Rams

Rams lose offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur to Tennessee Titans

When the Tennessee Titans interviewed Rams offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur two weeks ago, it was assumed it was strictly for their head-coach opening. It seems the Titans were also using the opportunity to get to know LaFleur better, in case they decided to bring him in as their new offensive coordinator.

The Titans could offer LaFleur the chance to coordinate the offense and call plays, something the Rams could not, given that head coach Sean McVay calls plays and is the most dominant voice relative to game planning and coordinating that side of the ball.

That’s exactly what the Titans are doing. After they chose Texans defensive coordinator Mike Vrabel as their new head coach, the Titans hired LaFleur as their offensive coordinator Tuesday and will put the entire unit into the hands of the 38-year-old.

The Rams will promote offensive line coach Aaron Kromer to run-game coordinator and tight ends coach Shane Waldron to pass-game coordinator to fill the void. Kromer and Waldron are expected to retain their position-coaching duties.

Tyrone McKenzie, an assistant special-teams coach with the Rams under John Fassel, also will leave to become the Titans’ inside linebackers coach, as first reported by NFL Network.

McVay could have blocked LaFleur’s move, because in title it is a lateral one, but the Rams have been supportive of LaFleur’s career and his desire to move forward, and they considered LaFleur’s ability to call plays to be a progression.

LaFleur previously worked as quarterbacks coach in Atlanta (2015-16), for Notre Dame (2014) and under McVay in Washington (2010-13).

“I’m excited for Matt LaFleur and his family as he transitions to the Titans as offensive coordinator,” McVay said. “We’re grateful for his contribution to the Rams and our NFC West Championship season last year. As we move to 2018, we are confident in the leadership and guidance of Aaron Kromer and Shane Waldron as they begin their roles as run coordinator and pass coordinator.”

Presumably, the Rams will go forward without an official offensive coordinator. They hired Jedd Fisch last week in the role of “senior offensive assistant,” but Fisch, the former UCLA offensive coordinator, apparently will not move into LaFleur’s role. That’s not an extraordinary decision. Kyle Shanahan did not have a coordinator as San Francisco’s first-year coach in 2017.

Kromer and Waldron joined the Rams last season, with McVay. Kromer, 50, has been in the NFL since 2001 and was Chicago’s offensive coordinator in 2013 and 2014. Waldron, 38, most recently was an offensive quality-control coach under McVay in Washington.

Before becoming a member of the Rams’ staff, Kromer spent the prior two seasons with the Buffalo Bills. Waldron, who enters his fifth NFL season in 2018, previously held offensive coaching roles in the NFL with the Washington Redskins and New England Patriots.

The Rams also lost Greg Olson, their quarterbacks coach, to the Raiders as their new offensive coordinator. Zac Taylor, an assistant receivers coach, got promoted into that role.

The question remains how much of the offensive coaching upheaval will affect third-year quarterback Jared Goff, who rebounded from a shaky rookie season to making the Pro Bowl in his second year, and an offense that went from the worst in 2016 to the best in the NFL in 2017.

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