Underrated Mike LaFleur Strategy Could Build Championship Foundation for Jets

San Francisco 49ers coaches

Getty A group of San Francisco 49ers coaches formulating a gameplan.

On Thursday, January 21, the New York Jets officially announced the hiring of Mike LaFleur as their new offensive coordinator.

A lot of us think we know what that offense is going to look like, but none of us really can project what is unknown.

LaFleur has never called plays before during his brief seven-year career in the NFL.

Although there is one offensive philosophy that continues to go under the radar that’ll prove to be a foundation for this Jets offense for many years to come.

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Back to the Ground and Pound Days of Old

How the Jets crashed and burned after back-to-back AFC Championship appearances | CollapseIt may feel like an alternate universe but there was a time when Rex Ryan, Mark Sanchez and the New York Jets were setting the NFL on fire, in a good way. They reached back-to-back AFC Championship games in their first two seasons together and the future finally looked bright for a franchise built on…2019-05-23T16:12:39Z

Over the last two years, we’ve been introduced to Matt LaFleur, Mike’s older brother, on a national stage. The Green Bay Packers have gone 26-6 over that stretch reaching back-to-back NFC title games with explosive offenses led by their head coach, the older LaFleur brother.

With that on the forefront of everyone’s mind, several people have speculated that perhaps we could see that type of offense with the Jets in 2021. A high-flying passing attack that could devastate defenses with a lethal aerial assault.

Those who believe that have their heads in the clouds. The Jets still only have a rookie quarterback under center, despite his talent, it’s extremely unlikely the team lets Zach Wilson cook in 2021.

Instead, the foundation of this team will be establishing the run game.

It’s the perfect security blanket for a young quarterback and provides a nice base to work from offensively.

Proven Championship Philosophy

"We're All Competing To Get Better" | RB Tevin Coleman Media Availability | The New York Jets | NFLRB Tevin Coleman speaks to the media following OTA practice (6/10). Subscribe to the New York Jets YT Channel: bit.ly/2KRtBJd For more Jets NFL Action: bit.ly/2rkCbal #NewYorkJets #Jets #NFL For more Jets action: newyorkjets.com/2021-06-10T19:59:10Z

While the younger LaFleur brother may be a bit unproven as a play-caller, the scheme he’s bringing over sure isn’t.

LaFleur has been a part of three different organizations in the NFL as a coach and the one commonality among his different ventures is Kyle Shanahan. Wherever he’s gone, LaFleur has followed.

In two of the three stops, a Tevin Coleman rushing attack has taken the team to a Super Bowl: 2016 with the Atlanta Falcons and 2019 with the San Francisco 49ers.

Speaking of championship-level play, the most recent iterations of good Jets football has been led by a ferocious rushing attack. It was the perfect balance to control the game and have something to lean on.

Over the last decade that featured the longest active NFL playoff drought in the form of the Jets, they’ve gotten away from that very identity.

In a recent AFC East training camp preview on NFL.com, Jeremy Bergman listed the Jets’ running back situation as the “most important positional battle to watch”:

“New York has not boasted a 1,000-yard rusher since 2015, cycling through washed veterans and late-round picks looking for the right combo. The Jets might’ve found it this year with their newest additions: Tevin Coleman, rookie Michael Carter and, perhaps most importantly, offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur.”

With a 17 game season, the biggest in NFL history, both Coleman and Carter will have a chance at 1,000 yards but this won’t be a one-headed monster. Instead, LaFleur will opt for a running back by committee approach.

That reduces the wear-and-tear on any one member of the group and also it presents defenses a variety of challenges. Each of the running backs on the Jets roster presents something a little different:

  • Coleman (scheme knowledge and veteran savvy)
  • Carter (great vision and low center of gravity)
  • Ty Johnson (pure unadulterated explosiveness)
  • La’Mical Perine (brutus beefcake and a jack of all trades player that does everything solidly, but nothing spectacularly)

Not enough fans have come to the realization that the offensive plan of attack will feature a ton of rushing attempts for the Jets in 2021. Which in theory should set Wilson up nicely to take advantage in the play-action passing game.

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