Matt LaFleur has won more games in his first three seasons than any coach in National Football League history, so it’s no surprise that members of his staff are getting noticed. Offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett and passing game coordinator/quarterbacks coach Luke Getsy will soon interview with teams looking for a new head coach.
If Hackett leaves, LaFleur won’t have to look far to find a replacement. After adhering to the league’s Rooney Rule and interviewing multiple candidates, he’d almost certainly end up promoting Getsy – if, of course, he doesn’t leave as well. And while it may be a bit soon for the 37-year-old to be a head coach, he could receive offers from teams looking to hire an offensive coordinator with playcalling responsibilities – something he wouldn’t have in Green Bay. The point is, there’s at least a chance LaFleur might have to replace both his offensive coordinator and his QBs coach after the season.
Hackett, who interviewed with the Falcons a year ago, should be at the top of any team’s wish list – and not just because of how good his offenses have been the past few seasons. Unlike former Packers offensive coordinators Ben McAdoo and Joe Philbin, who flopped as head coaches, Hackett has called plays in the past, and maybe more importantly, he has the type of engaging personality that can lead a team. That’s a trait neither McAdoo nor Philbin possessed.
Getsy has served two stints with the Packers, working under LaFleur (2019-present) and former head coach Mike McCarthy (2014-2017). He’s cultivated an excellent relationship with Aaron Rodgers the past three seasons, which is incredibly important. Getsy’s only prior experience as an offensive coordinator came with Mississippi State, where he spent one season under Joe Morehead before returning to the Packers when LaFleur arrived. And while his resume seems a bit light for such a big promotion, it’s almost identical to the one that got Zac Taylor hired in Cincinnati three years ago.
For the sake of argument, let’s assume Hackett moves on, and Getsy takes his spot. LaFleur would then need to find a quarterbacks coach, and his eventual choice could depend on who’s under center next season. If it’s Rodgers, expect LaFleur to interview younger candidates who played quarterback at a high level. As an established veteran, Rodgers had a great relationship with Alex Van Pelt, who starred at Pitt and spent time in the NFL, and he’s very close to Getsy, who set records at Akron. Conversely, Rodgers was never as tight with McAdoo, and he had no use for Frank Cignetti Jr.
One possible in-house candidate would be wide receivers coach Jason Vrable, who hasn’t worked with quarterbacks in the NFL but played the position at Marietta College. In fact, his resume is very similar to Getsy’s when he was hired in 2019. And should Vrable switch jobs, there’s a pretty good chance either Ruvell Martin or Ryan Mahaffey would be his replacement. Martin played wide receiver for the Packers from 2006 to 2008, and he’s assisted Vrable the past two seasons. Mahaffey is in his first year season as an offensive quality coach after spending the previous eight years in college. Before being named offensive coordinator at Northern Iowa in 2019, he coached wide receivers at the school in 2016.
If Love is to be “The Man” next season – and it’s likely the Packers already have a pretty good idea of whether or not that’ll be the case – LaFleur might prefer a candidate with more experience than Vrable when it comes to developing young quarterbacks. That would open the door to the very real possibility of hiring someone from outside the building.
What happens in the unlikely event that both Hackett and Getsy move on after the season? Well, that would force LaFleur to rely on the countless close relationships he’s cultivated over the years to find capable replacements. Those close relationships include current head coaches (Taylor, Sean McVay, Kyle Shanahan, Robert Saleh, Arthur Smith, and Mike Vrabel) and an offensive coordinator (Mike LaFleur) who just happens to be family. In fact, it was brother Mike – an assistant with the 49ers at the time – who recommended current Packers offensive line coach Adam Stenavich in 2019.
Speaking of the 38-year-old Stenavich, he’d be an outside-the-box candidate to fill the coordinator role if both Hackett and Getsy were to leave, assuming he’d be interested in changing jobs. Going from O-line coach to coordinator isn’t a common transition, but it’s happened before, and based on the work he’s done this season, Stenavich isn’t a common coach.
Of course, there’s a decent chance that both Hackett and Getsy will return to the Packers next season, and nothing will need to change. Just because they’re getting interviews with one or more teams doesn’t mean they’ll be getting those jobs (just ask Chiefs offensive coordinator and yearly bridesmaid Eric Bieniemy). But that’s OK since I’ll be able to recycle this post whenever one or both do get promotions, and based on their strong reputations, it’s only a matter of time.
No head coach wants to lose valuable assistants, but that’s the price for winning. And the ability to find quality replacements is what keeps head coaches in one place for an extended period of time. That’s why McVay will likely be with the Rams until his red hair turns gray, and it’s why the Eagles fired Doug Pederson just three years after winning the Super Bowl.