First-year coach Matt LaFleur has a chance to lead the Green Bay Packers to an NFC championship and a trip to Super Bowl 54 against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday night.
It's the latest challenge in what has been a successful pairing with two-time NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers. That relationship between quarterback and coach was the focus for much of 2019 as the Packers built a 13-3 record and won the NFC North for the first time since 2016.
Now LaFleur is the first coach to reach a conference title game in his first season since Jim Harbaugh did it with the 49ers in 2011. With a win Sunday, LaFleur would become the sixth rookie head coach to appear in the Super Bowl.
So who is Matt LaFleur? We take a closer look at the head coach.
Who is Matt LaFleur? Facts about the Packers coach
- LaFleur replaced Mike McCarthy as Packers head coach on Jan. 8, 2019
- He became one of five head coaches in NFL history to win at least 13 games in his first season at the helm of a team
- He’s off the Sean McVay coaching tree, but his experience is detailed in college and the NFL
- He looks like Ryan Reynolds. See the resemblance?
Matt LaFleur age: How old is the Packers' coach?
LaFleur, 40, is one of four 40-and-under coaches in the NFL. LaFleur turned 40 on Nov. 14, 2019. San Francisco's Kyle Shanahan is a month younger, and Arizona's Kliff Kingsbury turned 40 in August. Matt Nagy and Adam Gase are 41.
Of course, the Rams' Sean McVay, 33, is the youngest coach in the NFL.
Between LaFleur (40 years, 66 days old) and Shanahan (40 years, 36 days old), Sunday's NFC championship game marks the first conference championship game featuring two head coaches under the age of 41 since 1970.
LaFleur was 11 when Bill Belichick coached his first game as a head coach with the Cleveland Browns in 1991.
Matt LaFleur's wife, kids and family life
LaFleur is married to wife BreAnne, and they have two sons named Luke and Tye, who are 5 and 7 years old, respectively.
LaFleur's father, Dennis, played at Central Michigan and was a longtime assistant for the Chippewas.
Matt's brother, Mike, is the passing game coordinator for the 49ers.
Matt LaFleur's relationship with Aaron Rodgers
This was over-analyzed through the preseason and into the regular season, especially after LaFleur and Rodgers had differing viewpoints on joint practices with the Texans in August.
LaFleur and Rodgers also had a heated exchange on the sideline in Week 2 against the Vikings.
“It wasn't a big deal,” Rodgers said afterward. “I can't say we were yelling how much we love each other, but we definitely weren't MF'ing each other.”
Rodgers has been learning LaFleur's offense all season. The QB posted modest totals for his standards in the regular season: 250 passing yards per game, 26 TDs, 4 INTs, a completion percentage of 62.0 and a passer rating of 95.4.
Green Bay's offense finished the regular season ranked 15th in points per game and 18th in yards per game.
Where is Matt LaFleur from?
LaFleur was born in Mount Pleasant, Mich., and he attended Western Michigan for two seasons as a wide receiver before transferring to Saginaw Valley State.
LaFleur was a three-year starter at Division II Saginaw Valley State, and the Cardinals had a 29-8 record and made three playoffs in that stretch. LaFleur played in the National Indoor Football League for the Omaha Beef (2003) and Billings Outlaws (2004).
LaFleur also started his coaching career at Saginaw Valley State, then spent two seasons as an offensive assistant at Central Michigan from 2004-05 before his coaching career took off.
Matt LaFleur's salary with the Packers
LaFleur's contract with the Packers averages between $5 million and $5.5 million annually for four years, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. It includes a fifth-year club option.
Matt LaFleur teams coached
LaFleur stayed mostly in college early in his coaching career with stints as a quarterbacks coach at Northern Michigan (2006) and as an offensive coordinator at Ashland (2007).
He made his pro debut as a quality control coach for the Houston Texans (2008-09) before four years as the Washington Redskins quarterback coach (2010-13).
LaFleur was the quarterbacks coach at Notre Dame in 2014. Everett Golson had 29 TDs that season, but he also had 14 interceptions for a 8-5 team. LaFleur went to the Atlanta Falcons from there as the quarterbacks coach from 2015-16.
LaFleur's most publicized coaching connection was one year with the Rams and McVay in 2017. Los Angeles led the NFL with 29.9 points per game that season. LaFleur was the offensive coordinator for the Titans in 2018, when they ranked 27th with 19.4 points per game.
NFL UNIFORM RANKINGS:
Packers' look ranks high, but not No. 1
Packers head coach history
LaFleur and legendary coach Vince Lombardi, who won five NFL championships with the Packers from 1959-67, are the only Green Bay coaches to have won their first three games on the job. Lombardi finished 7-5 in his first season with Green Bay in 1959. LaFleur finished 13-3 in 2019.
Two other Green Bay coaches have won Super Bowls.
Mike Holmgren went 9-7 in his first season with the Packers, and his relationship with Brett Favre developed. Green Bay won Super Bowl 31 in Holmgren's fifth season.
McCarthy went 8-8 in his first season with the Packers in 2006 before leading the Packers to the NFC championship game the following season with a 13-3 record. The Packers won Super Bowl XLV in McCarthy's fifth season, which was Rodgers' second as a starter.
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