Packers Morning Buzz: Rookie coach Matt LaFleur 'the NFL's nicest surprise'
Welcome to your Morning Buzz, rounding up news and views regarding the Green Bay Packers from around the web and here at PackersNews.com.
We'll start with The MMQB's Albert Breer calling Packers first-year coach Matt LaFleur "the NFL's nicest surprise."
There were questions years ago about the Packers coach’s ability to lead a room, and whether he was “too nice” to be a head coach in the league. Thus far, he’s done everything needed to allay those concerns. Green Bay is pretty pleased with what they’ve got. “It’s really everything he’s done,” said team president Mark Murphy, in a quiet moment at the Fall League Meeting. “He and [GM Brian Gutekunst] are working very well together, the communication’s there. Yeah, Matt has come in, he had a plan, he’s stuck to it. I’ve been very pleased.… I think he’s a great communicator, and he’s willing to confront issues when they occur, rather than let them fester. And I think that’s been good.” And, again, he’s done what a lot of people figured he couldn’t, finding middle ground in putting a quarterback who’s always had immense on-field control in a system that traditionally takes the mental load off the QB and puts it on a coach. There’s a long way to go, of course. But if Sunday’s rout of the Raiders was any indication, it should be fun to watch what’s ahead.
Elsewhere in the same column, Breer writes that Rodgers' performance is the best indicator that he's adapting well within the confines of the new coach's system:
Packers QB Aaron Rodgers: 25-of-31, 429 yards, 5 TDs, 0 INTs, 158.3 passer rating. As well as he’s ever played? Statistically, it is. And that’s a good sign that the relationship between Rodgers and coach Matt LaFleur is right where it needs to be, despite all the doubts.
Breer's entire column is here:
However, The MMQB's Conor Orr stops short of issuing a mea culpa over his skepticism about the Rodgers-LaFleur relationship despite acknowledging this postgame locker room interaction:
• How we all kind of manufactured a controversy (but not really) in Green Bay
A friendly, Top Gun-style acknowledgement of mutual respect between Matt LaFleur and Aaron Rodgers post game which, for the moment, leads us to believe any simmering preseason beef has been squashed. It’s easy for people now to say it was stupid to get excited about a relatively minor disagreement over audibles, but I do think there was something there.
Packers coaches in the past have told me that Rodgers does like to challenge the people giving him instructions. That could have been his challenge to LaFleur. Either way, the changes LaFleur has made in a difficult situation have paid dividends. The offense Rodgers is running makes him look more comfortable and less passive aggressive.
You can read the entire piece here:
Lorenzo Reyes of USA Today lists Rodgers' MVP candidacy among Sunday's "winners":
This may have been the finest performance of his career. Rodgers set a Packers record in a 42-24 victory against the Raiders, becoming the first Green Bay quarterback in franchise history to notch a perfect QB rating of 158.3. His day of 25 for 31 for 429 yards, five touchdowns — as well as a rushing score — suddenly launched him into the MVP race. He’s got the Packers looking like a legit contender at 6-1 and it’s clear the rapport with rookie coach Matt LaFleur is only just getting going. Arguably most impressive was that this was without his best receiver in Davante Adams and with Marquez Valdez-Scantling and Geronimo Allison both on snap limits after getting dinged up last week. It also helps Rodgers’ chase for the MVP that Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes reportedly will miss some time with a knee injury and that Seahawks passer Russell Wilson had his first average performance of the season.
Find the whole story (which includes Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky among Sunday's biggest losers) here:
The Packers' defense gives up yardage but toughens near the goal line:
Tom Oates of the Wisconsin State Journal writes about Rodgers' big day:
Here's a, um, different take on what it was like watching Rodgers on Sunday:
Injured receiver Davante Adams expresses his eagerness to get back into action with the Packers' young receivers:
Receiver Allen Lizard is climbing up the depth chart in leaps and bounds:
Eye-opening play by former Packers defensive back Micah Hyde:
And finally: The defending NFC North champion Bears aren't dealing well with adversity, or the criticism that comes with it:
Contact Stu Courtney at (920) 431-8377 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @stucourt