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LaFleur's lesson from long ago: 'Tough times don't last, tough people do'

Packers to keep grinding away while youth matures


GREEN BAY – After a fourth straight loss filled with mistakes and unproductive offense, Head Coach Matt LaFleur emphasized the youth of the team is not a public talking point for him.

He made it clear Monday it's not an internal one either. It simply exists as a fact, but it's not part of the discussions and critiques as the players look to improve.

"I really have not brought that up in front of our team I think even from Day 1," LaFleur said. "It's our circumstance. It is what it is.

"The expectation is whoever's wearing that 'G' on the side of their helmet that's out on the field, that we go execute at a championship level, and we're just, we're not there."

That reality has been disappointing, frustrating, aggravating, and everything in between.

The hope was for the youthful miscues and growing pains to at least begin diminishing toward the midway point of the season, but that hasn't happened for the 2-5 Packers who struggled even more Sunday against Minnesota than in their previous couple of games.

But while that was the as-yet-unrealized hope, it was never the assumption.

"You can't assume anything," LaFleur said. "You've just got to try to continue to grind and improve. Mistakes are part of this game. They are.

"Right now, we're not at a point where we're good enough to overcome some of these mistakes. It gets compounded, and we put ourselves in some bad situations."

The mistakes include everything from miscommunications and details on routes to missed blocks to penalties to dropped/contested passes. LaFleur made a point to mention not just the drops, but potentially catchable passes in traffic that aren't being caught, as high-impact plays that are getting away.

"There were some 50-50 balls where, give (the Vikings) credit, they made plays on the ball," LaFleur said. "But we just have that expectation, and we need that mentality, that when the ball is in the air, it's our ball."

Meanwhile first-year starting QB Jordan Love is working through his own growth process with reads, decisions, footwork, timing and the like.

With the Packers fighting through this rough stretch and pushing to improve, LaFleur said this week's preparation routine will be adjusted – mainly with regard to meetings and walk-throughs, not so much practices themselves. Without diving into much detail, he noted the initial presentation and in-house work on the game plan with the players will change slightly.

"We're going to shake some things up in terms of our process, our weekly rhythm and how we operate Wednesday through Saturday to try to get this thing going a little bit quicker," he said.

As for his approach as a head coach, LaFleur plans to continue to be himself, not morph into some other type of leader to jolt or shock the team. He'll be focusing on the game film and what must be learned from it.

In that vein, he continues to take to heart a lesson imparted a decade ago as a young NFL assistant as he works to get the Packers back on track.

"It's hard. It's hard to go through this," he said. "It does test you. It tests your mental toughness.

"Like I told the team … when I was in Washington, Mike Shanahan used to say all the time: 'Tough times don't last, tough people do.'

"We've got a challenge in front of us and we're going to find out who are the tough guys on our team and within our organization, on our coaching staff. We're going to see what we're all about."

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