Matt LaFleur was hired in January of 2019 after the Green Bay Packers fired Mike McCarthy. In the first three seasons as head coach LaFleur has led the Packers to a 39-10 regular season record as well as a 2-3 record in the playoffs. In the same breath this team has dominated most games, while also having an odd issue of struggling horribly after being sucker punched by opposing teams in a select few games a season. But there has been one thing that has plagued the Pack every year under LaFleur. Each year it’s a different problem, but each year it is seen early as an issue. Subsequently it is never addressed and every season it comes back to bite the Packers in the playoffs. This is what I am now dubbing the Green Bay curse.
The stage is set. 2019, week one the Packers take on the Chicago Bears and win 10-3. The honeymoon phase is in full effect with Matt LaFleur and this Packers team as a whole. Then week two rolls around. 198 rushing yards allowed to the Minnesota Vikings. Weeks three through five come and go with 100 plus rushing yards allowed to the Broncos, Eagles, and Cowboys. The Packers will get through the 2019 regular season 13-3, clinching the number 2 seed in the NFC. They will also have allowed 100 plus rushing yards in ten of their sixteen games played. Then Seattle comes to town in the playoffs. The Packers win, but surrender 110 rushing yards to the Seahawks. Then the NFC Championship game. The San Francisco 49rs, with the most potent rushing attack in the league, run for 285 yards on the Packers defense. From start to finish in 2019 the Packers run defense was easily seen as the worst part about the team, even overshadowing the lack of passing game weapons. But one season isn’t a trend, it’s just coincidence.
2020. No one is sure about where the season is going. COVID is in full effect. Then the draft comes around. The Packers select… Jordan Love??? Okay maybe they’ll fix their holes on defense and in the passing game on day two. AJ Dillon, running back, and Josiah Deguara, glorified fullback are selected. Fast forward to the regular season, everyone is freaking out about many problems. The lack of a real pass catching option outside of Davante Adams, the absence of a real number two corner, and the still seemingly gaping hole at run defense. Week six against Tampa Bay, the Packers scored 10 points and only passed for 107 yards. Then the Packers go on to seemingly dominate the NFL until week eleven. They struggled mightily against the Colts, eventually losing due to a fumble by WR MVS on a screen pass. While the Packers still ranked as the number one offense after the regular season, the entire year was plagued due to drops by MVS and the inability for any other receiver not named Adams to get open. Eventually the Pack made it to the NFC Championship again, where they lost to Tom Brady. While everyone remembers the loss being on Kevin King (it partially was) the bigger problem at play was the lack of receivers getting open and even being able to catch footballs. Another example of the Packers main problem showing itself early in the season, then costing them a championship. But two times is still a coincidence right?
Enter 2021. The Packers free agency is an absolute mess. They lose the best Center in football, Corey Linsley. They also threw contracts to running back Aaron Jones after spending a premium pick on a running back the previous year as well as pay corner Kevin King. Then the draft happens and most Packers fans come out rather excited. A super fast corner to perhaps replace King, a new starting center and finally a receiver to help the passing game. Then they also nab a massive DT in Tedarrel Slaton, and add more depth pieces across the team. Week one comes and goes and the Packers lay an absolute stinker against the New Orleans Saints. Nothing looks good. Offense, sucked. Defense? A dumpster fire. Special teams? Well who cares special teams doesn’t mean anything right? Then the season gets going and week one looks like an anomaly for the offense and defense. Both dominated for a majority of the 2021 season. But special teams remained an absolute mess. Mo Draytons unit ranked dead last by virtually every metric, but Matt LaFleur kept him for the whole season. Then the playoffs come around. San Francisco is coming to town in a snowy night game. The special teams miscues are countless. First they allow a Mason Crosby field goal to get blocked. Then they give up a massive kick return to Deebo Samuel which sets up the Niners first points of the game. Later, a punt block in Green Bay’s endzone for a touchdown. But to round it out? The Niners game winning field goal only had ten Packers defenders on the field to try to block it. Three times is no longer a coincidence. It’s a coaching issue disguised as a curse.
Now here we are in 2022. Through three weeks the Packers biggest problems have been defensive play calling and a lack of serious wide receiver play. It remains to be seen which will eventually be the reason the Packers fall short of a championship but if there’s one thing we can all count on? It’s the Green Bay curse striking again.