Packers Morning Buzz: Matt LaFleur must build on fast start
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 ESPN's NFL Nation reporters grading the NFL's eight rookie coaches, who have a combined record of 17-47-1. The only one to exceed expectations is, of course, the Packers' Matt LaFleur.
The lowdown on LaFleur's first half of the season:
Biggest signs of progress: LaFleur has built relationships – not only with quarterback Aaron Rodgers, which was a must, but with the entire locker room. Most thought LaFleur was hired to revamp the Packers' sluggish offense and get Rodgers back to an MVP level, but perhaps underrated was LaFleur's people skills and his ability to build camaraderie among the players. They've taken ownership in his program and as free-agent pickup Preston Smith told me: "You can set a standard and have a standard, but players have to enforce that standard and come out every day and be ready to play and play for one another." Other than the clunker against the Chargers, that has been the case.
What he needs to do better: Not much. It's hard to find fault with a 7-2 team but if there's something he needs to get a better handle on, it's special teams. Though specialists Mason Crosby and JK Scott have performed at a high level, the return game and coverage units have been a recurring issue. It took a while for LaFleur to settle on Shawn Mennenga as the special-teams coordinator when he put together his first staff and perhaps now it will be necessary for LaFleur to get even more involved in those units. – Rob Demovsky
Second-half advice: Win your division. Matt, you're 7-2 and in first place. You're the only one of these guys with real playoff expectations for the second half. Your mission is to hold off the Vikings and see if you can't make a run at a first-round bye. Hot starts are precious so keep things humming with Rodgers and don't squander yours. – Dan Graziano
You can read how the other first-year coaches are rated here:
Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports also weighs in on the progress of the first-year coaches and has this to say about LaFleur:
LaFleur has made it work with Aaron Rodgers, and this team has had great fortune, overall, with officiating decisions and turnovers. I suspect that has a way of evening out, and the second half might not be as rosy as the first half, but this is going to be a playoff team and they already have the inside path to the NFC North title. This is, decidedly, an anomaly among the Class of 2019 coaches, and one situation that won't even raise a discussion as far as "one-and-done" goes. Nothing to see here.
You can find La Canfora's article here:
ESPN's Demovsky also writes about the Packers' problems with helmet audio and how NFL teams try to deal with it:
After watching the game video, the Packers said they were ready to move on from their 26 -11 loss to the Chargers:
The Packers need to put more emphasis on their run game:
Packers receiver Davante Adams practiced Wednesday and reported no problems after returning to action from his turf-toe injury Sunday:
Packers outside linebacker Za'Darius Smith entered a not-guilty plea in court:
TMZ Sports obtained video of Smith's traffic stop:
ICYMI, Tom Silverstein writes about the Packers' difficult challenges in November:
Frozen tundra in early November?! Winter arrived Wednesday at Lambeau Field:
The Packers and Panthers will have a wide national-TV audience:
Panthers quarterback Kyle Allen may (or may not) have a shoulder injury:
Somehow, the Aaron Rodgers-to-Davante Adams connection fails to make even the runner-up list here (perhaps due to Adams' turf-toe injury):
The Vikings get some familiar help for their secondary:
Lions beat writer Dave Birkett breaks down the game-ending play against Oakland that cost Detroit a shot at staying above .500 in the NFC North race:
And finally: Mitch Trubisky can't bear to watch Bears reports on TV anymore:
Contact Stu Courtney at (920) 431-8377 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @stucourt