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Packers’ Matt LaFleur talks coaching tree, career in podcast series

“The Playcallers” is a five-hour series that focuses on the coaching tree that has developed head coaches like LaFleur.

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NFL: Green Bay Packers at Miami Dolphins Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

On Monday, The Athletic’s Jourdan Rodrigue released her five-part series “The Playcallers” on The Athletic Football Show’s podcast feed. “The Playcallers” focuses on the growth of the Kyle Shanahan-Sean McVay coaching tree, starting from their early days with the Houston Texans. Beyond Shanahan and McVay, fellow NFL head coaches Matt LaFleur, Mike McDaniel, Robert Saleh, Zac Taylor, Brandon Staley and Kevin O’Connell were all podcast subjects and featured in interviews.

Here are some cliff notes on the LaFleur portion of the series:

  • Matt LaFleur called it a “wakeup call” when he realized how then Houston Texans offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan understood football when the two were of similar age.
  • In Houston, the group of LaFleur, Shanahan, Robert Saleh and Mike McDaniel were labeled “the piss boys” by the rest of the coaching staff. By the time they joined Washington — with the swap of Sean McVay in place of Saleh — they were known as “the fun bunch.”
  • Shanahan said Washington ran the pistol formation so much with rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III due to a league-wide study that the “fun bunch” group did. According to Shanahan, NFL defenses at that time were attempting to take away the zone read by forcing a handoff to the side of the formation that the running back was offset to in the shotgun. The pistol, with the running back directly behind Griffin instead of to the side of him, was used to keep defenses honest in the option game.
  • McVay’s last game as a “fan” in the stands actually involved the Green Bay Packers. He bought a ticket to watch the Packers take on the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC Championship Game in 2017. McVay was first exposed to Shanahan’s no-huddle operation while watching the game live, as the operation wasn’t fully recorded by either the television broadcast or the coaches' film. McVay would later add a motion element to Shanahan’s no-huddle offense in 2017 as a first-year head coach, taking the Los Angeles Rams from a 4-12 record to an 11-5 record. LaFleur, who was Shanahan’s quarterbacks coach for the game, would go on to be McVay’s offensive coordinator that season.
  • Rodrigue claims that during her trip to Green Bay to meet with LaFleur, the Packers’ quarterback was working through cutups of the San Francisco 49ers, Miami Dolphins and Kansas City Chiefs offenses. LaFleur later confirmed he studied both the 49ers and Dolphins.

What a “LaFleur offense” looks like has been a highly-contested debate between split factions of the Packers fandom, as LaFleur hasn’t been the head coach for any other quarterback than Aaron Rodgers — who has been known to take matters into his own hands at times. On the topic of installing “his” offense in Green Bay, this is what LaFleur had to say:

Quite frankly, that first year, there was a big learning curve. Much like L.A., the playbook we came in with did not look anything like the one we ended with at the end of that ‘19 season.


It was myself, it was Aaron [Rodgers], it was Nathaniel Hackett and Luke Getsy and we did all this over Zoom. We would spend hours going over every concept that we thought we wanted to run and why we wanted to run it, getting feedback from Aaron. Some of it, he didn’t like. We said, “Alright, let’s cross that one out and go on the next one.”

Based on what LaFleur stated, don’t be surprised if the 2022 Packers have a few more wrinkles offensively, as long as new starting quarterback Jordan Love doesn’t feel empowered to shoot ideas down in the same way that a much more veteran Rodgers did back in 2019.