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Packers' brass admires Matt LaFleur's desire to seek challenge

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Packers' brass admires Matt LaFleur's desire to seek challenge

-- Rather than stick around in Los Angeles for the foreseeable future, new Green Bay Packers head coach Matt LaFleur craved a challenge in 2018.

That's why he pursued another offensive coordinator job -- this one in Tennesee that would offer him full play-calling duties.

It's also why Packers President and CEO Mark Murphy felt even more of an obligation to entrust his new hire: The Rams were already a loaded team at the time and were trending upward. The Titans, meanwhile, would be working with a first-year head coach in Mike Vrabel and an often mediocre quarterback in Marcus Mariota.

"If he stayed in L.A., he'd be the hot candidate right now," Murphy said at Wednesday's introductory press conference for LaFleur. "But the experience in Tennesee made him a better coach."

It's already enough of a task to improve on a resume that saw LaFleur play a role in the Rams' offensive breakout in 2017, Matt Ryan's MVP season with the Atlanta Falcons in 2016 and Robert Griffin III's stellar rookie year in 2012. But in Green Bay, he'll aim to do so and change the narrative that now follows him like a black cloud after a challenged year with the Titans.

"I needed to challenge myself," LaFleur said of his decision to leave for Tennesee. "It would have been easy to stay in L.A. You look at the roster, you look at the success they're having this year. I took the risk because I knew I had to get out of my comfort zone and grow as a coach. The lessons I learned this year, I learned football is not easy. You'd better navigate through some adversity, and I was proud of that."

As the 15th head coach in team history and the successor of one of the team's most winningest head coaches, that challenge is certainly clear. The Packers are coming off of two back-to-back middling campaigns -- or, by their standards, two years worth of blatant incompetence.

The Packers have the pieces to make it work, and now they believe they have the handyman that can help put them all in place. General manager Brian Gutekunst, Executive Vice President Russ Ball and Murphy all knew LaFleur was the candidate they wanted after their interview with him on Sunday, and after sleeping on it, nothing changed on Monday. He was their guy.

He won over the team's brass, but now it's vital that he wins over his men.

"The process is to improve on a daily basis," LaFleur said. "In this league, or in life, you never stay the same. You're either going to get better or you're going to get worse.

"Our mentality is going to be to get a little bit better every day. If we continue to move forward on a day-to-day basis, I think we're going to win a lot of games here."

LaFleur confirmed he'll be calling plays for the Packers this season. Regardless of who the team brings on as offensive coordinator -- or if they opt to carry on with a pass and run game coordinator as an alternative -- that won't change.

"I couldn't think of a greater place to be a head coach in all of sports."

__________________________

Zachary Jacobson is a staff writer/reporter for Cheesehead TV. He's the voice of The Leap on iTunes and can be heard on The Scoop KLGR 1490 AM every Saturday morning. He's also a contributor on the Pack-A-Day Podcast. He can be found on Twitter via @ZachAJacobson or contacted through email at [email protected].

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Fan friendly comments only: on Comments (36) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Lphill's picture

It’s just amazing to me how long this took, MM should have been fired after the fiasco in Seattle blowing a 16 point lead. If he was coaching a team in New York he would have been run out of town but he was allowed to hang around several more years and more heartbreaks.

fastmoving's picture

thats the reason why the New York sports teams are so extrem successful

Lphill's picture

the Yankees are from New York

fastmoving's picture

yeah, I know and thats why they are so successful, especially if you look at the money they pump in every year.
But the Red Socks are from somewhere else?

Lphill's picture

Yes the Red Sox are from Boston have one of the highest payrolls and have about 4 world titles compared to the Yankees .

JimR_in_SoCal's picture

Eli Manning has twice as many SB rings as Aaron Rodgers.

CheesyTex's picture

Look what Tom Couglin's SB rings got him in NY.

fastmoving's picture

yeah, they got a couple of wins. But besides that, there was not much in the last 20 years. They have 2 teams in every major sport. Its not like they win a lot there, compared to the high expectations. Way under average……

Rak47's picture

If LaFleur wins some SB's with Rodgers it really won't matter that they held onto McCarthy too long.

Daren726's picture

They will probably give Lafleur plenty of time also,but Here’s hoping he is as advertised. No room for rookie mistakes and lost seasons due to learning to be a head coach.

