|Shameless homer Matt Lepay|
|That "Friends" guy Matt LeBlanc|
Nor is it this guy:
|Flying Frenchman Guy LaFleur|
Instead, it's this guy, Matt LaFleur:
|The new face of the Packers|
The biographical data, from Pro Football Talk:
The 39-year-old LaFleur, who played college football at Saginaw Valley State, started his coaching career there in 2003. After five years as a college coach, LaFleur became an offensive quality control coach with the Texans. Two years later, LaFleur joined Washington. Four seasons later, he served as quarterbacks coach in Atlanta, working with Kyle Shanahan. LaFleur then become offensive coordinator with the Rams for one year, before taking that same job in Tennessee (where he was working with a defensive coach, giving him more control over the offense).
A few observations:
- While I'm not certain the young hotshot model is always the way to go, LaFleur has good credentials and demonstrable success, especially in Atlanta. Matt Ryan was never better than in 2016, the year LaFleur was there. How much credit LaFleur deserves for that is impossible to know, but the record shows Ryan hasn't been as good since then.
- Most of the national pundits thought Josh McDaniels, who has been Bill Belichick's right hand in New England, would get the job, but I'm not surprised he didn't. After the way McDaniels jilted the Colts last season, it would have been difficult for McDaniels to assemble a coaching staff. McDaniels is known for his innovative offensives. Unless I miss my guess, the Packers figured LaFleur could do what McDaniels does without the baggage.
- It sounds like the Packers are going to retain the incumbent defensive coordinator, Mike Pettine. That's a good move. Pettine did nice work this past season, despite an unbelievable run of injuries. By the end of the season, the Packers were playing street free agents in several spots on defense, but Pettine was able to keep things from falling apart. His steady hand will allow LaFleur to concentrate on the key part of the job, which is. . .
- Aaron Rodgers. Can LaFleur do for Rodgers what he apparently did for Ryan? That's the wager the Packers are making. From what is known about LaFleur, he has the intellectual firepower to deal with Rodgers, a brilliant but arrogant man who happens to be the most gifted quarterback of his generation. It was clear that Mike McCarthy's relationship with Rodgers was beyond repair, which is why he's looking for work. I doubt Rodgers had veto power over the hire, but I'd be willing to wager that Rodgers is okay with it.
- I was surprised the Packers moved this quickly, but if they decided LaFleur was a better choice than McDaniels, it's likely another team might have felt the same way. The other advantage is LaFleur gets a head start on assembling the rest of his staff. That matters.
The formal announcement should come today. The Green Bay job is unique and the Packers usually are patient with coaches, but there's a sense of urgency given where Rodgers is in his career. Good luck, Coach.