Sean McVay has never worked with a quarterback as good as Matthew Stafford. What offensive coordinators and head coaches has Stafford worked with prior to being traded to the LA Rams?
Head coach: Jim Schwartz
Offensive Coordinator: Scott Linehan
Rams fans don’t need a history lesson on Linehan but the brief story is that outside of some early-career time with Daunte Culpepper and Randy Moss, plus the 2016 Cowboys in the heart of their prime years of talent, he’s struggled to establish his teams as dangerously potent offenses.
The Lions were fourth in scoring in 2011 (Stafford, Calvin Johnson, Brandon Pettigrew, Nate Burleson) but the next year, Stafford threw an NFL-record 727 pass attempts, completed just under 60% of his attempts, and scored only 20 touchdowns with 17 interceptions.
A Scott Linehan offense has finished 27th or worse in turnovers seven times.
Head coach: Jim Caldwell
Offensive Coordinator: Joe Lombardi
Lombardi had served as Drew Brees’s quarterbacks coach from 2009 to 2013 before being hired by Caldwell to run the offense in 2014. It’s hard to gain any insight into a coach’s future as a coordinator based on working with Brees though and Lombardi’s first year with the Lions resulted in ranking 18th in points per drive. It’s not a terrible average, but the Lions had three games in 2014 with single digits and only three over 30.
Offensive Coordinator: Lombardi/Jim Bob Cooter
Detroit fired Lombardi and promoted QB coach Jim Bob Cooter after a 1-6 start in which the team had five games with fewer than 20 points. The Lions then won six of their last eight games. This was unfortunately Calvin Johnson’s final season.
Offensive Coordinator: Cooter
Detroit showed some improvement in 2016 and made the playoffs but could not run the ball (31st in attempts, 30th in yards) and they may have been saved by some turnover luck. It was a similar 9-7 story in 2017: 31st in rushing attempts, 32nd in rushing yards, decent passing production from Stafford in spite of this. Caldwell was fired but new head coach Matt Patricia retained Cooter as his offensive coordinator.
Head Coach: Matt Patricia
Offensive Coordinator: Cooter
The Lions improved on the ground (18th in yards, 19th in DVOA, but 28th in YPC and 23rd in touchdowns) but the only thing positive to say about Detroit’s offense is that it was balanced: they weren’t explosive when they were passing it or when they were running it. Cooter was fired.
Offensive Coordinator: Darrell Bevell
Stafford began working with Bevell, his most experienced and accomplished offensive coordinator, in 2019. That’s saying more about Stafford’s history of coordinators more than it is paying a compliment to Bevell, who definitely lucked into four-year run of success he had with Marshawn Lynch and Russell Wilson in Seattle. Bevell had 12 years of experience as an NFL offensive coordinator prior to replacing Cooter and while he’s proven to be capable with talents like Brett Favre and Wilson, he’s not exactly revolutionary.
Still, Stafford played some of his best career football under Bevell.
During his eight-game stint in 2019, Stafford threw 19 touchdowns and five interceptions, posting would-be career-highs in Y/A (8.6), passer rating (106), QBR (71.3). In 2020, even with Patricia fired midseason, Stafford had a QBR of 68.4 and 7.9 adjusted yards per attempt, which would rank as his third-best after 2019 and 2017.
Linehan most recently served as passing game coordinator for LSU in 2020. Lombardi went back to being Brees’s QB coach and now he’s Brandon Staley’s offensive coordinator with the Chargers. Cooter was coaching running backs for the Jets last season and I don’t believe he has a job right now. Bevell will next be taking on the task of game-planning for Trevor Lawrence in Jacksonville.
And Matthew Stafford will be working with Sean McVay.
Rams Rush Offense DVOA under McVay:
2017 - 7th
2018 - 1st
2019 - 15th
2020 - 4th
Lions Rush Offense DVOA for the last eight years:
2013 - 26th
2014 - 28th
2015 - 25th
2016 - 28th
2017 - 30th
2018 - 19th
2019 - 27th
2020 - 21st