A bumpy start for LaFleur
After McCarthy was fired and the season ended, Murphy led a search committee for a new head coach. Gutekunst and Ball were his two primary advisers and all three were impressed with LaFleur’s interview in Nashville, Tennessee on Sunday, Jan. 7.
They flew back to Green Bay and met the next day to discuss the prospects. According to two sources familiar with what transpired in the meeting, it was expected the candidates would be discussed some more and LaFleur would be brought in for a second interview. But Murphy was convinced the Tennessee Titans offensive coordinator was the guy and made the decision to hire him.
At the Jan. 9 news conference introducing LaFleur, Murphy insisted the entire search committee agreed that LaFleur was the choice and a decision was made to move quickly. Murphy did most of the talking at the news conference; Gutekunst was mostly in the background. Ball wasn’t part of it at all.
A source said Gutekunst initially wasn’t going to be part of the news conference and that it would be just Murphy and LaFleur. But eventually it was decided Gutekunst would take part.
Once he was up and running as head coach, LaFleur had to build a coaching staff. He was supposed to have complete control over the hiring of his staff. Defensive coordinator Mike Pettine was not forced on LaFleur, but the new coach was strongly encouraged to keep him.
When it came to other assistant coaches, LaFleur wasn’t the sole decision-maker, sources said.
LaFleur was excited about hiring highly regarded Miami special teams coach Darren Rizzi, who was not returning to the Dolphins and had told the Packers he would come up for an interview but was not going to sign for less than three years and total of $4.5 million, a source said.
Rizzi was told to come. He and LaFleur hit it off in their interview, the source said. But when it came time to talk about a contract, the Packers offered Rizzi less than he was seeking and Rizzi felt he had been led astray.
He left town. The Packers eventually met his price a couple of days later, but by that time Rizzi had decided to pursue other opportunities. LaFleur tried to convince him to change his mind but had no success