Potential Packers Assistant Coaches Under Matt LaFleur
The Packers got their man in Matt LaFleur, but he can’t do it alone. The first big test for the new Packers head coach is assembling a coaching staff.
As we learned in our research on head coach interviews, a coach’s ability to hire a competent staff is often a key deciding factor when teams make their hiring decisions. It stands to reason that the Packers are confident in LaFleur’s ability to put together a solid staff, but who will those coaches be?
Reportedly, LaFleur plans to keep most of the Packers’ defensive staff, including defensive coordinator Mike Pettine. But even if that turns out to be true, there will be some significant additions on both sides of the ball.
Here’s a quick look at who some of those coaches could be based on LaFleur’s connections throughout the league.
Zac Taylor: Taylor worked under LaFleur during his lone season as Rams offensive coordinator, where he served as the team’s assistant receivers coach. Taylor has interviewed for head coaching posts this offseason, but it’s unlikely the 34-year-old has enough coordinator experience to be a head coach. He was the interim offensive coordinator in Miami after Joe Philbin was fired, and spent 2016 as the University of Cincinnati’s offensive coordinator. He could be in play as a potential offensive coordinator for the Packers.
Shane Waldron: Waldron served as tight ends coach when LaFleur was the Rams’ offensive coordinator in 2017, and was promoted to passing game coordinator after LaFleur departed to Tennessee. Waldron began his coaching career with the Patriots in 2002, and followed Charlie Weis to Notre Dame. LaFleur spent 2018 coaching under fellow Patriots disciple Mike Vrabel.
Mike LaFleur: Matt’s brother was an offensive assistant on the Atlanta Falcons while Matt served as the quarterbacks coach. After the Falcons lost in the Super Bowl, the brothers went their own ways. Matt was named offensive coordinator by the Rams, and Mike joined Kyle Shanahan’s staff as wide receivers coach. He had the title of passing game coordinator added this season.
Jeremy Bates: LaFleur and Bates both coach high school quarterbacks in the offseason for the QB Collective, a pro-style evaluation and development program. Bates has spent the past two seasons with the New York Jets after a five-year coaching hiatus, where he hiked the 2,900-mile Continental Divide Trail from Mexico to Canada by himself. He is the son of former Packers defensive coordinator Jim Bates.
Jim Caldwell: The Packers interviewed Caldwell during the regular season, and Green Bay could be a landing spot for him if he is not hired as a head coach. LaFleur and Caldwell have both coached with special teams coordinator Joe Marciano, but more importantly, Caldwell has fourteen years of experience as a head coach.
Mike Shanahan: LaFleur spent four seasons as Shanahan’s quarterbacks coach, and worked under Mike’s son Kyle with the Atlanta Falcons. While Mike is now retired, he has helped mentor LaFleur beyond their time in Washington through the QB Collective. It’s highly unlikely Shanahan will be a part of the Packers’ coaching staff, but expect LaFleur to lean on Shanahan’s wisdom early on.
Aubrey Pleasant: LaFleur coached with Pleasant in 2013 as part of the Redskins’ offensive staff. The following season, Pleasant switched sides of the ball and assisted defensive back specialist Raheem Morris, and is now part of the Rams defensive coaching staff. Pleasant played for the Wisconsin Badgers from 2005-2008 with 14 starts at safety.
Robert Saleh: Saleh and LaFleur were college roommates, and Saleh offered LaFleur his first NFL job with the Texans in 2008. When the 49ers hired Kyle Shanahan, the new head coach brought Saleh with him as his defensive coordinator. He signed a six-year contract in 2016, but growing dissatisfaction with San Francisco’s defense could change his employment status.
Johnny Holland: LaFleur and Holland worked together in Houston, and Matt’s brother Mike currently coaches with Holland on the San Francisco 49ers. He is currently the 49ers’ run game specialist and outside linebackers coach under Saleh. Holland was a second-round pick by the Packers in 1987, and played seven seasons with the team. He began his coaching career with Green Bay, eventually serving as special teams coordinator under Ray Rhodes in 1999. He was inducted in the Packers Hall of Fame in 2001.
Special teams coordinators
Keith Armstrong: The 55-year-old coached with LaFleur during his tenure with the Falcons, and spent eleven seasons as Atlanta’s special teams coordinator. Armstrong is thought of highly across the league, and has interviewed for head coaching opportunities twice. Atlanta’s special teams ranked ninth this past season and seventh in 2016 when Armstrong and LaFleur last coached together. Armstrong was fired by head coach Dan Quinn after the 2018 season ended.
Joe Marciano: LaFleur coached with Marciano in Houston, where he served as special teams coordinator under head coaches Dom Capers and Gary Kubiak. He has spent each of the last five seasons in the NFC North, coaching the Vikings in 2014 and the Lions from 2015. He was fired midway through the 2018 season by head coach Matt Patricia.
Brant Boyer: The New York Jets had the league’s best special teams in 2018, according to Football Outsiders, and Boyer was the coordinator behind the success. The Jets fired head coach Todd Bowles, and the next head coach may want to bring in their own staff. If he’s available, LaFleur would have a connection to him through Jeremy Bates, who served as the Jets offensive coordinator this season.