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Matt LaFleur's early success with Packers dependent on cohesion with starting QB

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Matt LaFleur's early success with Packers dependent on cohesion with starting QB

-- Matt LaFleur is the new head coach of the Green Bay Packers. That fact became clear -- not official -- Monday evening.

He sports the new face in the organization who could help jumpstart a complete turnaround in operations and get the Packers back to their winning ways; winning ways that seem like a foreign concept after consecutive years of missing the playoffs.

But LaFleur's biggest goal isn't just getting back to the playoffs. Playoff berths won't help his legacy culminate in one worth immortalizing.

Winning championships, however, and etching his name in team lore, will.

It's a tall task for the 39-year-old LaFleur, who now becomes the second-youngest coach in team history. Curly Lambeau coached his first game at age 21 -- that's a record that'll probably never be touched.

But this week, the Packers took the first step in the right direction by hiring on LaFleur, who is a product of the Mike Shanahan coaching tree.

LaFleur served under Shanahan and his son, Kyle Shanahan, with the Washington Redskins and helped engineer Robert Griffin III's impressive rookie season in 2012 as the team's quarterbacks coach for four years.

He was Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan's position coach for two seasons while Kyle was their offensive coordinator. It was the third time the pair had shared a staff together. LaFleur also helped coach Ryan to an MVP season in 2016 and Jared Goff to his breakout season a year later with the Los Angeles Rams as the offensive coordinator.

LaFleur worked closely under Sean McVay in Los Angeles, and it's believed that McVay played a significant role in the Packers lobbying for him, according to Tom Silverstein of PackersNews.com.

It's clear that the Packers' sample size in searching for their next coach was mostly made up of offensive-minded coaches, and while LaFleur may have been the better-suited candidate, the ultimate test will be how well he meshes with Aaron Rodgers.

The Packers' franchise cornerstone and starting quarterback has had his fair share of reported disputes with LaFleur's predecessor, Mike McCarthy, in the past. Over the course of 13 seasons, less than a handful of disagreements have somehow fueled the narrative that Rodgers is some uncoachable reincarnation of Ryan Leaf.

LaFleur will be just four years Rodgers' senior by December. Having a younger, more relatable voice in his ear could be beneficial for Rodgers, who will turn 36 in 2019.

What would've been the biggest task for any coach the Packers brought aboard was getting Rodgers to buy into whatever he was preaching. Rodgers has his own ideas on how he wants the offense to operate, and presumably, LaFleur will have his own.

It's critical that the two bounce ideas off of each other, and it could be detrimental to the team's overall success if they don't. Thankfully, it's unlikely that either one of President and CEO Mark Murphy or general manager Brian Gutekunst would follow through with the hiring of LaFleur without any semblance of input from Rodgers.

LaFleur's situation with the Tennesee Titans in 2018 was far from ideal, thanks to a plethora of injuries -- including one to Marcus Mariota that caused him to miss multiple games, including the season finale that was to determine the winner of the AFC South.

If anyone can look past his porous circumstances in Tennesee, his resume is certainly intriguing. He's not only earned immediate endorsement from a number of personalities but former players as well in the few hours that the news has been available.

"I think Matt LaFleur can get the run game going in Green Bay like we haven't seen in recent memory," Thomas told "Wilde and Tausch" on ESPN Milwaukee earlier this month. "Because of how he teaches the wide zone and because of the things he's learned from Kyle Shanahan and Sean McVay, who in my opinion, are two of the guys everyone in the NFL respects from an offensive mind standpoint.

"He understands how to get the most out of all of his players and how it fits well with a quarterback that can move, that can threaten the edges, that can threaten the bootlegs."

Thomas noted that Rodgers would be the perfect component to LaFleur's proposed scheme. Since the Titans ran a west coast-style offense, there wouldn't need to be too much of a schematic adjustment while making the transition to Green Bay. Most of the verbiage that Rodgers and co. have grown accustomed to could still be intact.

If the Packers want to be flying high a year from now, a lot of that success will be dependent on the new coach-quarterback duo in town. It could either lead them to glory or take a nosedive into the pavement. 

__________________________

Zachary Jacobson is a staff writer/reporter for Cheesehead TV. He's the voice of The Leap on iTunes and can be heard on The Scoop KLGR 1490 AM every Saturday morning. He's also a contributor on the Pack-A-Day Podcast. He can be found on Twitter via @ZachAJacobson or contacted through email at [email protected].

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (52) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Jonathan Spader's picture

Chris Robinson of Yahoo sports raised some interesting points about MLF.

"Can LaFleur handle Rodgers, who ran over McCarthy for much of 2018 and might be in need of both scheme innovation and someone who will check him when necessary? Why did Atlanta Falcons coach Dan Quinn let LaFleur leave the team before the 2017 season, when he was the most sensible replacement for Shanahan? And following LaFleur’s 2017 offensive coordinator season with the Rams, why did McVay let LaFleur depart that franchise for Tennessee, rather than giving him some play-calling duties?"

