Inexperienced Bay Packers coach Matt LaFleur and Los Angeles Rams coach Sean McVay say their friendship and shared historical past shouldn’t have a lot of an impression on their groups’ upcoming NFC divisional playoff matchup.
LaFleur was the Rams’ offensive coordinator in 2017 throughout the first 12 months of McVay’s head teaching tenure after they spent 4 seasons as assistants on Mike Shanahan’s Washington employees. The highest-seeded Packers (13-3) host the Rams (11-6) on Saturday with an NFC championship recreation berth at stake.
“It’s not one thing that even involves my thoughts as soon as all through the game-planning course of,” LaFleur mentioned. “You’re centered on what you’re seeing on tape and attempting to give attention to among the belongings you do properly and perhaps attempting to implement some new issues. The only focus has at all times acquired to be on the opposition, 100% of your effort has acquired to be on the opposition and fewer about who you’ve private relationships with.”
LaFleur says he realized his lesson as a first-year head coach final season matching up twice with the San Francisco 49ers, whose employees included his youthful brother Mike as passing recreation coordinator. San Francisco’s head coach is Kyle Shanahan, who labored at Washington with Matt LaFleur and McVay from 2010-13.
The 49ers beat the Packers soundly each instances, together with a 37-20 choice within the NFC championship recreation.
“I most likely perhaps considered it extra final 12 months, whereas I’ve sort of been there, carried out that, in regard to that,” LaFleur mentioned. “(Los Angeles) is a rattling good soccer crew. If you happen to’re specializing in something apart from who you’re going towards, then you definately’re losing time.”
McVay says going through a pal and former colleague is considerably completely different as a result of every coach is aware of somewhat concerning the different’s tendencies. However he mentioned that issue “could be a little bit blown out of proportion” and identified that each of them have advanced since their years working collectively.
“I don’t suppose you need to be naïve to the truth that they know a few issues that you simply need to be sure you’re conscious of,” McVay mentioned. “However I additionally suppose you’ve acquired to watch out of not overthinking it. It’s about your crew versus the opposing crew.”
LaFleur’s had a few alternatives already this season to match up towards certainly one of his former bosses.
Inexperienced Bay beat Atlanta 30-16 on Oct. 5 earlier than Dan Quinn was fired because the Falcons’ coach and knocked off Tennessee 40-14 on Dec. 29. LaFleur was the quarterbacks coach on Quinn’s Atlanta employees from 2015-16 and labored for Mike Vrabel at Tennessee in 2018.
LaFleur has a deeper historical past with McVay.
“That’s certainly one of my closest associates in life,” LaFleur mentioned. “I like him like a brother.”
McVay credit his time engaged on Mike Shanahan’s employees with LaFleur and the Shanahans for serving to mildew him into the coach he’s now. LaFleur says he sensed McVay was a training star on the rise as quickly as they met.
“He’s like my brother, like my massive brother,” McVay mentioned of LaFleur. “We’ve been shut for a very long time. I can keep in mind even simply going again to after we began working in Washington, he and his spouse lived throughout the road, proper once they had their first son, Luke. That was earlier than I had met my fiancée, and so I’d come third-wheel it with them loads. They sort of took me underneath their wing.”
After Mike Shanahan was fired on the shut of a 3-13 season in 2013, McVay remained at Washington as a part of Jay Gruden’s employees whereas LaFleur spent a 12 months as Notre Dame’s quarterbacks coach earlier than heading to Atlanta.
They reunited in 2017 when McVay turned the Rams’ head coach and employed LaFleur. Throughout their lone season collectively in Los Angeles, the Rams went 11-5 and received an NFC West title after going 4-12 the 12 months earlier than their arrival.
LaFleur left the next 12 months to turn into offensive coordinator for the Tennessee Titans and have the play-calling tasks he lacked at Los Angeles. One 12 months later, he turned the Packers’ head coach.
Each males have loved extraordinary early success.
The Rams reached the Tremendous Bowl within the second 12 months of McVay’s tenure, whereas LaFleur was in Tennessee. LaFleur owns a 27-7 document (together with playoff video games) in two seasons at Inexperienced Bay.
“I believe having an identification is a extremely essential factor to establishing one thing offensively,” McVay mentioned. “You possibly can actually see that identification come to life once you flip the Packers tape on and that’s an actual credit score to Matt, their coaches and their gamers.”
The respect is mutual. It simply won’t be obvious this weekend.
“He’s an amazing pal of mine,” LaFleur mentioned, “however the gloves will likely be off on Saturday.”
AP Sports activities Author Greg Beacham contributed to this report.
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