When Matt LaFleur took over in 2019 as the head coach of the Green Bay Packers, many had questions about who he was and why he was hired for the job.
And nobody but Packers’ fans gave him a fighting chance.
Analysts and journalists say the reason he was hired was because he was a young head coach who spent time with Sean McVay and Kyle Shanahan — two young offensive-minded gurus who were re-shaping how offense was being played in the National Football League.
Just put yourself back in February of 2019. The Patriots just beat the Rams in the Super Bowl and, boy, did Packers’ fans want New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels to be selected as the next head coach of the green and gold.
Instead, General Manager Brian Gutekunst and CEO Mark Murphy went with a young offensive coordinator who just finished up the 2018 season with the Titans. Nobody knew how it was going to go, and nobody gave him a shot. If you want proof, look at the replies to this tweet.
After the breakup of Aaron Rodgers and former head coach Mike McCarthy went public, with some former members of the organization airing out the duo’s dirty laundry, there was no way that this new guy (who’s last QB was Marcus Mariota) would be able to confidently coach the moody Packers’ quarterback.
Some people have had to really eat crow about that one.
In his first season as a head coach in the NFL, LaFleur led the Packers to an NFC North title, a 13-3 regular season, a playoff win, and a trip to the NFC championship game — all while becoming “#friendgoals” with the diva quarterback that is Aaron Rodgers.
There’s not much more he could have done in year one, except win the Super Bowl. And that is almost an insane ask for a first-year head coach. There’s only been five in the history of the game to lead their team to a Super Bowl in their first year.
He’s had wins over some of the top head coaches like Andy Reid, Pete Carroll and Mike Zimmer (3x). He’s 8-0 in the NFC North Division and has led the Packers to 85 points and over 1,000 yards of offense in his first two games this year.
Aaron Rodgers & Matt LaFleur. 16-4 in their first 20 games. 8-0 vs NFC North. #Packers— Trent Dilfer (@DilfersDimes) September 20, 2020
When you’re looking at some of the top coaches in the league, what makes them a top head coach? Years of consistency, and how good your team is right now.
Of course, LaFleur doesn’t have years of consistency, since he’s been a head coach for only one full season and two games. But, he’s got a pretty good track record since taking over in this what-have-you-done-lately league.
So, I ask, when should we put him in that conversation? Maybe if he beats Sean Payton on Sunday Night Football this weekend, the narrative shifts.
All I’m saying is there’s no reason he shouldn’t be considered.——————
Gunnar Davis is a lifelong Packers fan and a recent graduate of Simpson College, where he was a 3-year letterwinner on the offensive line and graduated with a degree in multimedia communications. You can follow him on Twitter at @Gunnar57Davis.