Jan. 24, 2014
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - University of Notre Dame head football coach Brian Kelly announced today the hiring of Matt LaFleur as the new Irish quarterbacks coach. LaFleur comes to Notre Dame after spending the past four seasons in the same capacity with the Washington Redskins of the National Football League.
"This is a tremendous opportunity to once again work with Coach Kelly - who I believe is the best head coach in the country," said LaFleur. "I'm extremely honored to be a member of such an outstanding coaching staff and join the premier program in college football. The history and tradition at this University is unmatched. I can't begin to describe my excitement to get started."
"Matt has a proven resume of developing quarterbacks at numerous levels of football, none more evident than his outstanding work with the Washington Redskins," said Kelly. "He was a major factor in the success not only of two rookies, Robert Griffin III and Kirk Cousins, but was also crucial in the resurgence of Rex Grossman's career, who in 2010 under LaFleur established numerous career bests.
"My respect for Matt goes back to his time as an outstanding quarterback at Saginaw Valley State. He was an incredible competitor and displayed all the characteristics a coach would want in his signal callers. That competitive drive to succeed was on display everyday during his time with me at Central Michigan. He will develop our quarterbacks at Notre Dame to the highest level. I'm thrilled to have him on our coaching staff."
LaFleur spent two seasons on Kelly's staff at Central Michigan (2004-05) as an offensive assistant, but garnered the most praise during his tenure with the Redskins (2010-13) under Mike Shanahan. LaFleur was instrumental in the development of quarterbacks, especially the growth of a pair of rookie signal callers Robert Griffin III and Kirk Cousins.
In 2012, the hype surrounding Griffin III resulted in LaFleur performing one of the most prominent coaching jobs in the NFL that season. He had the task of developing the Heisman Trophy winner and Cousins into starting signal callers.
Griffin III, who became the first Redskins rookie quarterback selected to the Pro Bowl, led Washington to its first NFC East title in 13 years. He established Redskins rookie records in pass completions (258), passing yards (3,200), passing touchdowns (20) and rushing yards by a quarterback (815). Griffin III set NFL rookie records for passer rating (102.4), percentage of passes had intercepted (1.3) and rushing yards by a quarterback (815).
In addition to overseeing Griffin III's meteoric rise in 2012, LaFleur developed vital depth at the position with fourth-round pick Kirk Cousins, whose play was crucial in Washington's seven-game winning streak to seal a division title. With Griffin III sidelined by an injury, Cousins led the Redskins to an eight-point fourth-quarter comeback and a win in overtime vs. Baltimore in Week 14. Cousins returned a week later against Cleveland in his first ever start, passing for team-season-high 329 yards and two touchdowns in a Week 15 road victory.
In 2011, LaFleur helped veteran quarterback Rex Grossman establish a single-season career high in completions (265). Under LaFleur's tutelage, Grossman also set career highs for yards per game (242.4) and completion percentage (57.9), and helped facilitate career years for receiver Jabar Gaffney and tight end Fred Davis.
In his first season in Washington in 2010, LaFleur helped the Redskins' quarterbacks set a franchise season record for completions (349) and amass the third-highest gross passing yards total in franchise history (4,261). In addition, his quarterbacks threw a touchdown pass in 15 consecutive games for the first time in team history and led the league with nine completions of at least 50 yards. In working with LaFleur, quarterback Rex Grossman posted two of his three career 300-yard passing games in his three starts in 2010.
Prior to joining the Redskins, LaFleur spent the 2008-09 seasons as offensive assistant for the Houston Texans. In 2009, LaFleur worked with the Texans' quarterbacks. That season, Matt Schaub led the NFL with 4,770 passing yards and 396 completions, and ranked fifth with 29 touchdowns and seventh with a 98.6 passer rating. Under their guidance, Houston's offense finished first in the NFL in passing (4,654 yards) and fourth in total offense (6,129 yards).
LaFleur worked with the wide receivers in his first season in Houston. That year, Andre Johnson led the NFL with 115 catches and 1,575 receiving yards. In addition, fellow receiver Kevin Walter totaled 60 catches for 899 yards and eight touchdowns.
Prior to joining the Texans, LaFleur worked at Ashland University as the offensive coordinator, coaching the quarterbacks and wide receivers. LaFleur began his coaching career at Saginaw Valley State as an offensive assistant in 2003 before taking the same position at Central Michigan from 2004-05. He coached the quarterbacks and wide receivers at Northern Michigan in 2006.
LaFleur played quarterback for three years at Saginaw Valley State (2000-02). He guided the Cardinals to a 29-8 (9-3, 11-2, 9-3) record over his three seasons and led Saginaw Valley to three straight NCAA Division II playoff appearances. The program has not bettered the 9-3 marks either before or since.
LaFleur, who played quarterback and wide receiver at Western Michigan from 1998-99 before transferring to Saginaw Valley State, made his first career start in 2000 against Kelly and Grand Valley State. He helped the Cardinals to a 28-21 come-from-behind victory. LaFleur played against Kelly on three more occasions over his career, twice taking the Lakers to the brink, but falling short, including a 33-30 defeat in the 2001 NCAA Division II playoffs.
LaFleur remained at Saginaw Valley State as an offensive assistant in 2003 and played a part in a 34-20 victory over Grand Valley State (Kelly's only defeat during his back-to-back NCAA Division II national championship seasons).
The Mt. Pleasant, Mich., native, earned a bachelor's degree in physical and health education from Saginaw Valley State in 2003. LaFleur achieved a master's degree in science in administration from Central Michigan in 2011. He is married to the former BreAnne Maak. The couple has two sons: a two-year Luke and newborn Ty.
The LaFleur File