Clemens: "I like the hire"

Matt LaFleur new Packers head coach

Mike Clemens
January 07, 2019 - 8:43 pm

© Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports


Green Bay, WI - The Green Bay Packers new head coach is 39 - year - old Matt LaFleur.

I like the hire.

Here's why.

The two best candidates with the most experience - and energy - that the Packers spoke to this weekend were Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, and former Dolphins head coach Adam Gase. 

Both have baggage. 

You know about McDaniels doing an about face and changing his mind when he was offered the head coaching job with the Colts last year. His agent, Bob LaMonte, was so furious he dropped McDaniels as a client. And 10 years ago when McDaniels was too young to be the head coach of the Denver Broncos, he clashed with players, and was fined $50,000 after the NFL investigated the Broncos video director secretly taped a run through practice of the 49ers at Wembley Stadium before the two teams faced off in London. It is possible McDaniels didn't really want the Packers job. He is waiting to take over the Patriots as head coach after Bill Belichick decides to step down. 

Adam Gase has had a world of experience. He has worked for, or with Nick Saban at Michigan State, then LSU. At age 26 the Lions Steve Mariucci hired Gase as a scout. In two years he was promoted to quarterback coach. Later Gase served as the wide receivers coach, the quarterbacks coach, and the offensive coordinator under John Fox when the Broncos went 13 - 3 as Peyton Manning shattered NFL records with 55 TD's, and 5,477 yards passing. They would lose to the "Legion Of Boom" Seahawks defense in the Super Bowl by a final score of 43-8.

But Gase's tenure the past three years as the head coach of the Dolphins was nothing short of tumultuous. He had public arguments with owner Steve Ross about the direction of the team, and decisions on the roster. Ross is a meddling owner. This past season, a week before they faced the Packers in Green Bay, Dolphins safety Reshad Jones walks out of a game against the Jets when he learned they would be rotating him in at his position with other players. Gase later shot back at reporters "We're not going to do the same thing we've been doing the past two weeks that you guys have been bitching about. Right? So we've got to move some things around." 

That's not Packer people. 

Packers CEO/President Mark Murphy and GM Brian Gutenkunst are as adamant about hiring quality candidates with people skills as their predecessors Bob Harlan and Ted Thompson. 

It was hard to see how McDaniels or the prickly Gase could ever live up to that standard. 

Matt LaFleur is the next best thing to what the Packers want - a young, energetic head coach like the Rams Sean McVay, or the 49ers Kyle Shanahan. 

LaFluer has worked with them both. And Gary Kubiak. Mike Shanahan. The Falcons Dan Quinn. LaFleur has been a part of the coaching staff that lead the Falcons Matt Ryan to win an NFL Most Valuable Player Award, and coached young Jared Goff to become a dangerous quarterback for the Los Angeles Rams. 

Sure, LaFleur will not have the amount of play calling experience in the NFL that Mike McCarthy had before he arrived in Green Bay (5 years.) But he might have the ability to reach Aaron Rodgers and convince him that Green Bay needs to run a more balanced attack, between runs and passes, something LaFleur believes strongly in.  

Here's a very curious tweet posted by former Ravens & Browns quarterback and ESPN NFL analyst Trent Dilfer @dilfersdimes:

"Matt LaFleur is Mike McCarthy before McCarthy stopped grinding. Both smart, creative offensively, great pedigrees and strong leadership traits. Most importantly HE WILL COACH AARON HARD!"

Early reports say LaFleur had defensive coordinator Mike Pettine on his short list of defensive coordinator candidates. 

Whatever, the Packers have decided not to wait for any other coaches still working for teams in the playoffs, and instead have hired the closest thing they could find to Sean McVay (even though he hasn't even won a playoff game yet) - Matthew LaFleur. He will reportedly sign a four year contract with Green Bay. 

LaFleur interviewed for the Titans head coaching job a year ago, and lost out to Mike Vrabel. LaFleur left the Rams to become Vrabel's offensive coordinator for the opportunity to call plays:   VIDEO Interview with LaFleur