On July 12, players from the teams playing in the International Series games assembled in London, England to participate in NFL UK’s Summer Bowl. A flag football tournament for British school kids, it gave Last Word on Sport a chance to catch up with some NFL players who will be taking part in 2017’s NFL games in London. Here we talk to punter Johnny Hekker of the Los Angeles Rams about how coaches old and new are ready to make an impact.
Johnny Hekker: Coaches Old and New Ready To Make Impact for Los Angeles Rams
It’s easy to doubt a team with a 31-year-old head coach, even one as clearly talented as Sean McVay. But Hekker isn’t having any of it.
“Yeah, he’s historically young, but he’s a guy that doesn’t lack for experience and wisdom,” Hekker emphasized.
What has he seen so far from McVay and his staff to convince him of this?
“He’s totally taken hold of the team,” Hekker noted. “(He’s) got a great grasp of what it takes to build a winning team not just culture-wise, but by creating an environment where we can just communicate openly and honestly across all levels for the team. It’s a fun environment to be part of.”
But It’s More Than Just The New Staff
But it’s not just the new coaching staff Hekker thinks highly of. He has special praise for coordinator John Fassell, and explains why Fassell remains on a team despite a large number of new staff.
“Coach Fassell is one of the best coaches I’ve ever had regardless of position or level of play,” Hekker said. “He’s a guy that just has undeniable energy and just gets people to play. It’s been a kind of deal that he’s been retained because of his production as a coach and the environment he fosters as a coach. I owe a lot of my success to him.”
The Rams Can Surprise A Few People
Year two in Los Angeles is going to be tough, but Hekker doesn’t believe playing in such a competitive city puts additional pressure on the players.
“The NFL is a production-based business,” he stated. “We’ve got to win to fill seats, so there’s always pressure to win. We just want to produce and give LA something to cheer about.”
And his second year quarterback Jared Goff might be the guy who gives the residents of LA that something.
“Yeah, I mean just watching him during OTAs and offseason workouts, you can tell he’s put in a lot of work to improve,” Hekker noted.
In fact, Hekker believes the Rams offense, under the tutelage of an offensive expert in McVay, can surprise a few people.