Otto's picture

I hate questions like that. They're dripping with innuendo. Context? What is the norm for coaches moving from job to job? More money? Better player/organization situation? Working with someone he had good relationship? None of that context explored at all.
Just a counter point, McVay lobbied GB on LaFleur's behalf. How does that fit into Robinson's innuendo?

Jonathan Spader's picture

Robinson is very supportive in the article of MLF as the HC hire. There's over 200 posts of support I want to explore the "bad" along with his accomplishments. Either way I'm really excited to see what the MLF led offense looks like!

Guam's picture

Expect more of the same as the pundits weigh in. There was no clear cut, grand slam HC choice for the Packers (almost never is for any team) and the pundits will take both sides of the issue, ad infinitum, ad nauseum. Even the bloggers at CHTV were all over the place on HC selection. All we can do is trust the Packer management team to make their best choice and hope they get it right.

I know I am looking forward to the 2019 season with more hope than I have had for the past several seasons. Go Pack Go!

Coldworld's picture

Guam, you nailed it: no hard news in a down time means boundless speculation.

Rak47's picture

"There was no clear cut, grand slam HC choice for the Packers ". I don't think Murphy and Gute agree with that statement. I would think that's why they canceled the second round of interviews they reportedly had scheduled, informed the other interviewees and hired LaFleur before anyone else could. I found it interesting that several more hires were announced around the league today immediately following the Packers hire.

Guam's picture

I agree with you RAK47 that Murphy and Gute clearly fell in love with LaFleur. My reference point was that before any of the interviews started, there was no clear cut favorite. And after the fact, even though Murphy and Gute clearly think their choice was a grand slam, others don't including J. Kirk who has apparently disowned the Packers over this choice. The pundits will happily play both sides of the fence in a choice like this just to be able to say "I told you so" somewhere down the line.

For myself, I am really happy Murhpy and Gute found someone they love and felt strongly enough about to cancel all second interviews and make an offer. A perfect outcome as far as I am concerned! That's what gives me so much hope for next year.

Tundraboy's picture

"I know I am looking forward to the 2019 season with more hope than I have had for the past several seasons. Go Pack Go!"

Exactly. Enjoy everyone. We deserve it.

mnklitzke's picture

They are giving this guy a lot of credit for things I don't know he truly helped with. Non play calling OC with Rams? Nothing great with Tenn. Two years as QB coach of Ryan? Is any of Rodger's QB coaches up for head coaching? Then time with Washington with RG3? RG3 is out of the league... I'm seeing a lot of smoke being blown. I will be the first to admit I was wrong if the time comes but I don't love this hire.. Plus going to keep Philbin on staff??

FTS Messamore's picture

“It was something – you want to demonstrate you are invested in helping people grow, and that’s the only reason I have been so fortunate to get to the role where I’m at, is because people were willing to give me opportunities that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. Matt is a close friend and he did such a good job for us that I want to do right by him. I think I might regret it,” McVay said

FTS Messamore's picture

“They’re getting a hell of a coach, he's been ready for awhile” said Shanahan said of LaFleur at the scouting combine on Wednesday. “… Matt understands the game. He played college quarterback. He knows a lot about that position. He knows the run game, he knows the pass game, he knows how to tie them together. ”

HankScorpio's picture

LaFleur was the QB of the Omaha Beef, too. That's not all that impressive on LaFleur's resume but whoever came up with the team name has a powerful resume bullet point.

Dash Riprock's picture

"LaFleur was the QB of the Omaha Beef"

HIRE HIM NOW!!! said Murphy!! lol

Talk about a bad fit. Rodgers I believe is a vegan. Not good!!

RCPackerFan's picture

To be fair, he was Ryan's QB coach when Ryan won his only MVP award. He was RG3 and Kirk Cousins QB coach when they were rookies and they actually performed really well.

He worked under Kyle Shanahan more then anyone, and Shanahan is considered one of the great young offensive minds. He worked with McVay 1 year who is also another great offensive mind.

Personally I'm fine with keeping Philbin if its his decision. If its not his decision then I don't like it. I want him to hire and keep the coaches he wants. The one coach I do hope he keeps on offense is Campen. I think he is a good coach.

Jonathan Spader's picture

Philbin and Pettine have HCing experience which could help MLF as he adjusts to his first HCing job. Incorporating Philbin's here's what used to work with MLF's here's how the NFL works in 2019 could be useful. As Packer fans we didn't like the MM + Philbin results in 2018 Old + Old = Old ideas. MLF replacing MM is New + Old it could work who knows.

RCPackerFan's picture

That is why I think Philbin would be worth keeping around. He could be a mentor to him.

