Mike LaFleur traded an offensive coordinator job in the Big Apple for one in Hollywood, and he's looking forward to the prospect of working with his new staff and new players.
"Things happened fast right after the season," LaFleur, who parted ways with the Jets in early January, said Tuesday during his Rams introductory news conference. "Got to connect with (head coach) Sean (McVay), and it was a pretty simple decision. You're going into an organization that has won, knows how to win, wants to win, has the right system and process and culture in place to win. And to be able to do it with great people. Not just Sean, but the rest of the staff. I have a history with, not all of them, but quite a few of them. Whether it just be a friendship or actually working with them. Guys like (defensive coordinator) Raheem (Morris). Just this whole building. There's a lot of great people."
The opportunity to join the Rams came after LaFleur's second season with the Jets unraveled under the stress of starting three different quarterbacks and struggling to develop Zach Wilson. The former No. 2 overall pick threw for 1,688 yards, six touchdowns and seven interceptions with a 54.5 completion percentage in nine starts in 2022, and New York finished fourth in its division for the sixth time in seven years.
The Rams did not fare much better and actually lost two more contests than the Jets. Los Angeles QB Matthew Stafford made nine starts to match Wilson and also struggled before a spinal cord contusion knocked him out for the season. He passed for 2,087 yards, 10 TDs, eight picks and a 68.0 completion percentage.
But unlike the Jets, the Rams won a Super Bowl just a year ago. And unlike Wilson, Stafford has a storied history of exemplary play to help forecast a return to form.
"Matthew, even in his time in Detroit, you'd be in awe at a lot of just the stuff that he can accomplish on that field," LaFleur said. "Even when he was in Detroit, just knowing what his teammates and the coaches felt about that guy. And then (me) being able to actually get a little bit insight when he came here, just by, again, knowing Raheem, knowing Sean, how highly regarded they feel of Matthew. So, it's going to be fun. I know a lot of times, coaches can teach players a lot of things. But, in more instances, players can teach coaches a lot of things, too.
"So, I'm excited to get working with him, learn from him, and whatever I can provide for him, I'm going to do. I can't wait to start building that relationship with him."
LaFleur's relationship with Stafford and working in cohesion to implement the offensive philosophy might ultimately become the OC's most vital aspect of his new position. Although he was the play-caller with the Jets, that is firmly McVay's domain with the Rams.
Starting with LaFleur's brother Matt in 2017, McVay has had three other offensive coordinators. None of them called plays, and the Rams didn't even fill the position in 2018 or 2019.
Mike LaFleur never had that responsibility until he followed coach Robert Saleh to the Jets from San Francisco in 2021. He was aware McVay is the play-caller in L.A. during the hiring process and is not concerned about the reduced role.
"For the years in San Francisco before that obviously (I) didn't call the plays," LaFleur said. "Honestly, it's not even really on my mind at all right now. My mind is totally into, let's finish this staff, let's get the right people on this offensive staff. And then let's get to know these players. Let's figure out what our roster's gonna be moving forward. And then let's get the foundation of what this 2023 Rams offense is gonna be. Then whatever happens in August or December, I'm gonna be there to support and do my part. Not concerned about any of that."
With the Rams eager to right the ship in 2023, it's likely the offensive foundation starts with LaFleur's Pro Bowl QB.