Packers: Matt LaFleur gets the respect he deserves in coach rankings

Green Bay Packers, Matt LaFleur - Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Green Bay Packers, Matt LaFleur - Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports /

In just two seasons with the Green Bay Packers, Matt LaFleur has shown why he’s one of the best young head coaches in the league.

Unfortunately, due to the fact Aaron Rodgers is his quarterback, many aren’t yet willing to appreciate how well he’s done. All LaFleur has done is win, something the Packers were struggling to do in the final couple of seasons under Mike McCarthy. The same Packers that also had Aaron Rodgers under center.

But LaFleur has got some love in a recent article. Conor Orr of Sports Illustrated has released his NFL head coach rankings ahead of the 2021 season, and LaFleur is at No. 10 on the list.

It’s a fair position to put LaFleur. He’s got a lot more work to do to overtake the likes of Andy Reid and Bill Belichick, or even offensive masterminds Sean McVay and Kyle Shanahan, but he’s well on his way.

Unsurprisingly, Belichick is top of the rankings with Reid in second. Veteran coaches like Pete Carroll, Mike Tomlin, and Sean Payton all make the top 10.

LaFleur deserves a lot of credit for the Packers’ recent turnaround.

In 2018, the Packers slumped to a 6-9-1 record. Rodgers started every game.

Since then, Green Bay has gone 26-6 in two seasons under LaFleur, yet many put the success down to Rodgers being on the team. It’s like 2018 never happened.

Prior to LaFleur arriving, the Packers had one season with 13 or more wins with Rodgers as the starting QB (2011, 15-1). They’ve achieved two in two under LaFleur. Under McCarthy, Rodgers and the Pack reached three NFC Championship Games in 11 years. Under LaFleur, again, it’s two in two.

This isn’t a knock on McCarthy. Far from it. It’s a shame he’s remembered for the Packers’ struggles in 2017 and ’18 and not the Super Bowl victory or the sustained success that saw Green Bay reach the postseason eight years in a row.

What these comparisons are to show is that just having Rodgers on the team doesn’t guarantee instant success. It’s hard to win football games. But LaFleur’s Packers have been so good at winning, even when they aren’t playing well.

LaFleur, like McVay and Shanahan, is best known for his offense. Well, in year two, his Green Bay offense led the NFL in scoring. In his offense, Rodgers threw more touchdown passes than he ever had in a single season, tying Dan Marino for fifth-most in a season ever.

It’s only been two years, but LaFleur has shown he’s very good at his job. It’s great to see Sports Illustrated’s head coach rankings reflect this.