New scheme won't incline Packers to alter how they evaluate prospects

-- It's been well-documented, but the change expected to be implemented by hiring Matt LaFleur as the Green Bay Packers' next head coach can't be overstated either.

It also shouldn't greatly impact the way the team's scouting department evaluates its prospects and arranges its board.

General manager Brian Gutekunst spoke Wednesday at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, reaffirming the excitement radiating from an organization whose best foot forward included engineering a complete -- or, almost complete -- coaching staff shakeup.

The Packers won't be running different concepts on offense in comparison with what was executed under Mike McCarthy before he became LaFleur's predecessor. But the verbiage and communicative aspects are intended to be formulated under LaFleur's watch with an emphasis on what they're intending to do differently.

"I wouldn’t say from a scheme point of view it’s different, the scouting part of it," Gutekunst said. "It’s new, Mike was there for 13 years so there’s a lot of change in the building and it’s exciting. From a scheme evaluation, we still have to go through our process. There are some little tweaks here and there, but for the most part, we go about our process the same."

There's the belief that the Packers will guide their offense through the running game in an effort to take pressure off of quarterback Aaron Rodgers, and with the duo of Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams intact for 2019, the Packers may need to look to add a running back through the draft.

Regardless of a player's strength in a certain system, Gutekunst and co. will disregard whether or not they're a scheme fit for the sake of drafting helpful, impactful players.

"There are some differences in their offense in what we’re looking for and there’s some minor things that we’ll adjust, but for the most part, football’s football. We’re looking for good football players that can do a variety of things and that hasn’t changed."

In LaFleur, the Packers gave the keys to a young investment at 39 years old. But his pedigree in working with quarterbacks at the professional level -- among other things -- was enough to sell him.

The hope is that LaFleur will bring in a new era that lacks complacency, which evidently seemed to settle in during the latter end of McCarthy's tenure. McCarthy was fired on Dec. 2 after a home loss to the Arizona Cardinals, paving the way for LaFleur to be hired over a month later and bring his previous shared workplace experiences with some of the league's most innovative offensive minds to Green Bay.

"It was more about the success that he’s had," Gutekunst said. "I talked to a lot of people about him before we had the interviews and was very impressed with what they had to say about him. I thought it said a lot too that he could’ve stayed in Los Angeles.

"I was really, really impressed with the first sit down and how he handled his passion and his vision for our team."

The awareness of Rodgers' age coming off of a subpar season is settling in as well; Rodgers will turn 36 in December, the same age Brett Favre was when Rodgers was drafted in 2005.

Rodgers has battled through various injuries in each of the last two seasons. He broke his right collarbone in 2017, suffered an MCL sprain in the 2018 season opener and sustained a concussion in the season finale the same year; it was his third reported concussion.

LaFleur wants to create more of a balanced offensive attack on first and second down in his first year, he told ESPN's Rob Demovsky. He holds the belief that it will help extend Rodgers' career and make his job all the easier.

"I know he wants to win," LaFleur said. "He's starting to think about his legacy."

The relationship between Rodgers and McCarthy burned out on a national level last season, giving further credence to the Packers choosing to relieve McCarthy of his duties sooner rather than later. Not only to give McCarthy a headstart on his own job search but for the Packers to do the same, along with sparing McCarthy another month's worth of rumor and speculation.

But LaFleur isn't worried at all about Rodgers' past with McCarthy and how the two drifted apart, which would undoubtedly be a useless practice. The two can lay the groundwork for a healthy working relationship early starting this spring, but LaFleur can get a headstart by fueling the team's urgency to fill vacated roster holes and provide Rodgers the best possible chance at another championship.

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Zachary Jacobson is a staff writer/reporter for Cheesehead TV. He's the voice of The Leap on iTunes and can be heard on The Scoop KLGR 1490 AM every Saturday morning. He's also a contributor on the Pack-A-Day Podcast. He can be found on Twitter via @ZachAJacobson or contacted through email at [email protected].

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Comments (21)

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Tundraboy's picture

February 27, 2019 at 02:01 pm

Go Pack go!

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stockholder's picture

February 27, 2019 at 02:34 pm

#1// It also shouldn't greatly impact the way the team's scouting department evaluates its prospects and arranges its board.Huh?? /////// ”GM Brian Gutekunst: scouting part with Matt LaFleur offense isn’t different. Said change in the offense doesn’t change type of player he’s going to pursue./////#2. The Packers won't be running different concepts on offense in comparison with what was executed under " Mike McCarthy" before he became LaFleur's predecessor???////Per Gutekunst: Doesn’t think he’ll he looking for drastically different players for Matt LaFleur as opposed to Mike McCarthy:
“We’re looking for good football players. That doesn’t change. ////. Gutekunst: “The medical evaluations are significant.” Says it’s the first chance he gets his hands on players. ////Why do I have the feeling were going backwards and not forward. Never judge a book by it's cover!

