Matt LaFleur has a backup plan for special teams
Matt LaFleur has seen the Green Bay Packers surge in recent weeks. Part of the change in the Packers’ momentum came after he and the coaching staff changed personnel on special teams. Keisean Nixon has been unstoppable in the return game for the Packers. LaFleur admitted recently that he should have put Nixon in that position earlier in the season.
Nixon is quickly becoming the best return man in the league. His touchdown against the Minnesota Vikings helped the Packers take a lead they wouldn’t relinquish. Nixon is having a big return in almost every game he plays in. It’s assumed that NFL teams will start to kick away from the budding return star.
Head coach Matt LaFleur was asked what the Packers plan to do when coaches kick away from Nixon. According to Matt Schneidman with The Athletic, LaFleur answered twice that he would find a way to get the ball back into Nixon’s hands by throwing the ball back to him. The play would be a somewhat risky move:
Matt LaFleur asked how to get Keisean Nixon the ball if teams kick away from him.— Matt Schneidman (@mattschneidman) January 5, 2023
He says the Packers could throw the ball back to him.@RobDemovsky asked again. For real.
LaFleur gave the same answer.
That can work in some situations. However, it’s a risky move because it would come as a backward lateral to be a legal football move. If Nixon were to drop the ball, it would be a fumble. So it would require an accurate throw and catch from two Packers special teamers.
Matt LaFleur also telegraphed the plan publicly twice, so it’s fair to say opposing special team coaches will work on how to defend the play. They might have a player cover Nixon regardless of who the ball is kicked too. It’ll be interesting to see what the Packers come up with. But even if teams kick away from Nixon, the way they’ll have to do so should net yards in the Packers’ offense’s favor.