The postseason is a joyous time for fans of many teams, including the Green Bay Packers. Fan of twelve teams get extra, meaningful football with hopes of a Super Bowl.
But for the majority of teams, this is a tumultuous week. Teams have to take long looks at themselves and the people around them. Many come to the sad realization that they need to start fresh. The Panthers, Browns, and Giants find themselves in this position, as all have recently fired their head coaches. Washington was in this position but swiftly hired Ron Rivera. Dallas will follow suit when Jason Garrett’s contract expires. It wouldn’t be surprising if another position opens in the coming days.
A new coach always brings renewed hope. Perhaps a change in leadership and culture is all a team needs to things around.
That’s exactly what happened for the Packers last offseason.
Green Bay fans experienced a rare turnover as Mike McCarthy was fired in-season. The team, which had largely been successful throughout the decade, was trending the wrong way, and a rare sense of uncertainty hung in the air. Would the new coach be able to work with Aaron Rodgers? Would the Packers bring in someone to dated and conservative? Is the new power structure going to fail?
There were plenty of bad candidates the Packers could have hired. Freddie Kitchens was an affable guy with no experience or leadership skills, and now he is jobless. Adam Gase still leads the New York Jets, but he is very bad and could have been hired by the Packers. Plenty of other candidates could have led the Green Bay front office to regret.
In the end, the Green Bay Packers bet on Matt LaFleur, a well-respected but inexperienced coordinator from a respected coaching tree. LaFleur’s one season as a playcaller in Tennessee didn’t wow, but his personality and heart wowed the committee.
We only have one season of evidence, but so far it seems the right man was hired. With many of the same core pieces in place, LaFleur changed the culture of this team for the better. Brian Gutekunst provided additional support, and now a team many felt was falling from grace finds itself in the number two seed of the NFC. LaFleur will only get better as he grows into the job. There is so much to be excited about going forward.
Unfortunately, there are far more Hue Jackson’s and Adam Gase’s than Matt LaFleur’s, and many of these new hires will fail. Thankfully, it seems Green Bay made the right choice.
As coaches and coordinators get hired and fired, be thankful Green Bay isn’t in this situation and that they hired the right guy for the job.Matt Hendershott is a Packers fan and Miller High Life enthusiast from Northwest Ohio. He has a Master of Arts in Media and Communication from Bowling Green State University. You can follow him on Twitter @MattHendershott.