About five hours before kickoff, Pro Football Focus tweeted asking who should be coach of the year with a picture of seven coaches and one box labeled “other.”
In a game without his defensive coordinator and without his best wide receiver, his best blocking receiver, his best pass rusher, his best offensive lineman, and his best cornerback, LaFleur crafted a masterful game plan and got arguably the best of his 33 wins as an NFL head coach.
The Packers were already very beat up but when news came out earlier in the week that wide receivers Davante Adams and Allen Lazard would miss the game after being placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list, confidence in a Packers victory sunk. How on earth would Green Bay be able to keep up with the high flying Cardinals offense without Adams?
How LaFleur responded was brilliant, a near-disastrous final goal line series aside. His offense did what a Packers offense has not done in a long time: they punched the Cardinals in the mouth. Heavy doses of running backs A.J. Dillon and Aaron Jones wore Arizona down and helped the Packers win the time of possession battle by 15 minutes, a full quarter.
He also stayed aggressive on fourth down and at the goal line, even if two series ended badly with the second almost leading to a loss. To his credit, LaFleur took full responsibility for that to the media and to his team in the locker room after the game which is one of many reasons why players love playing for him.
LaFleur is now 33-7 through his first 40 games, the best in league history at that point over names like Don Shula and George Seifert. That’s pretty good company to be in.
Yet he continues to be underrated nationally. After a sensational win on national television over an undefeated team, maybe that’s about to change.
LaFleur is and should be kicking himself over those two stalled drives at the goal line, but overall this was a brilliant game plan and a script the Packers haven’t often followed in beating teams. This just proves these Packers can beat you in multiple ways which will serve them well come playoff time.
Despite the fact the Packers could have scored more, the fact they got 24 and were close to more against one of the league’s top scoring defenses further illustrates just how good of a strategist LaFleur is. He isn’t mentioned among the offensive geniuses like Sean McVay and Kyle Shanahan but he really needs to be.
Meanwhile, the hero of last night’s game pulled an Adrian Amos: a game clinching interception over his former team. Rasul Douglas has been a revelation since he was plucked off the Cardinals’ practice squad three weeks ago. In fact he’s played well enough that he could relegate Kevin King to the bench when he returns.
A.J. Green turned a lot of heads (including his own) on what would have been the game winning touchdown. A mistake at the best time for the Packers led to Douglas’ interception and breaking all sorts of hearts in the desert.
We’ve all seen it as Rodgers said, the internet is undefeated. Meanwhile, the Arizona Cardinals are not