In two seasons, Packers boss Matt LaFleur has had one of the most successful debuts as a rookie head coach in NFL history. In both campaigns he led the Packers to 13-3 records and two NFC North titles, as well appearances in the NFC Championship game.
So, it’s no surprise that LaFleur expects a lot of his team heading into this 2021 season. According to the latest odds with major bookmakers like 888Sport, Green Bay are tipped to have another successful season and maybe even improve on their last two under LaFleur.
Now entering his 13th season within the NFL, LaFleur is a coach with experience at all levels of the game, beginning with his playing days from 1998. He started out at Western Michigan, where he played quarterback and wide receiver.
Two seasons later, he transferred to Saginaw Valley State and played exclusively as quarterback before finishing his college playing career in 2002.
He then had a brief stint in the National Indoor Football League, playing for the Omaha Beef and Billings Outlaws, though he soon moved into his key passion; coaching.
He actually returned to Saginaw for his first coaching job, where he was hired as an offensive graduate assistant. He spent one season with the Cardinals, who finished the regular season with a record of 12-1 and claimed the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference title.
Desde 2004 to 2007, LaFleur moved between several successful collegiate systems, starting at Michigan State, through to Northern Michigan and eventually Ashland University. He was particularly impactful at Ashland where he served as offensive coordinator. The team made the playoffs for the first time in more than a decade in both seasons he was with them.
In 2008, he officially moved into the NFL when he joined the Houston Texans as their offensive assistant coach. He was there for two seasons; during the first, he worked under Larry Kirksey with the wide receivers and in his second year he worked closely with offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan on the team’s quarterbacks.
After his time in Texas, LaFleur moved to the Washington Redskins in 2010 where he was put in charge of their quarterbacks. He actually made the move with Shanahan, who was brought on as the Redskins’ offensive coordinator.
At Washington, LaFleur coached rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III who set several franchise records and then featured in the Pro Bowl game. In 2012, the team also won the NFC East for the first time in 13 years, though that season was the only winning one LaFleur enjoyed during his four campaigns at Washington.
LaFleur actually returned to college football for one season in 2014 when he became the quarterbacks coach for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. They finished the season with an 8-5 record and a win in the Music City Bowl.
He came back into the NFL fold in 2015, joining the Atlanta Falcons as their quarterback coach. Once again, he was working with Shanahan, who continued to mentor LaFleur in offensive strategies.
In LaFleur’s second season with the Falcons, the franchise made the Super Bowl game though ultimately lost out to the New England Patriots. However, their starting quarterback Matt Ryan was named the NFL’s MVP and the Offensive Player of the Year, a testament to LaFleur’s coaching.
Then, in 2017, he received a major promotion and became offensive coordinator for the Los Angeles Rams. Though he was only there for one season, the Rams saw a significant improvement on their previous campaign, winning seven more games in total and displaying an explosive offense.
LaFleur’s final assignment before joining the Packers was at the Tennessee Titans, where he also served as offensive coordinator though he had the added responsibility of calling their plays, too.
It was Green Bay who offered LaFleur his first head coach role, and he stepped into the position with class and vigor. He became the second head coach since the NFL moved to the divisional format in 1967 to win at least 13 games and a conference title in his first two seasons.
His 2020 season with the Packers was an excellent one. Their offense was the best in the NFL – no real surprise given LaFleur’s background – with 509 points, which was the second highest in the team’s history.
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers was also named MVP that season, with LaFleur’s coaching style proving instrumental in helping Rodgers lead the league in passer rating (121.5), passing touchdowns (48) and completion percentage (70.7).
With an extensive background in offensive coaching and learning under the likes of Shanahan, Matt LaFleur is already proving himself one of the most impressive head coaches in the NFL, despite still being a rookie.
As he moves into his third season in charge of the Packers, he will surely be aiming to progress even further in the postseason and continue to enhance the team’s offensive capabilities.