Packers coach Matt LaFleur again emphasizes importance of ground game
Matt LaFleur took the podium as a head coach at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis for the first time Wednesday, addressing several topics with media.
One of them, of course, was youth. The 39-year-old Green Bay Packers head coach was asked what his energy will bring to the team, and whether it will be similar to the benefits the Los Angeles Rams have reaped from 32-year-old head coach Sean McVay, a good friend of LaFleur’s.
LaFleur offered a smile.
“You guys know I’m older than I might look, right?” he said. “I’m seven years older than Sean.”
Here are other topics LaFleur addressed:
On what he believes should be added to Packers roster after watching video of the team: “There’s a lot of things I’d like to add, but I think that’s every team. Certainly that’s something we’re in the process of kind of going through and evaluating. Got a lot of trust in (Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst) and his staff to help us find players that fit what we want to do and what we want to be about.”
On whether he’s involved in conversations about the future of free agents such as linebacker Clay Matthews and receiver Randall Cobb: “That is ultimately Gutey’s decision, but certainly we talk all the time, and we’re in constant communication. The reason I felt so good about this job in particular was to work with a guy like him, because I know he wants to do right by us. We’re a team, and we’re going to work together.”
On what differences there will be with his offense compared to former coach Mike McCarthy’s system: I think what we want to do is we really want to assemble our offense through the running game. I think it takes a lot of pressure off the quarterback, and if we can stay balanced on first and second down, I think that’s an advantage for the offense. So that’s what we want to do. We want to have plays that start out looking the same that are different. So that’s what we’ll try to accomplish here.”
On how he’ll use the Packers running back personnel: “Any time in today’s NFL, you need multiple backs. Those guys, they take a beating at times. Just going back for the last couple years to Atlanta and then in L.A. and last year in Tennessee, if you have multiple backs that can get it done, I definitely think that’s the way you want to go about your business just to take kind of the load off those guys.”
On whether there’s anything he’s looking for specifically in offensive linemen to match his running scheme: “Certainly there’s a movement skill you’re looking for from those guys up front to implement that outside zone scheme. I feel like we have some pieces already in place there in Green Bay right now, and we just want to keep adding to that.”
On how last year’s rookie receivers Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Equanimeous St. Brown and J’Mon Moore fit his scheme: “I’m really excited about those guys. All three of those guys, there’s a reason they were drafted. They’re big guys that can all run. That’s something we’re looking for in our scheme, guys that can stretch the field vertically. Just really excited about how those guys will be able to progress throughout their career.”
On what he’s learned from McVay in his career: “Sean is a tremendous leader. A lot gets made about his age and what-not. I think he’s wise beyond his years. I just learned so much from him in terms of how important that communication is, not only with your staff but with your players and developing relationships, and ultimately being true to yourself. What you see is what you get from him. He’s a genuine guy. The guys love playing for him. I can speak to being on the same staff with him, I loved coaching with him. He’s just a genuine guy, and he’s made of the right stuff.”
On his relationship with the Shanahans: “I came into this league in 2008, and Kyle, I looked at Kyle. He was the offensive coordinator for the Texans, and I was coming from a Division II school, Ashland University, and certainly I thought I knew a little bit more about football than I really did. I didn’t realize how much I had to learn until I was around Kyle, and, man, I’ve got just so much respect for him as a person and as a football coach. I feel like he totally shaped how I viewed the game, both he and his dad (former NFL coach Mike). Just learned so much through my four years with Coach Shanahan in Washington, and just the focus and the attention to detail on a daily basis that it takes to be great.”