Packers find their man in LaFleur

Well, the Green Bay Packers got their man.
Time will tell whether they made the right choice in Matt LaFleur, pronounced "la-flew-er."
At the tender age of 39, La Fleur begins his 11th year coaching in the NFL and his 18th overall in coaching.
His impressive credentials are almost as glowing as the comments from current and former players and coaches around the league.
Personally, I'm taking a "wait and see" attitude toward LaFleur becoming Green Bay's head coach, although I am already impressed with a few things.

No. 1 - While some critics wonder why the Packers made such a quick decision, it was an excellent move. The front office apparently didn't want to risk losing LaFleur to another NFL team searching for a head coach. The move also gives LaFleur more time to meet with his current coaching staff, decide which assistants to keep or let go, more time to prepare for the draft, and to familiarize himself with the Packers front office and the Green Bay community in general.

No. 2 - La Fleur retained defense coordinator Mike Pettine. That was an excellent move in my book. Admit it, despite all the injuries, Pettine's defense played well. He deserves a ton of credit for the job he did with what he had to work with as far as talent and healthy bodies all season. Consider the 31-0 shellacking by the lowly Detroit Lions in the finale. Only three of the preferred 11 Green Bay defensive players on the roster finished the game. What's the saying? "It's hard to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear." Pettine, who is very highly regarded around the league, certainly deserves more than one year. He also deserves much more talent and fewer injuries before deciding whether he is the right man for the job.

No. 3 - I'm extremely happy Green Bay didn't hire current New England Patriots' offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. How could anyone trust he wouldn't back out of the Packers job at the last minute and return to the Pats like he did last year with the Indianapolis Colts? And then when McDaniels said earlier this week that he "would only accept the Packers' job, or would return to the Patriots," sealed it for me. He was simply saying "Packers, HIRE ME!"

No. 4 - I believe LaFleur and future Hall of Fame quarterback Aaron Rodgers will develop a good, honest chemistry by finding a true comfort level with each other. They should also be able to feed off each other with the knowledge they have gained on and off the field. After all, LaFleur was a pretty fair quarterback, too. A native of Mount Pleasant, Mich., LaFleur played receiver for two seasons at Western Michigan before transferring to play quarterback at Saginaw Valley State in 2000. LaFleur led the Cardinals to three consecutive NCAA Division II playoff appearances and was twice named the team’s MVP (2001-02).

No. 5 - I believe the running game will be much more apparent under LaFleur. Look for Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams to get more carries. A strong running game always complements an excellent passing attack. It will also take some pressure off Rodgers, thus giving him a chance to "manage" the game more like New England's 41-year-old quarterback Tom Brady rather than putting everything on his shoulders and his 35-year-old arm.

Hopefully, LaFleur will put Green Bay back on top of the NFC North Division and onto the road to the Super Bowl very soon. It happens very quickly in the up-and-down NFL. One only has to look as far as Packers' division rivals Chicago Bears and Minnesota Vikings

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Packers need major rebuild

The season is finally over for the Green Bay Packers.
It was a season to forget. Sunday's humiliating 31-0 defeat to the lowly NFC North Detroit Lions put the final stamp on the 2018 campaign. At least Green Bay's loss still kept the Lions in the NFC cellar for the season... barely. The Packers finished at 6-9-1 and the Lions 6-10.
It's not fair to begin where the Packers need to improve. Obviously, it starts with a new coaching staff. Then there's offense, defense, special teams. WOW!
A major re-load is a must. Now it's up to Packers' President Mark Murphy and General Manager Brian Gutekunst. Do you think they are going to have some sleepless nights?
Green Bay fans aren't used to losing, let alone two seasons in a row, and I'm sure they are looking for an instant fix. It's tough to do in the NFL, but I think the Packers can do it within a year or two.
No. 1: Find the right head coach and assistants.
No. 2: Acquire a few TRUE ALL-PRO FREE AGENTS.
No. 3: Have a blockbuster draft with players who can instantly step in and make an impact.
It can be done.
Thank goodness we have the Milwaukee Bucks and Milwaukee Brewers to look forward to until next fall.

