LA Rams head coach Sean McVay stands in the eye of a hurricane
There is a tempest in the LA Rams organization. A wind of such unbridled raw force that it is ripping apart the organization at its seams. While you cannot see the wind, you can feel its force, and observe its path of destruction. Like storm chasers, we are arriving on the scene in its wake.
A normal year would be a coach or two moving on to find a role elsewhere. Perhaps a promising executive might be lured away by the promise of a promotion. But less than a month after making it as far as the Divisional Round of the NFL Playoffs, the Rams have parted ways with their young starting quarterback and eight executives and coaches.
If you cast the net to 2020, the LA Rams have parted ways with more than a dozen key personnel. Who do you ask? Here they are, listed in no particular order:
Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips (2020)
Running back coach Skip Peete (2020)
Special Teams Coordinator John Fassel (2020)
Strength and conditioning coach Ted Rath (2020)
Assistant Special Teams coach Matt Daniels (2020)
Defensive coordinator Brandon Staley (2021)
Assistant head coach/linebackers coach Joe Barry (2021)
Special Teams coordinator John Bonamego (2021, reassigned to senior coaching assistant)
Cornerbacks coach Aubrey Pleasant (2021)
Run game coordinator/Offensive line coach Aaron Kromer (2021)
Pass game coordinator Shane Waldron (2021)
Assistant quarterback coach Liam Coen (2021)
Assistant offensive line coach Andy Dickerson (2021)
Director of College Scouting Brad Holmes (2021)
Director of Player Personnel Ray Agnew (2021)
Did better opportunity lure everyone away? Or is something else going on? The LA Rams over the past two years have been 19-13, and have been 1-1 in the playoffs. And this is with a $34 million dead cap in 2020 limiting the Rams’ ability to lure and sign top free agents.
That’s a huge loss of coaching talent since the Super Bowl.
Of course, part of this can be rationalized. The 2020 NFL season was very straining on the mindset and relationships of many teams. It was a pattern of unknowns, followed by more unknowns. The Rams, like all 32 NFL teams, pulled off an NFL season with the least amount of time to prepare and under the harshest of work conditions.
And yet, there was a marked improvement in the team and the promise of an even brighter future. Well, there was at the end of the season. Now, nearly the entire coaching staff must be restaffed. That all means unfamiliarity with one another and with the players. The Rams had one advantage over many teams in 2020. They retained positional coaches who knew the players and the players knew them.
Now? It’s back to square one.
2020 succeeded because positional coaches like Joe Barry, Aubrey Pleasant, and Aaron Kromer were able to rapidly implement the changes necessary to make the defense and offense flow. It’s no wonder that Brandon Staley tried to take Barry with him to the LA Chargers. And it’s little wonder that so many coaches were able to find promotions throughout the NFL.
But there is that path of destruction. Promotions take work. Uprooting families, moving (ugh, moving is never fun), and relearning an entirely new team culture, coaching staff, players, and organization. Every call from a head hunter depends upon connecting with a potential prospect at the right time. The LA Rams seemed so close to winning a Super Bowl in 2020. Why would so many positional coaches pick up that phone and interview?
The path has carved its way through the LA Rams coaching staff. Who was with the team for the 2018 Super Bowl Run? WR coach Eric Yarber, Offensive quality control Zac Kromer, Linebackers coach Chris Shula, and Safeties coach Ejiro Evero.
Was it the attraction of a better role that has attracted coaches away? Or was it something inside the organization, pushing them to seek refuge elsewhere, compelling them to pick up that phone and agree to interview elsewhere? People love to contribute to a successful organization. The LA Rams are every bit the successful organization.
So why have so many key coaches had cause to part from a successful organization? No reason is obvious. It’s unseen to the naked eye. But there is a force, an unbridled force that is ripping the organization apart at the seams.
And in the eye of this invisible hurricane stands head coach Sean McVay. Right now, everything around him is in chaos. And that just doesn’t seem right for a team trying to win a Super Bowl in 2021.