Rams Offensive Coordinator Candidates
After the conclusion of the season, Sean McVay made it clear that he was considering retiring. But the situation was described as ‘fluid’ and there was no indication that the decision was anything but 50/50. Now, after several days of deliberation and likely consultation with friends, colleagues, mentors, and others in his ‘inner circle,’ McVay has decided to stay with the Los Angeles Rams.
But now what? During his final press conference of the season, McVay continually described the situation he was going through as a personal growth journey, rather than an issue with the Rams team or organization. In fact, he singled out the Rams brass as being supportive of him.
But the fact of the matter is McVay is far from satisfied with how his team performed in 2022. Some personnel changes have already been made. Cuts have been made to the roster and coaching staff changes won’t be far behind. Coaching changes could be very dramatic. There is the possibility that Raheem Morris is hired away as the head coach by one of many teams interviewing him.
One thing that is currently known is they are looking for a new Rams offensive coordinator. The Rams most recent OC, Liam Coen, agreed to rejoin the Kentucky Wildcats as their coordinator. Reports of his departure surfaced at the beginning of December.
The position has been a rotating cast since McVay took the reigns. Before Coen, it was Kevin O’Connell in 2021 and 2020. Shane Waldron served as Passing Game Coordinator, in lieu of an OC from 2018-2019. In a similar role, Zac Taylor was the quarterback’s coach in 2018 and Matt LaFleur was OC in 2017, McVay’s first season.
McVay made it clear that he is still madly in love with coaching and with football and that he has as much vigor for the game as he has ever had, but all the consideration of making extreme changes to his life, i.e. stepping away from something he loves, portends looking for a different kind of right-hand man than he has had in the past. One that has more experience than their predecessors. Perhaps, one to who McVay can relate. Possibly, one he can pour into and build into the next Zac Taylor or Matt LaFleur.
Mike LaFleur seems to be the odds-on favorite to get the job. His older brother Matt worked for McVay as the Rams offensive coordinator in 2017. McVay and Mike LaFleur were brought up under Shanahan systems. McVay with Mike Shanahan and LaFleur with Kyle Shanahan.
While there are all the reasons to like the fit, he hasn’t proved to be successful at the helm of an offense. While in San Francisco, he was heavily involved in the week-to-week offensive game plan, but he had little to do with the execution of it. Over two seasons as the New York Jets OC they have the 30th-ranked offense by EPA per play.
The idea with LaFleur seems to be the same which resulted in bringing Brandon Staley on staff. McVay was getting frustrated by the Fangio defense, so he brought in a guy that could teach him how to run it. McVay has been getting slapped around by Kyle Shanahan’s offense, so bringing in Shanahan’s pass game coordinator will help him run that offense. The bet they are making is that LaFleur is to Shanahan as Staley is to Fangio.
Being with an experienced head coach, such as McVay rather than Robert Saleh will benefit him. He will also have a much more settled quarterback situation to deal with in LA. His chances of thriving are much better. McVay won’t likely relinquish play-calling duties so LaFleur’s role will be much more like his role in San Francisco than it was with the Jets.
The Athletic’s Jourdan Rodrigue said on her podcast, the 11 Personnel that Frank Reich is a name she has heard mention inside the Rams building. Unkile LaFleur, he is a proven offensive coordinator. In his two years with Philadelphia, he took them from the 20th-ranked offense by EPA/play in 2016 to the 7th-best in 2017. They also took home the Lombardi that season.
As a former veteran quarterback in the league as well as a former head coach, Reich is a guy that McVay can trust and relate to. He can be a steady hand and a voice of reason.
He may even be able to get McVay to be more aggressive on fourth down. The Rams often rank toward the bottom of the league and while the Rams offense didn’t put up many good stats this season they led the league in fourth down conversion rate. Reich is one of the more aggressive coaches in that regard.
The problem with Reich is ‘get-ability.’ He has received at least one head coaching interview request from the Panthers. He is also being interviewed for myriad OC positions across the league. The Rams will always have the edge with Stan Kronke’s deep pockets and there is a direct succession plan for Reich to become a head coach in the event that McVay does step down at some time in the near future. This could help ensure that Reich wouldn’t be hired away like so many Rams OCs before.
Kliff Kingsbury may be more interested in a gap year abroad rather than jumping right back into a coaching position. He is apparently sipping on Singha beers on Nai Harn Beach at the moment. Or something to that effect.
But, in some ways, he is the best of both Reich and LaFleur. Kingsbury experience as a head coach in both college and in the pros. So he would offer McVay a lot as a peer.
His Texas Tech teams were often among the best offenses in the country. In the pros, his 2019-2020 offenses were in the top half of the league by EPA/play and in 2021 they were number nine. But 11 weeks into 2021, they had the second-best offensive EPA/play in the NFL, and in that time Kyler Murray was running for some of the smallest gains of his career. In Weeks 9, 10, and 11, that was achieved with Colt McCoy as their quarterback. This season the wheels fell off. They were the team most affected by injuries according to Man Games Lost. The quarterback situation had gone to sh*t and most other things had too.
All that said, Kingsbury knows offensive football well enough to move the ball. He has a legitimate knowledge of how offenses work. His coaching failures seem to be around institutional control and player evaluation, not offensive schema. Those are things that McVay has in spades. Not only that but, he won’t be running the Kingsbury offense, he would be running the McVay offense bringing in his particular skill set and knowledge base. With those two putting their heads together they can most definitely can put together a modern explosive offense.
This candidate is in Thailand and hasn’t shown interest in teams that have reached out to him. It’s unknown if the Rams were in that mic, but if so, McVay would have to really come up with a compelling way to get him off the beach or out of the Buddist Monastery.