II: Offensive Coordinator Mike LaFleur
While the LA Rams surprised many fans with the hiring of former New York Jets offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur as the LA Rams offensive coordinator for 2023, the move was an inspired stroke of genius by the Rams organization and particularly of LA Rams Head Coach Sean McVay.
Coach McVay had, in the past, focussed primarily on offensive coordinators from his own coaching tree. Those candidates may have aligned with McVay's offensive philosophy and strategy, but they did very little to expand the tactics and breadth of the Rams offense going forward.
After the Rams offensive debacle of 2022, Coach McVay deserves quite a bit of credit. He abandoned the 'yes man,' criteria of the Rams next offensive coordinator, and reached out to hire Mike LaFleur, an offensive coach who rose through the ranks of differing offensive concepts, one that was far more sophisticated in the running game.
This is LaFleur's tenth season as an NFL coach, and his history of coaching in the NFL includes chapters with the Cleveland Browns (2014, OC intern), Atlanta Falcons (2015-16, offensive assistant coach), San Francisco 49ers (2017-20, WR Coach/Pass Game Coordinator), New York Jets (2021-22, Offensive Coordinator), and finally with the LA Rams (2023, Offensive Coordinator)
LaFleur has been more than a lackey, or even an extension of McVay's offensive strategy. He has brought a fertile and underutilized appreciation of running the football back to the LA Rams offense in such a way that nobody can deny the positive impact that this new approach has not only made on the Rams offense, but on the entire team.