LA Rams: What can LB Coach Chris Shula show us in 2021?

(Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) /

We’ve been crawling along so far, pivoting our view 360 degrees in this LA Rams offseason, trying to wrap our arms around the seismic shifts that are forcing major and subtle changes up and down the LA Rams roster. But are we missing something? After all, the Rams have said farewell to some of the most accomplished positional coaches since head coach Sean McVay has taken over. Now it’s truly time to bite the bullet and talk about what may be in store for the LA Rams in 2021.

One of the key positional coach changes was that at the linebackers position, where long-time coach Joe Barry has gone on to take a defensive coordinator role with the Green Bay Packers, which has, in turn, created the opportunity for the LA Rams to promote Chris Shula to the Linebackers coach position.

Shula was first hired by McVay in 2017 as the assistant linebackers coach. In fact, their history has been extensive, as they were teammates at the University of Miami (Ohio). Shula was a linebacker there, while McVay was a wide receiver.

Los Angeles Rams
Los Angeles Rams /

Los Angeles Rams

Coach ’em up, Chris

As the Rams’ assistant linebacker coach in 2017 and 2018, he had a hand in developing ILB Cory Littleton to develop from an undrafted rookie to a Pro Bowler. He also helped both veterans Alec Ogletree and Mark Barron to register over 100 tackles each, and consistently helped veterans play at their best.

He was promoted to the outside linebacker coach in 2019 and continued to work with the team’s veterans.  Shula worked with outside linebacker Dante Fowler Jr. and Clay Matthews, both exhibiting rebounds in their output after working with him.  But he also makes quick connections and excellent first impressions with rookie players, as evidenced by this report about 2020 rookie outside linebacker Terrell Lewis. That type of personality is crucial for engaging professional football players and communicating the new defensive game plan.

Now he is the linebackers’ coach, which will cover all linebackers once more. Of course, with a promotion comes more coordination, meetings, and strategy. The Rams linebackers will still be led by Chris Shula, but much of their interactions will now occur with assistant linebackers coach Thad Bogardus. If you recall, Bogardus was formerly the Rams’ assistant defensive line coach, and will now assist in the development of edge rushers. Still, it will ultimately be up to Chris Shula.

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He has his work cut out for him, too. While the Rams have re-signed veteran outside linebacker Leonard Floyd to a multi-year deal, the Rams are a bit raw and inexperienced at the other side of the defense.  And there is likely not enough money to add to the talent pool. That means that it will be up to Shula to coach up the linebackers on this roster. Considering that the LA Rams linebackers are one of the youngest groups in the NFL, Shula has his work cut out for him.

But if you want to look at it another way, it shows just how much faith that the LA Rams have in their linebacker’s coach to entrust him with such an important job in the first year of his promotion.