Matt LaFleur, Aaron Rodgers among worst at wasting timeouts
The Green Bay Packers’ list of things to fix this offseason just got longer, except the latest issue to come to light has more to do with time management than anything else.
According to a recent Twitter post from NFL Data Analyst Tom Bliss, Matt LaFleur is one of the worst head coaches at calling unnecessary timeouts.
Bliss, the manager of football ops data science for the NFL, compiled the data on timeout usage between 2018-2022. Each timeout was put into one of five categories: time-saving defense, time-saving offense, missed challenges, unnecessary defense, and unnecessary offense.
Here is a more thorough breakdown of each category.
LaFleur ranked third in unnecessary timeouts called per game over the last four seasons, with a large portion of them occurring while the Packers were on offense.
While this appears to be an indictment against LaFleur, it is more so against his quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Bliss confirmed that player timeouts were included in their findings, which makes Rodgers more of the culprit than his head coach since usually it is Rodgers calling the timeout while Green Bay is on offense to avoid a delay of game penalty.
Since LaFleur was hired in 2019, there has been an issue with the Packers getting the play called in a timely manner. Two years ago, Rodgers said that running the play clock down could be traced back to long play calls, which forces them to spend more time in the huddle.
“Most times, I know what’s going on. We have a lot of long play calls, so we don’t always break the huddle above 20. By the time we get to the line of scrimmage, and we go through a set of cadences, if it’s a long count, you might take a little bit of time,” said Rodgers on The Pat McAfee Show.
Of course, there are other factors as well.
In the past, Rodgers has defended his process of running the play clock down to gather as much information as possible from the defense. Based on whatever they show may require some offensive adjustments. If the look isn’t right, then a timeout is necessary.
Speaking more to that, here is what Rodgers said earlier this season.
“But there’s certain situations and scores and momentum where it is better to have a conversation on the sideline, make sure we got the perfect call and regroup instead of trying to force something. Sometimes, there’s a look that they give us on defense that we just can’t block up, or it’s going to be a negative play and there’s not anything really to get into based on the formation we’re in and you’ve got to burn one and get in a better formation and change it up. But it’s a feel. You take in all those factors.”
Since the two started working together, LaFleur has had complete trust in Rodgers. As a 4x MVP, Rodgers is more than capable of getting the offense into a position to be successful. However, the times when he burns a timeout due to a lack of urgency aren’t less frustrating, especially when it could come back to haunt them.
After all, timeouts are an important part of the game.
Unfortunately, we don’t know the exact number of timeouts that stemmed from poor efficiency, but my guess would be a lot. Rodgers is at the root of the problem, but it doesn’t necessarily go away if he decides to retire or gets traded. Regardless of who is under center, LaFleur may have to consider shorter play calls and place more of an emphasis on tempo in and out of the huddle to avoid unnecessary timeouts.