When the Green Bay Packers hired Tennessee Titans offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur to be their new head coach, many thought it was just another example of classic Green Bay Packers mismanagement.
After winning pro football's first two Super Bowls in the 1960s, the Packers had only won two Super Bowls since then despite almost 30 years of elite QB play from Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers. Now they were entrusting the last valuable prime years of Rodgers to "Matt LaFleur" a coordinator who had overseen the NFL's 25th ranked offense the season before being gifted a first ballot Hall Of Fame QB.
I was certainly one of the doubters and the early success has been so overwhelming I just have to admit I missed on this hire, it's been an incredible success.
The Overlooked Background Of Matt LaFleur
Matt LaFleur came up like many offensive minds as a graduate assistant at his alma mater (in this case Saginaw Valley State then Central Michigan).
From a graduate assistant, LaFleur became a QB and receivers coach at Northern Michigan before he turned goodwill generated over 4 years into an offensive coordinator position at Ashland.
Matt LaFleur comes from the other famous West Coast Offense coaching tree that starts in the 1990s with Mike Shanahan and his all conquering late 90s Denver Broncos teams. LaFleur is a side branch off the main successor in Mike's son Kyle Shanahan's early but already impressive coaching tree. The two first worked together when LaFleur was an offensive assistant for Kyle Shanahan when called plays for the Houston Texans at the late stages of the aughts.
Matt LaFleur must have made quite the impression as Kyle Shanahan carried him over as his Quarterback Coach when he went over to call plays for his dad who was the overseeing a rebuild in Washington.
As quarterback coach Matt LaFleur sat in the countless meetings with one of the greatest offensive minds of all time in Mike Shanahan, maybe the most promising offensive mind of this era in Kyle Shanahan and just to boot had a young Sean McVay as a tight ends coach.
Matt LaFleur had a first hand education very few in the NFL can match. After the Washington situation flipped on it's head due to the RG3 collapse LaFleur made a brief return to NCAA football as he served as quarterback coach at Notre Dame under Brian Kelly one of the best coaches currently working in college football. After experiencing success there Kyle Shanahan once again called on his trusted QB coach to come oversee the development of Matt Ryan from just another good QB in this league to becoming an MVP winning quarterback.
Kyle Shanahan left the Falcons and rather than follow his mentor Matt LaFleur choose to become one of the emergency offensive minds drafted by Sean McVay to save Jared Goff career as a Los Angeles Ram. The young QB went from being a certified scrub to being a fringe MVP candidate with the oversight of Sean McVay, current Raiders OC Greg Olsen who was his QB coach and then Rams OC Matt LaFleur.
In retrospect the Tennesse Titans OC job was Matt LaFleur's first snag but since Marcus Mariota is now a back up and Derrick Henry is clearly not a traditional west coast back it was a harsh criticism of him at the time to judge him solely based on his time on the Titans when he had produced a strong case for a head coaching job for 10 straight years before that one mediocre stop.
The Balance Of The Green Bay Packers Under Matt LaFleur In 2020
In 2020 the Packers field the NFL's most productive passing unit while having a top 10 rushing unit. This type of balanced offense where Aaron Jones and his unit can cover up for Aaron Rodgers and his unit and vice versa has brought out the best in everyone on this offense. Robert Tonyan has an 80+ catch %, Aaron Rodgers is competing for MVP, Davante Adams is a top 3 receiver in this league while all the other receivers have progressed, the run game has been deadly all season( which helps protect the defense) and the atmosphere in the dressing room has been great and all that is due to Matt LaFleur showcasing that one down year was a fluke and he is and has always been a great coach.
The Efficiency Of The Green Bay Packers Offense in 2020
The Green Bay Packers lead the league in drives ending in an offensive score while also leading the league in least drives ending in a turnover. This is a very efficient and effective offense that Matt LaFleur has operating at Lambeau. They've produced one of the NFL's most balanced and deadly offenses.
The Mike Shanahan Successor
While Kyle Shanahan may be the better schemer of the two it's Matt LaFleur who has fallen into the situation that closely mirrors Mike Shanahan's. A safety blanket Tight End off the bat, a great offensive line, one of the best receivers in the NFL immediately available for use, a superb front office that know how to draft/recruit and the presence of an aging Hall Of Fame Quarterback who can still play at an elite level. Mike Shanahan established a dominant run game with John Elway that made the Broncos back to back Super Bowl champions and while Matt LaFleur hasn't reached those lofty Terrell Davis numbers he has 2 to 3 years left of Rodgers prime to set him up for an Elway esque late career primePublished 04 Jan 2021, 01:27 IST