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Rams New Coach Mike LaFleur: How Will Offense Change?

The Rams have hired ex-Jets offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur to bring stability and continuity back to the Rams offense for 2023 and beyond.

The Los Angeles Rams have found their new offensive coordinator.

And … in the spirit of the recently green-lit final season of Netflix’s Cobra Kai, they have secured the services of a sensei with expertise in finding balance.

Mike LaFleur, most recently of the New York Jets, has agreed to take over the position vacated by Liam Coen, who returned as the Kentucky Wildcats OC and quarterbacks coach earlier this month.

The 36-year-old joins the Rams fold after spending two seasons under head coach Robert Saleh as the Jets' offensive coordinator. Despite his brief stint in the AFC East, LaFleur is well-versed in the NFC West, having spent four seasons as the San Francisco 49ers passing game coordinator, as well as two years as the team's wide receivers coach.

Still, familiarity is not all that LaFleur will be bringing to the table.

As a disciple of San Francisco’s offensive philosophy, LaFleur will undoubtedly look to incorporate a greater emphasis on using the running game as a strong complement to the passing game. In fact, he is at his best when utilizing 12-personnel packages (one running back, two tight ends, and two receivers and empty backfield formations on third down.

While coach Sean McVay and the Rams are no strangers to this type of offensive attack, they have become increasingly reactionary. 

An abundance of injuries on the scoring side of the ball is likely to have had a detrimental effect on their game planning, LaFleur should help McVay re-establish some stability and continuity the Rams enjoyed during McVay’s first few years in Tinseltown.

In essence, LaFleur’s hiring seems to signal a ‘back to basics' approach for the Rams’ offense, which will likely focus on their efforts on distributing the football to their receivers, strategically testing defenses deep and using the run game to grind down their opponent.

To do so, the Rams would be smart to upgrade their offensive line, which struggled with injury and consistency in 2022. 

While there are solid components in place, Los Angeles will need additional veteran depth, along with a bit of reserve youth to keep quarterback Matthew Stafford healthy and upright. LaFleur’s influence, especially his prowess in melding both gap and outside zone blocking schemes, should force at least an evaluation of the offensive line in the coming weeks.

During his tenure in New York, as well as his time as an assistant to Kyle Shanahan in San Francisco. LaFleur ran a balanced offense, which he is all but certain to do in Los Angeles. That not only means incorporating greater use of the run to facilitate play action but proportionately mixing in passing plays, as well. 

With prominent pass catchers such as Cooper Kupp, Tyler Higbee and Allen Robinson sidelined with injuries, the Rams' offense became detrimentally predictable. Though LaFluer is certainly looking forward to working with such a talented group, his style will assuredly spread the wealth to multiple pass catchers, and offensive weapons.

Balance will be crucial in Los Angeles in 2023, and Mike LaFleur should help the Rams' offense find it. 

Follow Mike D’Abate on Twitter @mdabateNFL.

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