The Pittsburgh Steelers announced this past week that they will be fielding offers for their All-Pro wide receiver Antonio Brown. The man who graced the cover of EA’s Madden 19 has been at the forefront of a lot of drama involving the team. So much so, he didn’t even attend practice the last week of the regular season. Mike Tomlin benched him, and the Steelers ended up losing to the Cleveland Browns, squashing their playoff hopes.
Perhaps his best fit elsewhere is a team that’s beginning a new era, to reset the old culture and start anew.
This past week, the Green Bay Packers brought on former Tennessee Titans offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur. LaFleur came from the Sean McVay coaching tree after his time with him as an offensive coordinator in 2017. He then joined the Titans in 2018 as their OC because of his pedigree.
Before that, he spent time with the Washington Redskins and helped with the development of Robert Griffin III for four years, Notre Dame for one year under Chip Kelly, and two years with Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons.
LaFleur, before he even took on an OC gig, was considered by many to be a great quarterbacks coach. He had worked with many quarterbacks and put them in a position to succeed on multiple occasions and on both the collegiate and professional level.
During his time with the Fighting Irish, he did just that. His quarterback, Everett Golson, had his best season in school. He threw for over 3,445 yards with 37 total touchdowns and only 14 interceptions and helped lead the Irish to an 8-5 record.
LaFleur spoke about what he expects from his players offensively. The kind of standard he expects.
“I want to set a standard on how these quarterbacks are going to operate our offense. It comes back to the whole consistency issue. We want to have consistent players out there, that are going to be productive and going to be able to manage and to lead this team to a lot of points.”
LaFleur, since then, has rejoined the professional ranks and proven that his ability as a leader projects that kind of consistency among his quarterbacks. And now, he’ll expect the same kind of consistency from his entire 55-man roster.
The offense LaFleur brings from his time in Washington, South Bend, Atlanta, and Tennessee is a combination of many west coast scheme concepts combined with lots of pre-snap movement. This includes outside zone runs, lots of play action, and bootlegs combined with a lot of ideas taken from his time in the collegiate level — bubble screens, RPO’s, zone read, and pistol formations. The zone blocking scheme is very specific to the kinds of running plays LaFleur will use, as well as routes that are options as well. It’s a mix of many of the concepts found in the modernized NFL offense.
This is what every team has been looking for in a coach. The next Sean McVay. A coach who can come in, bring in new ideas, and completely revamp an offense.
LaFleur has now what is possibly the greatest quarterback of this generation outside of Tom Brady and Drew Brees. Aaron Rodgers is such a dynamic talent that is able to scramble and create forward progress when there seem to be no receivers open. With LaFelur under the helm, Rodgers doesn’t have to rely on his wiliness. He can use an offense that uses trickery and confusing formations that spread the field out for Rodgers to rely on his arm.
It’s exciting because Rodgers already has plenty of weapons around him. Though Jimmy Graham hasn’t been the same end zone threat like he was in New Orleans, he still is a very effective tight end. Davante Adams is a very good WR1. But outside of that, things get kind of sticky. There is enough talent around Rodgers, but only a handful of players who he can count on in the passing game.
What if the Packers could bring in Antonio Brown? After months of toxic turmoil in the Pittsburgh Steelers’ organization, their front office decided to announce that Brown would be better elsewhere. The team needs a fresh culture change.
So do Rodgers and the Packers.
Here are three reasons why Brown and the Packers would be a perfect fit for each other.
3. Both the Packers and Antonio Brown need a fresh start
Antonio Brown, during the 2018 season with the Steelers, ended up catching 104 passes for 1,297 yards and 15 touchdowns. For his career, Brown has had six straight seasons with at least 1,000 receiving yards and 100 receptions. He’s one of, if not the, best wideouts in the entire league. He’s still effective even at age 30.
Brown would be able to join Rodgers and offer one of the NFL’s best offensive duos we’ve seen since Randy Moss and Tom Brady. By Brown being able to separate himself from his relationship with the Steelers and starting new with a team who had fired their head coach of over a decade, it just makes sense.
2. Matt LaFleur and Aaron Rodgers could use another offensive weapon
Though Rodgers does have Graham and Adams, adding Brown could make the Packers the best offense in the entire NFL. It would cause so many mismatches defensively. Three great pass-catchers can’t all be double-teamed, and likely one of them would be open nearly every play.
Brown allows the Packers to soar right back into playoff contention. It would also give Rodgers his best wide receiver that he’s ever played with. And with him growing older and less mobile, having a threat like Brown down-field could extend Rodgers career.
1. Brown may have the ego of a superstar, but he’s consistently great
Many teams may not want to acquire Antonio Brown because of his reported large ego. But for the Green Bay Packers, only one thing matters for LaFleur. And that’s consistency.
Brown would bring in one of the best stretches by a wideout in the history of the NFL. Year in and year out, Brown has proven that he will get his 1,000 yards and 100 receptions. Having somebody so dependable is exactly what LaFleur is looking for in his players.
Egos are manageable. Especially when teams are winning football games. Brown would bring the talent the Packers need once again to win the NFC North and to take on a playoff run next season.