The LaFleur Effect
LaFleur to the Rescue
Mike McCarthy’s demise was likely the result of lack of creativity on offense and the ability to adjust in today’s NFL. In this current day and age where the top four scoring offenses are in the Conference Title games, offense is critical. Enter Matt LaFleur. He has worked under some of the sharpest offensive game planners in the game. His coaching journey has landed him under the tutelage of the likes of Gary Kubiak, Sean McVay, and Mike and Kyle Shanahan. That’s a who’s who of offensive gurus to get your coaching chops with.
Ignore Last Year
It’s tough to peg exactly which offense we will see LaFleur roll out in Green Bay. The Titans offense from last year really doesn’t provide us with much data given that Marcus Mariota was hurt much of the year and he was stuck with Blaine Gabbert for almost five full games.
If you throw that year out and look back to his time as QB coach in Washington (2010-2013) and Atlanta (2015-2016) along with his one year as OC for the Rams, we get a clearer look at what we can expect.
LaFleur is certain to put an offense in place that is a combination of these mastermind’s schemes. With the tools available for him to work with in Green Bay, there should be lots of fantasy goodness to go around. LaFleur had tools like these in LA, and the Rams finished 1st in PPG, 10th in YPG, and 6th in YPP. Let’s dig in.
Packer Offense Poised to Improve
Aaron Rodgers (QB1)
Aaron Rodgers averaged 493.9 pass attempts per year under McCarthy. This includes two seasons in which Rodgers played in nine games (2013) and seven games (2017). By comparison, the offenses LaFleur was a part of in Washington and Atlanta averaged 560.7 PA/year. That is with Robert Griffin III in 2012 only attempting 393 passes, bringing that average way down. Without 2012 factored in, the average jumps up to 579.3 pass attempts per year.
This data suggests that Rodgers is primed to chuck it all over the yard in 2019. LaFleur also has experience dealing with MVP type QB’s as well, coaching Matt Ryan for two years in Atlanta and Jared Goff for 1 year in LA. Rodgers was QB1 (four times) and QB2 (three times) out of 11 seasons under McCarthy. If he can stay healthy, there is no reason to think LaFleur wouldn’t put him in position to repeat this feat again.
Aaron Jones (Projected RB1)
LaFleur is already ahead of the game from when he arrived in Tennessee to coach the Titans. He employs a zone blocking scheme like the one McCarthy ran and will already have the offensive linemen in place to run his type of offense. Former OC Terry Robiskie and HC Mike Mularkey ran a more power blocking scheme. Learning under Kubiak, McVay and the Shanahan’s, we can project bell-cow type work from Jones if he is indeed the RB1 (everyone but McCarthy knew he should have been last year). Also, the targets in the running game should be there as well.
If we expect similar targets from Jones based on a Shanahan offense, then we see that they are well above league average when he has a capable pass catcher in the backfield. The three years (2012-2014) that the targets were below average, Alfred Morris was the RB in Washington and Freeman/Coleman were the backs in the ATL.
The 2018 data is not shown but Shanny targeted his backs 107 times as coach of the 49ers. Look for a better screen game from them as well with the bunch/stack formations opening the RB to run a route down the field. Expect similar usage under LaFleur. By the way, the rushing lines for Morris the two years the targets weren’t there are 335-1613-13 (2012) and 276-1275-7 (2013).
Davante Adams (WR1)
Regardless if LaFleur employs more of a McVay or Shanahan offensive scheme, the WR1 will not struggle for targets. McVay is more of a “spread it around” coach. His WR1 averages 103.5 targets per year, with the WR2 averaging 91.75 targets per year, and WR3 averaging 72.75 targets per year.
Shanahan tends to lean on his WR1 a little more, with Julio Jones seeing a whopping 203 targets in 2015. Prior to this year, Shanny WR1 have averaged a cool 146.2 targets per year over the last five years. In Tennessee, the offense featured a lot of bunch formations as well. This will force zone coverage and more open looks for Adams. Whichever of these philosophies LaFleur implements, Adams will be the stud he has been in the past.
Equanimeous St. Brown/Marquez Valdes-Scantling (WR2)
After Adams, things are sort of cloudy at the WR2 and WR3 spots. St. Brown had a good rookie season before being held out week 17. MVS also showed signs of brilliance. The data chart above shows the WR2 position should be a valuable one if we can peg who will take over. This is a spot that averaged 91.75 targets in four seasons under McVay and 77.64 under Shanahan in 11 years. The young duo got experience last year due to the departure of Jordy Nelson and the injuries to Randall Cobb. It will be an interesting camp battle between the two.
Randall Cobb/Geronimo Allison/Jake Kumerow (WR3)
Randall Cobb is a free agent and coming off another injury-plagued season. They may be able to bring him back on the cheap due to all the injuries and lack of interest elsewhere. Kumerow and Allison are restricted free agents, both coming off their own injuries.
This could be a valuable spot in the fantasy world as well. However, until we know who will occupy it, it’s hard to get too excited. They may look to the draft for a Hunter Renfrow (Clemson) or Andy Isabella (UMass). They have a lot of needs elsewhere so it could be best to pursue a Cobb return.
Jimmy Graham (TE1)
Tight ends for a McVay/Shanahan disciple are somewhat easy to predict. If you have a stud TE, you feed him. Jordan Reed saw 65 targets in 11 games (2014), 114 targets (2015) and 89 in 12 games (2016) all under McVay. Shanahan most recently turned George Kittle into a stud and always fed Owen Daniels in Houston and Chris Cooley in Washington.
The problem is, Jimmy Graham is not a stud. Actually, he may be a liability in this offense. The TE position in the LaFleur offense needs to show some semblance of an ability to block. Graham cannot do that. When examining his career low two TD’s last year, large contract and increasing age, there is a good chance the Packers attack this position in the deepest TE draft since 2006, when a record nine tight ends were drafted.
It is difficult to predict exactly who LaFleur will model his offense after. It would make the most sense to mold the two together. My best bet was to give you the data from both McVay and Shanahan and try to predict what positions will thrive in this offense. I would bet that Aaron Jones sees a huge uptick in usage. Davante Adams will be his usual dominant self. After that, we need to wait until April to see how the adjust the roster.
It would behoove them to start and rebuild the offensive line as well in Green Bay. Thank you for reading the 2nd article in the new coaches, new places series and as always thank you for visiting FF Statistics.