After going 2 seasons without an Offensive Coordinator, the LA Rams and Head Coach Sean McVay will go back to having a full time coach in charge of the offense. Kevin O’Connell is set to become the OC of the Rams within the next couple of days so let’s take a look at just who Kevin O’Connell is, and the road that led the 34 year old coach to the Rams.
Some interesting facts about him prior to coaching football:
- O’Connell, a QB at San Diego State University was a 4 year captain.
- After SDSU O’Connell was drafted in the 3rd round by the Patriots.
- After being released 1 year later by the Patriots he would go on to be apart of the Lions, Jets, Dolphins, the Jets again and lastly the Chargers.
- After all was said and done, O’Connell lasted 5 years bouncing around the NFL and attempting a total of 6 passes in the NFL.
His final year in the NFL was 2012 and his first coaching job in the NFL was in 2015 as the QB coach for the Cleveland Browns. The quarterbacks under his tutelage that season were Josh McCown, Johnny Manziel and former Rams QB Austin Davis. The Browns would finish 3-13 and it would be Manziel’s final season in the NFL. Quarterback Josh McCown played some decent football, putting up 2109 yards, 12 touchdowns and only 4 interceptions with a 63.7% completion percentage and a 93.3 QB Rating in only 8 games. That would go on to be one of the best seasons of McCowns 17 year career with what is likely the least talented supporting cast he’s had at his disposal.
The next stop for O’Connell would come in San Fransisco in 2016 under coach Chip Kelly as an offensive assistant. This team would struggle mightily finishing 2-14 and was lead by quarterback Colin Kaepernick in what would be his final season in the NFL. The team struggled with consistency on both sides of the football but were one of the better rushing teams in the NFL. They ranked 5th in rushing attempts and 4th in rushing yards. This team would feature a huge lack of talent with the target leaders that year featuring Jeremy Kerley and Quinton Patton.
In 2017 O’Connell would finally find some stability by getting hired as the QB coach for the Washington Redskins under coach Jay Gruden. O’Connell would never cross paths with Sean McVay as he was hired in the same off-season that McVay would take over as the Rams head coach. 2017 was also the final year for QB Kirk Cousins in Washington. Cousins would finish with 4093 yards (7th in the NFL), 27 touchdowns (8th) and 13 interceptions with a 64.3% completion percentage (9th), 7.6 yards per attempt (9th) and a 93.9 QB rating (12th). Pretty impressive numbers considering again this team lacked true weapons to throw to.
In 2018 O’Connell would continue as the QB coach of the Redskins under head coach Jay Gruden. This season would have a decent start as the Redskins were 6-4 under new quarterback Alex Smith who the team had acquired from the Kansas City Chiefs. Smith would then go on to suffer a devastating leg injury and the Redskins season went off the rails. The remainder of the season the team would start Josh Johnson, Colt McCoy & Mark Sanchez at quarterback as they finished 1-5 in their last 6 games. The receiving core wasn’t any healthier as none of the top 7 players in targets for the team played 11 games that season.
In 2019 O’Connell would start the season as the QB coach for the Redskins who had drafted Dwayne Haskins. Haskins wasn’t be ready to start the season and so the team started Case Keenum. The Redskins would go on to lose their first 5 games and the result was Head Coach Jay Gruden getting fired. After which Assistant Head Coach Bill Callahan took over as interim head coach and O’Connell was promoted to Offensive Coordinator. Let’s take a look at some of the differences. All these stats are per game:
|Time Frame||Points||1st Downs||Passing YDs||Rushing YD’s||Total YDs||Turnovers|
|1st 5 Games||14.6||15.6||212.8||68.8||281.6||2.2|
|Final 11 Games||17.5||15.5||158.9||112.6||271.5||0.9|
|7 Games After BYE||22.6||17.3||183.6||111.1||294.7||1|
First thing that jumps out is cutting down the turnovers from 2.2 to 0.9. Protecting the ball is very important and reducing the turnovers by 60% is a big deal. Second thing that jumps out is O’Connell seems to see the obvious issue at QB. None of the QB’s are a strength to the team and he minimized their weaknesses by throwing the ball less and putting a much larger emphasis in the running game. This team still suffered from a lack of talent and an extra helping of injuries but it’s definitely good to see O’Connell adjust to what he had and try to make the best of it.
It’s been reported that McVay will still retain his play calling duties, this is no surprise. So what can O’Connell bring to the Rams?
- Load Management: It has been widely reported that McVay stretched himself too thin trying to do to much last year. Hiring O’Connell will definitely help take a big load off of McVay’s plate.
- Adjustments: McVay struggled to make good adjustments last season and struggled to be consistent with those adjustments. O’Connell showed an ability to adjust to put his players in a position to succeed.
- Innovation: O’Connell was reportedly sought after to be an Offensive Coordinator by the Eagles and he was Josh McDaniels first pick as a coordinator if he would have gotten a Head Coaching job. He’s widely viewed as a very smart young offensive mind and having him in a room scheming with McVay is going to be exciting.
Overall the hire of Kevin O’Connell is an exciting one for the Rams. He brings another fresh mind and a new perspective into the offensive room. Next we’ll discuss a little bit about who the Rams new Defensive Coordinator is and where he comes from and where he could take us.