Kevin O’Connell is the most intriguing LA Rams coaching hire

Why did the LA Rams hire Kevin O’Connell as the new offensive coordinator?

Kevin O’Connell was hired to fill the new offensive coordinator for the LA Rams on January 16th. He held the same position with the Washington Redskins in 2019. So it begs the question, why did Sean McVay hire him to run the offense?

O’Connell seems to be the most intriguing hire among the new coordinators. Wouldn’t it make sense to select a high profile successful coordinator to revamp the Rams offense? Wouldn’t you want to hire someone with plenty of experience to aid in the high-stress situation of play-calling, especially in tight critical games? After all, Kevin O’Connell made the undermanned Washington Redskins offense click behind a makeshift offensive line, no receiver talent to speak of, and complete chaos at the quarterback position.

As a player, QB O’Connell was drafted by the New England Patriots in round 3 of the 2008 NFL Draft. He played back up quarterback to Matt Cassel. Starting QB Tom Brady was injured early in the season.

He bounced around the league until 2012. At that time, he became the quarterbacks’ coach for the Cleveland Browns during the 2015 season. In 2016, he was an offensive assistant with the San Francisco 49ers.

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O’Connell catches a big break in Washington

In 2017, O’Connell was hired to coach quarterbacks for the Washington Redskins, backfilling a vacancy created by outgoing offensive coordinator Sean McVay. The Redskins run the west coast offense under Head Coach Jay Gruden. In 2019, O’Connell was promoted to offensive coordinator.

His tenure as the new offensive coordinator for Washington did not last long but had plenty of excitement. Turmoil hit as HC Gruden was fired after week 5. Bill Callahan is named the interim head coach for the remainder of the season.

How did Washington’s offense fare in 2019? They were 31st in total offense. Washington averaged 98.9 rushing yards per game to finish 22nd. They averaged 175.8 passing yards per game to finish last in the NFL.

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On, then gone

O’Connell was replaced in Washington by the new head coach’s choice of offensive coordinator.  As is often the story with coaching carousels, he was unemployed for a short time before signing on with the LA Rams. What value does he bring to the team?

Stu Jackson of therams.com quotes McVay concerning O’Connell’s hiring:

“I’ve been really impressed with from when he was a player and the seamless transition that he’s made into coaching – his mastery of the position,” McVay said. “When you talk about big-picture perspective, it’s not just the quarterback position, it’s all 11 (players) on offense, it’s all 11 (players) on defense, understating rules, responsibilities. Just the charisma, the presence, all those things were things that excited you about getting an opportunity to work together.”

O’Connell attended the LA Rams press conference to introduce the new team coordinators. McVay claimed that O’Connell would teach him new ways to design the playbook. It was during that conference that McVay confirmed that Kevin O’Connell would assume the primary coaching responsibilities for quarterback Jared Goff as well.

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In this case, McVay opted for a persona instead of experience. Let’s hope that this new approach works out well for LA. Watch to see how this all plays out.

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