GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - The Green Bay Packers introduced new head coach Matt LaFleur on January 9, 2019. That day he called becoming the 15th head coach in Packers history a “dream come true.”
After being introduced by Packers President and CEO Mark Murphy and General Manager Brian Gutekunst, LaFleur made it clear he plans to call plays next season and plans to make it a priority to develop a strong relationship with quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
“I'm not going to have any preconceived notions moving forward. I just want to try to develop the best relationship with Aaron because he is a key piece to the puzzle and a key reason why we are going to get where we want to go,” LaFleur said.
Since that press conference LaFleur has been working to finalize his coaching staff. So far he has retained Mike Pettine as his defensive coordinator and hired former Jacksonville Jaguars offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett.
Thursday morning LaFleur spoke with ESPN Wisconsin’s Wilde and Tausch Show. Here’s are some of the highlights from the interview:
JASON WILDE: How many of your guys have you gotten to talk to?
LAFLEUR: “I reached out to David Bakhtiari and then I ran into Mike Daniels – it’s been a crazy time for me right now just really trying to nail down our staff as well as try and reach out to everybody in this organization including the players ultimately they are the most important ones so just kind of working through that right now.”
WILDE: What is your life like right now?
LAFLEUR: “I’m at Lambeau all day long. Just been talking a lot. We’ve had a lot of guys in for interviews. I’ve been on the phone quite a bit. I’ve been over at Hinterland quite a bit to have dinner every night and just trying to piece together our staff and build relationships with everybody in this building.
WILDE: How challenging has that process been as you try and find the right fits for that staff?
LAFLEUR: “Well it’s certainly a challenge because a lot of the guys that maybe you’ve worked with in the past that you’ve always envisioned ‘hey I’m going to have these guys on my staff’ a lot of these guys are locked up by other clubs and you can’t always get guys out of contracts but thankfully there’s a lot of great coaches out there and we feel confident that we are going to put together a great staff.”
WILDE: Are you guys going to coach the quarterbacks together or are you going to hire a quarterbacks coach in addition to you and Nathaniel spending a lot of time with the QBs?
LAFLEUR: “Yeah that’s a really great question. It’s something that we are trying to figure out right now because certainly I want to be in that quarterback room as much as possible and the goal is to be there all the time. Now I realize as a head coach there’s going to be things that come up – that you have to take care of but I entrust that he and I have the same vision for the quarterback and we’ll be on the same page.”
TAUSCHER: Matt what has – obviously the big thing in Green Bay and when you are talking Packers is Aaron Rodgers. I guess your first conversation – have you had more conversations and how do you see this as a partnership in being successful when you have a lot of success like he’s had and this being you as a first time head coach.
LAFLEUR: “Yeah, I’ve had multiple conversations with Aaron. I tell you what – the one thing that came across early is just how passionate he is for the game of football. How much he wants to win. There’s nothing that is going to stand in his way of really getting after it. I’m looking forward to working with him and continue our relationship and I really do view that really just really philosophically I think that any time you have a quarterback of that stature. I went through this with Matt Ryan in Atlanta – a guy that has had success – and it is a partnership. They are obviously a big part of what you do not only offensively but as a team. As a leader. And guys are going to follow players of their caliber.”
TAUSCHER: So how do you balance – All we’ve heard is the Kyle Shanahan that’s your background, running the football – how do you balance when you have a quarterback at this level with the idea of running the football and the balance of – Aaron is so good at of these things but I have these basic principles that we need to live by. How do you balance that?
LAFLEUR: “I think any time you can take as much off the quarterback as possible. I think that only helps them out in the long run. Certainly Aaron has incredible talent. We are definitely going to showcase that talent but I just think in your early downs like the more you can stay balanced and keep the defense off balanced – keep them guessing whether we are going to run the ball or pass the ball – I think that it opens up opportunities for big plays down the field and when you get to the known passing situation whether it’s a third down, a two-minute drive then you have to let the guy go play and I’m certainly excited because you are talking about one of the greatest ever and his talent just speaks for itself.”
WILDE: What was it about [Packers General Manager Brian Gutekunst] and what made it feel like you guys were going to be able to connect? Has he had you over to his house yet to drink beer from his garage fridge?
LAFLEUR: “He has not had me over to drink beer from his garage fridge yet so I’m looking forward to that. I didn’t even know about that but I think the first time I got to sit down with those guys and Gutey in particular – he’s just a genuine guy and you can see it and the conversation was easy certainly I did my research and vetted guys that are close to him and John Robinson and Ryan Cowden in Tennessee and they speak the world of them – that was evident the first time I sat down with him. Everybody thinks the world of his ability to evaluate players and I’m looking forward to continuing our relationship and our partnership. At the end of the day you want to work with good people and it evident that he’s one of those guys.”
WILDE: There’s one question that I have promised every female in my life that I would ask. You’ve already won over a significant portion of the female Packers fan base. In all my years of covering the team – I have never heard Mike Holmgren, Mike Sherman or Mike McCarthy referred to as ‘hot’ as often as I’ve heard you referred that way. Does BreAnne laugh at this? Does she roll her eyes at this or is she just used to this by now from being with you for so long?
LAFLEUR: “She certainly would roll her eyes at that. No doubt about it.”
The two hosts then asked LaFleur a series of “lightning round” questions which included LaFleur saying the pathagiran theorem which he knew from his time as a substitute math teacher and the time he got a call from ESPN beat writer Rob Demovsky and saw a 920 area code phone number and thought it was from the Packers plus more.
WILDE: Wine, beer or protein shake?
LAFLEUR: “Beer. Miller Lite.”
TAUSCHER: What would your NFL scouting report be on Saginaw Valley State quarterback Matt LaFleur?
LAFLEUR: “A little, competitive guy.”
WILDE: What are you more likely to have on your TV: Sports, a movie or whatever the boys have turned on – the Disney Channel or PBS Kids?
LAFLEUR: “Definitely, Disney.”
TAUSCHER: One meal that you make extremely well that you wife agrees that you make well?
LAFLEUR: “I’d say steaks on the grill.”
WILDE: Re-runs: Seinfeld, Friends, The Office or something else.
LAFLEUR: "Something else. Whatever is on ESPN or NFL Network."
TAUSCHER: Dog, cats or neither.
LAFLEUR: “I hate to admit it but we have two cats. I’m going to get crushed for that.”
TAUSCHER: Expectations of the 2019 Green Bay Packers.
LAFLEUR: “We are going to take it one week at a time that’s what I will promise you. We are going to put our best foot forward each and every day and stay true to our process. I think if we do that and we get better every day I think anything is possible but certainly we are going to attack it one game at a time.”