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Cheese Curds, 2/24: Packers stayed aggressive on 4th downs despite struggles

Matt LaFleur was ranked a top-5 coach in terms of 4th down aggressiveness. It’s too bad the offense didn’t deliver consistently on those opportunities.

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NFL: International Series-New York Giants at Green Bay Packers Mark Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

In the 2022 NFL season, only four teams were worse at converting fourth down opportunities than the Green Bay Packers. After ranking in the top ten each of the previous two seasons in conversion rate, the Packers fell all the way to 28th last season amid the offense’s overall struggles.

That didn’t stop Matt LaFleur from keeping his offense on the field for those opportunities, however. In fact, LaFleur was one of the most aggressive coaches in the NFL in those situations, when taking essential 4th downs during comeback attempts out of the equation. Perhaps LaFleur tried to go for it so frequently precisely because the offense was struggling overall, and he wanted to try to maximize their chances for points when on the edge of field goal range.

Whatever the reason, it ended up backfiring. All told, the Packers went just 12 for 31, with those 19 failures nearly matching the number of total 4th down attempts that they tried in 2021 (22) and 2020 (21) and exceeding the 14 that they had in 2019, LaFleur’s first season.

It’s easy to imagine the Packers’ season looking very different if even just a handful of those 4th down failures turned out differently. If the Packers pick up a 4th and 2 inside the 10 against the Giants, maybe they score to tie the game and don’t try a Hail Mary at the end of that game, the play on which Aaron Rodgers injured his thumb. If the Packers don’t go 1-for-4 against the Lions in the middle of the season, they probably win instead of losing an awful 15-9 game.

Hopefully the offense improves on 4th downs in 2022, because LaFleur doesn’t show signs of letting off the gas.

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Matt LaFleur ranked fifth in aggressiveness on fourth downs last season, going for it about 40% more than the average NFL head coach.

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