Unlike 2019, however, Green Bay won’t have the same luxury of high draft picks and ample cap room. The margin for error may be narrower, but Gutekunst has a full year of valuable data to lean on in regards to the direction of the team under LaFleur and what’s needed for the Packers to take the next step.
“With Matt and his staff, kind of getting to learn their process and getting to learn our process, it’s been good,” Gutekunst said. “He communicates exceptionally well. I really enjoy talking ball and trying to help put the vision of this team together.”
Listening and leadership proved to be among LaFleur’s biggest strengths in his first year as Packers head coach. He kept an open-door policy all season long and championed veteran players speaking out on team matters and issues.
Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith not only became impact performers on the field but also emotional leaders in the locker room. The expression of those various personalities contributed to quarterback Aaron Rodgers praising LaFleur after this season in saying “football became fun again” for him in 2019.
The train cannot stop there, though. The Packers came up one win short of the Super Bowl, falling to San Francisco 37-20 in last month’s NFC Championship Game.
LaFleur, whose younger brother Mike is an assistant with the 49ers, debated whether to attend Super Bowl LIV after experiencing and witnessing disappointments there as a Falcons assistant coach in 2016 and a friend of L.A. Rams coach Sean McVay two years later.
He had vowed not to go back without his own team in the game, but he eventually went to Miami to support his brother at the urging of his wife, BreAnne, and Packers President/CEO Mark Murphy.