Yes, the 2020 season ended in disappointing fashion.
If just one play or one call or one playcall would have been different, the Packers could have been in the Super Bowl. Based on the disarray the Chiefs were in from injuries and off-the-field issues, the Packers may very well have won.
But it didn’t happen.
There’s looming salary cap issues in 2021 and some key players surely won’t be back, but there are a lot of reasons to be optimistic for the 2021 season and we’ll be counting them throughout the offseason.
Today we look at Reason #2: Matt LaFleur.
Go back a couple years and the Packers were reeling. Two consecutive losing seasons, a quarterback in decline, every last Mike McCarthy defender was gone, and no one had any idea who the next head coach would be.
When we looked at what makes a successful head coach, we didn’t find anyone clear cut winners standing out from the crowd.
A lot of people wanted Josh McDaniels or Lincoln Riley, but in the end, the Packers went with my top choice: Matt LaFleur.
There were a lot of questions surrounding the hire, but they were quickly answered when the Packers went 13-3 and made the NFC Championship Game.
A few questions remained after 2019, as the Packers were dubbed the worst 13-3 team ever, but in 2020, they went 13-3 in even more convincing fashion. They hosted the NFC Championship game and were just one sane defensive play call before the half away from probably winning the Super Bowl.
The biggest difference between 2019 and 2020 was that the offense looked nearly unstoppable as they led the league in points scored. Aaron Rodgers, who hadn’t had a more than 26 TDs the previous 3 years, exploded with 48 TDs and a 121.5 quarterback rating (the 2nd best season of all time behind only his own 2011 season).
All of this with what many said was a team with only one good receiver (a receiver who missed multiple games) and shuffled the offensive line on nearly a weekly basis.
Matt LaFleur took this offense from bottom-bumping dysfunction to the absolute outer stratosphere of the league and made Bob Tonyan the NFL’s leader in TDs by a tight end.
LaFleur has shown the ability to evolve his offense and mold it around any players.
He came up a little short in 2020, but was more than competent enough to go all the way.
Don’t forget that he only had one year of calling plays before joining Green Bay and he is still learning to be a head coach and evolving his offense and his style. Coaches develop and improve just like players and LaFleur is just scratching the surface.
With another year of experience and another year to evolve his scheme, 2021 should be another exciting season.
We’ll be updating our list of Reasons For Optimism In 2021 throughout the offseason, so be sure to check back.
Also, follow our ongoing draft and free agency at Draft Central 2021.
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