Can LaFleur Wake Sleeping Giant?

The Green Bay Packers are entering a new era of the storied franchise under the tenure of new head coach Matt LaFleur. Mike McCarthy was fired towards the end of the 2018 season, paying the price for the club’s underachievement over the last seven years. McCarthy did guide the Packers to the Super Bowl in the 2010 campaign, but failures in the post-season and their underwhelming performances for the majority of last term resulted in his departure from Lambeau Field.

LaFleur is the man charged with improving the fortunes of the team after he impressed to beat out several high-profile candidates to the job. The pressure will be on as the Packers will once again be one of the leading contenders for the Super Bowl in the NFL picks for the 2019 campaign despite their recent woes. LaFleur is armed with arguably the best quarterback in the league in the form of Aaron Rodgers. Keeping the 35-year-old fit and firing was an issue at times for his predecessor.

Rodgers’ frustration appeared to get the better of him as the Packers slumped to a 6-9-1 record, although his own statistics were impressive throwing 25 touchdowns to just two interceptions.  However, the quarterback will be well aware that time is ticking away in his bid to win a second Super Bowl. The offensive style of Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay has been lauded by pundits and fans since he took the reins in 2017. Green Bay will be hopeful that LaFleur can provide a similar transformation after McCarthy’s system appeared to stagnate.

There is exciting talent developing outside of Pro Bowl wide receiver Davante Adams. Equanimeous St. Brown and Marquez Valdes-Scantling are two intriguing wideouts, who took their licks in their rookie term, but have the ability to become key cogs for Rodgers downfield. Aaron Jones may have been the primary victim of McCarthy’s offense. He has averaged over 5.5 yards per carry in his first two seasons in the NFL, but has not seen the ball enough to ease the pressure on his quarterback. The 24-year-old has all the attributes to become a three-down running back, causing mismatch nightmares for opposing defenses. LaFleur will have to conjure a way to get Jones more involved in the offense to make the Packers a more balanced outfit.

In his second season as general manager Brian Gutekunst has made a mark in free agency. Under former GM Ted Thompson, the Packers remit was to stay out of the fray, but Gutekunst has made his intentions known by making huge splashes this term. Green Bay strengthened their pass-rush by signing Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith to lucrative deals, allowing the ageing Clay Matthews and the injury prone Nick Perry to leave the club. Rashan Gary was selected with the 12th pick in the 2019 Draft, further bolstering a pass-rush that has been mediocre at best in recent seasons. Adrian Amos was a thorn in the side of the Packers during his time with the Chicago Bears. Amos will now lead Green Bay’s secondary alongside Darnell Savage Jr – another first-round pick in the 2019 Draft.  There are the building blocks in place for team to challenge for the Vince Lombardi Trophy, but it will be up to LaFleur to deliver to wake the sleeping giant, who have underwhelmed in the NFC Conference for too long especially with Rodgers at quarterback.

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