Jake Peetz was certainly happy as an assistant coach for the NFL’s Carolina Panthers.
The 37-year-old Peetz, LSU’s new offensive coordinator, came to the Panthers as running backs coach in 2019, and was ecstatic to be retained this past season when Matt Rhule took over as head coach.
He was even more pleased when he was promoted to quarterbacks’ coach under Panthers’ first-year offensive coordinator Joe Brady, who was LSU’s passing game coordinator for the 2019 national champions and their historic record setting offense.
Peetz has spent most of his coaching career in the NFL, seven seasons with four teams (Jacksonville, Washington, then-Oakland and Carolina). He also had two one-year stints with the University of Alabama as an offensive analyst.
His intent of his career path was to not be on a fast track. He wanted to learn from as many experienced football minds as possible.
Plus, he and his wife Maggie have six children. After two seasons in Carolina, it was nice to be settled.
Until LSU coach Ed Orgeron began shopping for a new offensive coordinator in the last few weeks. He called Brady looking for someone who could bring some of the philosophies and elements of the Tigers’ 2019 “Brady Ball” back to LSU.
Coach O, meet Jake Peetz. Jake, meet Coach O.
“I had a couple of my close friends,” said Peetz on a Thursday Zoom call with Louisiana media, “hit me up and say `Is this (interest from LSU) true?’ I spent most of my career in the pros, a couple at Alabama, a year at UCLA, a year at Santa Barbara City College.
“But here’s the thing – it’s LSU. Look at the players you get to work with here. All these guys that walk in my office to introduce themselves all look like they’re in the NFL. They look like the same guys I was with at Carolina and anywhere else.
“But the thing that drew me here. . .Joe talking to me about the great experience he had here and the people that are here. I loved working at Carolina, my wife and kids loved it there. We would have not have left if there wasn’t a unique opportunity here.”
Peetz’s only perceived negative is that he has never been an offensive coordinator before, so he has never been a play-caller. Yet, he jokingly said he has experience of dealing with pressure situations.
“When you’re raising six kids, it’s the most competitive team sports there is,” Peetz said. “And if you guys can manufacture a situation that’s more hairy than bath time with six kids, I think we’ll be able to handle fourth-and-goal.”
Here’s Peetz on other subjects:
On what he thinks when he has watched film of the 2019 LSU offense
“It’s something I believe in. I believe in that passing game. Joe Brady helped me learn that at a different level. It’s similar in some ways what we ran when I was in Washington (NFL) with Sean McVay.
“But what you see is great confidence in those players. They had great preparation. Preparation is what leads to confidence.”
On marrying a pro spread offense with a college offense that needs more run game balance
“What I want to see is our players in the best positions to make plays. What are they great at? That’s something we’ve been spending a lot of time with our staff is what schemes fit our players. What’s the best way for us to run the ball? What’s the best way to attack? We want to aggressively attack the defense on all fronts and play the game the way we want to play the game.
“But we need to know ourselves first. We’ve got to understand what our players do great and what they don’t do. We want to identify what our players do at a high level, amplify that and adjust and keep changing so people can’t set their watch to what we’re doing and how we’re doing it.
“Something we did with Joe in Carolina is we went five wides, we’ve had two backs on the field (simultaneously) and no tight ends, we can run multiple tight end sets. We want this to be an exciting place for our players, but then also as we recruit the best players in the country to know if you come here we will find a way to get you on the field, prepare you, get you on the field to play with confidence.”
On making in-game adjustments
“That’s where you rely on your staff and Coach Orgeron. All of have been things (in games) situationally, all of us have been at different places and learned from different people. We spend time preparing and communicating for special situations.”
On LSU’s returning quarterbacks
“We have some exceptional young men. Getting a chance to talk with these guys and getting a chance to talk to most of their parents, you can see it’s by no accident that these are very good young men that are obviously very talented. We have great skill sets in there (the quarterback room). I wouldn’t say any of them are the same, which is good, right? We can draw different things, we can attack defenses in a different way. I also feel like all these guys can play in any style of offense we want them to play in.
Max (Johnson) is a guy who can move, he has some mobility to him. But if you look at his calmness and his footwork in the pocket, this guy can play pro-style football, he can play the pocket, he can sling it, we can do some different things moving it.
“I would say the same thing for (Myles) Brennan. He can move the pocket. He has very good balance, he’s a guy who sling it well, I really like his lower half.
“And then you have TJ (Finley). TJ is a big man. We were talking earlier today, seeing him the first time reminded me a lot when I first came to Carolina seeing Cam Newton. These are big men. He is extremely talented, he’s a guy who can flick the wrist and the ball blows up off of it. He’s a guy you may categorize as who can’t run and escape the pocket, but there are great examples on film where he’s able to move up and over. And thing about TJ is when he escapes, he can attack you at every level of the field. He’s like Steph Curry hitting 3s from the parking lot from where he can reach you with his arm.
Then, we have Garrett Nussmeier. Garrett tore up 6-A football in the state of Texas. He’s a guy that’s extremely competitive, just like all these guys. But he’s a guy that I’m excited to see how he can move out of the pocket, in the pocket.
“All these kids, there’s not a limiting factor to their games saying `We can’t play this style of football.’ Whoever the quarterback is, we’re going to play to their strengths.”
On what he learned this past season from Joe Brady
“I’ve spent more time with Joe Brady than any human being, including my wife, this last year. He’s a guy that means a lot to me personally and professionally. I wouldn’t be here without him.
“What Joe has is such grace in how delivers his thoughts. He’s elite with intelligence, the way he communicates and not just with me as quarterbacks’ coach but (also) the players. He helped me to make some things more simple. He helped me take it from advanced math to maybe Algebra I. In learning these systems, it’s not about what I know, it’s about what the players can learn and retain and play fast with.”