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TheVOR's picture

February 27, 2019 at 03:05 pm

Agree, it depends how you intend to run that offense, and what you're lacking? Like OL and TEAM SPEED at skills positions?

Dang, this team needs a bump in player game speed, that's all I know.. Doesn't take a different set of eyes to see this team lacks speed. There are games where it looks like their running with cinder blocks tied to their feet.

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Leatherhead's picture

February 27, 2019 at 03:35 pm

So, how many passes would Davante Adams have caught if he were fast?

This is reality: It takes 1/5 of a second to blink. That's 0.2 seconds. That's the difference, over 40 yards, between a really fast player and an average one.

Emmitt Smith wasn't the fastest RB in history, he just gained the most yards. Jerry Rice wasn't the fastest WR in history, he just gained the most yards. Rob Gronkowski isn't the fastest TE in history. Ronnie Lott wasn't the fastest S in history. Charles Woodson wasn't the fastest CB in history. Reggie White wasn't the fastest DE in history.

Draft defensive players who have good instincts, react quickly, and tackle. Draft receivers who can catch. Draft RBs who can protect the ball.

I could give a rodent's behind about their 40 time in shorts.

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Lare's picture

February 27, 2019 at 03:31 pm

Don’t believe anything Gutekunst and LaFleur say about the players and types of players they’ll be looking at in the draft. It serves no purpose at this point to give other teams any information whatsoever.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

February 28, 2019 at 01:51 am

Agreed, Lare. I don't think anything they said has any meaning. I think they way the evaluate prospects will change.

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fthisJack's picture

February 28, 2019 at 08:33 am

there is a metric they use that evaluates a guys speed, explosiveness, and quickness. i don't remember what it is. but the Packers draft last year was near the top in this metric so we can stop criticizing the team for lack of speed. Donnerson, Burks, MVS, Moore, Brown, Alexander, Jackson? lack of speed?

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Community Guy's picture

February 27, 2019 at 02:39 pm

given the title of this piece, i thought that this would be more about the new scheme under LaFleur. to be honest, i feel a little more confused about the "new scheme".

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Handsback's picture

February 27, 2019 at 03:01 pm

They, the Packers, have already stated that their offense will be centered on making the outside seem run work (not the right words) as their centerpiece. They will employ zone blocking techniques and use the run to set-up the pass. It's the Bronco's offense that won two SBs. The main difference in what the Packers did under MM seems to be the TE. You use a 2-TE scheme and a back that makes one cut and goes up field. Right now, Green Bay needs those TEs that can block and make catches up the seem and across the middle. They need TEs and expect them to draft two before the draft is done.

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porupack's picture

February 27, 2019 at 03:19 pm

That's a whole article in one paragraph. Concise and makes the connection b/w new coach and the likely draft evaluation. Well done, Hback. I suppose, in addition to 2 multi-skilled TEs, they will seek oline prospects for skills at zone. Wonder what is different skillsets, if that is the case? Curious.

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Leatherhead's picture

February 27, 2019 at 03:36 pm

If the Packers take a QB early in this draft.....and they could…..the sound of exploding heads is going to be heard all the way to China.

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Lare's picture

February 27, 2019 at 05:26 pm

Heads are safe, IMO there is zero chance the Packers will be taking a QB early in this draft.

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Leatherhead's picture

February 27, 2019 at 05:37 pm

Because it makes so much sense to rebuild with a new coach and an old QB, right?

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NickPerry's picture

February 28, 2019 at 04:56 am

It's a different NFL right now. Teams no longer allow a QB to sit behind a QB to learn the position, they start much sooner in todays game.

Besides, WHY would the Packers waste a draft pick on a QB early when they can only sign the draft pick to a 4 year contract. Rodgers dead cap hit in year 3 of a QB drafted this year would be $23 million. In year 4, the final year of the rookie QB they'd draft this year it's still $11.5 million.

Sorry friend but your idea makes NO sense if your idea behind drafting a QB is rebuilding. Maybe in the 6th where they have 2 picks, hell maybe one of their 4th rounders but there's no way the Packers waste a pick on a QB with one of those first 3 rounds...The Packers WANT Rodgers as the QB of the Packers until at least the 2021 season, probably 2022.

