Packers Coach Offers an Odd Admission

NFL: Green Bay Packers at Cincinnati Bengals
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One of the more underrated moves from the Vikings’ offseason was to bring in former Green Bay running back Aaron Jones.

Apparently, the simple fact that Jones was available to be signed came as a surprise to the top Packers coach.

Pro Football Talk relays the word.

Matt LaFleur, the head coach in GB for the past five seasons, wasn’t aware that the veteran running back was going to be cut: “There were some other things in play, obviously with Aaron Jones, and I didn’t quite know how everything was going to go. It just happened really fast on that Monday.” LaFleur also states that the decision “kind of caught [him] off guard.”

Packers Coach Matt LaFleur Didn’t Know Aaron Jones was Being Cut

Generally speaking, a team’s head coach is supposed to know when a star player is going to be subtracted.

Green Bay went on a mini playoff run following the 2023 regular season and Aaron Jones was arguably the main reason why. The 29-year-old runner picked up 39 carries, 226 yards, and 3 TDs across the pair of postseason contests. The 5.8 yards-per-carry average is elite, especially when considering that they were taking on some loaded defenses in Dallas and San Francisco.

Jan 14, 2024; Arlington, Texas, USA; Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones (33) reacts against the Dallas Cowboys during the second half for the 2024 NFC wild card game at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Clearly, LaFleur had good reason to feature his RB in those playoff games. An elite rushing performance can keep one’s defense fresh while taxing the opposition’s defense. Plus, a young quarterback — like GB’s Jordan Love — gets put in a better position to succeed when consistently facing something like 3rd & 3 instead of 3rd & 8.

Apparently, the decision to move on from Jones is something that may have been above LaFleur’s pay grade.

Now, a word of caution. Sometimes, NFL executives and coaches participate in some strategic stupidity. Rather than comment on something that could land them in hot water, the wily executive/coach can brush aside the topic by claiming ignorance. Ask the GM why a QB isn’t getting more playing time and there will be an innocent shifting of the responsibility to the coach for making that decision; ask a coach about someone getting cut and there can be a claim about not being involved in those decisions.

Is that what’s going on with LaFleur and Jones?

Oct 22, 2023; Denver, Colorado, USA; Green Bay Packers head coach Matt LaFleur during the second half against the Denver Broncos at Empower Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

LaFleur notes that he’s “not involved in those types of conversations” regarding Jones while explaining that he doesn’t “know all the details.” Truth be told, LaFleur knows more than he’s letting on.

If, however, he was genuinely unaware of what was happening, then it’s an odd moment for Green Bay. Keeping a top decision maker informed on the status of something as basic as (probably) his most dangerous offensive weapon would seem to be a no-brainer.

January 20, 2024; Santa Clara, CA, USA; Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones (33) celebrates after a two point conversion against the San Francisco 49ers during the third quarter in a 2024 NFC divisional round game at Levi’s Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Stepping into Jones’ vacant RB1 spot is Josh Jacobs, the former Raiders runner. PFT offers this thought in summary of the situation: “Now [Green Bay will] see Jones twice a year, and they’ll hope Jacobs proves to be an upgrade that LaFleur didn’t see coming.”

In 2024, Aaron Jones is carrying a modest $3.5 million cap charge for the Vikings. Putting together some monstrous performances against his former team would simply be one way of massively outperforming that cap charge.

Editor’s Note: Information from Pro Football Reference and Over the Cap helped with this piece.

K. Joudry is the Senior Editor for Vikings Territory and PurplePTSD. He has been covering the Vikings full time since the summer of 2021. He can be found on Twitter and as a co-host for Notes from the North, a humble Vikings podcast.