Matt LaFleur Looks Back On The Things He Learned From Mike Vrabel During Their One Year Partnership in Tennessee – BlackSportsOnline
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Matt LaFleur Looks Back On The Things He Learned From Mike Vrabel During Their One Year Partnership in Tennessee

In his short time as a head coach, Mike Vrabel has never gone through the situation he’ll face on Sunday night. For the first time in his short coaching career, Vrabel will be coaching against one of his former assistants, Matt LaFleur.

“It’ll be great to see Matt[LaFleur],” Vrabel said. “He’s done a fantastic job with that football team[Green Bay].”

LaFleur was the Tennessee Titans’ offensive coordinator during Vrabel’s first year as a head coach in 2018. He planted the seeds of the zone run scheme the Titans still faithfully use to this day, and was even the overseer of Derrick Henry and Corey Davis’ career years statistically before they both improved on those figures this season.

While those two ultra important players did step up their games under LaFleur, the numbers didn’t look so hot for the entire offensive unit as a whole.

Staying Strong Even When The Offense Was Struggling

Tennessee had one of the more boring offenses in all of football in 2018, finishing at or near the bottom third of the league in scoring, yards per play, offensive touchdowns per game, total yards per game, and passing yards per game.

There weren’t enough big plays, the running game was inconsistent, and the passing game just couldn’t find its footing during the season. Poor offensive play like that wasn’t expected when LaFleur came to Tennessee, mostly because of his part in helping Sean McVay change the Los Angeles Rams’ offense from a beaten and battered one, to a high scoring one that stole the hearts of football fans across the country.

However, even with the numbers being as bad they were and the play being as painfully average as it was, LaFleur still understood the grand scheme of things, and Vrabel’s constant preaching aided him in doing so.

“I know the offensive numbers weren’t great when I was there[in Tennessee], but it was always about winning football games,” LaFleur said. “No matter who’s in there, who you’re going against, it’s about playing complimentary football.”

This is one of the few lessons LaFleur learned from Vrabel during their one year together, and its safe to say he’s taken the basis of most of them to his current job in Green Bay. It’s seemingly helped him too, as he’s won the most games through 2 seasons than any other coach in Packers history, and has watched his offense continue to roll during the 2 years he’s been in charge.

“I think that’s[playing complimentary football] helped me here[in Green Bay] as a play caller.”

Developing as a Leader of Men

Even if your’re winning games and the unit you’re flaunting your expertise in is rolling, you still need to command respect from your guys in the locker room, and sell them on the culture and process you’re trying to insert into the team.

“He[Vrabel] held you accountable,” LaFleur said. “Whether you’re the best player or the last man on that roster, and that goes for every coach as well. He’s never afraid to say it and call it like it is, you always respect that.”

It’s why teams these days have desired more head coaches that can command a room, and rally their guys during crucial points of the season. Those qualities matter a great deal, so much so that they can be a factor in determining a number of potential outcomes for your season.

You don’t have to be a rah rah, outspoken type of coach to excel in using these type of qualities either. You can lead by example, and prove to your guys that what you’re asking them to do works, and will put them in good positions to win.

LaFleur isn’t one of those extremely loud coaches that got on your nerves as a kid, he’ll probably be the first one to tell you that. But that doesn’t mean he didn’t gain anything by working alongside one in Vrabel, in fact, you could say he learned plenty.

“He[Vrabel] is so direct,” LaFleur explained. “He has a vision, he did a great job of articulating that vision. Everybody knew where they stood, everybody knew what the expectations were, he held everybody accountable.”

Your players are grown men, if you can’t earn their respect and attention, especially during important parts of the season, you’ll start to get tuned out eventually.


While Vrabel and LaFleur’s partnership only lasted a year, LaFleur learned some important things that he uses today as a coach.

These things may seem small and minor in nature, but they go a long way in helping your character and will grow as a leader of men. LaFleur appreciates the teachings he learned while working alongside Vrabel, but he’d probably love nothing more than to continue to beat Vrabel’s Titans, and continue the journey towards locking up the NFC’s number one seed.

“I’m very grateful to have served a year under him[Vrabel], and learn from him.”