PAPackerbacker's picture

I watched the live press conference of the MLF interview and understand now why he was hired so quickly, without a second interview. He is not a phony. He is genuine. I not only listened to what he was saying I also watched his body language and he was sincere and honest in his responses and comments. He could have stayed in LA and been successful. But he wanted a challenge and a chance to call plays. He said he always wanted to be a head coach. He realized that wasn't going to happen as long a he stayed in LA. His vision for the Packers is straight forward and honest. I think he will do well in Green Bay if he backs up his actions with his words. And is allowed to surround himself with other quality coaches. Once he gains the respect of the players he will command the locker room. I wish him well.

pooch's picture

Dash Riprock would disagree

Skip greenBayless's picture

You would be right pooch.

Skip greenBayless's picture

"Once he gains the respect of the players he will command the locker room. "

Have you seen this guy? I'm sorry but size does matter especially in the NFL and especially in a locker room. This guy is a small skinny pimple faced kid. He actually looks younger than Aaron Rodgers. He looks about 34 and Rodgers actually looks older than his age. Compare him to Mike Pettine or Mike Holmgren. Those two command a presence and automatic respect in any room. Justin LaFleur might be able to command the respect of the Packers uniform repair ladies. Might. I say he's already lost the respect of the players with his press conference. He totally failed to mention them while praising Aaron Rodgers. Epic failure to start!!

Murphy hired him as a "fit" to increase revenue with women as women love the guy and are no. 1 buyers of merchandise and Packers theme park sales. They don't care about the record. They like him like men like a beautiful woman over an ugly old fat woman. But for football this hire does no good for the long term success of the Packers. It's always about the money never forget that. This hire was about making money not winning. If they wanted to win they would have hired a guy with actual experience. Murphy is a bullshitter. He even said so in the press conference. You can all have hope that's fine but if you just take a step back you'll realize how foolish of a pick this was to hire a guy with a losing record, low offensive rankings, no head coaching experience, no commanding presence and be in charge of a qb who will not listen to anybody but himself. Murphy's last decision will be on par with Dan Devine. Feel free to disagree with me. I know you will and that's ok.

Dash

4thand10's picture

Holy shit.... relax and eat a snickers man. He already let Ron Zook go....that’s a good start.

Skip greenBayless's picture

Zook was the least of our problems.

Rak47's picture

I hear ya Dash and I'm still hopeful Pettine sticks around because his presence will make a huge difference and he will have the defense playing ball. In regards to Rodgers and LaFleur they were paired to be partners and keep Rodgers focused and happy. They're essentially married as was Rodgers and McCarthy , so they may be a bit unconventional but it doesn't mean it can't work. Only time will tell.

Skip greenBayless's picture

I agree Rak Em'. I said before that retaining Mike Pettine was my no. 1 priority over picking a head coach. I was hoping for a veteran head coach with experience like Caldwell to reign Rodgers in or my preferred choice Rex Ryan who teamed with Pettine would have been a dynamic duo. Also I have no doubt Rex would have allowed Rodgers to call his own plays and focused on defense with Pettine. Instead we have Justin LaFuhrer in charge of Aaron DaFuhrer Rodgers both trying to establish dominance over each other while all the other teammates are saying, "what about us"? You might like it that's fine. Maybe it works that's great. I just have little faith at this point and it has more to do with Rodgers need for control than the new kid. People don't suddenly change themselves over a coaching change. I don't see Rodgers changing.

Dash

Razer's picture

More like Packers brass stumble all over themselves while introducing the new guy. Mark Murphy thought the night was about him and his story telling. Gutekunst carried in the waters and didn't have anything to contribute. Matt LaFleur handle himself well against a bunch of reporters who didn't know what to ask outside of Aaron Rodgers questions. All very homey in Hooterville last night.

Hope LaFleur and Gutekunst can work well these next months and years.

Razer's picture

Saw where the Packers granted Joe Philbin permission to talk to the Vikings. Perhaps Murphy's comment that LaFleur was "by far the most prepared" didn't sit well with some people. The fact that Philbin would consider a downwards move with an arch rival tells you a lot. Sorry to see a good man and good coach go - particularly to the Vikings.

Since '61's picture

Razer - talking to another team is not the same as being offered and/or accepting the position. Besides Philbin accepted the OC position in Green Bay after being the HC is Miami. I wouldn't look at it as a downwards move.

