Building the Perfect Los Angeles Rams Coach
The Los Angeles Rams are still very much in the process of transitioning the franchise, both geographically and in terms of re-calibrating their winning culture.
With the release of Jeff Fisher late in the season, the team made it clear that they were ready to eschew mediocrity and build a team worthy to play in the city of Los Angeles.
As the Rams embark on this change of guard, there are certain specific criteria they will need to satisfy. The following will look at some strengths a head coach will need to bring to the team in order to cultivate the youth and build a squad that can compete for years to come.
First and foremost, the Rams will need someone to develop their very pricey first-round pick from 2016, Jared Goff. Obviously an offensively minded coach will be the target, as is expected when a team puts up a bottom-ranked offense.
However, they need more than an offensive mind, they need a quarterback specialist. Goff was forced to play late in the season behind a terrible offensive line and with poor receivers. If the team expects their costly quarterback to lead the new offense, he will need help finding his NFL potential.
This is where candidates like Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan and Washington Redskins offensive coordinator Sean McVay will show their strengths. Both these coaches have worked with their respective quarterbacks, Matt Ryan and Kirk Cousins, and have had them at their bests this past season. Ryan is now an MVP favorite and a leading part of one of the league’s most explosive offenses. Cousins ended his year third in the league in passing yards and was himself en route to a playoff run.
Both of these candidates excel at coaching the quarterback position and have the ideal skill sets to lead the rebuilding of this offense.
Dynamic Offensive Playbook
Speaking of the offensive side of the ball, one of the biggest problems with the Rams last season was Rob Boras’s inept playbook. It seemed every pass was short and they only ran the ball inside. Additionally, the lack of home run plays and diversity were a big factor in their poor performance.
A new coach, as well as his coordinator, must bring a dynamic and variable offensive playbook with them. If nothing else, he must bring a barrage of big plays that can open a game up or put one away.
Here is where New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels shines. The Patriots offense is no secret. With names like Tom Brady, Julian Edelman, and LeGarrette Blount, they have set the standard for an offensive attack in the league over and over again.
McDaniels was even able to muster up a push when Brady was suspended for the beginning of the season. He also sees top performances in the run game no matter who gets the carry. When star players can be swapped out like this, it proves that the coordinator is the architect of the system and accordingly, to its success.
When one thinks NFL offense, the Patriots are almost always immediately thrust into the conversation. Thus, McDaniels would be a welcome party to any team, especially one like the Rams with major pieces to a stellar offense, but without the leadership to see it blossom.
Despite Fisher’s shortcomings as a head coach, he always shined in player compatibility. Even as the team was in the midst of their terrible season, players were quick to take the blame from Fisher and put it on themselves.
This will be difficult for a new coach to gain. The new leader must find common ground and earn his players’ respect immediately.
This is a field where Houston Texans’ linebackers’ coach Mike Vrabel or Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia excel. Both are young coaches who have found success in their units and have a great amount of respect for the players and from them.
How much players like the coach may not seem like a big deal, but with a young team that has been bred with Fisher, they will expect a coach that is sympathetic and one that can be a friend, as well. A rough switch could further increase the time of transition and make for a long and potentially disastrous early tenure for the new coach.
Refusal to Accept a Losing Culture
Rams’ fans have heard every excuse possible from coach Fisher after a loss. For years now, he was seemingly able to endlessly manufacture new ways to justify losses every season.
The new hire cannot let this continue. He must accept nothing less than victory every week, no matter the opponent. Obviously, losing is not something one expects, but it must now be something that is never acceptable.
The Rams have had a culture of losing for far too long, and earlier this season it seemed to be on its way out. Not expected to do well after their week one blowout, they came back and found ways to win for the subsequent matchups. Unfortunately this wore off, and the losing returned. This was not even as broad as simply losing games. Leads were lost. Confidence was lost. Finally, hope was lost.
Whoever gets the call to the top position in this coaching staff will be asked to reverse this thinking. He must ingrain in this young roster the importance of seeing a win on the first week’s practice and making absolutely sure that the win is secured as the last seconds run off the clock. Anything less than this will surely lead to failure.
One may even argue that this is the most integral quality in a potential head coach.
The Los Angeles Rams have a major decision on their hands. This choice will spark their path to success or disable all efforts to become a great NFL team. Many factors will need to be weighed, some more tangible than others.
Above all, a new head coach must be able to take this young, talented team and find an answer. He must drill the value of a victory in this league and have them accept nothing less. He must bring this group of men together and find unity within the locker room and on the field.
The task is a veritable challenge, but nothing in this league will ever come easy. The pieces are there for him, he just needs to be able to find the proper place for each one. With the right man on the job, this Los Angeles team will become a contender much sooner than many may expect.