Kevin O’Connell was drafted in 2008, the same year as four quarterbacks who took snaps in 2021—Matt Ryan, Joe Flacco, Chad Henne, and Josh Johnson—but the 36-year-old could soon find himself as the head coach of an NFL team before some of his peers even retire. And even if O’Connell doesn’t land a head coaching gig in 2022, this could still be his last season with the Los Angeles Rams.
As reported this week, the Denver Broncos have requested to interview O’Connell for their vacant head coaching position. But since O’Connell does not have play calling duties on gameday, the Broncos or any other team could also hire him to be their offensive coordinator and there’s nothing that Sean McVay could do to block him from leaving—just as Shane Waldron exited for the Seattle Seahawks’ OC job last year. The Broncos could be interested in O’Connell as either a head coach or an offensive coordinator for the person who they choose to hire as head coach instead of him.
If Denver passes on the former quarterback and Washington Football’s offensive coordinator in 2019, the Carolina Panthers would like a word. It was also reported this week that the Panthers like O’Connell for their vacant offensive coordinator position under Matt Rhule.
Carolina’s is expected to target former NFL head coaches Jay Gruden and Bill O’Brien in its search for a new offensive coordinator, per league sources.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) January 9, 2022
Carolina also expected to be interested in talking with Rams’ OC Kevin O'Connell.
If O’Connell doesn’t directly land a head coaching gig in 2022, then he knows that like another one of his Rams predecessors, Matt LaFleur, he could benefit him significantly to go call plays somewhere else before getting more interviews in the coming years. If McVay does not want to lose O’Connell, which would be surprising given the coaches that have exited the building already, he would have to give up those play calling duties. That does not sound probable.
2017: OC - Matt LaFleur, assistant WR Zac Taylor, TE Shane Waldron, DC - Wade Phillips, AHC - Joe Barry
2018: Pass game coordinator Waldron, AHC Barry, QB Taylor, DC Phillips
2019: Pass game/QB Waldron, AHC Barry, DC Phillips
2020: OC O’Connell, Pass game Waldron, AHC Barry, DC Brandon Staley
2021: OC O’Connell, AHC/RB Thomas Brown, Pass game/TE Wes Phillips, DC Raheem Morris
By 2022, we know that LaFleur, Taylor, and Staley are all head coaches in the NFL. Joe Barry is enjoying his most successful career season as Green Bay’s defensive coordinator. O’Connell is interviewing for HC/OC gigs. Waldron is Seattle’s OC for now. And others, including Brown, Phillips, or former CBs coach Aubrey Pleasant (now pass game coordinator/DBs for the Lions) could be promoted in the coming years.