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How 2022 NFL coaching carousel will impact the Los Angeles Rams

Sean McVay’s “coaching tree” could be 4-for-4 in making the playoffs

NFL: Los Angeles Rams at Seattle Seahawks Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

The Rams received two compensatory third round picks when the Lions hired Brad Holmes because of the NFL’s new policy on hiring minority candidates. Will any LA assistants be hired as head coaches in 2022? Will anybody in the front office be hired as a general manager? What are the jobs available and what jobs could become available?

One thing is for sure: being associated with Sean McVay has been a very good thing so far—even better than being associated with Bill Belichick.

The only head coach standing between Sean McVay and the NFC’s number one seed is Matt LaFleur. If a couple of upsets happen in Week 18, the number one seed in the AFC could belong to Bengals head coach Zac Taylor. And if the Chargers beat the Raiders, Brandon Staley will lead ‘the other Los Angeles’ to an AFC wild card berth.

The entire history of Bill Belichick’s coaching tree has less regular season and postseason success than simply LaFleur, Taylor, and Staley alone. Belichick’s first coaching tree playoff win didn’t come until Bill O’Brien in 2016—25 years after Belichick’s first head coaching gig, 16 years after he joined the Patriots, and one year before McVay went to the Rams.

Fans and media members should definitely not overrate the impact that McVay could possibly be having on LaFleur’s three 13-3 records to open his Green Bay career (the pair spent four years together on the Washington staff prior to LaFleur’s single season as LA’s offensive coordinator), or forget the fact that McVay didn’t draft Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase. We also can’t ignore that Staley chose the Chargers for a reason and 9-7 may even be considered disappointing.

The reigning “best defensive coordinator” is currently overseeing a Chargers team that ranks 32nd in third down defense.

And still, it doesn’t hurt to be associated with Sean McVay if you want to get a head coaching opportunity or a promotion. Although, the ‘promotions’ haven’t worked out all that splendidly: the Seattle Seahawks ranked 32nd in time of possession and plays per drive, 31st in first downs, and quarterback Russell Wilson may even force a trade after just one season with new offensive coordinator Shane Waldron.

Perhaps Seattle running back Rashaad Penny’s recent stretch of dominance will help run game coordinator, and former McVay assistant Andy Dickerson get additional opportunities however. Certainly Joe Barry, former Rams assistant head coach and current Packers defensive coordinator, will get to make a case for himself after a mostly-successful season at the helm.

Aubrey Pleasant, an assistant in Washington from 2013-2016, then for McVay from 2017-2020, has been a standout coach for the Detroit Lions. Of course, longtime Rams personnel man Brad Holmes is the Lions general manager and with the additions of players like Penei Sewell, Alim McNeil, and Amon-Ra St. Brown in the draft, seems to be enjoying his first stint away from Les Snead in a long time.

What jobs are available?

Jacksonville Jaguars - Fired Urban Meyer, and fans are protesting the decision to keep general manager Trent Baalke

Las Vegas Raiders - Fired Jon Gruden, GM Mike Mayock’s job likely in jeopardy

What jobs could be available?

New York Giants - HC Joe Judge, GM Dave Gettleman

Maybe the “lowkey worst franchise” in the NFL, the Giants do not want to blow the fact that they have two first round picks in 2022, but have publicly stated allegiance to Judge in the recent past.

Chicago Bears - HC Matt Nagy, GM Ryan Pace

Writing was on the wall when Chicago traded two first round picks for a rookie quarterback to “save” the team’s 2021 season, but while Nagy is being pushed out the door, somehow Pace appears safe.

Minnesota Vikings - HC Mike Zimmer

The Vikings have a 2-3 playoff record in eight years with Zimmer, who seems to be stuck in a “Jeff Fisher holding pattern” recently—8-7-1, 10-6, 7-9, 7-9 over the last four.

Carolina Panthers - HC Matt Rhule

Rumors suggest that owner David Tepper regrets the large contract he gave to Rhule two years ago and that the deal could be what gives him a third season. But at 5-11 with no passing offense to speak of, the Panthers could move quickly if they see a good option to replace him and Sam Darnold.

Seattle Seahawks - HC Pete Carroll, GM John Schneider

Most teams wouldn’t clear house just one year after going 12-4, with a head coach who has posted double-digit wins in eight of the last 10 years. But most teams do not have a franchise quarterback who might be “over it” at this point and Seattle hasn’t been a legitimate Super Bowl contender since 2015. Reports suggest that there’s no chance that the Seahawks “run it back” in 2022, which means either Carroll or Russell Wilson are probably gone.

Washington - HC Ron Rivera

This wouldn’t have been suggested at 6-6, but Washington has lost four straight games—two to the Cowboys, two to the Eagles. Going 0-4 in one month against the NFC East won’t win you any fans and it probably lost Rivera all of his support. We know McVay has roots with owner Daniel Snyder.

Denver Broncos - HC Vic Fangio

At 61, Fangio deserved his opportunity when he was hired in 2019. He had been an NFL defensive coordinator for almost 25 years. But Denver’s defense is fine—not good or great—and the offense is bad. Fangio is 19-29 in three seasons and the Broncos fell behind the Raiders and Chargers in the AFC West.

Houston Texans - HC David Culley

Did the team hire Culley with the intention to give him a real shot at keeping the job for longer than one season? No team had less to work with going into the year, yet the Texans aren’t the worst team in the NFL. So if the Texans fire Culley, it could appear to be the outcome that was always going to happen. At the same time, Houston is terrible.

Could any Rams assistants be interviewed for head coaching positions?

Raheem Morris, DC - A former head coach, Morris interviewed with the Falcons and Jaguars in 2021. Urban Meyer was also in talks with Morris to become Jacksonville’s DC. Despite some struggles, especially early in the year, LA’s defense isn’t bad and it kept them in the game to beat the Ravens in Week 17. The Rams are fifth in points per game allowed over the last five games. I would expect Morris to interview with at least one team, possibly as a match for a defense-forward franchise like the Chicago Bears.

Kevin O’Connell, OC - The least-talked about offensive coordinator in McVay history maybe, O’Connell certainly plays some role in Matthew Stafford and Cooper Kupp’s historic season together. O’Connell was once the offensive coordinator in Washington, albeit on a short trial run, so could they be interested to bring him back?

Wes Phillips, Pass Game Coordinator/Tight ends - McVay came up through the TE ranks and Phillips, son of Wade, has nepotism on his side too. Phillips has connections in Texas and Houston makes sense for a number of reasons, as does Washington.

Ejiro Evero, Secondary Coach/Pass Game Coordinator - It’s become more common now to see coaches work both sides of the football, maybe something passed on from Raheem Morris after he did that with the Falcons, so teams can get a look at Evero for a number of reasons. Evero started as an assistant with the Bucs in 2007, then the 49ers in 2010, then one year in Green Bay in 2016 before joining McVay in 2017. At the very least, Phillips and Evero could leave the Rams for offensive coordinator positions elsewhere, similar to Waldron and Dickerson jumping ship in 2021.

Could the Rams lose a front office person to a GM role again?

Ray Farmer, Senior Personnel Exec - Farmer was once the Browns’ GM and he was interviewed for a GM position in 2021. He could be called upon by teams once again.

Taylor Morton, Senior Personnel Advisor - Morton, like Holmes, has been with Les Snead for a long time. Will a team want to steal from that jar again this year?

Brian Xanders, Senior Personnel Exec - His Wikipedia reads like he wrote it himself, but who doesn’t love a go-getter? Xander started with the Falcons in 1994, he’s been around the block and has a pretty good resume.