By GREG BEACHAM
AP Sports Writer
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Mike LaFleur is going to wait until he’s found a new house and new schools for his kids before he worries about how to make Sean McVay’s stressful job easier with the Los Angeles Rams.
The Rams’ new offensive coordinator is still eager to do right by McVay in their first chance to coach together.
“Right now my mind is totally into, let’s finish the staff, and then let’s get to know these players,” LaFleur said Tuesday. “Let’s figure out what our roster is going to be moving forward, and then let’s get the foundation of what this 2023 Rams offense is going to be. And then whatever happens in August through December, I’m going to be there to support and do my part.”
LaFleur said talks about any specific coaching duties are “on the back burner” while the Rams flesh out their support staff and while LaFleur’s family settles, but he is eager to embrace whatever responsibilities McVay is willing to give to him.
McVay clearly values LaFleur’s smarts and experience, particularly from his long history alongside Kyle Shanahan before LaFleur spent the past two years in charge of the New York Jets’ offense. But LaFleur isn’t likely to be the Rams’ play-caller, since McVay has shown no interest in giving up that job even while lamenting his inability to delegate responsibility during his public struggles with burnout over the past three offseasons.
“It was a pretty simple decision” to join McVay with the Rams, LaFleur said Tuesday. “You’re going into an organization that 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 … what more could you ask for?”
LaFleur was one year out of college when his older brother, Matt, first told him about McVay, an upstart 24-year-old trying to join Matt on the Washington coaching staff.
“I’ll never forget, they interviewed him in Washington for the quality control job, and I remember my brother calling me up and (saying) he was awesome, and he kept on,” Mike LaFleur said with a smile. “I was like, how good can this QC truly be, especially (when) he’s as young as I am? And now I think we all know what he was talking about.”
Mike LaFleur met McVay for the first time later that year, and they’ve kept up a professional friendship for the past 13 years. They’ll finally work together for the first time in Los Angeles after LaFleur became McVay’s fourth offensive coordinator in seven years with the Rams — and that includes two seasons when Los Angeles didn’t have a formal offensive coordinator.
LaFleur parted ways with the Jets last month shortly after the end of his second season as Robert Saleh’s offensive coordinator. His first experience running an NFL offense wasn’t always smooth, but LaFleur believes the experience he gained far outweighed the bad times.
“I won’t pass those two years up for anything,” LaFleur said. “We decided two years ago we were going to go young, and we did, and we committed to that. There was things I won’t share in terms of what I would do differently, but it was a great learning experience about building a roster with a lot of youth. I was proud of a lot of things we did, and unfortunately it slipped away from us on the back end, but fortunately I’m in a great situation here.”
Some of the Jets’ problems came down to poor quarterback play, but LaFleur is now joining an offense run by Matthew Stafford, a proven 14-year veteran and a Super Bowl champion.
LaFleur wasn’t about to publicly compare Stafford to the likes of Zach Wilson, Joe Flacco or Mike White, but he knows his new job will be a whole lot easier when Stafford is healthy.
“It’s going to be fun,” LaFleur said. “Coaches can teach players a lot of things, but in more instances, players can teach coaches a lot of things, too. I’m excited to get working with (Stafford), 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.”
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