3 Best Coaching Options to Maximize Rams' Matthew Stafford in 2023
Amid uncertainty that he may not return for the 2023 season, Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay announced earlier this month that he'll be coming back to lead the team. But he does have some holes to fill on his staff.
Among those openings is one at offensive coordinator. Liam Coen served in that role for only one season, then decided to go back to the University of Kentucky, where he'll serve as its OC. That leaves Los Angeles in search of a new top offensive assistant for next season.
The Rams won a Super Bowl title in the 2021 season but greatly underperformed in 2022. They were also hampered by injuries to numerous key players, including quarterback Matthew Stafford, who was limited to nine games due to a neck ailment.
However, the 34-year-old will be looking to get back to leading Los Angeles' offense to success next season.
In order for that to happen, though, the Rams will need to hire the right person to serve as their offensive coordinator.
Here's a look at three top candidates who could maximize the talents of Stafford and the top playmakers on the unit.
Rams TEs Coach/Assistant Head Coach Thomas Brown
After spending the past three seasons on the Rams' staff in various roles, Thomas Brown is garnering outside interest this offseason.
If Los Angeles wants to keep Brown on its staff, it may need to promote him to offensive coordinator. And that could be a wise decision, considering the positive impact he's had on the Rams' offense in recent years.
Brown impressed enough as the running backs coach in 2020 to add the title of assistant head coach in 2021. It's been a collective effort by the offensive assistants under McVay, but Brown has been among the key reasons for Los Angeles' success.
Stafford has 14 years of NFL experience, so he doesn't need an OC to help him develop. Plus, the familiarity between him and Brown could help the Rams return to the level of production they had during their Super Bowl-winning 2021 campaign.
Former Jets Offensive Coordinator Mike LaFleur
Mike LaFleur spent four years on the San Francisco 49ers' staff and then followed Robert Saleh to the New York Jets in 2021.
When Saleh was hired to be the New York Jets' head coach, he brought in LaFleur to serve as his offensive coordinator. However, that didn't lead to much success.
LaFleur and New York parted ways at the end of the 2022 season, leaving the 36-year-old to look for a new job. He didn't have the best quarterback room to work with while on the Jets' staff, so there's reason to believe he could produce better results with a fresh start.
According to The Athletic's Jourdan Rodrigue, he is "absolutely a name to watch" and "perhaps even a front-runner" for the Rams' opening at offensive coordinator. He likely learned plenty from his years in San Francisco under head coach Kyle Shanahan, and he could thrive working with a veteran-led offense, such as the Rams' unit with Stafford.
LaFleur's older brother, Matt, was Los Angeles offensive coordinator in 2017 under McVay. Perhaps it's now time for the other sibling to get his chance to coach the Rams' offense.
Former Cardinals Head Coach Kliff Kingsbury
Since losing his job as Arizona Cardinals head coach following the 2022 season, Kliff Kingsbury hasn't been in the market for a new job. That's because he "bought a one way ticket to Thailand" and went off the map, according to Peter Schrager of Fox Sports.
At some point, though, the 43-year-old should find a coaching opportunity. The Score's Jordan Schultz told The Pat McAfee Show that Kingsbury "wants to coach in the NFL again but he's trying to figure out his options right now." Perhaps one could be joining the Rams as their offensive coordinator.
McVay and Kingsbury were NFC West rivals the past four seasons, but they could have success by joining forces. Even if the Cardinals went 28-37-1 during Kingsbury's tenure, there were times when the team's offense thrived.
His offensive knowledge and familiarity with the division could make him the right choice to lead Stafford and the L.A. offense.