GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) "This is a VERY great day for Green Bay," Packers president/CEO Mark Murphy exclaimed as he sat down at a news conference with new Packers head coach Matt LaFleur Wednesday afternoon.
"After two long years, we are ready to get back to winning," Murphy said introducing LaFleur.
"It's always been a dream of mine to be an NFL head coach, but to be the head coach of the Green Bay Packers, it is surreal, and I am extremely humbled. To follow in the footsteps of Vince Lombardi, Mike Holmgren, Mike McCarthy, it's truly an honor," LaFleur said.
LaFleur, 39, accepted the Packers' offer to become the 15th head coach in franchise history the team announced Tuesday night.
"My philosophy is to lead, teach and inspire, not just our football players but everyone in this building," LaFleur said. "We will be process driven in our pursuit of bringing a Lombardi Trophy back here to Green Bay."
LaFleur said he had a chance to speak with quarterback Aaron Rodgers before he was offered the head coaching job. General manager Brian Gutekunst said once they zeroed in on LaFleur, they had Rodgers reach out to him.
He needs to know I care about the players I work with," LeFleur said of the star quarterback. "He cares about every player on the roster."
Murphy touted LaFleur's experience with football at the college level and his experience as a quarterback. LaFleur thanked Central Michigan University for giving him his first opportunity.
LaFleur and his family flew aboard a private jet to Green Bay Austin Straubel International Airport shortly after 8 p.m. Tuesday and headed straight to Lambeau Field. LeFleur thanked his "rock star" wife and their two sons, saying nothing is more important than family.
Murphy said LaFleur was chosen after discussions with an NFL advisory committee and watching videos of interviews the NFL provided to vet potential coaching candidates.
"There is no greater man than Joe Philbin," Murphy said during the introduction, thanking the interim head coach who helmed the Packers to a 2-2 record following Mike McCarthy's firing. "I just wanted to acknowledge that."
"We ended up interviewing seven candidates. It was a little bit of a whirlwind," Murphy said while discussing the hiring process. "We went from Green Bay to New England to Memphis. We were going to stop in New Orleans, Nashville, Indianapolis."
After nine interviews with those candidates, the Packers felt there were strong candidates but no one stood out. Then they talked with LaFleur in Nashville Sunday afternoon. "He was the most prepared candidate. It was obviously he really did his research, knew everything about our roster and everything else."
"He had a unique combination of confidence and humility," Murphy said.
On the flight back to Green Bay, the Packers leadership each felt LaFleur was their top candidate. But Murphy was cautious, fearing they were excited because he was their last candidate, so they agreed to sleep on it, and they came back Monday still feeling he was the best.
"It's important you hire the best candidate not the best interviewer."
“We are very excited to welcome Matt as the next head coach of the Green Bay Packers,” said Murphy in Tuesday's written release from the team. “We found a coach with the background and experience that we think will get us back to playing winning football. We’re also excited about the person—he is bright with a great work ethic and a perfect fit for Green Bay and the organization.”
“Matt is smart, organized and has a great vision for the path forward for our team,” added Packers General Manager Brian Gutekunst. “His values and personality fit the culture of our organization. He has a tremendous ability to build relationships on multiple levels, which is a very important aspect in leading a football team.”
The Packers did not release terms on the contract. NFL Network reporter Tom Pelissero reports that the Packers and LaFleur have agreed to a four-year contract with a fifth-year option.
The Packers interviewed LaFleur Sunday after five days of coaching interviews that reportedly included interim Packers coach Joe Philbin, the New England Patriots' offensive and defensive coordinators, and the New Orleans Saints assistant head coach and their offensive coordinator.
NFL Network's Ian Rapoport says the Packers "moved quickly on LaFleur" rather than take the time for a second round of interviews.
The Packers were the only team the 39-year-old LaFleur talked to.
He has 10 years of NFL experience, two of those as an offensive coordinator.
He comes from the hot coaching tree right now in the league, having worked under Rams head coach Sean McVay and 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan. Last season he called plays for the first time for the 9-win Titans. He didn't call plays for the Rams -- which is why he went to Tennessee. He worked under Shanahan in Atlanta, serving as Matt Ryan's quarterbacks coach in 2016 when Ryan won NFL MVP honors, and the Falcons whipped the Packers in the NFC Title game to reach the Super Bowl.
Tennessee's offense ranked 25th this year but had injury issues with starting quarterback Marcus Mariota.
Demovsky says the hiring is expected to keep Packers' defensive coordinator Mike Pettine and his staff intact. Dave Schroeder of Action 2 Sports says it's an opportunity for Pettine, whose efforts to "reboot" the Packers defense were derailed by injuries this season.
The search for the Green Bay Packers' 15th head coach in franchise history started early this season after the team fired Mike McCarthy in Week 13 following the loss to the Arizona Cardinals.