“If you can’t beat them, join them.”
That seems to be the approach the Green Bay Packers took when selecting Matt LaFleur to be the team’s next head coach.
A year ago Green Bay’s arch rival Chicago Bears hired Matt Nagy off of Andy Reid’s staff in Kansas City despite limited experience in calling plays and paired him with respected defensive coordinator Vic Fangio.
The results? A 12-4 record and a curb stomping of the NFC North.
The Packers are obviously hoping for similar success with LaFleur in 2019. He’ll have more talent on offense than Nagy did and by retaining defensive coordinator Mike Pettine, whose defense did show promise this season before a tsunami of injuries finally took its toll, LaFleur can focus on fixing the offense and getting quarterback Aaron Rodgers back to elite level.
Pettine clearly has the respect of his players and can command the defensive meeting room. If there were any doubt about that, team president Mark Murphy and general manager Brian Gutekunst would not have been as keen on keeping him around.
There is of course risk with this. Mimicking the path of a first year head coach whose team flamed out in the wild card round isn’t idea, but given the worst-to-first turnaround the Bears experienced clearly the Packers felt good about their chances. The difference of course being they picked a candidate from the Shanahan tree versus the Reid tree when Chicago picked Nagy.
Nobody knows for certain how well this will work out for Green Bay, but we’ll get our first look at LaFleur in green and gold today at 3 p.m. central time at his introductory press conference. Kept it here at APC for love coverage of LaFleur’s debut as Packers head coach.
There’s plenty more on LaFleur and what challenges he faces in today’s cheese curds.
There will be plenty of fan angst about following the road the Bears took, but you can’t argue with the results. The Packers/Bears rivalry is about to get a lot more fun.
Get to know your new head coach with this quick breakdown of LaFleur’s experience and get excited about what he can bring to Green Bay.
Challenging Rodgers while not trying to usurp authority from the personnel department likely was big draw of LaFleur’s to the Packers given Josh McDaniels’ and Adam Gase’s previous head coaching stints.
The above is the biggest question facing this hire and we won’t know the results until several months from now. That said, the excuses are gone for Rodgers. He now has a young, aggressive GM and a young, innovative head coach. It’s now time for him to earn his contract.
Looks like it’s New York or nothing for the former Packers coach. Should McCarthy not land the Jets job, he likely will take the year off and look for a job in 2020.