Somebody out there want to start the Chicago Bears Matt Lafleur bandwagon? No? Alright then here’s a firm crack at it. For those who aren’t familiar with the name, here’s a quick overview. Lafleur is currently offensive coordinator for the Los Angeles Rams. The Rams have the highest-scoring offense in the NFL as of now with 296 in nine games. If they maintain that pace, they will finish with 526 for the season. That would tie them for ninth all-time in NFL history.
Their turnaround from last year (224 points total) has been dramatic. Head coach Sean McVay is garnering most of that praise, but Lafleur should be getting his share. After all McVay himself said he delegates most of the responsibilities to the first-year coordinator. People will argue that Lafleur doesn’t call plays, but McVay insists he’s a vital part to their successful execution.
“I think the one thing that people should understand as well is (play-calling is) a collaborative effort,” McVay said. “Everybody’s on the headset, we’ve got a plan and ultimately somebody’s got to send it in to the quarterback.
Ultimately, you’ve got to make the final decision, but I think it’s a representation of our staff as a whole when things go well, and that’s a credit to having good guys around you.”
Truth be told this success the Rams are enjoying isn’t an accident. Lafleur tends to bring out this sort of play wherever he goes.
Trail of Success
Lafleur first cracked the NFL level back in 2008 as a quality control coach for the Houston Texans. After just two seasons he was scooped up by the Washington Redskins to be their quarterbacks coach. Understand how significant that is. At 31-years old with two years of NFL experience he was asked to take over the second-most important job on an offense.
It didn’t take him long to acclimate to it. The tandem of Donovan McNabb and Rex Grossman threw for over 4,200 yards his first year on the job. A year later he got 3,000 yards from Grossman in just 13 games. Then in 2012 the Redskins drafted Robert Griffin III, who promptly went to the Pro Bowl and won Rookie of the Year.
After the coaching staff was dismissed in 2014, Lafleur was hired by Brian Kelly to be the quarterbacks coach at Notre Dame. The impact was immediate and electric. Everett Golson, who’d thrown 12 touchdowns his previous year as a starter, threw 29 his first year under Lafleur. A year later Lafleur left. Golson threw 11 touchdowns that season.
That’s what they call tangible impact
The coach was heading to the Atlanta Falcons, summoned by former colleague Kyle Shanahan to take the quarterbacks job. A year later in 2016 Matt Ryan had the best season of his career with 4,944 yards, 38 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He won MVP and the Falcons reached the Super Bowl. This year Ryan is on pace for 4,216 yards, 23 touchdowns and 14 interceptions.
Then of course there is Jared Goff. The former #1 overall pick was a hot mess his rookie year. In seven started he completed barely 54% of his passes for 1,089 yards, five touchdowns and seven interceptions. With Lafleur’s arrival as offensive coordinator he’s currently at 2,385 yards, 16 touchdowns and four interceptions in nine games
Having a significant impact with one organization can be considered a fluke. Lafleur has done it with three different NFL teams and a top college program as well.
Often one of the biggest tell-tale signs of future success for an NFL head coach is the tree they come from. Who were the coaches that mentored them? Bill Belichick was a disciple of Bill Parcells. Bill Walsh learned under the great Paul Brown. Chuck Noll got lessons from Sid Gillman and Don Shula. Often in order to achieve greatness, one must learn from greatness.
Lafleur has enjoyed lessons from some of the most successful NFL coaches of the past few decades. He was brought in under Gary Kubiak in Houston. Kubiak has since won a Super Bowl with Denver. Mike Shanahan collected him in Washington. He has two rings himself. Dan Quinn got the Falcons to a Super Bowl in his second season and he also has a ring as a coordinator in Seattle. Kyle Shanahan and Sean McVay are both head coaches now too.
Lafleur will be 39-years old in 2018. He’s approaching the optimum age for a coach to start garnering looks for his own team. The man has done well at every stop he’s made in the NFL. He’s a specialist with quarterbacks. To top it off he’s received on-the-job training by some of the best in the business for close to a decade.
If the Bears are serious about Mitch Trubisky, this has to be a guy at the top of their list.