I was always a fan of former Green Bay Packers Head Coach Mike McCarthy. In fact, it took his final game as coach of the Packers for me to admit it was his time. That game was an embarrassing 20-17 loss to the Arizona Cardinals, and I finally admitted it was time for him to go. And that was indeed his time. One of the issues was found that Coach McCarthy had just kind of gotten stale in his approach. He wasn’t very willing to change where he considered himself a “Highly successful football coach.” This ended up being his demise. The Packers then brought in an innovative scheme with Matt LaFleur and hit the ground running.
Everybody raved about how relaxed Matt was with the team and allowed them to “loosen up” a bit. LaFleur created kind of a fun-loving culture which led to three consecutive seasons with 13 wins. But the problem became whenever the Packers faced any kind of adversity, they seemed to always crumble. And that often happened in the playoffs. Now this season we see the Packers just kind of playing stale. Almost like we saw before Matt LaFleur.
Meanwhile, Mike McCarthy who took a year off to focus on what he could do better before becoming head coach of the Dallas Cowboys, is enjoying a 4-2 record with a backup Quarterback.
Time for LaFleur to study himself
This might be easier said than done during the already grueling week to week preparation of being an NFL coach. But I think coach needs to start examining himself. Has he begun to go stale? Aaron Rodgers already mentioned this week that it might be time to simplify things. This has gone in several different idea directions but one idea I took out the most was pre-snap motion.
LaFleur’s offense has a lot of pre-snap motion to try to draw the defense to show their card. A problem with this is, it takes away from a quick tempo offense and staying in a rhythm. If you have to move around 2-3 guys before the play starts, that knocks seconds off the clock, allows the defense to catch their breath a little bit, and perhaps slows momentum. Perhaps it’s time to lean on the Veteran QB’s analysis of the defense. Line the guys up where they belong, let him move them where he sees fit, and go from there.
As an NFL Head Coach, you need to be ever evolving with the game. Or, ever evolving with the team you have. If what you want still isn’t clicking with your team at this point in the season, maybe it’s time to change what you want. Coach the team you have.
Study those around him
So, now we get to Matt LaFleur’s staff. We don’t know all that well what Matt LaFleur and Joe Barry’s relationship is. But one thing is for sure. Joe Barry works for Matt LaFleur.
We hear it left and right that LaFleur wants “this” for the defense but then it doesn’t happen. It’s time for Matt to put his foot down on what he wants from his defense and if Barry doesn’t oblige, then it’s time to find someone else who will. You can’t have a disconnect between Head Coach and Defensive Coordinator. These moments of saying he’s told the defense what he wants and then the defensive coaches either make up excuses or don’t do it, need to end. We had enough of that with Mike Pettine.
Luckily it appears Joe Barry has received that message and intends to change. If he doesn’t, hopefully Coach LaFleur holds him to that.
Get the ball to your playmakers
There have been 3 losses this season. All three of them, Coach LaFleur has admitted fault in not getting the ball into the hands of Aaron Jones more. Why is this a thing? It’s actually kind of embarrassing that it needs to be said after three games. It needs to change.
Coach LaFleur needs to insure getting the ball into his playmakers hands is the plan from the start. The Packers have the luxury of two Running Backs that are very capable pass catchers. So, they don’t need to be handed the ball to be effective. Outside of the handoffs or screens, make sure there’s swing passes or quick routes for Jones and Dillon. Give them the opportunity to do what they do best. Make plays. Maybe then we’ll see the offense get back to form.
I like Matt LaFleur. He’s a good coach that could be with the Packers for a very long time if he stays successful. I don’t want him to go the route of Mike McCarthy where he gets stale. So, the time is now for Coach to evaluate himself. Perhaps reinvent his coaching philosophy if needed. Whatever needs to be done to insure he can win with the team he has.
Greg Meinholz is a 24/7/365 Packers fan. When he’s not spending time with his family, he can be found meditating in his Packers shrine with a good beer. You can follow him on twitter at @gmeinholz.