The lead-up to Week 10’s Cowboys-Packers clash has been largely dominated by the obvious storyline of Mike McCarthy making his return to Green Bay, the city where he roamed the sidelines for nearly 13 years, a city he brought a Super Bowl championship to, a city where his wife is from and his daughters were born, a city where a street named for him leads to the stadium where on Sunday he’ll be- for the first time- a visitor.
That’s far from the only coaching connection happening at Lambeau Field in this hotly-anticipated matchup.
Granted, most of those ties come from McCarthy’s staff in Dallas. You need both hands to count the number of current Cowboys assistants who either coached with or played under McCarthy in Green Bay. It’ll be an emotional homecoming of sorts for them all.
But Sunday’s tilt will also have the Packers head coach feeling a little something extra, especially during pregame handshakes.
Matt LaFleur was a key member of Dan Quinn’s staff while the two were in Atlanta. While he credits Quinn for helping him climb the ladder to a head coaching gig of his own, LaFleur admits he’d love nothing more than to beat his old boss by getting his Packers offense to break out of an uncharacteristic slump against the Cowboys’ current defensive coordinator.
#Packers HC Matt LaFleur worked for Dan Quinn in Atlanta. “I can tell you, honestly, I wouldn’t be in this position if it wasn’t for Dan Quinn. I learned so much from that man, and hold him in the highest regard. I want to kick his (bleep), but I just have a lot of love for him.” pic.twitter.com/IaQMiPNrzE
— Ed Werder (@WerderEdESPN) November 13, 2022
“I can tell you, honestly, I wouldn’t be in this position if it wasn’t for Dan Quinn,” he told ESPN’s Ed Werder. “I learned so much from that man and hold him in the highest regard. I want to kick his [expletive], but I just have a lot of love for him.”
LaFleur served as the Falcons’ quarterbacks coach in Quinn’s first year with Atlanta. In his second season there, he helped Matt Ryan achieve league-leading numbers in passer rating and yards per attempt while coming within a whisper of 5,000 yards and earning a berth in Super Bowl LI.
Three days after the Falcons lost that title game in infamous fashion, LaFleur was named offensive coordinator of the Los Angeles Rams. His offense was the top-ranked unit in the league that season; LaFleur moved to Tennessee the next season as OC and play-caller.
Less than a year later, he was hired as head coach in Green Bay, replacing Joe Philbin, the interim man who had been installed when McCarthy was fired a month prior.
And now it all comes full circle for McCarthy, Philbin, Quinn, and LaFleur when the Cowboys and Packers finally kick it off on the frozen tundra.