LA Rams Coach Eric Henderson wins NFL Defensive Line coach of the year

Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

The LA Rams defense was one of the team’s units that continuously improved as the season progressed. Even when starting nose tackle Sebastian Joseph Day fell to his season-ending injury, the LA Rams defensive line just kept getting better and better. The backup nose tackle, Greg Gaines, stepped up in a big way. Veteran defensive lineman A’Shawn Robinson upped his game as well.

And the man behind all the success was LA Rams Defensive Line Coach Eric Henderson. Ironically, he does not preach spotlights or honors. He is the master of drudgery, the mastermind behind #DAWGWORK, the philosophy of embracing the blood, sweat, and tears of training, working out, and forging a cohesive team mindset among multiple players.

Borrowing and improving upon the classic Three Muskateers motto: “All for one and one for all!”, Coach Henny instills his patented DAWGWORK philosophy into the players he coaches. It’s more than the weight room or the practice field. It is the insistence upon giving the utmost on each play, regardless of whether that means rushing the passer, penetrating for a tackle behind the line of scrimmage, or simply gobbling two or more blockers on a given play to free up teammates to make the play.

Coach Henny embodies DAWGWORK

And his efforts were noticed in a huge way in 2021. He helped the team win their first Los Angeles Super Bowl. He was signed on to remain the team’s defensive line coach and as the highest-paid DL Coach in the NFL.  Now, he has been named the NFL Defensive Line coach of the year.

The LA Rams seem to have plenty of depth in play for their defensive line, and that is all thanks to the ability of Coach Henny to players to the NFL level of play. Through the course of the 2021 NFL season, the Rams used eight different defensive linemen in regular-season games. Regardless of their experience or NFL reputation, if they play for Eric Henderson, they are expected to give it their all on each and every play.

And that same standard for all players has been a benchmark of play that has been applied to everyone. Coach Henderson will give everything he can to his players. But he expects work and an undying hunger from them in return.

He is a huge coaching resource for the entire organization.

The Coach Henny effect

To place this all in perspective, the LA Rams hired Coach Henderson in February 2019. Over that span of time, the Rams have drafted DT Greg Gaines with the 134th pick of the 2019 NFL Draft, DT Bobby Brown with the 117th pick of the 2021 NFL Draft, and DE Earnest Brown with the 174th pick of the 2021 NFL Draft. In 2020, the Rams reinforced their defensive line with a handful of young defensive linemen.

In 2019, the LA Rams lost DL Ndamukong Suh to the Tampa Bay Buccanneers, and Ethan Westbrooks to the then Oakland Raiders via free agency. In 2020, the Rams signed FA DL A’Shawn Robinson. while losing DL Tanzel Smart to the Buffalo Bills. In 2021, the Rams lost DE Morgan Fox to the Carolina Panthers and traded DL Michael Brockers to the Detroit Lions.

If you compare, the outflow of talented players is far greater than that of incoming talent. That is the Coach Henny effect. His relentless and constant vigilance over the defensive linemen on this roster ensures that each one develops the necessary skillsets necessary to meet and exceed expectations when they suit up and play.

Perhaps, most of all, he is simply one of the most approachable and likable guys in the NFL. He’s the guy who would most likely be invited over for cold beers and hot grilled burgers off the grill. He is so incredibly knowledgeable, but he invests that knowledge into anyone who is interested. Unlike the vaulted knowledge of some NFL coaches, Coach Henderson is a treasure trove of first-hand experience and real-life lessons.

There is a reason why Coach Eric Henderson was named NFL Defensive Line coach of the year. It is the same reason why the LA Rams extended him, and in the process made him the highest-paid DL coach in the NFL. Simply put? Because he deserves it.

Look for huge things out of the defensive line in 2022. You heard it here first.

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