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12 candidates who could replace Zac Robinson’s coaching position on the Rams

Should Rams look to Jon Gruden, Byron Leftwich, or even Dan Orlovsky as the QB coach to replace Robinson?

NFL: Carolina Panthers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Rams lost Zac Robinson to the Atlanta Falcons after he joined L.A.’s former defensive coordinator Raheem Morris in a promotional role as offensive coordinator. What does this mean for the Rams? They will have to replace not only their defensive coordinator position but also the quarterback coach and passing game coordinator role or roles as well. Here’s a look on who could replace Robinson.

K.J. Black (Rams Offensive Assistant)

I really like the things I’ve heard about K.J. Black. Black came to the Rams through the Bill Walsh Diversity Coaching Fellowship two years ago and this past year he was promoted to offensive assistant. This would be a significant bump and maybe its too early but I would really like to see it especially considering how young coach Black is.

Black was a co-offensive coordinator at Florida A&M and he played quarterback in college with Western Kentucky and Prairie View A&M. What you love to see is someone who turned a fellowship program into a promotion in a year’s time. That is what Black did. Currently, Black works with the quarterbacks mainly which really helps his cause to be promoted. Perhaps at the very least he will get a promotion to assistant quarterbacks coach officially. Just keep an eye on him, this man could be a stud, all he knows in the NFL is the McVay way.

Joe Brady (Interim Bills Offensive Coordinator)

Let me start by saying this would be a major mistake by the Buffalo Bills if they didn’t hire Joe Brady as their offensive coordinator. He quite honestly saved the Bills season from disaster once he took over for Ken Dorsey. Brady is 34 years old and fits the mold of a Sean McVay offensive coach on his staff. The Bills are interviewing Brady for their offensive coordinator job but nothing has been finalized.

Should Brady not get the job I think the Rams would have to go all out for Brady even if that means giving him some extra duties to make it a full on promotion. I’m also not positive Brady would want to return to Buffalo if they moved on from him after the job he did. Brady could come over and be the quarterbacks coach, passing game coordinator and be around the best head coach to get him a head coaching job down the road. Brady was on a crazy trajectory but the Panthers tenure with Matt Rhule set him back, he is going to want to get back to being in that discussion and if the Bills botch this the Rams make a lot of sense here.

Jay Gruden (Former Rams Consultant)

McVay brought his old boss Jay Gruden onto the staff in 2022 as an offensive consultant. Not much was said about how that ended, if it even did or whether Jay wants to remain in the NFL. After Jay was offensive coordinator for the Jaguars that went 1-15 he took a year away from football before being hired as a consultant in 2022 by the Rams.

Should Jay want to get back into the NFL and the Rams again I think there would be a place for him. There just isn’t any way of knowing whether or not he wants to come back, whether or not the Rams want him or they moved on from him. What we do know is that Jay Gruden has never been a quarterbacks coach or passing game coordinator before. This would be new territory to a degree.

Jon Gruden (Saints Consultant)

Sean McVay got his start in the NFL with Jon Gruden so how poetic would it be if Sean brought Gruden onto his staff. It doesn’t come without potential blowback of baggage though. Gruden was part of an email controversy that led to his resignation as the Raiders head coach in 2021. The Buccaneers even removed him from their ring of honor after this incident, so it’s very serious and could be a reason Gruden never gets to coach again or join an NFL team as anything more than a consultant like he did with the Saints and is currently doing with the Saints.

If McVay were to bring in Gruden it might a PR nightmare to be fair. However, from a football perspective I could see the fit. Gruden worked with Carson Wentz during the season before he signed with the Rams and has reportedly worked with Derek Carr while in his role with the Saints. Should Gruden end up as an option for the Rams I would not be shocked if they brought him in as at least a quarterbacks coach. Again, the football fit is there but it would be all about the PR and whether the Rams could get away with bringing him in like the Saints have in albeit a much lesser role.

Brian Johnson (Former Eagles Offensive Coordinator)

This is a fascinating option considering Johnson was fired by the Eagles after a down year for the once high-powered Philadelphia offense. While it’s clear Johnson didn’t bring the success to the table former offensive coordinator Shane Steichen did. It’s worth noting, Johnson was an up-and-comer and was considered a highly-sought after coach for his job as the Eagles quarterbacks coach from 2021 through 2022.

Johnson’s play-calling was an issue this year for the Eagles but perhaps maybe the 36-year-old, soon to be 37 year old was a little in over his hand. Perhaps a year or two with Sean McVay as the quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator gets him back on his feet. Coaching is a stock game for the most part when it comes to going up or down the rungs. While Johnson may have failed as a first-year offensive coordinator, he still has a chance to work his way back up the rungs especially as young as he is. The Rams would be a great fit for Johnson and I believe Johnson could be a great fit for the Rams in this role.

Byron Leftwich (Former Buccaneers Offensive Coordinator)

What was strange is how a former NFL quarterback who at one point was named a favorite to be a head coach fell out of the league after being an offensive coordinator in every season Tom Brady was a Buccaneer. Leftwich has gotten no publicity as of late which is bizarre to me. I remember Bruce Arians throwing a throwing a fit back in 2020 when Leftwich didn’t receive any head coaching interviews.

Fast-forward to 2022 and he had finished his fourth season as the team’s offensive coordinator, he received head coaching interviews in 2021 but was not hired and at the end of the 2022 season he was fired by the Buccaneers. Leftwich spent the entire 2023 season out of the NFL. Did he decide to take a break or is there really no interest at this point in time? Either way, it’s weird to me and Leftwich seems like a great option as someone who was once a quarterback, quarterbacks coach and needs to work his way back up the rungs again in the league.

