Sean McVay hasn’t been the Head Coach of the Los Angeles Rams for 24 hours and he’s already impressing. His first move as the head honcho was to hire Wade Phillips as defensive coordinator.
This was a very wise move as Phillips will provide Mcvay with a variety of qualities, and most - if not all of them - will prove to be a great value to McVay and the Rams.
Saying that Phillips is a seasoned coach is an understatement. He’s coached in the NFL for 34 years and has had six different stints as either a head coach or an interim head coach. He will have a wealth of knowledge for McVay to draw from.
Phillips’ is going to be more than a defensive coordinator, he’s going to be a mentor for McVay.
He Knows How to Fail as a Head Coach
This may sound counter-intuitive, but McVay may be able to learn from Phillips’ mistakes. Phillips has seen success and failure as a coach. Knowing how to handle both is crucial in the parity of the NFL.
We know from the Jeff Fisher situation that Rams owner Stan Kroenke is extremely patient. We’re obviously hoping that the success outweighs the failure under McVay, but having Phillips on board will help the organization deal with failure if and when it happens.
Excellent Defensive Coach
As mentioned earlier, Phillips has been a coach in the NFL for 34 years. Per Pro Football Reference, here are how his defenses have fared in yards allowed.
1st: 2 seasons
Top 3: 6 seasons
Top 5: 10 seasons
Top 10: 19 Seasons
That’s impressive. In 56% of his seasons in the NFL, Phillips has fielded defenses that have ranked in the top 10. The Rams ranked 9th in total yards allowed in 2016 under Gregg Williams, but were 23rd in points allowed. Look for Phillips to improve upon that.
Given McVay’s offensive background and Phillips’ defensive expertise, I’d expect Phillips to have complete autonomy on the defensive side of the ball.
Has a Reputation for Maximizing Talent
Demarcus Ware (twice).
There is no doubting that Phillips has had access to premium talent in recent years. While the depth isn’t there, that trend will continue with the Rams.
To differing extents, Aaron Donald, Robert Quinn, and Trumaine Johnson all fit that mold. Donald was big draw for and potential defensive coordinator, but having Quinn and the potential to retain Tru was likely icing on the cake for Phillips.
This is phenomenal news for a perennially underachieving Rams defense.
The Elephant in the Room
4-3 or 3-4? That’s one of the biggest questions as we inch closer towards McVay’s introductory press conference this afternoon. Personally, I think that the reality probably lies somewhere in between.
I think that there will be times when Quinn finds himself in a 2-point stance outside of Donald. But I also believe Phillips is too smart to adopt a 100% 3-4 philosophy with the Rams personnel.