LaFleur, along with new defensive coordinator Dean Pees, marks the first major hiring for new head coach Mike Vrabel.
Vrabel hiring LaFleur is a home run hire. Tennessee needed to diversify on offense, and they needed offensive coaching that would help get the most out of rising-stars Marcus Mariota and Derrick Henry.
Vrabel echoed as much when commenting on the hire of LaFleur in the Titans Online article announcing the hire, “Matt brings an energy and an offensive diversity to our team. He is going to develop an offense that puts our players in position to have success.”
LaFleur checks both boxes. In his various trips around the NFL, he has worked, successfully I might add, with a diverse stable of quarterbacks.
LaFleur’s NFL Success
Matt’s first NFL quarterback partner was Robert Griffin III. If you’ll recall, Griffin had unprecedented success in his rookie season, before falling victim to injuries.
Next, LaFleur worked with the Atlanta Falcons. He was the Falcons quarterback coach when they reached the Super Bowl in 2016, a season that saw Matt Ryan win the MVP and Offensive Player of the Year awards.
In 2016, Ryan threw for nearly 5000 yards and 38 touchdowns, while racking up a 117.1 passer rating. To put those numbers into context, no quarterback matched Ryan’s 117.1 passer rating from 2016 during the 2017 NFL season (the closest was Alex Smith at 104.7), and no quarterback matched his total yardage numbers or his touchdowns. Had they not been injured, Carson Wentz and Deshaun Watson would have challenged those numbers, but, alas, this is not a hypothetical world.
However, LaFleur’s most recent stop was his most impressive. In 2017, LaFleur, along with Rams head coach Sean McVay, was paramount in the transformation of Jared Goff.
Goff saw improvements in every category, and no, I’m not being hyperbolic. Goff saw his completion percentage rise by nearly 8 points, his total yardage grew almost 2800 yards, he threw TWENTY-THREE (23!) more touchdowns, his interception number stayed at seven and his passer rating grew from 63.6 to 100.5.
Before you jump on the interception number being the same, Goff only played in 7 regular season games in 2016, as compared to 15 in 2017. In 2016, Goff threw an interception about every 29 passes, compared to throwing an interception around once every 68 passes in 2017.
Goff went from being an absolute mess as a rookie to being a Pro Bowl quarterback the next season. That isn’t maturation, that is coaching.
How LaFluer Will Help the Titans Offense
LaFleur will be great for Marcus Mariota, but he will be amazing for Derrick Henry as well. Under LaFleur, Todd Gurley had remarkable success. I know, Derrick is not the same as Gurley. But LaFleur and McVay’s offense in Los Angeles catered to Gurley’s strengths. LaFleur will do the same for Henry in Tennessee.
Mike Vrabel was hired to lead Tennessee to championships, and to take the proverbial brick that was holding him back off Marcus Mariota’s head. While, Vrabel has a way to go before Tennessee will be in the Super Bowl, he just took a major step towards accomplishing both goals. LaFleur will take the reins off of Mariota and get the absolute most out of him. Getting a more successful, diverse offense will go a long way towards Tennessee returning to the Super Bowl.
In shorter terms, Mike Vrabel struck gold with the hiring of Matt LaFleur.
All Stats courtesy of espn.com.
View Matt Ryan’s complete player splits here.