But I only want him here if its LaFleur's decision. That is the only way it will work. If he doesn't want him, then I hope he is allowed to get rid of him.

Pettine as a former Head Coach to me is another plus with keeping him.

Its nice for a first time head coach to have experienced guys around him. Guys that have been there and done it.

Jonathan Spader's picture

Agreed RC

RCPackerFan's picture

at least we agree on something lol.

Jonathan Spader's picture

RC, I feel like you and I agree on a lot. We're just both very opinionated and stubborn and when we disagree we but heads. That's what I love about what CHTV has created. It's a fantastic gathering place for hardcore Packer fans to gather and discuss the team they love.

RCPackerFan's picture

We do. I was just messing around with that based on yesterday.

Just like when Bearmeat disagrees with me, the problem is when you guys think you're right. We know I'm always right. lol. :)

Completely agree with you on CHTV. Great place for different ideas and opinions to come and talk about it.

Packers0808's picture

Experience around them would have been good with Hillary around with her husband a former president also. This is exactly what we needed there look the mess we have. Don't expect anything at all like that with Coach LeFleur keeping Pettine and Philbin around, continuity and experience means a whole lot for a starter at a new position1

Rak47's picture

RG3 is the backup in Baltimore, and LaFleur guided him in his rookie of the year season, he also helped Kirk Cousins go from an afterthought [literally think Tim Boyle] to 2 franchise tags and 84 million guaranteed as well as a starting gig for the past 4 years. Matt Ryan won an MVP and had his best year working very closely with LaFleur as QB coach. Goff looked like a total bust after his rookie year as plenty of Jokes were being cracked about him as well and LaFleur helped him go from 1st round bust to franchise QB. He has plenty of credentials to merit this opportunity.

Lare's picture

"Why did Atlanta Falcons coach Dan Quinn let LaFleur leave the team before the 2017 season, when he was the most sensible replacement for Shanahan?"

I'm guessing that's a decision he regrets, he's already fired Steve Sarkisian the OC he hired instead of LaFleur.

Coach JV's picture

Questions like those are written by journalists in the name of creating doubt in the minds of fans. Perhaps the answer is simple... Quinn and McVay may not be buttholes and actually give a guy a chance to move upward and prosper and grow. In the REAL world, that's what GOOD leaders do. They don't hold people back for selfish reasons.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Why didn't McVay give up calling plays so LaFleur could do it?

Really? This has to be the dumbest thing I've read in ... well, days. Someone wonders why the most prolific offense in the NFL didn't change its play-caller. Good grief.

Perhaps we draft a left tackle. The argument might be to move Bakhtiari elsewhere just to see if the rookie can do better at LT than Bakh.

Doug_In_Sandpoint's picture

I know he will be known as MLF on this forum but I think we can make a case for Deadpool. It’s so much cooler and he has a slight resemblance. “Aaron Rodgers and the Packers have an historic 17-0 season with the Deadpool offense killing all comers.”

Jonathan Spader's picture

DIS, we'd have to shorten deadpool to DP and that just doesn't sound right.

HankScorpio's picture

Ok, not exactly on the Deadpool theme but on the subject of MLF, I hope that people drop the "F" in his initials. We didn't call Mike McCarthy MMC, he was MM. And MLF looks too much like MILF, which is something else entirely. It's very confusing.

Jonathan Spader's picture

Got a compromise Hank if he winds up being terrible lets drop the L ans call him MF. If it works out drop the F and call him ML.

Dash Riprock's picture

Matt's a nice guy. Why not call him Matty Nice?

porupack's picture

I am not bothered that Titan's record wasn't much of an endorsement for MLF. Adversity can teach more than success. Titans had a lot of injuries.

None of his previous stints particularly attribute success to MLF, so Murphy and Gute would certainly have to find other attributes and assets that MLF brings than just a glossy win-loss record such as McDaniels.

What is impressive is his exposure to QB coaching with some notable QB challenges including rookie upstart Mariotta and RGIIII and veteran Ryan. I can only believe he has more repetoire of QB coaching tools than does Josh McDaniels who probably just sits around and trusting Brady will execute to perfection anything McDaniels dreams up.

I kind of think any candidate would be shrewed to name Pettine as top choice for DC. If MLF is brilliant, that is one of the first things to figure out was the ticket to the job.

I'm glad Pettine willl be priorty for retention...so to keep consisistency and add Pettine's past HC experience for support to LeFleur.

I am confident that Rodgers would have every desire to mesh and respond to MLF. One can buck one coach at a certain point such as he did with MM this year, but twice would be a trend and troubling to a HOF legacy. Murphy and Gute hit the reset button. So will Rodgers. GB had done themselves some houseclean'n

Jonathan Spader's picture

It’s no coincidence that five of the coaches Murphy and Gutekunst interviewed had coached quarterbacks in the NFL: LaFleur (six years), McDaniels (four), Adam Gase (three), Pete Carmichael (three) and Jim Caldwell (seven)

Here's hoping MLF can work with Kizer (again), groom Boyle, and most importantly help Rodgers earn his 3rd MVP and 2md Superbowl.

