The NFL is unique because it challenges our perceived notions on a yearly basis.
It’s a sport predicated on unpredictability, sans the Cleveland Browns, who stay on brand by being terrible every year.
For example, five of the six 2017 NFC playoff teams missed the postseason in 2016. The Philadelphia Eagles went from 7-9 to 13-3, and ended up winning the Super Bowl without their MVP-caliber quarterback, Carson Wentz, after losing him in December.
Perhaps the most drastic single-team turnaround in 2017 transpired in Los Angeles, where the Rams went from the least glamorous team imaginable to the NFL’s most explosive offense.
Luckily for the Tennessee Titans — a team who has also experienced a turnaround, in its own right — one of the architects of Los Angeles’ immediate turnaround is now their offensive coordinator — Matt LaFleur.
LaFleur’s track record is as impressive as any, especially over the last two seasons. In 2016, he was Atlanta’s quarterback coach, a year in which the Falcons led the NFL in scoring thanks to the historic execution of quarterback Matt Ryan.
Last season, he was the Rams’ offensive coordinator. What followed was an offensive transformation that saw Los Angeles go from 32nd in scoring (14 PPG in 2016) to the top spot in 2017 (29.9).
Furthermore, quarterback Jared Goff went from all-time awful during his rookie season to one of the league’s most productive signal callers this past season. Running back Todd Gurley also experienced a resurgence, as he transformed into an MVP candidate after routine stuffings at the line of scrimmage in 2016.
For Titans fans, LaFleur will prove to be a breath of fresh air after Terry Robiskie’s offensive scheme halted the growth of quarterback Marcus Mariota and caused the former No. 2 overall pick to have his worst season yet.
Now, Mariota has an offensive mind who understands how to maximize potential. He obviously did so with Goff, increasing his completion percentage by eight points (54 percent to 62 percent) and his YPA by nearly three full yards (5.3 to 8).
LaFleur managed to rip Goff’s bust label off by designing an offense predicated on spreading the ball around and limiting Goff’s downfield throws. Mariota isn’t of the gunslinger variety, but spreading the field open and providing Mariota with an assortment of options within a close proximity is what NFL offenses are trending toward.
Although Goff is more prone to launching an aerial assault due to his ridiculous arm, Mariota proved several times throughout 2016 he could throw downfield with impeccable accuracy and touch.
Of course, life was simpler for LaFleur with the likes of Gurley and Julio Jones existing, and as talented as Tennessee’s offense is capable of becoming, its roster features zero players on the level of a Gurley or Jones.
Regardless, what’s important to understand is that the NFL is a year-to-year project for every team. No team, aside from Cleveland, is incapable of orchestrating a massive turnaround.
But what makes LaFleur’s arrival to Nashville that much more exciting is the Titans’ current state. This isn’t a roster devoid of a franchise quarterback or quality pieces on offense.
Tennessee is locked, loaded, and ready to go.
It’s up to LaFleur to bring the glitz and glamor of his LA offense to Music City.