LaFleur's consistency aids Packers' recovery

Steady approach has helped head coach avoid losing consecutive games

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Head Coach Matt LaFleur

GREEN BAY – It's not only impressive on its face, it also stands out in the long and storied history of the Green Bay Packers.

As Head Coach Matt LaFleur heads into his 24th game (including playoffs) at the helm, he has yet to post a losing streak. It's a trend he obviously hopes to continue as the Packers travel to Houston coming off their first loss of 2020, a week ago at Tampa Bay.

The absence of consecutive losses might be the most notable thing about LaFleur's tenure thus far, and that's saying something for a coach who came one win from a Super Bowl his first year.

In case anyone thinks this isn't all that remarkable, consider: None of the Packers' successful coaches in the modern era, even Vince Lombardi, went this long at the start of their tenures without a losing streak. In fact, none of them even came close.

Mike McCarthy lost his first two games in 2006. Same for Mike Sherman in 2000 and Mike Holmgren in 1992. They all had losing streaks immediately, and they all also had an additional losing streak before their inaugural seasons ended.

Lombardi? He lost five straight his first year in 1959 after beginning his head coaching career with three consecutive wins.

It's tough not to lose two in a row at some point, and it will happen to LaFleur eventually, maybe as soon as Sunday. Houston's talent belies its 1-5 record. He can't hold off the inevitable in an ultra-competitive, parity-filled league forever.

But he'll keep trying, of course, and the consistency in his approach has produced a track record with a talented team that gives him a chance to keep this going for a while.

LaFleur admits he often sounds like a broken record when he talks about "hitting the reset button" every week, whether his team is coming off a win or a loss. If he's uttered the phrase once, he's uttered it a hundred times to the media through two dozen weeks of game prep as a head coach.

"Definitely consistent," quarterback Aaron Rodgers said of LaFleur's leadership style. "That's what you want. You don't want to ride a rollercoaster of emotions. It doesn't matter who's in front of the room. You want consistent messaging, trusting the process. Obviously, it's worked."

The process is pretty straightforward. He insists the game film be looked at critically every Monday, regardless of the result. He'll even give the wins more scrutiny, so mistakes aren't brushed off amidst the satisfaction of victory. He'll publicly acknowledge his own faults after losses, whether it be a personal critique of his game plan or play-calling, with the expectation all others will acknowledge theirs as well.

Perhaps most important, as long as it was conducted with due attention, once a game's review process is complete, it's over. The game, the result, the discussion are done. The focus turns, solely and strictly, to the next opponent.

Every team tries to go about it this way, or says it does something similar. By all accounts, LaFleur truly lives by it and his team's bounce-back abilities reflect it.

Last year, a down-to-the-wire loss vs. Philadelphia that included a late goal-line failure and an injury to the team's top receiver did nothing to derail the strong start. The Packers won their next four games.

A dud performance at Los Angeles was followed by a home win heading into the bye. A blowout loss at San Francisco that raised external questions about the Packers' status as contenders was also shaken off, as five straight wins were stacked to conclude the regular season.

The Packers have hit another one of those potential turning-point moments, coming off a frustrating 38-10 defeat in Tampa. The high-flying, top-ranked offense earning constant praise was suddenly rendered inept. A defense that had played its best game to date vs. Atlanta prior to the bye took a step back.

Yet there was LaFleur, both after the game Sunday and again on Monday, talking about hitting the reset button and critically reviewing the film. Other than the criticism of his game plan, the comments were no different than during the first month of the season.

"I think a lot of times when things like this happen, there's overreactions," Rodgers said. "Hopefully for everybody, not just the people in front of the room, there's an understanding what it took to get here and that the process works, so keep doing what you're doing."

Thus far, there's no reason for LaFleur to change. His press conference/Zoom calls aren't going to include the emotional outbursts that feed the internet meme machine, and the players know what to expect from their head coach every time they resume their weekly routine.

"I think his approach is kind of like how I go about my daily life – I try to stay even-keeled," said veteran tight end Marcedes Lewis, who knows something about losing streaks, having played through six consecutive seasons with double-digit losses in Jacksonville.

"Not just on the field, but off the field. Never getting too high or too low, and keeping my flow and staying in my zone. And that's the way LaFleur handles his business, which I respect."

The entire locker room appears to, judging by its buy-in. Heading to Houston, the immediate goal remains to stave off another potential losing streak. Once again, it's bounce-back time.

Understanding LaFleur's approach and reading the pulse of the locker room, one reason the Packers have been so successful in these moments appears to be this: When they're on the rebound, they're never recovering from as far down as it seems, no matter what last week's final score said.

"The most important thing is to stick to the process and the plan and the routine," Rodgers said. "We can't be feeling ourselves too much when it's going good and (be) too down on ourselves or kind of hanging our heads a little bit coming off a rough week.

"You have to get off the surfboard and get off that wave because this is a long season, and you have to find the process of preparation that works for you and move forward."

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