Over the past few offseasons, Aaron Rodgers’ uncertain future with the Green Bay Packers has exposed a plethora of issues that comprise the Packers’ front office. From Matt LaFleur’s unsubstantiated coaching career without a Hall-of-Fame quarterback to Brian Gutekunst’s questionable decision-making, it is unclear where the true power of the pack lies. Many Packer fans have called for the firing of some members of the coaching staff without being able to identify who is truly at fault. It is a turbulent time in Green Bay, as their superstar quarterback seems to be headed for New York, and the Packers’ franchise is left waiting for Rodgers’ decision. One thing Packer fans have always been good at is knowing when to point fingers, and with nothing else to do but wait, what better way to pass the time than to examine some of Green Bay’s biggest flaws in the front office? The Packers’ continuous tug-of-war match within the staff remains one of Green Bay’s biggest mysteries, and I hope to shed some light on it.
Matt LaFleur has been one of the NFL’s biggest coaching question marks since he became the head coach of the Packers in 2019. From 2019 to 2021, LaFleur led the team to three straight 13-win seasons, a record for the most wins by a head coach through three years in pro football history. In those three seasons, the Packers earned themselves a first-round bye in the playoffs, becoming the second seed in the NFC in 2019, followed by back-to-back number 1 seed performances in the next two years. LaFleur was always seen as a fresh-minded head coach, always bringing in creative ideas on how to help win football games. He typically kept Green Bay’s offense clean and consistent, and was very efficient with proper ball security. LaFleur’s offense peaked in 2020, leading the Packers to the highest-scoring offense in the NFL, accumulating 509 points, good enough for 31.8 points per game. However, over the past season, the Green Bay offense only produced 370 points scored, just 21.8 points per game, indicating a clear decline. Some of this can be attributed to the loss of key players such as star wide receiver Davante Adams; however, LaFleur’s play-calling and decision-making have become noticeably worse. It is not an uncommon thought that LaFleur has been hiding in Aaron Rodgers’ shadow all these years and is fearful of what may come without his MVP. When repeatedly asked by reporters if he wants Rodgers to remain with the team, he always replies by saying “absolutely, yes,” a sign that LaFleur is not keen on shaking up the offense. Of course, a head coach would never openly express negative opinions about his starting quarterback; however, the fact remains the same: Matt LaFleur is unproven as a head coach without Aaron Rodgers. For the sake of his career, Matt LaFleur would like to keep the Green Bay legend around as long as possible.
Despite Matt LaFleur’s aspirations to keep Aaron Rodgers around, Brian Gutekunst may have other plans. Whenever the Packers’ General Manager is asked about the star quarterback, he often dances around the question with a clever response. One thing Gutekunst has not been afraid to say is “We are committed to Aaron in 2021/2022 and beyond.” The key word in Gutekunst’s phrasing is “beyond,” which has become a storyline throughout the past few seasons. It appears that Gutekunst no longer intends to make such a statement and is adamant about trading Rodgers as soon as a deal can be made. By the time a reader views this segment, Gutekunst may have already traded Rodgers to the New York Jets, or he could still be dancing around the inevitable as we wait for more answers to unfold. In either circumstance, it is clear that Aaron Rodgers is no longer the solution in a Green Bay Packers uniform. As Brian Gutekunst watches the situation unravel, it becomes clearer by the day that trading Rodgers is in the best interest of the Packers organization moving forward. This may disappoint Matt LaFleur, a man trying to keep his job as safe as possible. Another chance at a fresh offense is being given to the Packers’ head coach, and Gutekunst is hoping he does not have to relieve LaFleur of his duties anytime soon. Although Brian Gutekunst and Matt LaFleur have differentiating opinions on what their plans are moving forward, Gutekunst holds the power to make decisions, and it seems to look like LaFleur’s opinion does not matter whatsoever.
At the end of the day, both Brian Gutekunst and Matt LaFleur report to the Packers President and CEO, Mark Murphy. Along with the fact that Murphy can fire both Gutekunst and LaFleur, there is a large piece of the puzzle many people often leave out. Mark Murphy has openly stated his desire to win another Super Bowl before his retirement, and that clock continues to tick. He is running out of time to build up his legacy to what he may want it to be. Murphy will be 68 years old by the start of the 2023 NFL season, leaving him just two more seasons before he reaches the Packers’ mandatory retirement age of 70 years old. As time passes, Green Bay’s Super Bowl window has been dwindling one year at a time, as Aaron Rodgers has continued to age. With Rodgers scheduled to be out the door, the legacy that Mark Murphy once hoped to leave behind in Green Bay is slowly crumbling. Murphy may want to keep Rodgers in Green Bay, however, he appears to now be prioritizing the future of the franchise rather than his individual success. Setting the Packers up for another decade of accomplishment leaves a legacy in itself, and that is something to be proud of. Mark Murphy and Brian Gutekunst now appear to be on the same page, as is most of the Packers organization. Even for someone like Matt LaFleur, there have to be certain elements of Jordan Love’s game that call for excitement and celebration.
The Green Bay Packers front office may not be on the same page all the time, but they all add important ideas that have helped build a winning football team for so long. From the coaches who help build players to their greatest ability, to the managers and heads of staff making all the decisions upstairs, the Packers are an organization that has consistently had a love for the game of football and all that comes with it. The past few offseasons have taught us a lot about Green Bay’s operations and how they go about their business, especially during the Aaron Rodgers saga. As we look toward the end of an era, the Packers front office is ready to prepare us for the new age of Green Bay Packers football, and it could not be any more exciting.