Matt LaFleur will face numerous challenges during his first season as an NFL head coach. He must rebuild a Green Bay Packers offense that stagnated over the past few years while forging a bond with his talented but mercurial franchise quarterback and making sure his defense and special-teams units receive ample attention.
However, LaFleur and his team will enjoy a favorable early schedule in terms of travel. After a short flight to Chicago to open the season, the Packers do not leave Lambeau Field for the rest of September. The long homestand provides the first-time head coach with a certain measure of consistency as he adjusts to an otherwise hectic and demanding role.
Though the NFL schedule makers have given teams three consecutive home games in the past, they do so only on rare occasions. Not counting playoffs, the Packers have played just two three-game homestands since the year 2000, their most recent coming in 2016. Additionally, LaFleur and his players don’t leave the central time zone until their Week 9 tilt with the Los Angeles Chargers, and the schedule doesn’t force Green Bay to play three straight road games at any point in 2019.
The fortuitous travel schedule doesn’t account for strength of opponents, and the Packers face three teams fresh off playoff appearances during the opening five weeks. Green Bay will also have to battle through a rough midseason road trip featuring matchups with the Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Chargers. Those games, at least on paper, look like a daunting task for any team.
Even so, the lack of early travel provides LaFleur with a more comfortable environment in which to establish himself and his regime. The homestand doesn’t guarantee success, but it should make life easier for a 39-year-old head coach still honing his craft.