Why Mike LaFleur is the right OC hire for the LA Rams in 2023

Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports /
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Reason II: Mike LaFleur may be fresh, but he is not a ‘Yes Man!’

Some have pointed to Mike LaFleur’s unsuccessful tenure with the New York Jets offense as a reason to hate this hire. I’m not so sure. Look at what LaFleur had to work with. LaFleur joined New York Jets head coach Robert Saleh in 2021, and the offense was not exactly poised for a breakout season.  In fact, the Jets’ offense was dead last in 2020. The team’s quarterback was Sam Darnold and the leading rusher was seasoned veteran Frank Gore.

The Jets’ offense improved modestly in 2021 but regressed slightly in 2022. The reason is that the team had hitched its wagon to the erratic throwing arm of Zach Wilson, and rookie running back Breece Hall, who is just what the LA Rams offense needs as a 6-foot-1 220-pound punishing running back, fell to injury after just seven games. The Jets were 5-2 with him carrying the football.

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LaFleur is comfortable making others uncomfortable

But the Jets were stuck behind a quarterback, the second-overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, who simply was not panning out. In this second season in the NFL, he played in nine games, completing just 54.5 of his passes, and throwing six touchdowns to seven interceptions.  And this was in a Jets offense that was dummied down for the guy:

The Jets’ offense was bad, but not of LaFleur’s doing. The team was built to run first but lost their star running back. Without the threat of that running game, defenses sat back and demolished the Jets’ less-than-perfect passing game.

It was Mike LaFleur who was forced to simplify the offense to try to match the limits of the quarterback, and that is why wide receivers who were the third or later options, like Elijah Moore, became so frustrated that he demanded to be traded. Thanks to the quarterback’s inability to process his reads, the guy was completely ignored in the passing game.

Now that does sound a bit familiar . . .