The unthinkable happened early Tuesday morning with the Los Angeles Rams. When the Tennessee Titans interviewed Matt LaFleur for their open head coach position, many thought they were just picking his brain and he didn’t have a real shot.
Those people were right.
What they didn’t know was that LaFleur made such a good impression in the interview that just more than a week later, the Titans hired him as their offensive coordinator.
While LaFleur’s hiring looks like a lateral move, which means just going to the same position with another team, it’s not. With Mike Vrabel as the Titans’ head coach, LaFleur will call the plays in his own offense. Both of these factors give him a better chance to become a head coach himself in the future.
It is also fair to note that McVay could have blocked LaFleur’s move, because it is a lateral one. However, head coaches in this situation typically support their staff and allow them to pursue what will be beneficial for their careers.
In the process head coach Sean McVay and the Rams have made offensive line coach Aaron Kromer the run coordinator and Shane Waldron as the pass coordinator. McVay will not hire an offensive coordinator even though they did hire UCLA’s offensive coordinator, Jedd Fisch as a senior offensive assistant last week.
Not hiring an offensive coordinator isn’t something totally out of the norm. San Francisco 49ers rookie head coach Kyle Shanahan went all of last season without an offensive coordinator while he as well called plays.
These moves and having to make these adjustments will define Sean McVay in year two. After losing Brian Schottenheimer to the University of Georgia, Jeff Fisher hired Frank Cignetti and then Rob Boras to take over as offensive coordinator. Both were inside hires. Both were failures.
The question will be, is McVay doing the right thing not making any outside hire and at just 31-years old, will he be able to handle this much responsibility? Is he taking too much responsibility?
By not hiring an offensive coordinator, McVay is the offensive coordinator, the play-caller, and the head coach. That’s a lot of responsibility for any coach, let alone a second-year head coach.
Throughout all of 2017 Mcvay was criticized for his game management skills. Between calling multiple timeouts early in games and mismanaging certain game situations, the first-year head coach brought flash backs of Mike Martz for fans.
Adding more responsibility will only add more questions to those criticisms if they continue in 2018. Last season Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid, a head coach that has typically called his own plays throughout his career and struggled with game management, gave up those duties to Matt Nagy.
While the spotlight will be on McVay making this change given his responsibility, eyes will also be on quarterback Jared Goff. The former first overall pick has now lost two-thirds of his coaching group. Goff and the Rams lost Greg Olson to the Raiders and have now lost LaFleur to the Titans.
Both of these guys were considered huge pieces in Goff’s turnaround from his disastrous year one to what was a Pro Bowl year in year two.
How much will losing both of these guys effect Goff? Obviously with McVay still in place and as the top guy leading the offense, the overall feeling has to be good. But losing an experienced guy like Olson and LaFleur who coached Matt Ryan to an MVP year will have an effect.
Last season, Ryan, who is an experienced quarterback in the league, lost both Shanahan and LaFleur. Consequently, the Falcons quarterback had nearly 1,000 fewer pass yards, 18 fewer touchdowns, and five more interceptions.
That’s not to say Goff”s production will drop to what it was in year one or to say he won’t continue to improve and develop. But as we’ve seen with quarterbacks such as Alex Smith and Sam Bradford early in their careers, it’s important to keep that foundation in place. Goff will now have his third offensive coordinator and third quarterback coach in three years.
That is a reason for concern and something that deserves to be brought up.
The Rams seem to have found their head coach and quarterback of the future in Sean McVay and Jared Goff. However, their ability to adjust to losing both Greg Olson and Matt LaFleur will define their successes or failures in 2018.
Blaine Grisak is a staff writer for Rams Talk. He currently works in athletic communications for the University of Pennsylvania. For more of his opinions, follow him on Twitter here.