Matt LaFleur Faces a Different Kind Coaching Challenge This Year

Your Weekly Packers News Update

We’ve sorted through dozens of articles about the Packers’ latest news, game results, rosters, rumors and other info that’s important to the team and to you. Check it out! 


By GilMartin

Matt LaFleur Faces a Different Kind Coaching Challenge This Year

Matt LaFleur faces a very different challenge this year as head coach of the Green Bay Packers. While LaFleur has already proven he can thrive in challenging situations, the 2023 season will require him to take a different approach than he has in his first four seasons with the team.

When he first joined the team in 2019, LaFleur faced a unique challenge. The culture of the team had become toxic and that resulted in Mike McCarthy’s firing late in the 2018 season. Part of the problem was the relationship between McCarthy and quarterback Aaron Rodgers had gone sour.

LaFleur had to change the culture in the dressing room and quickly earn the respect of his quarterback. He managed to do both things. He helped integrate four new free agents into the dressing room in Za’Darius Smith, Preston Smith, Adrian Amos and Billy Turner and made the locker room a healthier place by establishing a leadership council of players and improving communication between himself and the team.

He also worked with Rodgers to create a hybrid offense that combined the Shanahan school offense LaFleur wanted to implement and some of the best things Rodgers liked to run from McCarthy’s more traditional West Coast based system.

The result was a team that surprised a lot of people by finishing 13-3 and reaching the NFC Championship Game.

For the three seasons that followed, LaFleur’s job was to take a veteran team with an experienced MVP quarterback and get them to a championship. Although LaFleur’s teams reached the NFC Championship Game twice and twice held the top seed in the NFC playoffs, they were unable to reach the Super Bowl.

After three straight years of 13 wins, the Packers fell to 8-9 last season. Injuries to the offensive line and to Rodgers and a disappointing season by a defense that featured seven former first-round picks were among the key causes of the regression.

But in 2023, the challenge for LaFleur will be different. Rodgers is now the quarterback of the New York Jets. Taking over for him is Jordan Love, the former first-round pick who has started exactly one NFL game until now. The Packers believe Love is ready to be a starter after sitting behind Rodgers for three seasons.

It is a very different challenge for a head coach who calls the plays to design an offense for Love as compared to Rodgers. While Rodgers had more than a decade of experience as a starter when LaFleur became coach, Love is relatively inexperienced. Rodgers was adept at recognizing defenses and calling audibles at the line of scrimmage. Love is still developing that skill.  

Many veterans are also gone from the roster. The Packers will be without Robert Tonyan, Allen Lazard, Randall Cobb, Marcedes Lewis, Adrian Amos and Dean Lowry, veteran players who have seen it all in this league. They will be replaced by younger and less experienced players and there will be a change in leadership in the locker room.


The expectations around the Packers have changed and that will also alter the way LaFleur has to lead. You cannot coach a young team which lacks experience at the skill positions and has a new quarterback the same way you coach a veteran team with championship expectations.

LaFleur will need to be more of a teacher and demonstrate more patience with his younger players while still making sure they know what is expected of them. There will be a greater emphasis on teaching and development.

The 2023 team will also give LaFleur a bigger challenge. The McCarthy offense that Rodgers was used to running often relied on receivers winning one-on-one matchups with defensive players. The preferred LaFleur offense relies more on scheming receivers open by the routes being run and more on pre-snap motion. Having multiple plays that can be run from identical formations is also a feature of the offense that we can expect to see more of this season.

This will be a different kind of season for LaFleur. He’s proven he can succeed with a veteran team and that he can transform the culture of the locker room. Now the culture and the construction of the roster is very different and so are the expectations.

How he handles this new set of circumstances will go a long way towards determining his ultimate legacy with the Packers. If he is successful with this new, younger group, he will prove he is a winning head coach on his own merits.

If the team struggles and does not return to prominence in the next two years, LaFleur may be looked at as having won early in his tenure in Green Bay because he had a Hall of Fame quarterback who made him look good.

LaFleur and the Packers are at a crossroads. The next few years will tell us a lot about the direction of the coach and the team.

You can follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers

Subscribe to our Newsletter!