Matt LaFleur, welcome to the first day of the rest of your life.
If there’s one person in the Green Bay Packers franchise not named Jordan Love with the most to prove this year, it might actually be the team’s fourth year head coach. That might be crazy talk in normal circumstances for a coach who has won over 70% of his games, but these are not normal times in Titletown. For the first time in 15 years, there’s a new starting quarterback in command.
For his critics, LaFleur’s security blanket is gone. For his advocates, LaFleur had an albatross removed from his back. That blanket and/or bird is of course former quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who’s of course now a New York Jet.
The doubters will say LaFleur rode the coattails of his former quarterback and that with Love running his offense, the head coach will prove to be not quite as good as his historic winning percentage indicates. Believers in LaFleur will argue that without the control obsessed Rodgers under center and a quarterback he has helped mold from day one in his place, LaFleur will finally be able to run the offense he’s really wanted to run since his arrival in Green Bay in 2019.
There was much ballyhoo about how things would work between Rodgers and LaFleur when the coach was hired, especially around “the audible thing.” The solution was somewhere in the middle: the Packers ran many LaFleur concepts while keeping a lot of things Rodgers was comfortable with, even if they weren’t staples of the coach’s scheme (lack of motion, more quarterback audible control, etc).
Now, with Love, LaFleur has full control of the kitchen and can finally utilize his full bag of tricks. Christian Watson, Romeo Doubs, and others can move at will before the snap, Aaron Jones can be used in a multitude of ways, and the coach can have confidence the play he calls is what will be run.
While this all sounds tremendously positive, those with doubts do need to be given some credence. We don’t actually know how well this will all come together and there’s a not-insignificant chance LaFleur might not be all that some think he’s cracked up to be.
That’s the whole theme of this upcoming Packers season: sailing into the unknown. A big part of that is Love, but LaFleur should be part of that as well. Thankfully, those with concerns can listen to the words of their now former quarterback, who gave LaFleur a lot of credit for the two MVP awards he won under his watch (even if arguably the drafting of his successor may have been what lit the spark).
Regardless of where you fall, LaFleur is truly free to spread his wings and show what he can do.
We already know he can run a locker room. Vibes around the team have been stellar every year since he took charge and that hasn’t changed at all in this first year with Love. In fact, if you look at the myriad Instagram posts throughout the summer from a variety of players, one could argue the vibes are better than ever.
It’s the on-field work that will ultimately define LaFleur’s legacy in Green Bay and it will largely hinge on how Love plays
To paraphrase former coach Mike Holmgren, LaFleur and Love are now joined at the hip. They will either reach the top of the mountain together or end up in the trash together.
But it will be together.
It’s time to see what they can do. It could be good, it could be bad. Until then, there’s fresh air at 1265 Lombardi Avenue as the anticipation of the start of new era builds as each day training camp gets closer.
It’s time to get to work.
It’s time to let Matt LaFleur cook.