Davante Adams departing for the Las Vegas Raiders is a major loss for the Green Bay Packers offense. Adams not only was the Packers best wide receiver, but he is also the best receiver in the NFL. His loss will be felt this season. But it isn’t time for the Packers to hit the panic button. Head coach Matt LaFleur will make sure the Green Bay Packers offense doesn’t suffer a major setback.
Matt LaFleur is the X Factor for the 2022 Green Bay Packers Offense
Since taking over as the Packer head coach, Matt LaFleur has been one of the most successful regular season coaches in the NFL. LaFleur took over as the Packers head coach in 2019. Upon replacing Mike McCarthy, he has led the Packers to three straight NFC North titles. His overall regular season record during that stretch is 39-10. That record gives him a remarkable .796 regular season winning percentage.
But even with having such a remarkable record, Matt LaFleur doesn’t get near the credit he deserves. Many naysayers point to the fact that he has had Aaron Rodgers as his starting quarterback during his first three seasons. While that plays a factor in his success, it doesn’t tell the whole story. Matt LaFleur has been one of the biggest driving forces in the Green Bay Packer offensive success. Even without having Adams, the Green Bay Packers offense should still be successful in 2022.
Aaron Rodgers with Matt LaFleur
In 2018, Aaron Rodgers threw for 4,442 yards with 25 touchdowns and just two interceptions. For most NFL quarterbacks, that would be a career season. But for Rodgers, it caused many to feel that Rodgers’ time as one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL was coming to an end. But then, Matt LaFleur entered Rodgers’ life.
Under McCarthy, the Green Bay Packers offense had become stale. Fans were used to a high-octane offense, one that scored points and helped the Packers win games. It wasn’t just fans that noticed the Packers new stale state. Rodgers appeared to lose faith in McCarthy and his non-changing scheme. By the end of 2018, it looked like Rodgers had checked out.
LaFleur brought with him a new style of offense. His offensive scheme didn’t rely on wide receivers to win one on one matchups, which was the case in McCarthy’s offensive scheme. Instead, LaFleur’s play-action-heavy scheme opened up opportunities for the Packers receivers. It also allowed Rodgers to do what he does best, make plays with his arm.
In 2019, the Packers finished the regular season with a 13-3 regular season record. Rodgers threw for over 4,000 yards, 26 touchdowns, and had just four interceptions. 2019 might have been LaFleur’s best season, so far, as the Packers offensive play caller. It was a remarkable job by LaFleur. Not many understand how difficult it is for a first-season head coach, to merge an old offense with a new offense and still be successful. But that is what LaFleur did. In 2020 and 2021, LaFleur started making the offense his own. It’s not a coincidence that Rodgers was the NFL MVP awards in both of those seasons. A big reason for his success was Matt LaFleur.
Brian Gutekunst Providing Two Starting Running Backs
Before Matt LaFleur arrived in Green Bay, he and General Manager Brian Gutekunst had never worked together. With no history, Gutekunst was faced with the difficult task to provide LaFleur with the personnel he needed to be successful. While it hasn’t been easy, Gutekunst has provided the offensive personnel that LaFleur has needed to be successful.
One of the biggest keys for LaFleur’s offense to be successful is having a strong rushing attack. Not just for rushing the ball itself, but for also opening up the play-action passing attack. Gutekunst made sure to provide LaFleur with not just one quality running back, but he gave him two.
Running back Aaron Jones was already in place (thank you Ted Thompson) when LaFleur was hired. But when Jones became a free agent, Gutekunst made Jones a priority, knowing he would be a key piece in the Green Bay Packers offense. Jones inked a new contract prior to 2021, making sure LaFleur would have a home run threat out of the backfield.
In 2020, Gutekunst spent a second-round pick on running back AJ Dillon. Dillon’s selection surprised many who had expected Gutekunst to take a wide receiver. Instead, Gutekunst gave his coach another weapon out of the backfield.
The Jones and Dillon backfield provides LaFleur with one of the best running back combinations in the NFL. LaFleur showed why having two starting caliber running backs is needed in his scheme in 2021. Jones and Dillon combined to rush for 1,602 yards and nine touchdowns. Jones and Dillon return in 2022, and without Adams, they will play an even larger role for the Green Bay Packers offense.
It All Starts Up Front
Having an MVP starting quarterback and two starting-caliber running backs have helped make Matt LaFleur’s offensive scheme as successful as it has been. But if he didn’t have a solid offensive line, LaFleur’s scheme wouldn’t be nearly as successful as it has been.
Luckily for LaFleur, Gutekunst has made sure that LaFleur has had one of the best offensive lines in the NFL since he took over as the head coach. Gutekunst has spent a plethora of draft picks on the Packers offensive line. The crown jewel of those picks has been guard/tackle Elgton Jenkins. Since being selected, Jenkins has started at left tackle, center, and right tackle. At each stop, he has found success. Jenkins is still rehabbing from a 2021 season-ending knee injury, but there is little doubt when he returns, he will be just as good.
Joining Jenkins as former Gutekunst draft picks are starting center, Josh Myers (2021), starting left guard Jon Runyan Jr. (2020), and starting right guard Royce Newman (2021). This past NFL Draft, Gutekunst added tackle Sean Rhyan, Zach Tom, and Rasheed Walker.
Gutekunst and LaFleur both understand, that if the Green Bay Packers offensive is going to be successful, they need to spend and continue to spend on the offensive line to make sure it is. LaFleur’s scheme depends on having a higher-level offensive line. Entering 2022, the Packers appear to have just that.
2022 Could Finally Give LaFleur the Credit He Deserves
This season will be the biggest test for Matt LaFleur. He will still have the quarterback, the running backs, and the offensive line that has helped make his scheme work in his first three seasons. But what he won’t have, is a high-caliber wide receiver.
Adams is gone and the Packers best pass-catching tight end, Robert Tonyan, is still rehabbing from a 2021 season-ending injury. Those two factors have made many wonder if the Green Bay Packers offense, specifically the passing attack, will find the same type of success in 2022.
Look, those Packers fans who think that the Packers offense won’t miss a beat without Adams are just drinking the Kool-Aid. They will point to the Packers record when Adams missed games during his time playing under LaFleur. Some will even point to how Brett Favre found success when the 1990s Packers lost Sterling Sharpe to a career-ending neck injury. Both points are true, but losing the best NFL wide receiver in the game is a blow, a big one at that.
But what the Packers do have is one of the most underrated offensive play callers in the NFL in Matt LaFleur. Since taking over the Packers offense, he has helped Aaron Rodger become better, won three NFC North championships, and helped guide one of the best offenses in the NFL. This is just another challenge for LaFleur. But in his three seasons as the Packers head coach has shown he is more than up for the challenge. If he is up for the challenge, which his history has shown he is, he finally might actually get the credit he so deserves.
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