LA Rams 3 top candidates for RB coach

IRVING, TX - CIRCA 2011: In this handout image provided by the NFL, Skip Peete of the Dallas Cowboys poses for his NFL headshot circa 2011 in Irving, Texas. (Photo by NFL via Getty Images)
IRVING, TX - CIRCA 2011: In this handout image provided by the NFL, Skip Peete of the Dallas Cowboys poses for his NFL headshot circa 2011 in Irving, Texas. (Photo by NFL via Getty Images) /

The LA Rams should begin the search for a new running backs coach by narrowing focus to these 3 top candidates

The LA Rams couldn’t have planned more offseason drama than the team has experienced so far. Down by three or four coaching positions (if they create an offensive coordinator role), the team cannot waste time in hiring replacements.

On the other hand, the team cannot just hire a warm breathing body either.  The LA Rams offense is most effective when opposing defenses respect the run.  That allows the team to work in run-pass option (RPO) plays and open up the passing game as well.

Running back coaches do not receive nearly the publicity as the offensive or defensive coordinators, and most teams keep a tight lid on contract terms of positional coaches for various reasons.

Opportunities exist for the Rams to not only hire a new running backs coach, but to attract an entirely new energy and emphasis upon the running game. It means the team needs to do their homework and hire the right guy.  Here are three candidates who need to be in the mix.

Former Dallas Cowboys running back coach Gary Brown

If head coach Sean McVay held auditions for a future running back coach, he need look no further than former Dallas Cowboys running back coach Gary Brown.

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In the 44-21 beating suffered in that game, two Dallas running backs gained over 100 yards. Ezekiel Elliott rushed 24 times for 117 yards and two touchdowns. Meanwhile, Tony Polliard chewed up 131 yards on 17 carries, and scored a touchdown as well.  The Cowboys were the fifth best rushing offense in the NFL in 2019, and have been consistently good for several years.

And running back coach Gary Brown’s contract expires, and he’s not likely to be returning. Turnabout is fair play, after all. The Cowboys are in the process of hiring former Rams special teams coach John Fassel.  It only makes sense for the Rams to return the favor.

Brown is a running back from Penn State University, and has served as running back coach for the Dallas Cowboys the past five seasons. It was Brown who coached running back DeMarco Murray, Darren McFadden, and Ezekiel Elliott into NFL 1,000+ yard gainers.

Former Cleveland Browns head coach Freddie Kitchens

Before Freddie Kitchens killed his reputation by signing on as head coach for the Cleveland Browns, he was a rather effective running backs coach for the Cleveland Browns. It was that success which encourage the Browns to promote Kitchens to offensive coordinator, and then once more to head coach.

Kitchens has over 10 years NFL coaching experience, and he coached the Browns running attack very well.  His career included stints with the Dallas Cowboys, Arizona Cardinals, and Cleveland Browns. Like Gary Brown, Kitchens helped running back Nick Chubb to master the running game in the NFL

Kitchens has learned a lot of lessons in his single season as head coach of the Browns.  He would be a valuable coaching resource to have on the Rams to help avoid similar over extensions on the Rams roster.

Former Carolina Panthers running back coach Jake Peetz

Another team with a solid running offense pedigree is that of the Carolina Panthers.  This is the same team which announced hiring Baylor head coach Matt Rhule.  While the Panthers did not run the ball frequently (just 24.1 times per game), the team managed to gain a very respectable 113.7 yards per game to average 4.7 yards per carry.

That type of production has been the calling card of the Panthers for years. Despite the fact that Jack Peetz has only been the running backs coach for the Panthers in 2019, he helped transition quarterback Kyle Allen to the NFL, while continuing to expand running back Christian McCaffrey‘s versatility in multiple roles on offense.

Peetz will now be peddling his wares to other teams in the NFL. His work with Oakland Raiaders quarterback David Carr makes him an intriguing addition to the coaching staff. If McVay wants to pull out of the minutia of the offense to focus more on defense and special teams, Peetz comes as a plug and play coach ready to coach up multiple positions on offense.

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There may be other options as well.  But these coaches turned up as available now, a great track record with running backs, and extra capacity for improving the team offense as needed. If the time to change the Rams offense is now, this list of three running back coach candidates will make it happen this year.