The Matt LaFleur era in Green Bay is off to a hot start. LaFleur and the Packers are now 28-8 (.778) under his lead. They made it to the NFC Championship two years in a row, but have also lost both times. This most recent loss seems to hurt more than the ones prior. The Packers finally got the chance to host the NFC Championship for the first time in Aaron Rodgers’ career. Green Bay was seen by many to be the favorite to win and advance to Super Bowl LV. That was not the result we got and most of the blame for that is being pinned on LaFleur. More specifically, his decision to kick a late game field goal. In this article, I breakdown what Lafleur’s options were and what he should have opted to do instead.
Option One: Go for the Touchdown
The first option Matt LaFleur has is simple, go for the touchdown. Down 31-23, fourth and goal, about two minutes left, and you have one of the best quarterbacks in the league. This is a situation where you trust your guy and you allow the likely MVP to make a play. Rodgers is the league leader in touchdowns and the Packers are the leaders in red zone percentage. Almost everyone thinks that you take the shot. This option has three results. The first result is you fail and have to stop Tom Brady. The second result is you score, but miss the two-point conversion and have to stop Tom Brady. The third result is everything goes smoothly. You get the touchdown and the two-point conversion, the game is tied, but you still have to stop Brady. No matter how this option plays out, you still have to stop Brady.
Option Two: Kick a Field Goal
The second option that Matt LaFleur has is to kick a field goal. Just like before, you are down 31-23, fourth and goal, just over two minutes to play, and you have one of the best quarterbacks in the league. You also have a kicker who is perfect this year on field goal attempts. This option has two different results. The first result is your kicker, who has kicked 100% of his field goals this season, misses and you end up down by eight points and you have to stop Tom Brady. The second result is that you make the field goal, you are down 31-26, and you have to stop Tom Brady.
Matt LaFleur’s Decision?
Matt LaFleur, as everyone saw, kicks the field goal. The Packers now trail 31-26, and they have to stop Brady. Any decision made in that spot results in needing to stop Brady. The thing here is that the field goal was almost guaranteed and the Packers had just missed three attempts in a row from the same spot. Also remember that they have already missed a two-point conversion earlier in the game. If the defense stops the Buccaneers, then the offense has a chance for the win. If you don’t kick the field goal, then you are likely down by eight points when you get the ball back. Your best chance then is to send the game to overtime and Matt Lafleur did not want to risk going to overtime. Especially since Rodgers has multiple playoff games already where he never gets the chance to see the field in overtime.
What Would I Do?
I can see what the thought process is for kicking the field goal. Rodgers himself said he understands the call, doesn’t like the call, but understands it. If I’m Matt LaFleur in this situation I go one more step with the craziness. First, I still kick the field goal. The next thing I do is call the one thing that results in Tom Brady not getting the ball. I call for an onside kick. It is risky , but you keep Tom Brady off the field. Now they have to stop you instead. Imagine how satisfying it is to keep Tom Brady off the field, beat Tom Brady, and finally make up for the botched onside kick from years ago against Seattle. For LaFleur, you now beat Brady, make it to the Super Bowl, and you look like the biggest and baddest coach in the league.