Matt LaFleur wants competition but can Packers get it right at O-line for once?
Today's edition of The Leap is brought to you by Underdog Fantasy, an industry leader in daily and season-long fantasy contests.
Subscribers of The Leap can join Underdog Fantasy here with our special signup link to double your initial deposit up to $100. It's a great way to play fantasy sports with real fans while also supporting the work we do here.
Matt LaFleur loves to tout competition. He preaches the best players will play. Any conversation about offensive line inevitably turns to the idea of the best five players playing. And over the course of his Green Bay Packers tenure, LaFleur and his coaching staff proved they weren’t afraid to shake up the status quo when it wasn’t working. That’s good.
But it doesn’t mean when they had difficult choices to make, they always made the right ones. In fact, the opposite has been true in high-leverage spots during the LaFleur era. So, in a season where the team cares most about figuring out what they have, how do they approach setting the lineup? And will they get it right?
The track record for LaFleur, Adam Stenavich, and these coaches could be better. Believing in the process is one thing -- and the approach to the offensive line, prioritizing competition, and getting the best five players on the field, has been good -- but the outcome has been decidedly another.
Last year, the Packers opened the season with Jake Hanson starting out of position at right guard and Royce Newman out of position at right tackle. At least Newman started the entire 2021 season even if it was at guard instead of tackle. No one will be able to sufficiently explain Green Bay’s belief in Hanson as a player nor his standing ahead of Zach Tom, a fourth-round pick who became a starter his rookie season and now looks poised to start at one of two different positions.