Green Bay has found its new man.
The Packers are hiring Titans offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur as their next head coach, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Monday.
LaFleur’s ascension to the throne of cheese completes an astronomical rise in an incredibly short span of time. LaFleur just completed his first season as Titans OC under first-year head coach Mike Vrabel.
With much of the NFL now aiming to head in the new-wave direction of the Rams and Chiefs, this hire makes sense. LaFleur spent 2017 as Sean McVay’s offensive coordinator in Los Angeles — though he did not call plays — and was quarterbacks coach in Atlanta from 2015 to 2016. His rise within the football world is also connected to the Shanahan family. LaFleur first struck up a relationship with Kyle Shanahan while they were together on the Houston Texans at the end of the last decade, and he joined them in Washington when Mike served as the head coach and football czar of the Redskins.
LaFleur’s track record as a play-caller is just one season long, leaving him as somewhat of an unknown. Tennessee had an up-and-down season offensively, finding success and a groove for a portion of the campaign but too often being forced to deal with injuries to Marcus Mariota (which limited his passing ability) and inconsistencies up front. Tennessee’s shutout loss to Baltimore — which included 11 sacks surrendered — was a perfect example of how a lack of cohesion between Mariota, his linemen and his receivers was holding Tennessee back. But their prime-time road win over Dallas and run-heavy romp over the Jaguars provided cause for encouragement.
Things seemed to be coming together for the Titans, especially on the ground as Derrick Henry racked up gaudy numbers in the final month of the season, but another injury to Mariota derailed their playoff hopes. LaFleur was forced to call an offense operated by Blaine Gabbert, and while he did so admirably, the Titans fell short in a winner-take-all Week 17 loss to the Indianapolis Colts.
His pairing with Aaron Rodgers is potentially delicious, if it looks anything like McVay’s approach with Jared Goff. The presence of running back Aaron Jones under a coach who might actually use him more than four times a game is also exciting to consider.
LaFleur’s background suggests this could be a hire we look back on as genius. But a lack of a demonstrated history running an offense also makes this decision a risk. Time will tell which ends up being true.
With LaFleur’s hiring, Josh McDaniels is likely staying in New England. Green Bay was the lone known interview for McDaniels, per Rapoport.
LaFleur’s hiring also improves the chances of defensive coordinator Mike Pettine remaining in that position, Rapoport added. Pettine, who’s still under contract, was on LaFleur’s list presented during his interview. The early expectation is that Pettine stays, though it won’t be official until LaFleur makes the final call, per Rapoport.