The Los Angeles Rams have found their replacement for the loss of previous DL coach Eric Henderson in the form of the 2023 Los Angeles Chargers interim head coach Giff Smith. According to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, the Rams are hiring the longtime assistant as their new defensive line coach and run game coordinator.
The #Rams are hiring Giff Smith as their defensive line coach/run game coordinator, per source.— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) February 2, 2024
A longtime respected assistant, Smith finished last season as the #Chargers’ interim coach. Several teams were trying to hire him, but Sean McVay convinced him to stay in L.A. pic.twitter.com/8RUFYsfUGv
Smith is a well respected assistant coach, who had many job offers, but decided to stay in LA. He started his pro career in 2010 with the Buffalo Bills as their defensive line coach. In 2023, he was the Chargers outside linebackers coach before taking over as the interim head coach in Week 16, after Brandon Staley was relieved of his head coaching duties with the team.
Even with the lack of success by the Chargers as a whole last season, Smith’s outside linebacker unit helped one of the best pass rushes in the league, as the team finished in the top 10 for total sacks with 48 on the year.
The Rams pass rush improved from 2022 to 2023 with the addition of rookies Kobie Turner and Byron Young, however they were still 23rd in the NFL with 41 sacks total. Smith could help increase that total by bringing his knowledge and expertise as a defensive coach, both at the lineman and the linebacker levels. Smith is a natural fit for the Rams defense after his experience working with Staley.
Staley joined the Rams as their defensive coordinator in 2020, and constructed the foundation of the defense that Raheem Morris would adapted and tweak upon his arrival in 2021. New defensive coordinator Chris Shula, is expected to run a similar system to both Staley and Morris, so Smith should understand the nuances of what they are trying to accomplish on the defensive side of the ball perfectly.