According to New York Jets head coach Robert Saleh, former offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur wasn’t fired but was let go to pursue other opportunities. Per Saleh, there were “a lot of inquiries” in LaFleur leading up to his divorce from the team.
Mike, younger brother of Green Bay Packers head coach Matt LaFleur, was actually the elder LaFleur’s first call for an offensive coordinator interview when Matt was named head coach of the Packers back in 2019. At the time, 49ers head coach Mike Shanahan blocked an interview request from the Packers, Cleveland Browns and Minnesota Vikings for their coordinator openings. This was under old rules, that have now changed, which demanded that teams approve their coaches to interview for coordinator positions. In 2019, only head coaching interviews did not have to be approved by the team a coach was currently under contract with. As ESPN’s Adam Schefter mentioned, the 49ers also blocked the interview requests for Mike McDaniel (the current Miami Dolphins head coach) and Rich Scangarello (most recently the Kentucky Wildcats’ offensive coordinator) that offseason.
After spending two years as the 49ers’ passing game coordinator, Mike LaFleur would head over to the New York Jets as their full-time play-calling offensive coordinator under Saleh, who took the head coaching job after a stint with San Francisco. Saleh and the LaFleur family are notably close, as Matt LaFleur was the best man at Saleh’s wedding while they were still both young assistant coaches at Central Michigan.
Add Mike LaFleur to the list of potential names who may assist a poorly-performing Packers red zone offense to bounce back in 2023. While Matt LaFleur stated that he doesn’t anticipate much, if any, change to Green Bay’s coaching staff next season, it’s hard to ignore how many available coaches have ties to his coaching tree.
His former offensive coordinator, Nathaniel Hackett, was recently fired by the Denver Broncos. Hackett, notably, was the leading voice in red zone game planning for the Packers during his tenure, despite the fact that LaFleur was calling plays. Beyond Hackett and the younger LaFleur, it’s expected that Justin Outten, the Packers’ tight end coach from 2019 to 2022, will be relieved of his duties as the Broncos’ offensive coordinator when they make a head coaching hire. According to quarterback Aaron Rodgers, Outten assisted running backs coach Ben Sirmens in short-yardage and goal-line game-planning in at least the 2021 season.
Just because the team isn’t making a change in on-field coaches in 2023 doesn’t mean that Hackett, LaFleur and/or Outten couldn’t be added to Green Bay this season. As we saw last year, the team is willing to add veteran coaches in an analyst role that focuses more on the game-planning and film-grinding aspects of football. When Detroit Lions defensive backs coach Aubrey Pleasant was fired at mid-season in 2022, the Packers hired him to assist as an offensive consultant to reverse-engineer defenses for Green Bay’s offensive staff. Don’t rule out any of those trio of coaches to fill in an analyst role, if an on-field coaching role doesn’t open up for the Packers.