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Packers don't wait to fire McCarthy

The Green Bay Packers parted ways with longtime coach Mike McCarthy early Sunday evening, less than three hours after their worse loss of the season.
It had to be a kick in the guts for McCarthy. But let's face it. We all knew his days were numbered. We just thought it would be after the final regular-season game against the Detroit Lions on Dec. 30.
I, like many, believe there is plenty of blame to be shared for a team that is 4-7-1 this season. It's not just the head coach. However, the "main man" is always held to the highest degree and usually becomes the first to go, especially after the humiliating  20-17 loss to the hapless Arizona Cardinals in Lambeau Field.
The stars were aligned for a Green Bay mauling. The weather and field conditions were on its side. The Packers were favored by 14 points against the 2-7 Cardinals, a warm-weather dome team. Toss in the fact that the Cardinals, the least productive offense in the NFL, boast a rookie coach and rookie quarterback. Yet, Green Bay managed a measly 17 points.
Coaches don't play offense or defense or special teams. However, McCarthy and his coaching staff are responsible for getting their team ready each and every week. That wasn't happening this year.  Give McCarthy credit. In 13 years, his Green Bay teams compiled a 135-87-2 record including a 10-8 record in nine postseason appearances. And we all remember the McCarthy-led 2010 Super Bowl championship team.
McCarthy, 55, will find a new NFL head coaching home down the road if he wishes. And you can bet the Packers' job will attract several high profile coaches. Green Bay is the dream job of many former and current coaches. It is guaranteed to be one of the hottest coaching vacancies in the NFL.
Just who will get the Packers head coaching position is a ways off. It's offensive coordinator Joe Philbin's job for the interim. Philbin was head coach of the Miami Dolphins from 2012-2015. His Miami teams compiled a 24-28 record in 3-plus seasons. He was fired in 2015 after the Dolphins got off to a 1-3 start. Philbin was also the offensive coordinator of the Packers from 2007 to 2011, helping them win Super Bowl XLV over the Pittsburgh Steelers. He returned to the Packers this season, but don't look for him to become "permanent" head coach.
McCarthy now is a member of an elite club of coaches who have been fired after winning a Super Bowl. It's a group that includes Tom Landry, Mike Ditka, George Seifert, Mike Shanahan, Brian Billick and Jon Gruden.
I feel somewhat sorry for McCarthy who has a street named for him outside of Lambeau Field. However, the NFL, like all pro sports, is  results oriented. McCarthy's offense was predictable, stagnant. The message in the clubhouse was getting old. Something had to be done. The culture had to change.
Packers president Mark Murphy obviously felt the time was now.

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Everything's rosy in Packerland.....

The Green Bay Packers made interim head coach Joe Philbin’s debut a happy one with a convincing 34-20 victory over the Atlanta Falcons at Lambeau Field on Sunday.
Players, coaches, front office personnel, and especially Packers fans, are wearing broad smiles. I have even heard a few "The Pack is Back!," chants.
After the Falcons jumped to a 7-0 lead, the Packers scored 34 unanswered points to raise their record to 5-7-1. While hapless Atlanta fell to 4-9, the victory was a definite shot in the arm for Packer fans and players alike.
While the Packers are still mathematically in the hunt for a playoff spot, the odds are way too steep. However, it's a week to look forward, not back, although their next opponent - 'Da Bears on the road - provide a stern test, especially after defeating NFL powerhouse LA Rams, 15-6, late Sunday night.
The Bears are atop the NFC North with a 9-4 record and are a completely different team since losing to Green Bay in the season opener. The Packers are different, too. Different head coach, several different players because of injuries, and a different record (5-7-1) from what players and fans usually see at this time of year.
However, on Sunday the Packers looked energized on both sides of the ball. Players, especially linebacker Clay Matthews, showed they still belong in the NFL.
Without question, the Packers played their most complete game of the season. However, can they carry it on for the last three games?
It will be interesting to see which Packers' team shows up on Sunday.

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Another hunter is born

Every deer hunting season is filled with great stories.
This recent gun-deer hunt was no different.
I ran across this story in a Wisconsin DNR release earlier this week.
It's stories like this that make hunting... and the outdoors so great!
I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
According to the DNR news release:

Sam, age 12, of Hudson, WI, shot his first deer this year on his grandfather's property near Cumberland.
His grandfather is fighting Parkinson's, so was unable to take Sam hunting. Neither of Sam's parents hunt, so his uncle, Eric Reed, flew in from Lancaster, PA, to take Sam out for the Wisconsin gun deer season.
Unsure if Eric would be able to make it, Sam and his mom, Amanda, watched many YouTube videos on how to field dress a deer in case Sam got lucky.
In the end, Sam made a good shot and they were able to find the deer right away.

Until we meet, have a great day outdoors...

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