There have been just 15 head coaches across the Green Bay Packers’ 100-year history. The first one’s name graces pro football’s most storied cathedral. The best one’s name adorns the NFL’s ultimate prize. Two others oversaw Super Bowl wins, and two more were Hall of Fame players who later became coaches. Now, that list also includes Matt LaFleur.
The 39-year-old took the job in January, following a single season as the Titans’ offensive coordinator, and his first few days in Green Bay were spent reveling in the history that can be found throughout Lambeau Field. Here was a Midwestern kid from Mount Pleasant, Michigan, sitting in the chair once held by Vince Lombardi. But the time for wide eyes disappeared quickly. “There’s so much tradition here. We will always respect that tradition,” LaFleur says, from a black leather chair in a Lambeau Field interview room. “But now it’s about how we make it about our guys that are here now. And not only that, but how do we help them make a new tradition, a new history?”
For LaFleur to do that—and ultimately succeed in Green Bay—he’ll have to make a very important piece of the Packers’ old history new again. Like the other four play-calling head coaches who were hired this offseason as teams try to emulate Sean McVay’s success with the Rams, he was brought on to invigorate his franchise’s quarterback. The difference is that LaFleur’s new charge isn’t a young passer hoping to unlock his potential: It’s one of the greatest players in NFL history.
The notion that Aaron Rodgers—who currently has the second best passer rating in league history at 103.1—would need reviving might seem ridiculous on its face. Early-period Rodgers was the most efficient passer the league had ever seen. During his first seven seasons under former head coach Mike McCarthy, he put up 8.2 yards per attempt, a 6.5 touchdown percentage, and a 106.6 QB rating—all of which, if extrapolated over an entire career, would be the best numbers since the 1970 merger for players with 20 or more starts. That stretch also included two MVP awards (2011 and 2014) and a Super Bowl victory (following the 2010 season). In the latter years of McCarthy’s tenure, though, the superhuman Rodgers transformed into a mere mortal. From 2015 to 2018, Rodgers averaged 7.1 yards per attempt. Among QBs with at least 500 attempts over that span, that number ranks 22nd—one spot ahead of Mitchell Trubisky and five spots lower than Ryan Tannehill.