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Report: Matt LaFleur didn’t have full say on hiring Packers’ assistants

Mike Florio and Chris Simms start off What If Wednesdays with a look at how Ty Montgomery's fumble against the Rams changed the outlook of the Packers' 2019 season.

Packers coach Matt LaFleur has put together a coaching staff in Green Bay, but it may not have been exactly the staff he would have hired if it had all been up to him.

LaFleur wasn’t the sole decision-maker when it came to hiring assistant coaches, Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.

That detail comes in a long story that is heavy on anonymous sources and short on direct quotes, but paints a picture of burgeoning dysfunction in the Packers’ front office, where LaFleur, General Manager Brian Gutekunst and director of football operations Russ Ball are all vying for authority under Packers President/CEO Mark Murphy.

The story hints at several issues in Green Bay, but the issue with assistant coaches is particularly noteworthy, because sources contradict the claim from Murphy that “Matt was allowed to make his own decisions.”

Instead, LaFleur reportedly tried to get Darren Rizzi as his special teams coach but was unable to land him because the Packers low-balled him on a contract. Rizzi, who had an excellent reputation from his years with the Dolphins, was one of the most highly sought assistant coaches in the NFL this offseason and eventually signed a three-year, $4.5 million contract to coach the Saints’ special teams. Instead, the Packers hired Shawn Mennenga as their special teams coach.

Mennenga doesn’t have as strong a résumé as Rizzi, and according to the report wasn’t even LaFleur’s second choice after Rizzi. But Mennenga has previously worked for Mike Pettine, who was retained as the Packers’ defensive coordinator. The report says LaFleur was “strongly encouraged” to keep Pettine as the defensive coordinator.

The report portrays Murphy as getting more involved in football decisions than he did in the previous regime in Green Bay, when General Manager Ted Thompson had authority over personnel moves and head coach Mike McCarthy chose his own staff. Which could mean that if the Packers don’t get better under LaFleur, it would be Murphy on the hot seat.