Every NFL season and off-season is unique. But Matt LaFleur’s last two and a half months with the Green Bay Packers probably surpasses most.
After all, it’s not every off-season that you figure out how to coach a team during a pandemic while also drafting the player whose growth could define your franchise, and whose development might lead to the team’s star of the last 12 years departing soon.
LaFleur is adapting to both situations, staying in virtual communication with his team in lots of installation sessions, and especially with his quarterbacks. Yet it does bring a few abnormal wrinkles to the situation, particularly with teaching a young player like Love.
“Any time with a younger quarterback, there is so much to learn,” said LaFleur on Wilde And Tausch, which airs on WTMJ sister station ESPN Wisconsin.
“Obviously, you’d love to have him in the building so you can put him through the proper fundamentals.”
Tutoring fundamentals happens with every quarterback, even future Hall of Famers like Aaron Rodgers. But it especially matters more when teaching a young quarterback like Love, whom the Packers traded up for in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft.
“The challenge is, he’s going out on his own and working those different techniques, fundamentals, but you’re not there to be able to correct him or show him the right way,” LaFleur admits.
“We’ve got to present as much to him so he can get that good visual (and) replicate that.”
While LaFleur develops one quarterback from his home office, he also fosters the relationship with his current two-time NFL MVP.
“You’re always working on that relationship no matter who you pick. We’ve had so many good conversations prior to the draft, after the draft,” said LaFleur, who said he talks with Rodgers four times a week.
“I feel really good about where we’re at. We both understand this is a business. When that whole thing went down, it was one of those situations where a couple guys were targeted who had previously been picked, and Jordan was the next guy on the board, the best player at that time.”
But there are dozens more Packers than the current and perceived future quarterbacks of the team. Every one of them are receiving teaching videos from LaFleur and his staff this pandemic-laden offseason and holding zoom meetings with coaches to test and bring clarity to their knowledge.
“We try to pre-record a lot of our stuff for our players and push it out to them so they can watch it at their own pace on their iPad, then we’ll have short meetings with our guys,” said LaFleur, who laments not having his players available for practice reps on the field due to the pandemic.
“What this process has afforded us is a good chance to be very, very detailed with our guys. Most of these meetings have been filmed, so they can go at them at their own pace and go back and re-watch. Hopefully they’re getting a little something new every time they watch those meetings. It really has given us a good opportunities to dig at the details.”
LaFleur says that despite there being no on-field work, he and his staff have still built-in accountability and competition during this off-season.
“We can monitor the iPad usage. Our coaches have done a great job of quizzing our guys. That’s really when you find out what they know. Implementing a lot of quizzes, things (like) that to see where they’re at, and test the guys,” said LaFleur.
“It is a little more challenging to find ways to compete without having guys in the facility, but it is what it is.”
He and his staff are not alone, however. 31 other NFL teams are in the same pandemic predicament. And as LaFleur reminds us, so is society.
“It would be one thing if it was only us in this situation, but it’s every team. We’re all faced with the same challenges,” LaFleur says.
“At the end of the day, when you look at where we are, we’re pretty fortunate to be in the position that we’re in. It’s a lot worse for a lot of other people out there right now.”