INDIANAPOLIS -- As the Tennessee Titans get excited about what offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur can do to develop Marcus Mariota, LaFleur's old boss doesn't expect it to take long for him to have an even bigger responsibility.
Rams head coach Sean McVay said Wednesday that he believes there's a "good chance" that LaFleur will be a head coach "within three years" -- that is, before the Titans are scheduled to play the Rams again in 2021.
"I'm very confident in what Matt will do," McVay said. "And if he's a head coach by then, can't wait to face him."
LaFleur was one of three candidates to interview with Titans general manager Jon Robinson and controlling owner Amy Adams Strunk for the Titans head-coaching job before the team hired Mike Vrabel. It was considered a major coup that the Titans were able to get LaFleur as their offensive coordinator.
"That’s an unique situation," Vrabel said. "When I brought his name up to Jon and Amy, they were excited because he was somebody that they had targeted to lead their team, and I think they felt comfortable with him. After him and I were able to have a conversation, they were excited that we could potentially move forward with bringing him onto our staff."
McVay could have blocked the Titans' pursuit of LaFleur as an offensive coordinator, given that LaFleur's new job technically represents a parallel move from his position in Los Angeles rather than a promotion. But McVay is a big believer in seeing coaches grow. The significant time until the Rams and Titans are scheduled to play again was a factor in his letting LaFleur leave his non-playcalling offensive coordinator gig with the Rams to become Tennessee's playcalling coordinator.
LaFleur, 38, is entering his second year as an offensive coordinator and first playcalling job, but there has been precedent for young offensive coordinators being expedited to head-coach positions. McVay and Kyle Shanahan, both of whom LaFleur coached under, are the latest examples.
A quick promotion to head coach for LaFleur would be contingent on the quarterback specialist getting the most out of Mariota, the Titans' franchise quarterback, who is entering an important fourth pro season.
LaFleur has spoken in depth about making Mariota feel more comfortable, adjusting his scheme to what the No. 2 pick in the 2015 NFL Draft does well and giving him easy opportunities. LaFleur has helped get the most out of quarterbacks such as Matt Ryan (2016, QB coach for MVP season) and Jared Goff (2017, offensive coordinator for huge improvement year).
“Matt did a great job of being able to communicate with our quarterbacks, being able to organize some of the game plans,” McVay said. “He was a great sounding board for me to bounce things off of. He had a huge influence and was instrumental in the success we had offensively.”
It will be all LaFleur's offense in Tennessee under Vrabel, a former linebacker and defensive coordinator who'll be trusting him to get the most out of that side of the ball. The Titans have already indicated that they plan to run a zone-blocking scheme and carry over many elements from the Rams' and Falcons' offenses.
McVay is taking pleasure in at least one element of losing a good friend and important right-hand man on his offense. "Now I’ll be able to call him and bust his chops like he did for me after some of those bad playcalls I made," he joked.