This week, I saw the horror movie Barbarian. It was not nearly as good as Smile, but Barbarian’s creative script by writer/director Zach Cregger made the movie interesting enough to keep my attention for a couple of hours. Though honestly, I was mostly thinking about when I should go see Smile again.
But one of the most surprising facts about Cregger is that he was seemingly on a path towards fame about 15 years ago, when he and the other four members of the comedy troupe The Whitest Kids U’ Know were picked up for a run of their sketch show on IFC. Among me and my college buddies at the time, Cregger and “front man” Trevor Moore were just as famous as anyone on the cast of Saturday Night Live.
Then the group disappeared and sadly Moore passed away last year at age 41. I say all of that to point out that I can’t look at Kevin O’Connell without seeing Trevor Moore.
I don’t know if any picture can really do it justice, maybe I’m just crazy, but here’s one:
Whether you were a fan of The Whitest Kids U’ Know or not, the group had some success and then were disbanded, either because of cancellation or other projects or a lack of box office returns with Miss March, Cregger and Moore’s attempt at getting into the film industry.
Just like with any TV show or comedy troupe that has some success, so too have the Los Angeles Rams had to deal with the ramifications that come with the allure of working on other projects and “going solo.”
As head coach of the Minnesota Vikings, O’Connell is off to a 3-1 career start, tied in the NFC North with the Green Bay Packers. The head coach of the Packers, Matt LaFleur, also knows what it is like to be an offensive coordinator for Sean McVay. Hoping to turn around five decades of misery, Detroit Lions general manager Brad Holmes and quarterback Jared Goff are 1-3 but first in the NFL in scoring through four games.
Working for the Rams has come with its share of benefits over the last five years. Will the Rams be able to survive the consequences of success?
Here are all the folks who have left the Rams in the last few years, as L.A. has struggled to compete with two top tier teams (and one bottom tier team) in the first four weeks:
OC - Kevin O’Connell (Vikings head coach)
Pass Game Coordinator - Wes Phillips (Vikings OC)
Offensive Assistant - Chris O’Hara (Vikings QB coach)
Defensive Pass Game Coordinator - Ejiro Evero (Broncos DC)
Assistant Special Teams - Dwayne Stukes (Broncos ST Coordinator)
2020 Staff / FO
Director of College Scouting - Brad Holmes (Lions GM)
Director of Pro Personnel - Ray Agnew (Lions assistant GM)
Assistant head coach / LB - Joe Barry (Packers DC)
Pass Game Coordinator - Shane Waldron (Seahawks OC)
Offensive Line - Aaron Kromer* (Bills OL coach)
Assistant OL - Andy Dickerson (Seahawks run game coordinator)
Defensive Coordinator - Brandon Staley (Chargers HC)
Cornerbacks - Aubrey Pleasant (Lions defensive pass game coordinator)
It’s worth noting that Green Bay’s strength right now is arguably their defense, and that Seattle’s strength is definitely their offense. To have lost both Holmes and Agnew, especially given how L.A.’s forays into the draft and free agency have gone the past two years, it seems significant.
*”mutually parted ways”
Assistant Offensive Coordinator - Jedd Fisch (head coach Arizona)
RB coach - Skip Peete (Cowboys RB coach, “dismissed” by Rams in 2020)
ST Coordinator - John Fassell (Cowboys ST coordinator)
Defensive Coordinator - Wade Phillips (not with a team, not retired)
Of course, the big news in 2020 was the decision to fire Phillips and part with Fassell too. That worked into being the number one defense in 2020, helping catapult Staley into his destiny. Is Raheem Morris a better defensive coordinator? The answer is currently unfolding.
QB Coach - Zac Taylor (Bengals HC)
Assistant ST - Matt Daniels (Vikings ST coordinator)
Just as a side note, O’Connell’s special teams coordinator is actually a former Rams assistant coordinator, but before O’Connell joined the Rams. It’s good to have friends. Taylor, by most accounts, went to the Super Bowl last season.
Offensive Coordinator - Matt LaFleur (Packers HC)
QB coach - Greg Olson (Rams assistant today after 4-year stint as Raiders OC)
With Taylor, O’Connell, and Staley, that makes four current NFL head coaches. Three others are offensive or defensive coordinators, while another three are special teams coordinators if you include Fassel, and another two pass or run game coordinators and one is a QB coach, which can be a direct path to HC.
That’s a lot of names that the NFL considers to be “coaching talent.”
And compared to many other “coaching trees,” we have yet to see a really negative fallout like the one that trails Bill Belichick.
The Bengals, Packers, Vikings, and probably even the Chargers feel very good about their head coaching hires. The coordinators seem to be on a path upwards, not down. Holmes and Agnew seem to have done a remarkable job with the Lions.
The Detroit Lions.
To see Ejiro, or Phillips, or Dickerson become head coaches in the near future, it doesn’t seem unlikely. To see Agnew running his own team soon? It could happen.
Could that really have no impact on a team? To lose that many talented people and to constantly churn out the people between Sean McVay and the players, between Les Snead and McVay? There has to be some impact and even though the Rams were able to get through that long enough to win the Super Bowl last season, is it possible that eventually it will catch up to them?
I just know three things:
- That’s a lot of coaching talent and a great front office in Detroit
- Kevin O’Connell looks like Trevor Moore
- Go see Smile