Greg Olson (Seahawks Quarterbacks Coach)

Olson lost the bid to become the Bears next offensive coordinator to his colleague Shane Waldron. Olson is still technically the Seahawks quarterbacks coach but with the future of Seattle up in the air Olson could look to move and it could be back to the Rams for his fourth tenure. Olson was last seen with the Rams in 2022 when he was the senior offensive assistant.

Olson was the quarterbacks coach for the Rams in 2017 before joining Jon Gruden’s Raiders staff in 2018. Even further back, Olson was the St. Louis Rams offensive coordinator in the 2006-2007 seasons. He had plenty of success in that 2006 year as well. Could Olson really come back for a fourth time to the same organization? I wouldn’t rule it out. He has familiarity with Stafford since he was on the coaching staff a year ago. Don’t be surprised if the Rams decide to go with Olson here.

Dan Orlovsky (Former NFL Quarterback & ESPN Analyst)

Not only have I interviewed Dan but more importantly he played and was teammates with Matthew Stafford. I can say first-hand he’s incredibly knowledgable about the game of football. Orlovsky still sounds like he keeps in good touch with Stafford. That’s one of the quarterbacks he would be working with.

Back in early 2023 last year Orlovsky received interest from the Colts and Panthers for offensive coaching roles with the teams. Orlovsky even admitted he came very close to accepting the Panthers coaching role. This year it’s been no different, Orlovsky brought up how he’s been contacted by mutliple NFL teams about coaching jobs here in 2024. Even a former Sean McVay coach in Matt LaFleur has reportedly reached out to Orlovsky to coach on his staff. Is it extremely likely? I wouldn’t say so but it’s a name to keep in mind.

J.T. O’Sullivan (Former NFL Quarterback & Current YouTube Quarterback Analyst - The QB School)

This would be a little interesting but not unheard of. Remember when the Rams hired Zac Robinson right from Pro Football Focus? Or when Brian Griese went from the ESPN booth to on the 49ers sideline? Well, this could be a trend. There’s no doubt about it O’Sullivan has plenty of NFL experience and more so he’s very well in tuned for today’s game. He breaks down all the quarterbacks on his YouTube channel.

When you watch a film breakdown from O’Sullivan you know you are seeing something special. He puts plenty into his quarterback school breakdowns. With someone who knows the game as well as he does I think he’s a dark-horse to watch should he ever decide to coach in the NFL. He’s been coaching up quarterbacks though already so I think he would be a great fit.

Jake Peetz (Rams Pass Game Specialist)

This is perhaps the favorite in-house option for the Rams considering Peetz was already working as a pass game specialist. Peetz was notably brought over from LSU where he was the quarterback coach and offensive coordinator for the Tigers. The Rams brought him in 2022 and he’s been in the same role to this day.

In the past Peetz had worked as a running back coach and quarterbacks coach in the NFL with the Panthers and Raiders. He’s only 40 years old so while he has a lot of experience, Peetz still is very young. The former Nebraska Cornhusker turned down an opportunity to be Nebraska’s quarterback coach at the end of the 2022 season. He very well could be in line for a promotion and if the Rams decide to split up the passing game coordinator and quarterbacks coach positions I could see him getting either of them.

Frank Reich (Former Carolina Panthers Head Coach)

I have mentioned how coaching is a stock game. It wasn’t that long ago that Frank Reich was a red-hot coaching candidate coming out of Philadelphia having been credited with helping the Eagles win their Super Bowl with Nick Foles taking over after Carson Wentz tore his ACL. It was that long ago when Reich was last a quarterbacks coach however. Reich is 62 years old and was last a quarterbacks coach back in 2013 with the San Diego Chargers.

Here’s why I’m mentioning Reich. I think this would be good role for him, he would be a good option for the Rams and furthermore, let’s be honest when it comes to Reich he’s probably done receiving head coaching jobs after two head coaching jobs going south in back to back seasons. Not to mention how he was criticized for his stubborn play-calling. I don’t know if Reich can just dive right into being an offensive coordinator again. He needs a reset and this would provide him with that.

T.J. Yates (Falcons Wide Receivers Coach)

This would be kind of funny. Imagine the Rams took one of the Falcons coaches off their staff to replace Zac Robinson because he was going to the Falcons himself. Well, it might not be far fetched. T.J. Yates is a former NFL quarterback and he could leave for a promotion if the Rams gave him one which would be making him both the quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator.

Is Yates worth doing that? I’m unsure. It seems like Falcons fans want him back and he’s well-liked but perhaps him moving to the wide receiver coach spot was him following the best path to be an offensive coordinator. Sean McVay did the same thing with Thomas Brown when he moved him from the running backs coach to tight ends coach to give him more of a look and make him more well-rounded before he became a coordinator.

Final Thoughts

My ideal candidate would be Joe Brady but that is going to take some waiting around and some luck. Like I said earlier, the Bills would be making a massive mistake if they didn’t bring him back and hire him as the offensive coordinator. The most likely option is Jake Peetz in my mind because he’s in-house and has experience doing this sort of thing. K.J. Black is someone I would love to see but I could see McVay wanting to take it a little easier on him since Black just joined the NFL coaching circuit two years ago.

The best out of house candidate genuinely feels like Brian Johnson formerly with the Eagles and Byron Leftwich. Both have experience and had success in the position of quarterbacks coach, both have called plays as offensive coordinator and both are likely looking to reset their market. I think all of these options are intriguing enough where I would probably be fine with any of them but I find bringing in Leftwich or Johnson to be the best out of house options.