LA Rams shock by going Navy for their new OLB coach
By Bret Stuter
The LA Rams' outside linebackers clearly were a problem for the team in 2022. So much so that the teams outright release four players during the season, from a unit that boasted no more than eight players. The reason for the culling? The Rams outside linebacker group regressed considerably, and the team's overall defensive performance suffered considerably as a result.
The position group's struggles spread throughout the defense. Without quick pressure on quarterbacks, they had more time to pick apart the Rams young and oft-injured secondary, leading to the ridiculed perception of a 'soft zone' pass coverage that was born more out of necessity than simple timidness. But toMAto or toMAHto, the result was the same. The Rams defense could not get to the quarterback quickly enough.
As a result, I had speculated that the Rams would restore former OLB coach Chris Shula to oversee the group. Yet, that was not the plan whatsoever. Instead, the LA Rams have tapped a relatively unknown young coach to oversee a very important positional group for the LA Rams. He is Joe Coniglio, who is leaving his role with the United States Naval Academy as their Outside Linebackers/Special Teams Coordinator to become the next Outside Linebackers Coach for the LA Rams:
Joe Coniglio has dreamt of coaching in the NFL, and the stars have finally aligned for him to have a chance of doing so. But what about his career suggests that he is ready for the NFL?
Well, he has been coaching for over 11 years at the collegiate level, and has been coaching the outside linebacker position group for the past four seasons. Prior to coaching, he was a Special Assistant to the Head Coach for three years at Kent State University.
“It’s been a dream and a goal of mine to coach in the NFL. I am getting the opportunity to be a position coach when I first get there, which does not happen often. I thought this was an opportunity I could not turn down,” - per Bill Wagner of the Capital Gazette
Head coach Sean McVay has a long history and friendship with Joe Coniglio, ever since the two were college roommates at Miami of Ohio, and played for the football team. While McVay went off to pursue a coaching career, Coniglio would continue on to pursue his Master's Degree at Kent State University. But he too would turn to football coaching.
To get a feel of the guy, you can check out his Navy Bio on this link here. Because he has been hired by the Rams, I'm uncertain exactly how long this link will work. Some highlights that are directly pulled from the Navy Bio are:
"In 2021, despite playing one of the toughest schedules in the country, the Navy defense acquitted itself well by finishing 32nd in the nation in rushing defense (130.4 yards per game), 51st in passing defense (218.2 yards per game), 34th in total defense (348.6 yards per game) and 34th in red zone defense (.778)."
"Coniglio spent three seasons at Kent State from 2009-2011, while earning a master’s degree. His roles included special assistant to the head coach, defensive graduate assistant, video coordinator and defensive volunteer. Working closely with the Flashes’ defensive line, Coniglio helped develop future NFL players Roosevelt Nix, Ishmaa’liy Kitchen and Monte Simmons. During that period, Kent State’s defense ranked in the top tier of numerous NCAA categories, including 10th in the nation in total defense in 2010. In 2011, the Flashes ranked 21st in total defense, while the 2009 squad was fourth in tackles for loss and 17th in sacks"
"He was also a roommate of RedHawk teammate Sean McVay, who has led the Los Angeles Rams to two Super Bowls (2018 and 2021) and won Super Bowl championship (2021)"
Now, the two have reunited, nearly 20 years later. Is this merely an occasion where Rams head coach Sean McVay is hiring a 'buddy'? I don't think so. The LA Rams are hard-pressed to turn the ship around, which offers no wiggle room to carry and coach up coaches who will be counted on to do their part.
We'll investigate this hire further, as I'm still uncertain how a collegiate coach can be expected to make the leap, not just to the NFL, but to an NFL positional group that needs to turn a negative year into a very positive one.