Green Bay Packers v New York Giants
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The NFL's Coach of the Year award is a nebulous one since its official description is the "coach judged to have had the most outstanding season."

What defines an outstanding season for an NFL head coach is certainly in the eye of the beholder, with some defining the award as the best turnaround effort -- recent winners like the Cleveland Browns' Kevin Stefanski (2020, 2023) and the New York Giants' Brian Daboll (2022) come to mind -- while others reward regular-season dominance en route to top playoff seeds -- recent winners like the Baltimore Ravens' John Harbaugh (2019) and former Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Vrabel (2021) come to mind. 

Green Bay Packers head coach Matt LaFleur, whose 56-27 record (.675 win percentage) ranks as the 11th-highest win percentage of all time just ahead of Paul Brown (213-105, .672) and just behind Don Shula (318-148-31, .682), has led his squad to both types of regular seasons in his five years in charge since 2019, but he doesn't have any Coach of the Year hardware to show for it. His 2019-2021 Packers are the only teams in NFL history to win at least 13 games for three seasons in a row.

Entering 2024, LaFleur may have his best shot yet with +1000 odds to win the award, the third best in the NFL trailing only new Los Angeles Chargers coach Jim Harbaugh (+800) and Chicago Bears head coach Matt Eberflus (+900), according to Caesars Sportsbook. 

Here is a look at four of his five seasons (2019, 2020, 2021 and 2023) in which LaFleur has had a case to win the award. Then we'll look at what he and the Packers have to do in order for him to take it home in 2024. 


Case: Significant team improvement
COY: John Harbaugh (Ravens)

Packers record: 13-3 (No. 2 seed in NFC)

The Packers went a disappointing 6-9-1 in 2018, Mike McCarthy's final year of a 13-year run as Green Bay's head coach, as he and future Hall of Fame quarterback Aaron Rodgers clashed about the team's offensive playbook. Rodgers led the league in touchdown-to-interception ratio (25-2), and Green Bay ranked 14th in scoring (23.5), but something was off.

McCarthy's quarterback clearly no longer believed in his playbook since Rodgers led the NFL in passes thrown away with 48, 13 more than the next closest quarterback, Case Keenum of the Denver Broncos (35), had that year. Following a disappointing 20-17 home loss against the Josh Rosen-led Arizona Cardinals in Week 13, Packers team president Mark Murphy canned McCarthy that evening.

Fast forward to 2019, and LaFleur had Rodgers more bought into his Shanahan-style playbook featuring more under-center looks with a zone-blocking scheme and increased play-action usage. Green Bay's defense also improved after signing edge rushers Za'Darius Smith and Preston Smith following the retention of defensive coordinator Mike Pettine. The end result was the Packers improving to a 13-3 record, the first time Green Bay had won that many games since the team's 15-1 run in 2011, and the team earned the NFC's No. 2 seed. 

John Harbaugh ended up winning the award that season with a 14-2 record, quarterback Lamar Jackson was named the unanimous NFL MVP and the Ravens offense led the league in scoring (33.2 points per game). 

2020, 2021

Case: Dominance. Aaron Rodgers won back-to-back NFL MVPs, Packers earned consecutive NFC No. 1 seeds with 13 wins 
COY: Kevin Stefanski (Browns, 2020), Mike Vrabel (Titans, 2021)

Just a year prior to LaFleur's arrival as the Packers head coach in 2018, Rodgers looked aloof and checked out. By LaFleur's second season, Green Bay was back to earning top seeds in the NFC, and Rodgers put together two of the best seasons of his career, winning back-to-back NFL MVPs. 

His best season under LaFleur came in 2020 when he threw for a career-high 48 touchdowns, and he also led the league that year in completion percentage (70.7%), air yards per pass attempt (9.6), touchdown-to-interception ratio (48-5) and passer rating (121.5). LaFleur's offense led the league in points per game (31.8) and red zone touchdown rate (80%). Green Bay earned the conference's top seed with a 13-3 record.

New Cleveland Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski earned the Coach of the Year trophy for taking a 6-10 team in 2019 under one-time head coach Freddie Kitchens to an 11-5 record in 2020, thus earning an AFC wild card spot. 