In any case I wish the best for Philbin. He has been through the worst of the worst in his personal life. I have great respect for him being able to function and continue to move forward with his professional life. I'm not sure I could do the same if it were me. I appreciate his contributions to the Packers. Thanks, Since '61

dobber's picture

I think this is a pretty good sign that LaFleur has told Philbin that he's not going to hang on as OC in GB.

Would you want to step from OC --> Interim HC --> OL coach (Maybe) in GB in two years? Probably not.

Razer's picture

I wish him the best as well - but not with the Vikings. Going to a divisional rival, particularly the Vikings is not cool, just ask Greg Jennings. Maybe one of the reasons Vic Fangio didn't consider coming to Green Bay this or last year.

Lancer's picture

Matt LF appears to be bright and passionate with a big learning curve ahead of him. It will be exciting to watch him grow into the role over the next couple of years. Hopefully he doesn't develop any bad habits and learns from his mistakes along the way. It will be interesting to see how quickly the veterans on offense pick up a new scheme. After years of telegraphed running formations it will be great to be unpredictable on offense. Go Matt! Go Pack!

Handsback's picture

This hire makes me wonder if Green Bay will invest, through the draft or FA, for another power RB? It sounds like with the Titans he learned about using the running game to set-up strategic passing plays and wear down opponents. He will need a stronger running game to keep pressure off Arod as they build the oline back to championship performance level.

Razer's picture

Definitely need another good RB - two guys gets you to October - maybe. I like the looks of this David Montgomery out of Iowa State. I really want to see the Packers build a strong run game ala New Orleans. Also would like to see us draft a quick twitch WR. Cobb isn't available and we need someone underneath.

dobber's picture

I think the positive of what he showed in Tennessee was that he adjusted when his QB just wasn't getting it done. They had two RBs...Dion Lewis is good in the run and pass game, but he went with the pure runner (Henry) and committed to him. It worked. If MM might have shown any of this kind of flexibility with Hundley at QB in 2017, it would have turned out better...probably not WELL, but better.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

This amuses me, Dobber (not saying your take is incorrect, btw). On APC Titanup made probably 15 posts blasting LaFleur for mishandling the RB situation. Titanup insisted that LaFleur should have realized that Henry was the better overall back, that he should have realized it much more quickly than he did, but LaFleur was too stubborn to give Henry the opportunities he deserved until Henry, due to productivity, forced his hand.

Shades of the Aaron Jones/Jamaal Williams issue debated at length on packer blogs.

Lare's picture

We've got plenty of "Titanup"s here constantly criticizing and finding fault with everything the Packers do. We can win the Super Bowl and some people will still find something to complain about. It's the only thing that makes them happy.

Since '61's picture

The Rams have Burley to build their run and play action games around. I would like to see the Packers draft a similar type of back. Paired with Aaron Jones that would make the Packers run game a serious threat and a great platform for play action to take off pressure off of Rodgers and support the passing game.

A game break WR would be nice as well. Go Pack Go! Thanks, Since '61

alforno54's picture

There seemed to be lots of talk about getting one of the young hotshots with new ideas to run the show. Talk seems to have shifted to finding power backs. Sounds to me that what we really wanted was a guy with the versatility to use what he has. Sounds like mission accomplished. Let the journey begin.

PAPackerbacker's picture

I think it would be a wise decision to let Philbin go. It just makes sense for a new head coach to build a team around his own philosophies and not build one from a previous head coach. Of course if the expectations meets his own then by all means keep Philbin on board. But I think MLF can persuade another OC to come to Green Bay and put the Packers in a better position to win games. It will be interesting to watch as MLF builds a coaching staff for the future. I'm sure he already has people in mind. Now if he can just persuade them to join him in building a winning team. It is an exciting time. And will be even more exciting come draft day. Let the process begin. I wish MLF and the Packers nothing but the best. I still love this team, and always will, no matter who is at the helm. Green Bay is the epitome of what football represents. Go! Pack! Go!

pooch's picture

Sounds lije he might hifhwr is brother for O.C.

pooch's picture

like he might higher

Lare's picture

or hire?

Packerpasty's picture

first thing is to get Arod his own little office like Favre had...then go two work with Gutes on the draft and F/A...

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