Matt LaFleur loves H-backs. His offense with the Green Bay Packers has featured them rather prominently, starting with Danny Vitale in 2019 and moving on to third-round draft pick Josiah Deguara, John Lovett, and Dominique Dafney in 2020.
Apparently, that love extends to his coaching staff, as he has reportedly hired a former college tight end/fullback hybrid to a position with the Packers. Ryan Mahaffey is the name of the newest hire, and he will likely be taking a position on the offensive staff.
Mahaffey comes to the Packers from his alma mater of Northern Iowa, where he served as the offensive coordinator in 2019. He was set to resume in that role as the Missouri Valley Conference restarted its season this spring, but has evidently elected to make the jump to the NFL. In fact, the news broke on the evening of Northern Iowa’s first game on Friday, as Cole Blair of the Cedar Rapids Gazette broke the news:
UNI offensive coordinator Ryan Mahaffey not on the sidelines tonight.— Cole Bair (@realColeBair) February 20, 2021
University officials confirms he has accepted a job with the Green Bay Packers.
Shawn Watson is now the OC.
Northern Iowa lost to South Dakota State 24-20.
Mahaffey and LaFleur know each other from a one-year stint at Notre Dame, when LaFleur coached quarterbacks and Mahaffey was a graduate assistant focusing on the wide receivers. However, most of Mahaffey’s coaching career has come at his alma mater, with three different stints in Cedar Falls, Iowa.
The first came after the close of his playing career, which featured a brief stint in the NFL. After graduating from Northern Iowa, where he caught 25 passes for 227 yards in 51 games, he caught on briefly in the NFL at fullback, signing first with the Baltimore Ravens and playing five regular season games for the Indianapolis Colts. Mahaffey then returned to Northern Iowa in 2013 as the team’s tight ends coach before spending two seasons at Notre Dame as a graduate assistant. He returned to Northern Iowa for a one-year term as co-offensive coordinator before heading to Western Kentucky in 2017 and 2018 as the tight ends coach. He then came back to coach the Panthers once again as offensive coordinator in 2019.
With Mahaffey’s playing experience and his time coaching both receivers and tight ends, it would be logical to expect his role with the Packers to involve the passing game. The Packers have not yet made his hire official and announced a formal title, but an assistant position coach or quality control coach spot seem likely.
The Packers did lose two members of their offensive coaching staff this offseason, as senior analyst Butch Barry left for San Francisco and QC coach Kevin Koger left to take the tight ends coach position with the Chargers. Mahaffey would seem to be a logical fit for Koger’s position, as he was largely focused on the Packers’ tight ends.
Stay tuned for more information about the hire and any additional coaching staff changes.