LA Rams Coach Thomas Brown transitioning to TEs is high reward gamble

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

The LA Rams have once more responded to a wave of defections from their coaching staff to other teams. This year, the interest among positional coaches was split between both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball, allowing (or perhaps forcing) the Rams to restrategize who and how the team would go about restocking their staff for a new NFL campaign.

Historically, the LA Rams would primarily look to outside coaches with the right expertise and background to fit the team’s vacancies, and the team would vet them to determine the best from those candidates to offer the position. While effective enough, that oftentimes left the existing coaches in the eddies, positional roles that had no growth opportunity.

When the LA Rams lost offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell to become the new head coach of the Minnesota Vikings, he hired former TE coach Wes Phillips to become the offensive coordinator of the Vikings offense. That meant the Rams would be in need of a new tight-end coach. Curiously enough, the defending NFL Champions will be giving the job to former RB coach Thomas Brown, who has never coached tight ends in his life.

LA Rams are gambling on a sure thing

Sort of an OJT thing? Well yes, in some respects. But I see this as a bit of a gamble. A low-risk high-reward gamble on one of the star coaches on staff, to invest time and energy into his career to help him to develop into a well-rounded candidate for even greater roles going forward.

Well… yes and know. While the positional roles and responsibilities are a variation of the running back, the emphasis for tight ends is on blocking, route running, and catching the pass. For running backs, there is the additional primary role of running with the football.  Now, with Coach Brown transitioning from the backfield to the line of scrimmage, the Rams are counting on the new role to give Brown a unique, and advantageous, perspective.

Brown’s career just got the boost it needed

Brown is a solid NFL coach, make no mistake about that. From the moment he arrived, he has quickly become an integral and vital coach on staff. He has been one of the trusted sounding boards on the staff. Perhaps a very well-timed one, too.

Since his arrival, Brown has had to address the LA Rams’ running offense, social issues, COVID-19, and competing in and winning Super Bowl LVI. That’s quite a bite-sized chunk of responsibility for a guy who just came on board the team two years ago. Now? He’s moving to a new position, one he has never coached before.  Quite a gamble by the Rams, right? Well, let’s ponder and compare some notes on that topic, shall we?

Brown has been instrumental in giving the LA Rams renewed optimism in the running game, even when the players at that position have been relentlessly hammered by injuries. The team has no special featured running back. Rather, this is a team that has leaned upon a productive committee at the position out of necessity for the past two seasons.

Whatever it takes

Each player willingly took up his share of the role without hesitation or jealousy, as Brown has drilled into each player the willingness to do whatever it takes to help the team.  Now, Thomas Brown will lead by example.

Now, in his new role, he will be working with veterans Tyler Higbee, Kendall Blanton, Brycen Hopkins, and perhaps even Jacob Harris. Much like teaching, the true art of coaching is about objective assessment, consistent and constant drilling of the fundamentals of the position, and exemplary communication. Check, check and check. Brown meets all of the criteria.

"“From a challenge standpoint, to me, it’s just being able to be in a different environment, different coaching techniques when it comes to my role and responsibility. I’ve always tried to take a big-picture role when it comes to what we do.It was always kind of just seeing the entire big picture, just being able to have now an opportunity to get my hands involved in the coaching is going to be a big part of it.” – LA Rams TE Coach Thomas Brown as interviewed by Sports Illustrated’s Zach Dimmitt"

The move is well-timed, as the Rams will have at least three returning veterans, perhaps four, plus newly arrived TE Kyle Markway who knew Coach Brown from South Carolina University. As the Rams’ offense takes shape, it is clear that tight ends will continue to hold significant roles in moving the football and scoring.

For the team, transitioning Thomas Brown to the TEs coaching role will place one of the team’s best coaches at a position at the crossroads. The Rams will need a resurgence from TEs to master the competition in 2022. For the man, Thomas Brown transitioning to tight ends will give Brown a notch on his belt for the passing game as well.

It’s a high-reward gamble of the team on a sure thing. Stay tuned.

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