy did hire Lafleur, but he had no authority to do so. That is strictly the VP of football operations Brian Gutekunst. The Executive Committee is the final voice, both Murphy and Gutekunst are their employees. The EC gave Gutekunst the final say in hiring Lafleur, which he did. But he not Gutekunst's guy. Not Lafleur's fault he was put in the middle of a messy situation, between Gutekunst and Murphy. One that the EC should have made clear after they hired Gutekunst over Murphy's objections. As it is, the Executive Committee barred Murphy from all football operations. Gutekunst reports directly to the Executive Committee not to Mark Murphy. Frankly this failure belongs squarely on the EC for not stopping Murphy when he was defacto GM. He made a real mess out of it. The only good news is the Packers got a real good GM in Brian Gutekunst. One that should have been hired in 2015, not 2018.

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jannes bjornson's picture

February 10, 2021 at 06:18 pm

His extension should be in a couple of weeks.

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kbrinkmann's picture

February 10, 2021 at 07:14 pm

I really have not seen any evidence of all this drama Flackcatcher is reading between the lines. Does he have a man on the inside?

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Stroh's picture

February 10, 2021 at 10:01 pm

No he's just clueless.

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flackcatcher's picture

February 11, 2021 at 12:19 am

Actually it is very much on the public record on Gutekunst's hiring. Both Bob Harlan and Gutekunst confirmed it. The rest come from actions of the Executive Committee via Murphy in 2019 and Murphy's own announcement of withdrawal from dealing in football operations. And yes I have friends in NFL front offices who I talk to about how things are done in the NFL. But the Murphy mess comes from a group who thought they had a free ride, till it wasn't. It is not a new story, it something that happens all the time in business. Company president screws up, board steps in cleans up mess, runs company until new president is selected. This time it happened in Green Bay to the Packers. That's all.

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4thandinches's picture

February 11, 2021 at 12:34 pm

Do you have a link you can share that supports these claims?

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

February 11, 2021 at 05:11 am

Maybe. LaFleur signed a 4-year deal (with a 5th year option). So, he is signed through the 2022 season.

It is likely GB won't let LaFleur be a lame duck, but an extension need not occur until mid-season or after the 2021 season. It is possible that GB acts more quickly and does it in the next few weeks, but I don't see the upside.

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jannes bjornson's picture

February 11, 2021 at 10:42 am

They were claiming he was on a three year deal and that comment was not making any sense. Thanks.

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packer132's picture

February 10, 2021 at 09:45 pm

Why would Lafleur be fired? After 26-6 in the first two years, the team should be getting better. Players learn the playbook and get comfortable working with the same teammates.
Packers should have a few new free agents in addition to the draft picks. They will lose several players due to the cap but that is a normal event. Young players will make the jump and improve.

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flackcatcher's picture

February 11, 2021 at 01:28 am

This will come down to if Gutekunst believes Lafleur is the right man if Green Bay goes into rebuild mode after this season. With the Cap hits and lost of core players early due to not be able to resign them, Green Bay will be in a hole. If Green Bay hits on this year draft, then the next year and years forward could be reloading rather than rebuilding. It is possible that after this upcoming season Gute decides to go in a different direction with a new HC and staff. None of us fans has the data the front office has that is guiding their decision process. Doesn't mean it will happen. Just one of many possible outcomes.

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flackcatcher's picture

February 10, 2021 at 04:51 pm

I should have included that Gute may have decided to start contract talks with Lafleur's agent as Green Bay usually does contracts in coaches last year. So if there is any new or extension Green Bay or Lafleur's agent would announce it around mid season. But the vibe between the two has gotten weird in public. Might be reading too much in their end of season's pressers...

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kbrinkmann's picture

February 10, 2021 at 07:16 pm

Gotcha. I was wondering were your speculation was coming from. My read on their emotional state was that they were both disappointed in losing the NFCCG, not that they were at each others proverbial throats.

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flackcatcher's picture

February 11, 2021 at 01:05 am

If you watch Gutekunst's pressers in 2019 he is very careful in rebuking Lafleur. There was far less of that this season, but Gute did defend Pettine while not trying to hit Lafleur. There is tension between the two, but that is natural between the HC and GM in their respective roles. But the DC situation rubbed Lafleur the wrong way from day one, and wasn't shy in letting the public know.

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Stroh's picture

February 10, 2021 at 10:05 pm

You really don't know a damn thing do you. LaFleur and Gutey are equals in the hierarchy. Both repoort to Murphy! Gutey makes no decisions on LaFluer and vice-versa. The more you say the dumber you sound. Just stop it already!

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flackcatcher's picture

February 11, 2021 at 12:56 am

No need to go on full scale blast, just look at the Packers structure and read the accounts from Harlan and Gutekunst and the whole Murphy I am radio tour in 2019 followed by the Bob Harlan radio tour two weeks later. Just an incredible series of events that ended with Gutekunst's hiring.

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murf7777's picture

February 10, 2021 at 08:07 pm

There’s a big difference between Pettine and Leonard’s defensive scheme. Leonard believes in stopping the run and Pettine stopping the pass first. That’s a big difference in philosophy.

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flackcatcher's picture

February 11, 2021 at 12:28 am

Well yeah. It's the Big Ten. There is more passing, but it's the Big Ten. (Marching Tubas...) Of course he would have to adapt to the NFL passing game with PI rules and how the game officials interpret them. Odds are his secondary schemes would be close to Pettine's if he was to coach in the league.

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jannes bjornson's picture

February 11, 2021 at 10:45 am

Leonard plays more press man cover, also.

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Coldworld's picture

February 10, 2021 at 08:37 pm

LaFleur has a huge ego? That’s not my impression. Pettine was the one afraid to take risks and who drove us armchair fans up the wall with his tactics. Perhaps LaFleur felt the same? Maybe Z and his delegation, after which our D played its best and most atypical game?

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flackcatcher's picture

February 11, 2021 at 12:43 am

CW. Matt Lafleur is a Head Coach in the NFL. Of course, he has a huge ego and a huge belief in himself. How else could he survive otherwise in pro coaching. The issue as I stated is not between him and Pettine. It was between him and Gutekunst about his treatment of Pettine. Regardless of what you or I think of Pettine, his defense got the Packers into the NFC champ game with an opportunity to win. That's what counts.

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dobber's picture

February 11, 2021 at 05:41 am

"The main difference is Bucky DB play press and hand fight at the line. Pettine used to do that till the game officials started to call defensive holding and PI on every down. "

Must not have been in the playoffs, then...

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dustinhint's picture

February 10, 2021 at 11:32 pm

nice post

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croatpackfan's picture

February 12, 2021 at 04:28 am

Brandon, I would like to know who you propose or think is/was the top choice for DC? Because it was not clear from the article whom you consider to be that choice from the title of the article...

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croatpackfan's picture

February 12, 2021 at 04:28 am

Brandon, I would like to know who you propose or think is/was the top choice for DC? Because it was not clear from the article whom you consider to be that choice from the title of the article...

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Irish_Cheesehead's picture

February 12, 2021 at 07:55 pm

Not sure I would have liked the hire of a guy who has only been coaching for 5 years and only at the college level. Pro is a very different game. We’ve seen a lot of high profile, experienced college coaches fizzle at the pro level. Now is not a time to experiment.

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