LOS ANGELES — The decision to let Matt LaFleur leave was never a difficult one for Sean McVay.
It’s a lateral move in title, going from offensive coordinator of the Los Angeles Rams to offensive coordinator of the Tennessee Titans. But it will mean so much more than that to LaFleur, because he will call plays and because this, finally, will be his offense. McVay was and will continue to be the preeminent offensive voice for the Rams, and the young head coach never thought twice about denying LaFleur an opportunity to do the same, even though the NFL grants him that right.
“The only reason I’m lucky enough to be in this role is because people I have been around gave me a chance to grow,” McVay wrote in a text message, “and I would never do that to such a great person and close friend like Matt is.”
LaFleur’s departure, three weeks after former quarterbacks coach Greg Olson left to join Jon Gruden as the Oakland Raiders‘ offensive coordinator, leaves a significant void in the Rams’ staff, especially when it comes to the maturation of Jared Goff. But it’s one McVay is confident he can fill in-house.
One day after the Rams’ resurgent season ended with a first-round loss to the Atlanta Falcons, McVay talked about wanting to “build from within” with his coaching staff. And that is precisely what he’s doing. To replace Olson, Zac Taylor, who spent four years working with Ryan Tannehill of the Miami Dolphins, went from assistant wide receivers coach to quarterbacks coach. To replace LaFleur, offensive line coach Aaron Kromer will also become the running game coordinator, and tight ends coach Shane Waldron also will become the passing game coordinator.
Kromer, who helped the Buffalo Bills become the NFL’s top rushing team in 2015 and 2016, was basically already the running game coordinator last season. His role won’t really change. Waldron will be the one to essentially replace LaFleur with regards to setting up the weekly game plan. Taylor could be the one to take LaFleur’s spot in the booth on game day, but the Rams also have added former UCLA offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch, who will play a major role in the Rams’ game-day management.
Really, though, LaFleur’s void will be taken on by McVay.
Now that he doesn’t have to learn an entire organization or construct a new staff or single-handedly map out an offseason program as a first-year coach, McVay, 32, plans to spend a lot more time with Goff and the rest of the quarterbacks leading up to the 2018 season. That was the plan before LaFleur was hired away, and it’s especially important now.