For years, a large segment of Twitter referred to the Green Bay Packers as the “PackIRs.” Though that moniker might some day return, the team has managed to largely avoid major injuries in the first year of Matt LaFleur’s tenure. Though not the only reason for the Packers’ 9-3 record, the good health has played an important role in the success under a first-time head coach.
LaFleur understands and acknowledges the benefit of player availability to his team’s success. But while roster health can vary randomly, the Packers have made a concerted effort to load manage their players, especially older ones. LaFleur also credits the work of the strength and conditioning staff as well as “Flea” and the athletic trainers.
This came out before the Chicago Bears defeated the Dallas Cowboys on Thursday Night Football, but most of the scenarios remain intact. The Packers can still reach the No. 1 seed and can still miss the playoffs altogether. More likely, they’ll battle it out with the Minnesota Vikings for the division crown and the third seed.
The development and play of first-round rookie Rashan Gary has become a divisive topic among Packers fans, many of which wished the team would have selected a different pass rusher, a linebacker, or another weapon for the offense. However, Green Bay’s coaching staff sees Gary as an ascending player, one whose potential might not manifest until next year. “He’s on a progression,” defensive coordinator Mike Pettine says, “he’s on a path that we feel he’s made improvement from Day 1 and we’re certainly confident that’s going to continue.
Rodgers claims to have “sharper muscle memory” than in the past and has made incremental improvements to the mechanics of his game. ”When I first got into the league, it was a lot of one-speed throws. Just lasers on a line, and I think over the years I really learned how to put touch on the ball and use eye discipline and use my legs to put myself in a position to make more accurate throws.”