The Los Angeles Rams have hired their new offensive coordinator. According to MMQB’s Albert Breer, Sean McVay is adding former Jets offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur to his coaching staff in the same role.
This move should come as no surprise as LaFleur was seen as the front-runner for Rams’ offensive coordinator position following the departure of Liam Coen who left for Kentucky. The question now becomes was this the right hire and what exactly will LaFleur’s role be in the offense?
When it comes to LaFleur, it’s fair to point to the lack of production and the low rankings in the New York Jets offense. However, that’s also missing a lot of context. Over the past two seasons, the Jets have started 3+ quarterbacks over the course of the year. It’s very difficult to build consistency and an identity when that’s the case.
Prior to joining the Rams in 2020, Kevin O’Connell spent one year as the offensive coordinator in Washington. The Washington offense that season ranked 30th in the NFL in DVOA. Two years later, O’Connell helped lead one of the best offenses in the NFL to the Super Bowl and got a head coaching job with the Minnesota Vikings. Past offensive rankings don’t mean a lot when it comes to who the Rams offensive coordinator is.
What’s important is that Mike LaFleur brings two years of offensive coordinator experience at the NFL level. This is something that the Rams potentially missed last season with Coen. LaFluer has two years as an offensive coordinator as well as past experience under Kyle Shanahan in San Francisco with the 49ers.
With that said, the Rams offense was, is, and always will be the Sean McVay offense. It’s a really only a matter of what LaFleur brings during the week and then pushing McVay as an offensive coach and play caller. This is something that Matt LaFleur did as well as Kevin O’Connell. It’s something that Thomas Brown does.
There won’t be any sudden philosophical changes. While LaFleur can implement some of his own ideas, it won’t venture too far from what the Rams and McVay have run over the past couple of seasons.
Still, it will be curious to see if McVay gives up play-calling to LaFleur given that he has experience doing it the past two years with the Jets. There was a lot of speculation following the season that McVay would retire and walk away as he dealt with burnout.
Calling plays is not something that McVay has ever given up in the past. Given everything that’s happened over the past year, is that something that he’s wavered on and wants to delegate moving forward?
It’s not necessarily clear what exactly the Rams offensive coordinator’s responsibilities have been in the past. According to Gary Klein of the LA Times, O’Connell worked with McVay and other coaches to help put together game plans. He also oversaw meetings while coaching Matthew Stafford and the other quarterbacks. There’s nothing that specifies whether or not O’Connell ever called any plays.
Helping with game planning and overseeing meetings is certainly something that LaFleur should be able to handle. That’s likely something he did in New York with the Jets. Whether or not that goes into play-calling with the Rams is to be determined.
It’s worth noting that LaFleur had other options on the table that likely included calling plays. Either McVay left the door open to LaFleur calling plays or LaFleur sees the Rams position as an opportunity to develop into a head coach and follow the same path as Zac Taylor and Kevin O’Connell.
If McVay does indeed give up play-calling, it would come as a bit of a surprise. However, with LaFleur’s experience, it may not be completely off the table either. It will be interesting to see how the responsibilities are divided up once McVay puts together the rest of his coaching staff.