Matt LaFleur Says ‘Prideful’ Packers Vets Disrespected by Youth Narrative

Matt LaFleur and veteran linebacker Quay Walker

Getty Matt LaFleur and veteran linebacker Quay Walker

If you’d spent any time listening to the chatter around the Packers for the last few months, you’d be more than aware that after spending most of the past three decades as NFC contenders, they were this year taking a young and untested bunch into the breach. There was real concern about whether Green Bay could handle life without Aaron Rodgers.

Except that this team is not entirely new at all.  In fact, it has quite a few veterans left in the wake of Rodgers’ departure who surely did not appreciate the sky-is-falling narrative that took hold when Rodgers finally left the team.

Asked by Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer about the veterans who are giving some stability to the team’s youth, coach Matt Fleur said there may be some feeling of disrespect there from the vets.

“I don’t know how that affects them,” LaFleur told Breer. “I mean, you’re talking about some of the better players at their respective positions in the league, so I’m sure these guys have a lot of confidence. As far as it affects them? I’ll be honest with you, I don’t know. I think they’re prideful dudes and they just love to compete and it really doesn’t matter. They’re just trying to put their best out there each and every day and let it show through on Sundays.”

Packers’ Young Roster Dominates Narrative

Green Bay does have the youngest roster in the NFL, at an average age of 24.9 years, and is turning over the offense to Jordan Love. Week 1 marked the first time that neither Brett Favre nor Rodgers was in control of the team since 1992.

But you know all of that because it’s been the constant caveat attached to any discussion of the Packers in 2023. The reality is, the Packers have youth behind center and at the wide receiver spots, but they’ve got some quality veterans elsewhere. That showed in Week 1.

The offensive line is well tested, at least on the left side, with star veterans Elgton Jenkins (a two-time Pro Bowler who turns 28 in December) and David Bakhtiari (three Pro Bowls and turning 32 at the end of this month). Love was sacked only once on the afternoon against Chicago, and that was a play in which Love should have gotten rid of the ball on a two-minute drive.

The Packers also have an outstanding running back combo, and though A.J. Dillon struggled against Chicago (19 yards on 13 carries), Aaron Jones was stellar, with 41 yards rushing on nine carries and another 86 yards receiving on two catches.

Defense Had Big Week 1 Performance

Also, Green Bay has a defense that it has invested heavily in over the past decade, one that appears ready to live up to its potential after a disappointing performance in 2022.

The Packers D set a tone on the first drive with a stop on fourth-and-short that gave Green Bay a jumpstart in its first touchdown. They sacked Justin Fields four times, hit him six times and forced a fumble for a turnover. Veteran Quay Walker, an underrated do-it-all linebacker, nabbed a pick-6 in the fourth quarter.

Dynamic Bears quarterback Justin Field finished the game with a poor rating of just 78.2, and totaled just 216 passing yards. The Packers defensive line—much like the offensive line—controlled the afternoon.

“I think that was probably the difference in the game,” said Matt LaFleur. “Our ability to protect Jordan and then get after Justin on the other side was probably the difference.”


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