Rak47's picture

"I kind of think any candidate would be shrewed to name Pettine as top choice for DC. If MLF is brilliant, that is one of the first things to figure out was the ticket to the job. BINGO!!!!!
I thought the exact same thing Porupack. He immediately recognized Pettines experience and ability and that the Packers most like wanted to keep him. To me it also shows a lack of ego as well as confidence on LaFleur's part to be comfortable with who he is and not be intimidated by anyone else' precense.

Since '61's picture

Any word on when this will become official. The sooner LaFleur is official the sooner he can to get to work.

While many are comparing Lafleur with a young MM I'm hoping that he is more of a young Mike Holmgren. Holmgren was very well respected around the league when he was hired by the Packers similar to how LaFleur is currently thought of around the league.

In any case I wish him well and I can only hope that he does at least as well or better than Holmgren or MM during his tenure here. Go Pack Go! Thanks, Since '61

Rick F's picture

LaFleuris young bright mind. He has a great center piece in Rodgers. The reports were true that they wanted a offensive mind and keeping Pettine really stabilizes the team. Think about a second year defense led by Pettine and a ticked off Rodgers with something to prove. LaFleur has a elite QB and a good offensive supporting cast. Gutekunst has 45 million in cap space and high end draft capital.

stockholder's picture

1. Let Philbin go. It's Lefleur Rodgers must listen to now. 2. Fire Jim Hostler.- His experience did nothing. 3. Fire Angelichihio- New coaching and new Te's 4. Fire CignettiJr. - I saw no development in the back-ups 5. Keep Campen,Sirmans,Raih, Basko. 6. Fire Tom Lovat, Keep remaining staff for now. 7. Keep defensive staff- fire special teams zook and Dreyton.

Jonathan Spader's picture

Can't wait to see how the FO shakes out stockholder. It'll be interesting to check your precitions/expectations against what happens.

Rak47's picture

It's been reported that LaFleur wants to keep Angelichio, They both have ties to Kyle Shannnahan and Pettine at this point. I believe LaFleur will lean on Shannahan , McVay, and maybe even Jay Gruden and their opinions to some degree when it comes to hiring his staff. After all they have been his mentors and have had a large pool of assistants they've evaluated and graded that they can recommend as well as other coaches they've coached with.

cheesehead1's picture

Good luck to our new HC and glad that we’re keeping Pettine. Relieved it wasn’t McDaniels

NJMagic's picture

I think people forget that a lot of the stagnation is from Rogers too..

Rodgers does not like pre-snap motion, etc. He likes to stand back and survey the field.

Will be interesting to see how he does in a modified Shanahan WCO.

Jonathan Spader's picture

AKA Rodgers likes to take the play clock down to 1 second and then wonders how the defense always has a jump on the ball....

Bert's picture

That's a good point Jon. I think running the clock down consistently may give the defense an edge sometimes. Teams have pretty much caught on to the hard count and mixing up the snap time may keep teams more honest.

Jonathan Spader's picture

Thanks Bert, that was one of my biggest pet peeves with Rodgers in 2018.

Rak47's picture

That and wasting timeouts every single game because he can't get the play off in time drove me nuts as well JS. I can't even count how many times it happened, it's ridiculous honestly.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Go to APC. New article the crappy plays run after timeouts links to an older article on wasted timeouts that tells you exactly how often it happened.

Qoojo's picture

He runs the clock down to get the defense to expose what they are playing and any blitzes. I have never heard it mentioned that he ever "wonders how the defense always has a jump on the ball". If it's as bad as you suggest, then his hard count would never work.

JimR_in_SoCal's picture

I just recently read an article (but forgot where!) that Rodgers' hard count has been less effective as late.

Qoojo's picture

Subjectively speaking, it has seemed less effective this past year. In fact, it might have been equally effective for drawing OL movement penalties.

Qoojo's picture

I remember the teething pain MM experienced. I think his early success is tied to his ability to properly delegate, and not over-control everything, so he has time for the important stuff that he should be involved in.

fthisJack's picture

I believe LaFleur and Rodgers could be a mind meld not seen since Star Trek.

Lare's picture

"Matt LaFleur's early success with Packers dependent on cohesion with starting QB."

Frankly, I think a lot of the things written about Rodgers and his ego are mostly done by writers to try and get people to read their articles. Let's face it, people love to read about strife and conflict because it makes their own lives seem a little less stressful.

I'll bet LaFleur and Rodgers have already spoken and are working on ideas to improve the Packers offense. It's in both their best interests to make it be as successful as possible.

Coach JV's picture

Word!

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