The Rams have lost six members of their 2023 coaching staff and five of those six have gone to the Atlanta Falcons. The question that remains is why did the Rams young up-and-coming coaches K.J. Black and Nick Jones follow Raheem Morris to Atlanta? What is in the works?
Let’s dive into why this may have happened.
The Rams lost their quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator in Zac Robinson to the Falcons for a promotion. One would have assumed that K.J. Black who started with the Rams through the Bill Walsh coaching fellowship program would have maybe slid into one of those spots since he was working as an assistant with the quarterbacks the last two years. However, Black joined the Falcons with Robinson in the same role which is a lateral move that Sean McVay could have blocked but opted not to. So, why did Black leave?
Black is a young stud coach who played quarterback at the college level most notably with Prairie View A&M. He worked directly with Zac Robinson in Los Angeles and helped out the quarterbacks whether it was Bryce Perkins, Baker Mayfield, Matthew Stafford, John Wolford or Carson Wentz. He has been in the picture for those guys. So, even if he loved working with McVay, he may have felt closer to Robinson and opted to follow Robinson due to their closer coaching relationship.
With the potential of Jake Peetz returning to the staff, there was probably not going to be an easy path straight to taking over Robinson’s role so perhaps Black wanted to just continue working with Robinson if no promotion was in the cards. I do not believe for a second if Black was offered the gig he would have declined it for a lesser one just to coach with Robinson though. Another thing could have been the fact McVay may have wanted to go more experience-heavy on his coaching staff.
With the Rams promoting Chris Shula to defensive coordinator it’s worth noting that Shula has as much experience as McVay does being a Rams coach. Then McVay added Giff Smith who has been in the league since 2010 and is 55 years of age. There is a possibility that McVay wanted to go in a more experienced direction and while that wouldn’t necessarily mean getting rid of Black, it could have led him to be open with Black moving on in a lateral move especially if its to go with Raheem Morris and help him out.
As for Nick Jones, this makes more sense than Black to me. Perhaps Black may have been blocked for a year or two from being promoted but Jones was really blocked with the likes of Ryan Wendell, Mike Munchak and Zak Kromer all working with the offensive line as of this past year. Even more so, Jones started his coaching fellowship as a member for the Atlanta Falcons staff. He was on the same staff Morris interim head coached so that explains why Jones would want to follow him.
Not to mention, Jones is from Georgia. He went to school at Georgia, played football at Georgia, was a graduate assistant at Georgia, so when you think about it the fit makes a ton of sense for Jones to follow Morris who he already worked with in 2020.
One could expect McVay to bring in more coaching fellows this off-season to replace the two but also we could see the likes of veteran names taking over for Robinson’s passing game coordinator and quarterbacks coach role such as: Frank Reich, Jon Gruden, Jay Gruden and Greg Olson. Should the Rams not promote Peetz, I think that would be the direction they go in. If not, I could see them bringing in one of: Brian Johnson, Byron Leftwich, Dan Orlovsky or JT O’Sullivan.
One thing is for certain, when it comes to covering the Sean McVay-led Los Angeles Rams, the coaching carousel whether its as minor as an assistant coach or as major as a coordinator, always makes for an entertaining and fascinating time of the year. We will find out soon enough what identity McVay is looking for in the 2024 coaching staff.