5. Aaron Rodgers/Matt LaFleur
Coach LaFleur has done something no other Packers first-year coach has done and won 10 games. He now has a chance to do something else no other first-year coach in the Super Bowl era in Green Bay has done, get into the playoffs. Mike Holmgren, Mike Sherman, nor Mike McCarthy, were able to get into the tournament.
I bring this up because all three of those head coaches had their teams playing their best football at the end of the season. The bugs were worked out by this time and each hit their stride and came up just short in their attempt to get in to the playoffs. The coach and quarterback seemed to be in-sync as the teams found their groove.
That hasn’t happened yet for LaFleur and Rodgers. Much was made all offseason and the beginning of this season about their relationship. The question of if they could co-exist has ran rampant since his hire back in January.
The question still hasn’t really been answered. Rodgers played his best football when Davante Adams was out. He seemed to trust the system and hit the open guy. Coach LaFleur found his rhythm as a play-caller and the offense improved each week.
Adams’ return should have only improved the offense as they got back their best receiver and can just incorporate him into what has been working. That hasn’t happened. Rodgers has reverted back to holding on to the ball too long, missing open receivers and holding out for the big play instead of taking what’s given.
Part of that is on Rodgers, part of that is on LaFleur. Rodgers has to play better. He can’t sit back and wait for receivers to get wide open and must get the ball out on time. LaFleur must hold him accountable when he doesn’t.
I’ve been saying for weeks this will be the game Rodgers gets hot and goes on a run. It hasn’t happened. But they’ve been wining anyway. The Packers have a golden opportunity right in front of them. Three division games to close out the season. Win all three and the worst you can do is finish as the second seed in the NFC. If there was a time, it’s now.
There’s been 13 games and 19 weeks to feel each other out. Ice breakers should be over and it’s time to take advantage of this opportunity and go on a roll. If these two can find their rhythm and get in-sync, Matt LaFleur will have the chance to do a few other things no first-year NFL coach has done.