LaFleur appreciates how “open-minded” Rodgers was with the new offense. The Packers shifted from a spread-oriented shotgun style to more traditional concepts that moved the 15-year veteran back under center on a more frequent basis.
The offense experienced ups and downs over the course of a long year but there also were some remarkable achievements along the way. Rodgers, for the first time in his career, fashioned a perfect 158.3 passer rating in a 42-24 win over Oakland in Week 7 (25-of-31 for 429 yards and five touchdowns).
Rodgers also was in peak form in the NFC Divisional playoff game against Seattle, throwing for 243 yards and two touchdowns during the 28-23 victory. In LaFleur’s eyes, the 36-year-old Rodgers continues to stand among the league’s elite.
“I think he’s still one of the most talented players out there,” LaFleur said. “I know he seemed energized all season long, his mind is as sharp as they come. … He’s a true professional. He knows his body and he does a great job of taking care of his body.”
One area both LaFleur and Rodgers emphasized in the aftermath of the season is getting more up-tempo with the offense next season. Rodgers feels “the scheme is there.” Their shared belief is another offseason should help the offensive implementation.
The Packers don’t intend to live in no-huddle concepts every snap of the game as much as they did in the past, but the idea is to keep defenses wary. A danger of running down the play clock is it allows defenders to jump the snap and “kind of tee off.”
“We want to keep the defense off-balance,” LaFleur said. “Certainly, integrating a little bit more up-tempo – and I’m not saying necessarily it has to be warp speed – but I think being able to have the flexibility, the versatility, to jump in and out of different tempos, I think it just adds to the element of keeping a defense off-balance.”
The biggest challenge LaFleur encountered in his first season as a head coach was managing his time throughout the week and balancing his offensive game-planning with his involvement in the defensive and special teams meeting rooms.
With Year 1 behind him, it’s LaFleur’s hope the 2020 Packers will make comparable strides to what LaFleur witnessed during his second year with the Falcons, who advanced to Super Bowl LI behind an MVP performance from Matt Ryan in 2016.
All things considered, LaFleur feels he and his staff have a lot to work with to propel to the offense to the next level in 2020. Based on how receptive Rodgers and the rest of the team’s veterans were to “newness” of the offense this past year, LaFleur anticipates more growth and execution in Year 2.
“This game is about players,” LaFleur said. “It doesn’t really matter what I know or what our coaches know when they go out on the grass, it’s about what those guys know. And not only what they know but how they can go out there and execute. I thought it was a pretty collaborative effort throughout the course of the season.”