NFL teams are looking for offensive coaches, and Monday’s decision by the Packers to hire Titans offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur underscores it.
With the pendulum squarely pointed in the direction of the Os not the Xs (solid defensive performances from wild-card weekend notwithstanding), teams have placed great importance on having in place a staff of offensive coaches who can develop quarterbacks and hone playbooks and strategies and concepts and otherwise get the most out of the collection of 11 players charged with moving the ball and scoring the points.
The fact that the Titans, one year after hiring a defensive coach, find themselves looking for a new offensive coordinator underscores the problem that teams will face when hiring defensive coaches. If your offensive coordinator has any degree of success (and, frankly, the Titans didn’t have much last year, finishing 25th in total yards and 29th in passing yards), he’ll be gone and your defensive head coach will be stuck looking for a replacement.
Throw in offseason workout rules that prevent the coaches from meeting with the players, and a team with a new offensive coordinator (especially if it hires someone from outside the building) has a built-in disadvantage heading into the next year.
That’s where the Titans currently stand. If coach Mike Vrabel promotes someone from his current staff, it will be easier to move forward. If he hires someone new, it will become a challenge to get everyone up to speed, if the new coordinator will be doing things differently. It’s a reality of the league’s limitations on offseason contact with players, and it hurts any team with a returning head coach and not a returning offensive coordinator.
Vrabel is good enough at his job to find someone capable, and to move forward in a positive fashion. As Peter King explained on Tuesday’s PFT Live, good coaches have a constant “ready” list of potential replacements for every member of his staff, and Vrabel surely was aware that LaFleur would be gone after only a year. (Actually, LaFleur was Vrabel’s first fallback option after his top choice, Ryan Day, opted to stay at Ohio State in 2018.)
All that said, continuity remains much better than change. And as coaching staffs with defensive coaches lose their offensive coordinators, the defensive coaches will be at even greater risk of eventually being replaced by an offensive coach who won’t have that same problem.