Having already announced the hire of new Head Coach Mike Vrabel, the Tennessee Titans are poaching two members from the Los Angeles Rams’ coaching staff: Offensive Coordinator Matt LaFleur and Special Teams Assistant Coach Tyrone McKenzie.
It’s the latest shake-up in the Rams’ coaching staff following the departure of QB Coach Greg Olson and the subsequent promotion of Assistant Wide Receivers Coach Zac Taylor. The Rams then added Jedd Fisch to become senior offensive assistant.
Per this report from Vinny Bonsignore, the move will allow LaFleur the chance to call plays and greater authority in overseeing the offense. As for the vacancy he leaves, Bonsignore reports that Offensive Line Coach Aaron Kromer will take over run coordination duties while Tight Ends Coach Shane Waldron will assume passing game coordination responsibilities.
There are two clear aspects to this to play out.
Sean McVay spent three years in Washington as offensive coordinator under Head Coach Jay Gruden. In his first year, Gruden called the plays. But by year two, Gruden had handed those duties off.
There was an opportunity for a similar situation here. McVay could have handed the keys to LaFleur to assume more general gameday duties as the head coach. His experience in Washington certainly was valuable in making this transition, albeit from the other side. That McVay wasn’t willing to give up those playcalling duties speaks to a hesitancy there. I don’t think it’s one to criticize, given the state of the Rams’ offense in 2017. Still, it’s a clear marker of how strongly McVay feels about calling his own offensive script.
It’s also an indication of how hard it’s going to be to attract talent at offensive coordinator. LaFleur’s first year as an OC in the NFL was 2017, and he didn’t see it through beyond a year in LA. Bringing someone into that job without the ability to call plays isn’t going to be an easy sell for experienced minds.
With the departure of LaFleur and Olson, two of the three key coaches overseeing the maturation of franchise QB Jared Goff have now departed. Beyond that, it will be the third staff in three years for the 23-year old.
It’s always easy to point to “chemistry” from year-to-year if coaches or personnel remain in place. I’d suppose it’s fair to question how that chemistry could be affected by having Goff play for three offensive coordinators and three QB coaches in his first three NFL years.
Overall, it’s the biggest move for the Rams’ coaching staff to this point. Should Kromer and Waldron maintain those coordinator duties through the offseason and into the 2018 season, it certainly opens up a clear marker between the 2017 offense and the coming one.
Such is the penalty for success.
Rams Head Coach Sean McVay offered the following statement in the team’s official release:
I’m excited for Matt LaFleur and his family as he transitions to the Titans as offensive coordinator,” McVay said. “We’re grateful for his contribution to the Rams and our NFC West Championship season last year. As we move to 2018, we are confident in the leadership and guidance of Aaron Kromer and Shane Waldron as they begin their roles as run coordinator and pass coordinator.