Los Angeles Rams Promote Long-Time Assistant To New Defensive Coordinator, College Friend Of Sean McVay

Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The biggest missing piece of the Los Angeles Rams coaching staff puzzle fell into place today. ESPN’s Senior NFL Insider Adam Schefter reported that they will promote pass rush coordinator/linebackers coach, Chris Shula to defensive coordinator. The position has been open since Raheem Morris was hired as the head coach of the Atlanta Falcons.

Los Angeles Rams Promote Chris Shula To Defensive Coordinator

Shula was hired onto the Rams coaching staff in 2017 when Sean McVay took over the reins of the team. He has worked with various positional groups including inside linebackers, outside linebackers, and defensive backs. In 2022 he became the pass game coordinator and last season he was the pass rush coordinator.

Shula also worked at the collegiate level with Ball State, Indiana, and was the defensive coordinator for John Carroll in 2014. He took over the job when Brandon Staley moved on to James Madison. Shula left John Carroll to start his NFL coaching career as a quality control coach for the then-San Diego Chargers from 2015 to 2016. There he worked with defensive coordinator John Pagano and linebackers coach Mike Nolan.

McVay and Shula’s relationship started while they both attended Miami University (OH), where they both played on the Redhawks football team. Shula was a linebacker for the Redhawks. The two were even roommates when McVay took the Rams coaching job.

The hire breaks McVay’s tendency to not promote internally for the highest coordinator positions. Wade Philips, Brandon Staley, and Raheem Morris were all outside hires. Although, Morris and McVay’s relationship started in 2008 when the two worked together in Tampa Bay. So perhaps that was the start of a change in philosophy.

NFL: Los Angeles Rams at Arizona Cardinals
Nov 26, 2023; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Los Angeles Rams pass game coordinator Chris Shula against the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Rams defensive coaching staff has lost several coaches who were directly responsible for the overachievement of the squad last season. Morris is joined by Jimmy Lake as defensive coordinator in Atlanta. Lake’s title with the Rams was assistant head coach but has years of experience as a defensive back coach and as the head coach of the University of Washington head coach. Eric Henderson left the Rams to become co-defensive coordinator for the USC Trojans. He was the defensive line coach for the Rams since 2021.

While the Rams defense overachieved it still finished the 19th-ranked defense by points allowed and 20th-ranked defense by yards allowed. There will be an influx of new defensemen added to the team in 2024 through all offseason avenues; trades, free agency, and the draft. So the Shula’s job will offer plenty of challenges all year.

Shula is also the grandson of the late Hall of Fame coach Don Shula, the son of former Cincinnati Bengals head coach Dave Shula, and the nephew of former football head coach Mike Shula.