On Sunday afternoon, Matt LaFleur set a franchise record for the most wins by a Green Bay Packers coach in his first season when his team claimed its 10th victory on the year at home against the Washington Redskins.
So how exactly did the first-year head coach celebrate his achievement?
He got back to work.
The Packers coach told reporters Monday afternoon he went immediately back up to his office following Sunday’s 20-15 win and started studying the game film, more focused on fixing the flaws from his team’s sloppy performance than reveling in the personal achievement.
“I knew there was so much more for us and was pretty upset with myself after the game as well,” LaFleur admitted when asked Monday about his milestone. “I know we’re not where we want to be as a football team. I’m optimistic that we can get there with the same approach that we take every week, and that’s to beat the Chicago Bears.”
The Packers (10-3) have greater expectations for themselves, especially on offense, after getting off to a 14-0 start against the Redskins and then sputtering for just six more points before the final whistle. Star quarterback Aaron Rodgers said he doesn’t mind winning “ugly” as long as the Packers continue to win, but LaFleur is still insistent upon cleaning up the mistakes that ranged from poor execution to near-misses on Sunday.
“You’re only as good as your last game,” LaFleur said, “and if you don’t put together your best performance, you’re trending down. you’re either getting better or you’re getting worse. You’re never staying the same. We’ve got a tough task in front of us not only as a football team but specifically as an offense versus a really talented defense.”
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Real Challenges Await Down Stretch for Packers
LaFleur has the Packers in an ideal spot as the No. 2 playoff seed in the NFC with the first-round bye now theirs to lose in the final three games of the regular season. They won the games they needed to win against the New York Giants and Redskins after an offputting blowout loss to the San Francisco 49ers, but now it’s time to turn on the jets.
Even if the Bears (7-6) are the lesser of two threats to the Packers’ claim over the NFC North, there is no understating their bitter rivalry, especially with Chicago still the reigning champions of the division. The Bears have recovered from a rough stretch midseason to win their last three games with their most recent victory coming against the Dallas Cowboys on Thursday Night Football.
After hosting the Bears, the Packers then must travel to Minnesota for a rematch with the Vikings for Monday Night Football in Week 16 with only one game — and an early tiebreaker — separating the two from the top of the division. All the more reason for LaFleur to reinforce his “1-0 each week” philosophy as talk heats about where the Packers will land in the postseason.
“We’ve gotta go 1-0 and I mean that, though,” LaFleur said when asked about the possibility of a first-round bye. “I know it’s boring to you guys, it is, but that’s the reality of this league. If you look any further than what we have in front of us, I think it’s a disservice to everybody. You better respect everybody in this league because anybody can beat anybody.”