LaFleur's Journey

How small college QB became Packers HC

Mike Clemens
April 20, 2019 - 9:51 pm

© Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports


Green Bay, WI - Matt LaFleur's journey from a small college quarterback, to the new head coach of the Green Bay Packers has been on the fast track. 

LaFleur has only been drawing an NFL paycheck for 10 years. He's been handed the keys to one of the league's most  prestigious franchises, and assigned to return Aaron Rodgers (who has been in the NFL 14 years) to MVP status, and a return to the Super Bowl. 

The 39-year-old LaFleur has breezed through stints as an assistant and position coach with the Texans, Redskins, Falcons, and Rams, and one year as an offensive coordinator for the Titans, on his path to Green Bay. 

But does he have the voice of a motivator to win as an NFL head coach? 

The man who hired him, Packers CEO/President Mark Murphy, has often described LaFleur the past three months as a coach with a "quiet confidence."

Murphy said something I found fascinating in a brief interview during the team's recent annual trek across the state of Wisconsin, the Packers Tailgate Tour. 

He was asked what coach does Matt LaFleur remind him of?

Murphy thought for a moment before he spoke. 

"To be honest, Joe Gibbs."


Murphy, 63, was a safety for the Washington Redskins signed by the great, or once great head coach George Allen. 

Allen had coached the Los Angeles Rams to the playoffs in the 1960's, and lead the Redskins to their first Super Bowl in 1972, only to lose to the undefeated Miami Dolphins. 

That was followed by years of getting to the playoffs, but never back to the Super Bowl. Allen's deal was not renewed in 1977. Jack Pardee took over for two seasons through 1979.

Enter Joe Gibbs, who had been the offensive coordinator of the potent San Diego Chargers, and future Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Fouts. HE also been an offensive assistant for the Cardinals and Bucs. Gibbs, a smart, low-key kind of leader, lead the Redskins to three Super Bowl championships. 

Perhaps Murphy was drawing on his own experience as a Redskins player when he made the change in Green Bay, from Mike McCarthy to Matt LaFleur. The Redskins had the talent, but came up short in the post season. The younger Gibbs became the difference maker, with new ideas, and a better plan for the future of the roster.

Matt LaFleur grew up in Mount Pleasant, Michigan, the son of Denny and Kristi LaFleur. Both coaches, both competitive.

When mom Kristi watches games on TV and mistakes are made she throws a stuffed doll that wears a shirt saying "Win Damn It!"

LaFleur played quarterback and point guard in high school, where his coach said Matt was "like having a coach on the field." He understood the game that well. 

In college, LaFleur played quarterback for Saginaw Valley State from 2000 to 2002, leading the Cardinals to the Division II playoffs each season. One of his favorite targets was future Packers wide receiver Ruvell Martin. 

Earlier this year CBS 58- Milwaukee television sports reporter Scott Grodsky traveled to LaFleur's home town to interview his parents and high school coaches. It's an excellent background piece into LaFleur's years growing up as a future NFL head coach.  CLICK HERE FOR VIDEO