GREEN BAY – Matt LaFleur, the Green Bay Packers’ 39-year-old head coach, is much too young to be telling the kids to get off his lawn.
So it seemed odd when Packers defensive captain Za’Darius Smith indicated Thursday that no more sack dances would be allowed. Apparently, it was a miscommunication.
LaFleur reiterated to Smith on Friday, and later shared publicly, that he has nothing against sack dances. It’s just that he wants them to be efficient.
“What I told him,” LaFleur said, “was that they better be done in a timely manner. So, I don’t want to see these guys celebrating when I see the punt team’s already out on the field, it’s a third down and we have to burn a timeout or we get called, we get flagged for too many men on the field.”
To illustrate his point, LaFleur showed the defense a video of a Khalil Mack sack against the Kansas City Chiefs from a couple years ago, when he was still with the Oakland Raiders. The defense erupted into a celebration after the sack, forcing the Raiders to call timeout.
“They were not situationally aware,” Packers linebacker Preston Smith said.
LaFleur believes he got his point across.
“It’s basically to avoid those situations,” he said. “I want our guys to celebrate, to have fun. I like it when they celebrate together as a team, and you certainly want to have reasons to celebrate. And that’s only if you’re doing well out there. Just have to be smart about how we go about that.”
The Packers’ opportunistic defense has not been shy about sharing its enthusiasm after big plays this season. It’s tied for sixth in the league with 11 takeaways, tied for seventh with 18 sacks, and celebrations in the end zone have not been uncommon. To preclude the defense from any post-play activity would have been a surprisingly stern move.
Instead, the celebration is back on. And the Smiths already have a sack dance picked out for this week.
“A Halloween celebration,” Za’Darius said.
“Can’t ruin the element of surprise,” Preston said.
There’s one person who won’t be surprised to see the sack dance.
To make sure it met the “timely manner” standard, the Smiths already showed LaFleur.
“Only seen by him,” Preston said.