In some ways the Los Angeles Rams have been victims of their own successes since Sean McVay joined the franchise as head coach in 2017. Teams across the NFL have looked to LA to capture a piece of the formula that has worked so well, and McVay’s staff has been pilfered year after year as a result.
The first domino to fall was Matt LaFleur leaving after McVay’s first season to take up the mantle of offensive coordinator for the Tennessee Titans. That was a short-lived title for LaFleur and he was soon hired as the lead man for the Green Bay Packers and helped Aaron Rodgers rejuvenate his career and win back-to-back league MVP honors.
Brandon Staley—a Vic Fangio prodigy—joined Los Angeles for a single year as defensive coordinator before the cross-town rival Los Angeles Chargers asked him to replace Anthony Lynn. Kevin O’Connell was hired by the Minnesota Vikings following McVay’s second appearance in the big game.
And it doesn’t stop at head coach—Thomas Brown (Panthers), Joe Barry (Packers), Ejiro Evero (Panthers), Shane Waldron (Seahawks), and Wes Phillips (Vikings) are current coordinators that previously held stints on McVay’s coaching staffs.
Who will be the next generation of assistant coaches asked to take on a larger role outside of Los Angeles?
Raheem Morris, Defensive coordinator
Morris first earned his head coaching opportunity back in 2009 with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and after leading the Rams defense to a Super Bowl victory in 2021 he seems primed for another chance with the headset.
LA’s has embraced a significant youth movement on defense ahead of the 2023 season. If Morris can get the most out of unproven personnel he could catapult himself towards the top of the candidate list during the 2024 cycle.
Zac Robinson, QB’s coach & pass game coordinator
McVay picked Mike LaFleur as his offensive coordinator over Thomas Brown and Zac Robinson; however, it’s fair to question how soon LaFleur will get head coaching looks when his stint as coordinator and play caller for the New York Jets offense didn’t produce the results we’d expect from a Shanahan-McVay offense.
Robinson received OC interviews this offseason from the Chargers and Baltimore Ravens, and his background as a former NFL QB and analytics professional (PFF) shows he has a wide range of experiences. Helping Matthew Stafford bounce back after a challenging stint of injuries a year ago could put him on the radar for teams either as a top OC option or dark horse head coach candidate.
Eric Henderson, Defensive line & run game coordinator
It’s a mild surprise that the Rams have been able to keep Henderson as long as they have—he’s entering his fourth season in Los Angeles and is one of the longest tenured assistant coaches. He might have to first take a stint as defensive coordinator before becoming someone’s leading man—similar to Evero—but the talent is certainly there with LA’s defensive line coach.
Henderson’s coaching chops will be put to the test as he looks to replace key players such as Greg Gaines and A’Shawn Robinson. LA drafted Kobie Turner in the third round and are relying on a third-year breakout from former fourth round pick Bobby Brown.
Ryan Wendell, Offensive line coach
Wendell played 80 games as a professional before joining the Buffalo Bills as the assistant OL coach in 2019. He held that title until this offseason when he joined the Rams. Interestingly enough, Wendell was the assistant to former Rams OL coach Aaron Kromer and Wendell’s assistant in LA will be Kromer’s son, Zak.
McVay has prioritized the running game the last few offseasons with poor results. Wendell could play an important role in turning around an anemic rushing attack and helping keep Stafford vertical—if that happens he could be considered one of the top emerging minds in football.