By Craig Ellenport | Jan. 8, 2019
The Green Bay Packers are expected to introduce Matt LaFleur as their new head coach, making him the 17th head coach in the storied history of the franchise. The Packers are the first of eight NFL teams with head coaching vacancies to make a hire, and the move came as a surprise to many.
While the decision seems to have been a quick one, LaFleur was by no means an unknown quantity. Head Coach Ranking introduced LaFleur as a coach on the rise before the 2018 season ever began.
As we wrote last June, LaFleur had developed a strong reputation as an offensive coach. He was the offensive coordinator for Sean McVay with the Los Angeles Rams in 2017, and he interviewed for head coach with the Tennessee Titans. Mike Vrabel ultimately got the job – and Vrabel was so impressed with LaFleur that he made him his OC in Tennessee, even though the two had never worked together. To McVay’s credit, he gave LaFleur permission to make the lateral move because it was an opportunity for LaFleur to call the plays – something he wasn’t doing with the Rams (that was McVay’s domain).
The Titans were in the bottom half of the league in total offense this season, but the team dealt with injuries to QB Marcus Mariota and others. It doesn’t take away from the fact that LaFleur has been an integral part of explosive offenses, working closely with current head coaches McVay and Kyle Shanahan of the 49ers. He was the Atlanta Falcons quarterbacks coach in 2016 under offensive coordinator Shanahan when the Falcons had the NFL’s No. 1 offense.
“This type of success,” we wrote back in June, “makes other coaches around the league notice.” Apparently, it made the Packers front office take notice as well. So after working with Matt Ryan in 2016, Jared Goff in 2017 and Mariota in 2018, LaFleur is now joined at the hip with Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay.
Worth noting on the 2019 schedule: LaFleur and the Packers will face Shanahan and the 49ers in San Francisco. In addition to facing his friend and mentor in Shanahan, LaFleur’s brother will be on the opposing sideline: Mike LaFleur is Shanahan’s wide receivers/passing game specialist.