Meet the new boss. He’s not the same as the old boss.
Green Bay Packers head coach Matt LaFleur introduced his coaching staff to the media today and one thing became very clear after the press conference concluded: this isn’t the Mike McCarthy regime.
LaFleur, new offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett, returning defensive coordinator Mike Pettine and new special teams coordinator Shawn Mennenga all spoke during the press conference and the energy coming from the podium was palpable. It’s quite a stark contrast from the monotonous pressers McCarthy held.
What should excite Packers fans the most is that most of the energy, with all due respect to Pettine and Mennenga, came from the coaches on the offensive side of the ball. LaFleur, in response to a question about the advantages of having such a young staff, said they’d “bring energy every day” and he also spoke of “juice” and “enthusiasm” when talking about special teams.
LaFleur also mentioned that having “three quarterback guys” in himself, Hackett and new quarterbacks coach Luke Getsy will allow them to “hit (Aaron Rodgers) from all angles” which certainly makes it seem like the rookie coach is confident he and his staff can adequately challenge the veteran quarterback.
Another thing that should be music to both fans’ and Rodgers’ ears is that LaFleur seems fully committed to running the football. LaFleur specifically mentioned the hiring of tight ends coach Justin Outten, who was a high school coach as late as 2015, as a decision he made to get the run game going.
Once LaFleur wrapped up, it was the coordinator’s time at the podium and Hackett’s entire press conference just oozed energy and excitement. The new offensive coordinator spoke of how “unbelievable” it was to be a Green Bay Packer and his passion just shone through. That energy should reinvigorate an offense that went stale the past few seasons.
As far as football itself, Hackett said a lot of the concepts Rodgers is familiar with will stay the same, but “emphases” as well as “language” will differ. This means Rodgers won’t have to learn an entire new offense per se but things are being shuffled sufficiently enough to keep him on his toes.
On the defensive side of the ball, Pettine said it was an “easy decision” to stay in Green Bay once LaFleur was hired. The most notable thing Pettine said was the decision not to retain secondary coach/passing game coordinator Joe Whitt came from LaFleur, and not Pettine himself.
Pettine added that with 2019 being year two of his defense, he’s looking for his players to make a “big leap” and move on to “the graduate level stuff” since the team spent a lot of time moving players in and out due to injuries that piled up.
He also joked that he’ll be a good resource for LaFleur on what NOT to do as head coach thanks to his tenure with the Cleveland Browns.
Finally, Mennenga mentioned he is aware of history of special teams incompetence in Green Bay and that “it’s an ongoing process. Nothing gets fixed overnight.” To improve the performance of the special teams, especially in eliminating the backbreaking penalties that were a speciality of the 2018 squad, he said he’d “beat the players over the head with the rules.”
Mennenga also mentioned he appreciated the opportunity from LaFleur to bring on more assistants to finally right the ship on special teams.
There will be plenty more to come from the staff as the off-season progresses, but if you wanted something completely different from the McCarthy regimes you have that in this staff despite Pettine being retained.
Of course, actions on the field in speak louder than words during a February press conference so until the team actually assembled and gets on the field, this is all we have to go on for now.
As free agency approaches, the cooks are now in the kitchen. Now is the time for general manager Brian Gutekunst to get them some quality ingredients and see if they can cook up a gourmet meal.