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Since'61's picture

February 28, 2019 at 07:12 am

Nick - excellent post as usual. In this era of the NFL managing assets is critical and there is no way a team will tie up huge amounts of cap space (Rodgers) plus draft capital (early pick) on one position where only one person can play (QB).

Teams that draft a QB early expect him to play from day one in this era.
Andrew Luck, Russell Wilson, Sam Darnold, Peyton Manning, Eli Manning, Philip Rivers and many others all started in the rookie season.

The Packers will be better served drafting their areas of need for this season and for 2020. Maybe if the right guy is there in 2021 they take him but I agree with Nick that it will more than likely be 2022 before they make their selection to replace Rodgers. Thanks, Since '61

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Leatherhead's picture

February 28, 2019 at 11:53 am

Nick Perry...thank you for that response.

You say that the game has changed, but you don't really say when it changed, or how. I'm assuming you meant that the game has changed since 2005, when we drafted Aaron Rodgers to sit behind Favre. You don't really say how.

Did it change since the Chiefs finished 12-4 and drafted Mahomes to sit behind Alex Smith? If I understand you correctly, that was a wasted choice because you already had a starter.....that you won 12 games with....when you used a high first round pick to take a QB.

And you make the cap argument. If we drafted a QB in the first round, and he sat for three years, like Rodgers did, or played when Rodgers was injured, the cap hit at the end of three years isn't that bad.

So I reject that argument. I also reject the idea of drafting some 6th rounder, because although you occasionally get a QB that late who is a player, the vast majority of starting QBs in this league are first rounders.

I'm sure you'd agree that QB is the most important position on the team. Here's our QB situation: We have an old QB with a growing injury history. We have nobody behind him that we could compete with.

I don't understand the reluctance to embrace the idea of making yourself stronger at the game's most important position. There are no guarantees that Rodgers is going to get better. There are no guarantees that he'll start the next 48 games.

Let's say #30 arrives, and you could get somebody like Drew Lock, or you could take an edge rusher or OT or something. NICK PERRY is pretty representative of the kind of edge rusher you'll get at the end of the first round.....that's more valuable than a franchise QB?

Gil Brandt once remarked that the biggest mistake you can make in the draft is to pass over a franchise QB. I'd agree with that. All the people who passed on Rodgers in 2005 probably agree with that.

Given that I can't find one single example of a new HC coming in and being successful with an older, entrenched QB, I think it makes good sense to hedge your bets. I'm not a fan of putting all my eggs in one basket.

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Since'61's picture

February 28, 2019 at 03:06 pm

Old School - I can help you out with some examples. MM came to Green Bay and was one play away from the Super Bowl with an older and entrenched Brett Favre.

George Seifet took over the 49ers and won the SB in his first season with a veteran Joe Montana. Gary Kubiak took over the Broncos and won the SB with Peyton Manning in Manning’s final season.

If I had more time I could probably come up with a few more but I’m traveling and I have a hectic schedule for the next few months. Thanks, Since ‘61

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Leatherhead's picture

February 28, 2019 at 03:42 pm

Actually, none of those are examples. They're approximations.

Seifert was actually an assistant coach on the 49ers who took over when Walsh retired. Peyton Manning was not an entrenched starter in Denver, having played most of his career in Indy.

The McCarthy/Favre is the only one that meets criteria, and it is interesting that you consider that a success. The first year, the Packers finished 8-8. Favre repeatedly made comments about "I play the way I play, etc.". After the season, he put his house on the market and prepared himself for what he believed would be his last season in Green Bay.

In 2007, Favre played well and things lined up and we had a great season until the final game. At halftime of that game, McCarthy ripped Favre for his play. Favre went out and threw two interceptions after the half, including that world-class choke job on the final pass he ever threw as a Packer.

One of the ugliest divorces in sports history followed. After his faux retirement failed to clear the path for him to go to Minnesota and get revenge, he tried to force his way on the team only to be blocked by McCarthy.

So....if this is the kind of success that we're hoping for, I'll pass on that.

I stand by my original statement. I've been following the NFL for 50 years and I've been racking my brain trying to find an example of this working and I can't find it. I can find a lot of instances where it didn't work. I hope like hell I'm wrong, but I'm really dubious about this working.

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KnockTheSnotOutOfYou's picture

February 27, 2019 at 10:02 pm

Old School....lol!

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fthisJack's picture

February 28, 2019 at 08:40 am

the QB crop this year is not that impressive and taking one at 12 would be a big waste of a draft pick as Nick was saying.

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Leatherhead's picture

February 28, 2019 at 11:55 am

What if we traded down from #12 to #21 or so and picked up an extra second round pick? What if we used our pick at #30 to get Daniel Jones or Drew Lock?

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