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Matt LaFleur not making coaching changes right now

Players aren’t playing “blame game”

Head Coach Matt LaFleur
Head Coach Matt LaFleur

GREEN BAY – Packers Head Coach Matt LaFleur said Monday he's not making a change at defensive coordinator following the 34-20 home loss to the Buccaneers.

Third-year coordinator Joe Barry will remain in that post and will be tasked with straightening out a unit that surrendered 452 total yards and a maximum 158.3 passer rating to Tampa Bay QB Baker Mayfield in a damaging late-season loss.

"If I thought that was the best solution today, then we'd make that decision," LaFleur said.

Having reviewed the game film multiple times in the 24 hours since the game ended, LaFleur pointed to major communication breakdowns for the day-long struggles vs. the Buccaneers. Whether it was players not getting aligned right based on the call, some not getting or understanding the call, or still others simply not being where they were supposed to be, the defense was entirely out of sync.

"Basic install, like Day 1 install and we have self-inflicted communication errors and guys quite frankly not in the right spot," LaFleur said. "That's tough to watch and it happened. It wasn't just on defense."

The defensive errors were by far the most glaring and repeated, though, based on the Buccaneers' production, which included three consecutive touchdown drives covering 66, 75 and 75 yards in the second half.

LaFleur indicated the communication issues were shared by the coaches and players.

"When you're having basic communication problems and you're supposed to be in a certain coverage or a certain rotation and we're not getting that communication … it always starts with us," he said. "It starts with myself and it goes to all our assistant coaches. So obviously the coaching wasn't up to the standard and our performance on the field definitely showed that as well."

He also said the players on the field simply weren't talking with one another in and out of the huddle, which is normal procedure to get everyone on the same page.

"As dumbfounded as you are," LaFleur said when asked how the communication could fail so badly on all levels, "that's how I felt watching it."

LaFleur added there were definitely play calls on defense he questioned and/or regretted, no different than how he feels about his own offensive calls. He specifically mentioned some soft zones that were called in third-and-medium situations that didn't challenge the Buccaneers, who were able to move the chains rather easily.

By the same token, the soft zones with two deep safeties also didn't prevent the big plays, as Tampa Bay posted a dozen gains of 18-plus yards in the game, including three (19, 26, 52) for touchdowns.

"The game plan going into it was to play a little bit more two-shell, to try and alleviate some of the explosive plays," LaFleur said. "Obviously that didn't matter."

Moving forward, he plans to get more involved in defensive meetings to try to smooth out the frustrating errors and prevent them from being repeated. Asked again why he doesn't just put someone else in charge of the defense, he answered the unit has performed well in other instances.

"I've seen us execute this stuff before," he said. "It's unfortunate that it happened at this time of the year in such an important game. But I've seen us execute it earlier in the year or in previous games."

Players reiterated Monday's meetings were mostly about the pre- and post-snap communication, and working through everything together.

"We can't play the blame game," said cornerback Eric Stokes, who returned from an extensive injury absence Sunday to play his first defensive snaps of the season. "That's exactly what we just ended the meeting on. We've got to find solutions. There's no reason to play the blame game. The blame game ain't going to get us nothing."

Added linebacker Quay Walker: "You're being introduced to adversity and there's two ways you're going to respond to it. You're either going to lay down or you're going to get up, so that's it."

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