News traveled fast when the media learned of the Green Bay Packers’ new head coach.
Matt LaFleur, offensive coordinator and play-caller for the Tennessee Titans this season, will be the franchise’s 15th head coach. ESPN broke the news Monday night and Tom Pelissero, who once worked at the Leader-Telegram and now writes for the NFL Network and NFL.com, tweeted Tuesday morning: “Done deal: The #Packers and Matt LaFleur agreed to a four-year contract with a fifth-year option, source said. Strong numbers for a first-time coach. They got their guy.”
LeFleur was the offensive coordinator for the L.A. Rams in 2017 and quarterbacks coach for the Atlanta Falcons the two years before that. He coached under Kyle Shanahan and Sean McVay, both of whom are considered innovative coaches on the offensive end, and guided Atlanta’s Matt Ryan to an MVP season in 2016.
The hiring has drawn some criticism. Tennessee was 27th in the NFL in average points with 19.4 points per game this year, and LeFleur is lacking head-coaching experience.
Nevertheless, LeFleur’s experience coaching quarterbacks and playing the position — he was a three-year starter for Saginaw Valley State (Mich.) University — has others lauding the move in anticipation of a productive relationship with the Packers’ Aaron Rodgers.
LeFleur is a “quarterback guy” who’ll now be working with arguably the NFL’s best at that position.
“It’s credible to think that with a healthy version of perhaps the greatest quarterback in NFL history from a tools perspective, LaFleur and Rodgers could bring Green Bay’s offense back to prominence in a big hurry,” wrote Doug Farrar, an NFL writer for the USA Today Sports Media Group.
During his playing days, LaFleur led Saginaw Valley State to the NCAA Division II playoffs in each of his three seasons (2000-02). He finished third on the school’s all-time list for pass attempts (852) and completions (491) and fourth in both passing yards (6,801) and passing touchdowns (60).
Here’s hoping LaFleur’s quarterback experience — both as a player and as a coach — pays dividends for the Packers. At least one factor shouldn’t disrupt the transition: the weather. LaFleur starred in high school at Mount Pleasant, which is smack dab in the middle of Michigan. The city averages 42 inches of snow each year, a figure only slightly lower than that for Lambeau Field.
— Liam Marlaire, assistant editor