Will Matt Lafleur become the first Packers coach to reach the playoffs in his first season?
Reading this article, especially if you are a Packers fan, may be hazardous to your health…
Optimism runs pretty rampant in the NFL these days. The Packers and their fans are certainly hyped about the new season; an improved defense, hopefully, a great season from QB Aaron Rodgers, and a new offensive-scheme.
One reason for Green Bay optimism this season is a new head coach, Matt LaFleur. An offensive-minded coach, LaFleur is looked upon by the team and fans to resurrect the offense and get the team back to the playoffs. After eight straight seasons making the playoffs, the Pack the last two seasons failed to qualify for the post-season. The last time the Packers failed to make the playoffs in three straight years was back in the early 1990’s.
History, or better stated, statistics, indicate that the Packers making the playoffs this year could be a struggle. Here’s why… no Packers head coach has ever led his team to the playoffs in his first season! You read that right… no first-year coach has seen his team make the post-season in Green Bay. Not Lombardi, not Holmgren… none of them.
There have been 14 new head coaches for the Packers who started their careers at the beginning of a season (LaFleur will be the 15th). Of those 14, only four had a winning season that first year (three finished that first campaign with a .500 record). Mike Holmgren’s 9-7 record in his first year in 1992 and Mike Sherman’s 9-7 record in his first year in 2000 are the two coaches with the most wins in their first season in Green Bay. The other two coaches who had winning seasons in their first season as head coach in Green Bay were Curly Lambeau (he was 3-2-1 in his first year in Green Bay) and Vince Lombardi… he was 7-5 in his first season with the Packers in 1959.
Here is a look at the 14 Packers head coaches’ records in their first season in Green Bay.
1921, Curly Lambeau, 3-2-1
1950, Gene Ronzani, 3-9
1954, Lisle Blackburn, 4-8
1958, Ray McLean, 1-10-1
1959, Vince Lombardi, 7-5
1968, Phil Bengston, 6-7-1
1971, Dan Devine, 4-8-2
1975, Bart Starr, 4-10
1984, Forrest Gregg, 8-8
1988, Lindy Infante, 4-12
1992, Mike Holmgren, 9-7
1999, Ray Rhodes, 8-8
2000, Mike Sherman, 9-7
2006, Mike McCarthy, 8-8
Combined, the above Packers head coaches compiled a 78-109-5 record, a .419 winning percentage, in their first year at the helm of the Packers. Not very impressive, is it?
That brings us back to LaFleur. Can he win at least nine games and become the fifth Packers coach in team history to have a winning record in his first year with the team? Can he reach the playoffs in his first season, thus becoming the first Packers first-year coach to do so? Needless to say, there are some high expectations for LaFleur and this year’s Packers team. A playoff appearance in 2019 would be a “first” for a first-year coach.
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The undefeated Green Bay Packers had a bye last week and get back into the action this Sunday with a game against the San Diego Chargers. So how well have previous Packers teams done the week after a bye? Here’s a look at some of the stats…
* The Pack is 13-9 after the bye week since 1990. They have, however, won eight of their last 10 after the week off. Of the last three Packers coaches, Mike McCarthy has the best record after the bye; his team’s have won four and lost only one. Mike Sherman was 4-2; Mike Holmgren‘s Packers were 3-5 the week after the bye.
* Eleven of the 22 games were decided by seven points or less. They played in three overtime contests, winning one and losing two.
* The Packers have a 7-1 record in games at home after the bye week; they are 6-8 in games away after the bye week. This week’s game is in San Diego.
* This year’s bye came on Week 8. In the past years, the Packers are 4-2 after a bye on Week 8. Other records after bye weeks: Week 3 bye, 0-1; Week 4 bye, 1-0; Week 5 bye, 1-1; Week 6 bye, 1-3; Week 7 bye, 4-2; Week 9 bye, 1-0; Week 10 bye, 1-0.
* Green Bay holds an advantage in turnovers in games after the bye week. The Packers have committed 32 turnovers to the opponents 42. In the 10 games after the bye week in which the Packers had fewer turnovers than their opponents, they won nine and lost one.
* The Packesr played 14 of their 22 games after the bye week versus division opponents. They had a 9-5 record. They are 4-3 against AFC opponents.
* Aaron Rodgers is 2-1 after the bye week as the Packers starting quarterback. He completed 67% of his passes in those three games after the bye, averaging over 324 yards passing per game, and throwing for seven TDs and only one interception. He had a passer rating over 100 in two of the three games. In 17 games after the bye week with the Packers, Brett Favre was 10-7. He completed 61.6% of his passes, averaging 230.5 yards passing per game. He threw for 27 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. He had a 100 or higher passer rating in seven of the 17 games.