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30 Days Until Training Camp: Winning LaFleur

In Part 1 of our annual Training Camp Countdown series, it's a look at Matt LaFleur, who has led the Packers to astounding success in the regular season but fallen short in the playoffs.
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GREEN BAY, Wis. – DJ Khaled’s “All I Do Is Win” went double platinum.

All Green Bay Packers coach Matt LaFleur does is win, too. It just hasn’t led to a sterling silver Lombardi Trophy.

In his three years guiding the Packers, LaFleur’s regular-season record is 39-10. He is the only coach in NFL history to lead his team to three consecutive seasons of 13-plus wins, and his 39 wins are the most for any coach in his first three seasons.

That’s just the tip of the victorious iceberg. In regular-season action:

- LaFleur’s 39-10 record is tops in the league, with Kansas City (38-11) being the only other team with 35-plus wins.

- Only Mike Ditka (40) won more games in a three-year span.

- LaFleur is 22-2 at home, tops in the league.

- LaFleur is 14-1 in December and January, with the only loss being the meaningless 2021 finale at Detroit. That loss snapped a 14-game winning streak that was the second-longest in NFL history.

- LaFleur was on the winning sideline for the 30th time in his 37th game. Only George Seifert (36) and Guy Chamberlin (35) reached the big three-zero faster.

- LaFleur is 9-0 after a loss. He is the only coach in NFL history to not have a two-game losing streak in his first 49 games, according to the Elias Sports Bureau via the Packers Dope Sheet.

- LaFleur is 30-0 when his team wins the turnover battle. In those games, Green Bay is plus-54 on turnovers – 63 takeaways vs. nine giveaways – according to the Dope Sheet.

- LaFleur is 34-1 when his team creates at least one turnover.

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Of course, all those wins and accomplishments haven’t meant a hill of beans in the playoffs. In the 2019 NFC Championship Game, he was crushed by nemesis Kyle Shanahan and the 49ers. In the 2020 NFC Championship game, he couldn’t deliver the knockout to Tom Brady and the Buccaneers. The Packers forced three turnovers and won the turnover battle in that game, snapping those aforementioned trends. In the 2021 divisional round, he was shocked by Shanahan following dismal performances on offense and special teams.

What’s missing?

“I don’t know if we’re missing anything. I don’t look at it that way,” general manager Brian Gutekunst said a few days later. “I think we just have to play better in those moments. It’s a couple years in a row where we haven’t played our best game, best ball, at the time we needed to. I think we need to be able to do that. There’s a lot that factors into that but I don’t think there’s one thing we’re missing. I don’t look at building a football team like that.”

Gutekunst’s right about that. There’s plenty of blame to go around, including LaFleur. Against the Buccaneers in 2020, there was the ill-fated decision to kick a field goal late in the game, which allowed Brady to run out the clock. Against the 49ers in 2021, his offense was outclassed and the man he picked to run his special teams, Maurice Drayton, failed him miserably.

“I’m really disappointed,” LaFleur said a day after the game. “I’m disappointed for our players, just everything they out into this. I’m disappointed for our fans who absolutely showed out for us and brought so much energy and passion and I thought they were going to be the difference in the game, quite honestly.

“Obviously, disappointed in myself that I couldn’t do more to get our guys over the hump, because this one’s tough. It’s a tough pill to swallow, and I think the way we move forward is we all have to look internally at what we can each as individuals do better. With every loss, you’ve got to learn from it and you’ve got to move forward, and that’s the mentality, that’s the mindset, that’s what we’re going to do. We’ve got to keep searching for whatever it is to help us get over the hump, because obviously we haven’t found it yet. And my commitment to this organization, to the players, our coaches, our fans, everybody is we are going to be relentless in that pursuit to get us over the hump.”

Getting back to that hump, let alone getting over it, won’t be easy. LaFleur’s high-flying offense must find a new way without prolific receiver Davante Adams. It’s impossible to argue the offense will be better without him, but it’s not as if the Packers had playoff success with him, either.

Under LaFleur, quarterback Aaron Rodgers returned to greatness. Now, it will be up to the coach to find a new path in hopes of trading a couple wins in September through December for a few more in January and February.

NFC North Insiders

Get ready for the 2022 NFL season with our 12-part NFC North Insiders series, with stories running every Saturday and Sunday until training camp. Next week: The best- and worst-case scenarios for the Packers’ and their divisional rivals.

Part 1: Team MVPs for each team on both sides of the ball.

Part 2: The biggest addition and loss for each team.

Part 3: Most overrated player for each team.

Part 4: Most underrated player for each team.