Michael Irvin went on the Dan Patrick Show today, and he called Packers head coach Matt LaFleur the luckiest man in the world for having Aaron Rodgers as his quarterback. Irvin analogized LaFleur to Rodgers' backpack, along for the ride on the back of a legend:
Here's the thing: LaFleur inherited a Packers team that was in disarray at 6-9-1 and had missed the playoffs two straight years. Aaron Rodgers started all 16 games in 2018. This season, the Packers are 11-3. They will very likely win the NFC North, and are squarely in the mix for a first round playoff bye. With Rodgers as a constant between this season and last, the head coach has to get some credit as a variable in the turnaround.
Now, it's not like a flip switched and LaFleur was the only change, either. The Packers signed Za'Darius Smith and Preston Smith who have 21.5 combined sacks, and safety Adrian Amos has also been an individual difference maker. From a statistical perspective, it's unclear if Rodgers has even played better than he did last season, and pundits are jumping out in droves to say he's not in their top eight quarterbacks or, worse, is average. (Sign me up for average if Rodgers is that.)
Nonetheless, there seems to be an intangible bond amongst the Packers that is indicative of a culture shift. They've also benefitted from some luck along the way -- some bad calls that went against the Lions and Bears come to mind -- but by and large the team just has an infectious swagger that as a Packers fan I felt had been missing in recent years. That starts with the head coach.
Aaron Rodgers is still the conductor for the Packers, but Matt LaFleur has a much more important role than merely being along for the ride.