If there’s one thing Matt LaFleur has done in his head coaching tenure with Green Bay, it’s win football games. After a win on Sunday Night Football against the Vikings, he broke former 49ers coach George Seifert’s record for most wins by a head coach in their first three years. LaFleur is now 39-9 in the regular season, but more importantly the Packers clinched the NFC’s number one seed for the second straight year. With this milestone being set, it’s only right to talk about his incredible start as a head coach and why he’s a huge reason for the Packers’ recent success.
Helped Rejuvenate the Franchise
There’s no denying Mike McCarthy’s great run as head coach of the Green Bay Packers. He had eight straight winning seasons with the Packers from 2009 to 2016, including a Super Bowl win over the Steelers in 2011. That said, the Packers finished below .500 in McCarthy’s final two seasons, leading to his firing late in the 2018 season. In steps Matt LaFleur, and all of a sudden the Packers are contending for the Super Bowl every year again. Many people are hesitant to give LaFleur much credit because of how great Aaron Rodgers has been. While this is true, it’s also true that Matt LaFleur is part of the reason for his elevation in play these last two years.
Makes Things Easier for Rodgers
In the McCarthy era, Green Bay rarely had a reliable running game, and Aaron Rodgers often had to bail the Packers out. Coming from the Shanahan coaching tree, Matt LaFleur has turned this Packers offense into one of the most balanced attacks that we’ve seen in a while. His zone running scheme led by Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon combined with the duo of Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams makes for an offense that is nearly unstoppable.
Not only has LaFleur’s offensive system made things easier for Aaron Rodgers, but Rodgers’ relationship with Matt LaFleur seems to be much better than it ever was with Mike McCarthy. That’s had a huge impact on the success of both Rodgers and the Packers in the last three years.
Wins Close Games
One of the biggest signs of a great coach, especially in the NFL, is how their team performs in close games. Since hiring Matt LaFleur, the Packers are 19-6 in one possession games. In a league with so much talent and parity, that’s not easy to do. Blowing teams out every week is one thing, but LaFleur is consistently winning games that could go either way. We’ve seen Green Bay games go down to the wire on numerous occasions in the last few years, but LaFleur’s Packers have handled those high-pressure games immensely well. Rasul Douglas’ game-sealing interception in Arizona is a prime example:
Can He Get Over the Hump in Year 3?
The one thing Matt LaFleur would like to add to his resume is, of course, getting to and winning a Super Bowl. The Packers were embarrassed in the NFC Championship by Kyle Shanahan’s Niners in LaFleur’s first year. Last year, the Packers made it back to the NFC Championship but lost in heart-breaking fashion to Tom Brady’s Buccaneers. With one week to play in his third campaign, the Packers look like the team to beat in the NFL right now. If Matt LaFleur can get over the hump and bring the Lombardi trophy back to Lambeau, it’s time to place him in the elite tier of NFL coaches along with the likes of Bill Belichick, Andy Reid, and Sean Payton.
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