The metrics across the board weren't as dominant in 2021 with the Packers offense only averaging 26.5 points per game (10th in the NFL), but Rodgers once again led the NFL in touchdown to interception ratio (37-4) and passer rating (111.9) en route to another MVP award. The Packers also clinched the NFC's No. 1 seed and best record in the NFL with a 13-4 mark. 

Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Vrabel took home the award after the Titans chugged along to a 12-5 record and the AFC's No. 1 seed despite an injury-plagued campaign. All-Pro running back Derrick Henry only played eight games, and Pro Bowl wide receiver A.J. Brown missed four games, marking just two of the many players who missed a noticeable amount of time for Tennessee that season. 

Rodgers' 2020, 2021 NFL seasons (NFL ranks)

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Case: Significant team improvement, QB Jordan Love broke out to throw 32 pass TD and Packers returned to the postseason
COY: Kevin Stefanski (Browns)

Packers record: 9-8 (No. 7 seed in NFC)

The Packers missed the playoffs in Rodgers' last year in Green Bay in 2022 after he broke his thumb on the final play of a Week 5 loss against the New York Giants in London. The injury, plus Rodgers no longer being as willing to run LaFleur's Shanahan-style offense and reverting to audibling into many West Coast offensive concepts from McCarthy's offenses led to an ineffective 8-9 season. A 20-16 defeat at Lambeau Field against the Detroit Lions in the regular-season finale caused Green Bay to barely miss the postseason. 

The first season having Jordan Love, the Packers' 2020 first-round pick, as their quarterback began in an uneven way with Love throwing barely more touchdowns (14) than interceptions (10). Green Bay lost six of its first nine games.

However, LaFleur helped Love find his groove the second half of the season, and he threw an NFL-best touchdown-to-interception ratio of 18-1 from Weeks 11-18, helping power the Packers to victories in six of their final eight games, which earned them the final NFC playoff spot at 9-8. 

Love 2023 regular season 

First Nine GamesLast Eight Games




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*Led NFL among the 28 quarterbacks with 150 or more passes from Weeks 11-18

Love ended up finishing the year with 32 touchdown passes, the second most in the entire league behind only Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott's 36, something not many would have thought to be possible in his first run as the Packers' successor to Rodgers. 

However, Stefanski took home his second Coach of the Year in 2023 since his Browns earned an 11-6 record despite having to start five different quarterbacks -- Deshaun Watson (six starts), Joe Flacco (five starts), Dorian Thompson-Robinson (three starts), P.J. Walker (two starts) and Jeff Driskel (one start) -- and bringing Flacco off of his couch and back into the league midway through the season. Flacco won NFL Comeback Player of the Year with Cleveland winning four of his five starts down the stretch. 

What LaFleur needs to do to win Coach of the Year in 2024

The league appears to be as open as it has been to rewarding LaFleur's coaching efforts as he takes the third-best odds for the accolade into the regular season. LaFleur wasn't able to win the award with Rodgers as his quarterback despite him calling the plays -- perhaps because Rodgers was already a Super Bowl champion and a two-time league MVP when the head coach arrived in Green Bay in 2019.

If Love, who LaFleur and quarterbacks coach Tom Clements have solely developed, can make a jump to being a consistently elite quarterback and finish near the top of the passing touchdown leader board again while the Packers win double-digit games and the NFC North division, he should be able to win Coach of the Year honors. 

Green Bay was the youngest team to win a playoff game since the 1970 AFL/NFL merger with an average age of 25 years and 214 days after it eliminated the NFC's second-seeded Dallas Cowboys, 48-32, in the wild-card round. The Packers also nearly knocked off the conference's top seed and eventual champion, the San Francisco 49ers, losing, 24-21, in the divisional despite all the youth and inexperience. 

All of that success was achieved with Love throwing to a pass-catching unit exclusively comprised of first- or second-year players. Wide receiver Christian Watson, who was 24 years old during the 2023 season, was the pass-catching group's "elder statesman." 

Another year of experience as an NFL starting quarterback and all of his guys one year older, Love and the Packers could easily make another leap, which could finally elevate LaFleur to being the league's Coach of the Year.