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Sean McVay coaching tree could sprout new limbs next year, despite Rams season

McVay still has a hand in success around the league this year

NFL: Denver Broncos Rookie Minicamp Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Sean McVay would like to find “the points” again. The Los Angeles Rams ranked 32nd in “the points” in 2016, the year before McVay’s arrival, scoring more than 24 points only twice in the final part-season under Jeff Fisher.

Then the Rams ranked first in scoring in 2017 (12 times over 24 points), second in 2018 (13 such games), 11th in 2019 (nine such games), 22nd in 2020 (but still five games over 24 points), and seventh in scoring in 2021 (11 games in the regular season, two more in the playoffs over 24 points).

Now in year six, the Rams are 29th in scoring and L.A. has scored more than 24 points only one time: Week 2 against the Atlanta Falcons. And the Rams are now on their fourth starting quarterback.

Despite so much success in the recent pass and hand delivering names like Zac Taylor and Kevin O’Connell to other franchises, it’s hard to imagine teams plucking directly from the Rams for head coach candidates in 2023. But that doesn’t mean that the McVay tree isn’t about to grow again next year.

Other than Brandon Staley being hired by the Chargers in 2021, teams have usually hired offensive coaches from McVay’s tree: Taylor, O’Connell, and indirectly, Matt LaFleur.

Those are also three of the most successful recent head coaching hires. Staley has the Chargers in the AFC playoff hunt again this year, albeit with a disappointing season thus far.

I do not expect Liam Coen (linked to return to Kentucky recently) or Raheem Morris to be offered head coach positions in 2023. But other assistant coaches around the NFL who once worked for McVay on the Rams could be in position to take at least one or two open head coach positions next year.

Ejiro Evero, Broncos Defensive Coordinator

Evero coached safeties on the Rams from 2017-2020, then took over defensive pass game coordinator duties in 2021. He was hired by Nathaniel Hackett (who worked for LaFleur) to be the Broncos defensive coordinator in 2022 and in spite of their horrid record, Denver is ranked second in points per drive allowed.

The 42-year-old Evero, a native of England, will surely be interviewed a number of times in January for open head coach positions. Evero got his start with an NFL team under Jon Gruden in 2007 (no surprise given the McVay connection) on the Buccaneers and Tampa Bay could be holding interviews soon if they decide to part with Todd Bowles after one season.

Wes Phillips, Vikings Offensive Coordinator

Phillips got his first NFL job with the Cowboys in 2007, moved onto Washington in 2014, and joined the Rams staff as tight ends coach in 2019. O’Connell brought Phillips with him to the Vikings as offensive coordinator this year and Minnesota is 10th in scoring and has a 10-3 record.

There will always be talk of “but nepotism” with anyone like Phillips, but McVay and Kyle Shanahan are doing pretty well for themselves and there was no shortage of criticism for Shanahan’s opportunities prior to finally breaking out with the Falcons in 2016. Phillips will be interviewed for head coaching positions soon.

Shane Waldron, Seahawks Offensive Coordinator

It’s hard to do better than telling people you’ve worked for Bill Belichick, Sean McVay, and Pete Carroll. Waldron served as an offensive assistant under McVay from 2017-2020 and he’s been Seattle’s offensive coordinator for the last two years. With Geno Smith having a breakout campaign, Waldron should be a popular name in NFL circles next month. His history in the NFC West could make for a compelling argument in Arizona, should they fire Kliff Kingsbury.

Joe Barry, Packers Defensive Coordinator

I couldn’t say that Barry has been all that successful in Green Bay, but we will have seen much more surprising head coaching hires if it turns out that the 52-year-old Barry gets a gig somewhere. The former Rams assistant head coach from 2017-2020 has lots of NFL experience and might find a role as a “bridge coach” somewhere.