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Green Bay Packers prepare for off season

Green Bay Packers Linebacker Lukas Van Ness tackles Tampa Bay Running Back Rachaad White in their game on Sunday, Dec. 17th at Lambeau Field
Green Bay Packers Linebacker Lukas Van Ness tackles Tampa Bay Running Back Rachaad White in their game on Sunday, Dec. 17th at Lambeau Field. In their most recent three games, the Packers have given up 88 points on defense. Tori Wittenbrock photos

By Tori Wittenbrock

Associate Sports Editor

GREEN BAY – Quickly moving on from celebrating to preparing for the next opponent, game after game this season, the Packers are now prepared to truly bask in the unanticipated greatness that they were able to achieve this season.

“Every year is such a long journey, and there are a lot of ups and downs, trials and tribulations, throughout, a lot of adversity, but I was so proud of how these guys hung on and continued to fight and to battle,” said LaFleur.

“I thought that the team we were at the beginning of the year was certainly not the team we were at the end of the year.”

After wrapping up the 2024 regular season with a record of 9-8, the Green Bay Packers can head into the next few months knowing that as the youngest team in the NFL with an average age of around 25, the team far exceeded expectations.

However, the 21-24 final score of their season-ending game against the San Francisco 49ers (13-5) will no doubt stick in their minds.

“Definitely disappointed with how it ended. For the majority of the game I thought we outplayed them. I thought we had plenty of opportunities to win the football game and we didn’t make some critical plays. There were some other things that went against us that just happen,” said LaFleur.

“I was really proud of the resilience of the group, I’ve said that many times.”

Head Coach Matt LaFleur said that he was exceptionally proud of the work ethic and character of each player that he got to know on the roster this season.

“The willingness to work and come together and continue to fight for one another, I think that’s absolutely imperative,” said LaFleur.

Van Ness blocks Buccaneers Tackle Tristan Wirfs in their 34-14 loss at home
Van Ness blocks Buccaneers Tackle Tristan Wirfs in their 34-14 loss at home. Pressure has fallen on the Packers’ defense after their poor performance in necessary wins late in the season.

According to LaFleur, playing in one of the most prestigious professional sports leagues to exist means that every player on every team is going into the off season with just as much drive to improve.

LaFleur said that he expects his players to do their fair share of work over the next few months in order to ensure that they can come out in the 2024 season and perform even better and more consistently than this season.

“Just because we got to a certain spot, doesn’t mean that’s guaranteed moving forward. What are we going to do to get better? The expectation is, when they come back on April 15, they are better than the team that left today,” said LaFleur.

“That’s not just going to happen by chance. You’ve got to work at it and you’ve got to put in a lot of hard work and you’ve got to have a great plan.”

LaFleur said that one thing he has learned for certain in his time with the NFL has been that taking anything for granted is a sure fire way to lead you away from success.

“It’s never easy in this league. I think this is arguably the most competitive league of all the four major competitive sports,” said LaFleur.

“Any team can beat any other team on any given Sunday, as cliche as that is, but it’s the truth.”

The Green Bay Packers continually proved to be the most unpredictable team in the league this season, dropping expected wins to teams like the New York Giants (6-11) and pulling out wins against teams like the defending Super Bowl Champs, the Kansas City Chiefs (11-6).

“Where we were to where we ended, I think you all saw a lot of improvement there,” said LaFleur.

“I think we were committed to our process throughout the entire season.”

Since training camp in August of this season, LaFleur has been stressing the importance of this season being a learning experience for everyone.

Although hungry for success on the field, the team also had a lot to learn with such a young roster and many of their vets — Aaron Jones, AJ Dillon, David Bahktiari — being out due to injury on and off all season long.

“It’s easy to get hung up on the end results but it really comes down to how you do things on a daily basis, how you’re finding different ways to get better, and just sticking together, fighting through some tough times. There has been a lot of growth and a lot of learning lessons,” said LaFleur.

“I thought all and all there was a lot of good that came out of this.”

All in all, LaFleur said that if there is anything he is most proud of seeing out of his team this season, it’s the ways in which they have displayed their strength of character.

“As a coach, you can get up there and preach all you want, but at the end of the day, each individual has to make that choice, and I think that comes down to the character of the men in the room.”

As the team heads into the off season, LaFleur said that he is anticipating the fresh competition that he expects the new year to bring.

“We want competition at every position. I am in a firm position that competition brings out the best in every level,” said LaFleur.

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