It’s been unfamiliar territory for Los Angeles Rams fans this season. After more than a decade of losing, Rams fans finally have a team to be happy about. As impressive as it’s been for Sean McVay to lead the Rams to an impressive ten wins, it’s worth noting that he will have to deal with a turnover of the coaching staff.
While losing is usually the driving force behind coaching changes, winning can prove to be just as costly. Losing teams will shortly, if not already, begin eyeing assistant coaches from winning teams. The Rams are no exception. Now, let’s take a quick look at these Rams assistant coaches that could be in line for a promotion to another team:
Matt Lafleur is the current offensive coordinator for the Rams. The Rams have the highest scoring offense in the league at 31.3 points per game. If the Rams continue to score at this pace, they would finish in the top ten all-time in NFL history. The turnaround from last year has been incredible, to say the least. While McVay calls the plays he delegates most of the responsibilities to the first-year coordinator.
Lafleur first entered the league in 2008 as a quality control coach for the Houston Texans under Gary Kubiak. After two years in Houston, he was hired by the Washington Redskins to be the team’s quarterbacks coach. His first year on the job he coached Donovan McNabb and Rex Grossman. The tandem threw for over 4000 yards. In 2012 the Redskins drafted Robert Griffin III who would end up winning Rookie of the Year.
In 2015 Lafleur was hired by the Atlanta Falcons to be the team’s quarterbacks coach. A year later Matt Ryan went on to throw for over 4900 yards and won the NFL Most Valuable Player award as the Falcons went on to play in the Super Bowl.
Which brings us to the present and Jared Goff. The former first overall pick was considered by many to be a bust after the 2016 season. In seven games he completed 54 percent of his passes, five touchdowns, and seven interceptions. Bring in Lafleur and Goff has thrown for 3503 yards with 24 touchdown passes and only 7 interceptions.
Lafleur has had success with three NFL teams and has got to be considered an up and coming candidate for a head coaching position.
While this name might come as a bit of a surprise, John Fassel, commonly known as “Bones”, is the special team’s coach for the Rams. Fassel is the son of former NFL coach Jim Fassel. He began his NFL coaching career in 2005 as an assistant special teams coach for the Baltimore Ravens. While in Baltimore he helped guide the Ravens in 2006 and 2007 to top-10 in the NFL in punt and kickoff return average.
In 2008 Fassel helped guide the Raiders to one of the top units in the NFL. The Raiders ranked ninth in the league in kickoff returns and ranked second in punt returns. Shane Lechler led the NFL in punting average and earned a Pro Bowl berth in three straight years.
Fassel joined the Rams in 2012 and has consistently had the Rams ranked at or near the top in special teams. He has guided perennial Pro-Bowler Johnny Hekker and is notorious for his special team’s trickery. In 2016 after the firing of Jeff Fisher, Fassel was the teams interim head coach. Also, he is very much respected by his players and is one of just three coaches to return to the Rams after a miserable 2016 season. To the surprise of none, the Rams rank near the top of the best special teams units in 2017. Johnny Hekker, Greg Zuerlein, and Pharoh Cooper are having Pro-Bowl caliber seasons.
Rare, but not impossible
It is not common for a special teams coach to land a head coaching position, it’s not unheard of either. John Harbaugh is the best example who was the Philadelphia Eagles special teams coach for nine seasons. As a matter of fact last year, Dave Toub of the Kansas City Chiefs got two interviews for a head coaching position with the Chargers and Broncos. In addition, Joe DeCamillis has also spoken with teams in recent years. Perhaps these examples have opened eyes around the league to not limit the search. If anyone is deserving of a shot at the head coach position it’s Bones, without a doubt.
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