The Los Angeles Rams will usher in some significant changes to their coaching staff this offseason beginning with the replacement of defensive coordinator Wade Phillips.
The decision to not bring Phillips back came as a bit of a surprise to many considering the defense was hardly an area of weakness during their disappointing 9-7 finish in the 2019 NFL season. Regardless, it appears head coach Sean McVay is looking to switch things up before the Rams kick off the 2020 NFL season at SoFi Stadium.
Although there has not been very much noise regarding the potential replacements for Phillips, there are still some interesting candidates currently on the market. Of course, it remains to be seen what McVay’s preferences will be when it comes to picking a new coach to take over the defense.
Here are four options that could be considered depending on what McVay is looking for:
1. Aubrey Pleasant
The move to not bring Phillips back could be indicative of the Rams’ confidence in their in-house options that are already on the coaching staff. One of them is defensive backs coach Aubrey Pleasant.
McVay is already familiar with Pleasant after coaching together for four seasons with the Washington Redskins before making the move to Los Angeles. He did a stellar job with a secondary group that has experienced plenty of turnover since their arrival.
This was extremely evident during the 2019 campaign when the front office parted ways with cornerbacks Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters in order to make room for Jalen Ramsey. Meanwhile, he has managed to turn John Johnson III and Taylor Rapp into bonafide starters at the safety position.
2. Joe Barry
Rams linebackers coach Joe Barry has also been pegged as another frontrunner to land the gig due to his familiarity with McVay. Like Pleasant, they coached together in Washington before leading the Rams’ resurgence in their first two seasons.
Linebacker Cory Littleton is set to receive a lucrative payday this offseason after coming into the league as an undrafted free agent thanks to Barry’s efforts in his development. Outside linebacker Dante Fowler Jr. is also coming off a career year with 11.5 sacks following a rough start to his career as a former first-round pick for the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Barry’s contributions could be more than enough to spur a vote of confidence from McVay.
3. Marvin Lewis
If the Rams look to go big-game hunting in the offseason, Marvin Lewis could be an intriguing option. He boasts a wealth of experience and made his bones as the defensive coordinator of the Baltimore Ravens during their Super Bowl run in 2000.
Lewis served as a special advisor at Arizona State in 2019 after being fired as the head coach of the Cincinnati Bengals. Regardless, he showed that he is still looking to make an NFL comeback by interviewing for the Dallas Cowboys’ vacancy before they opted to go with Mike McCarthy.
With most teams around the league looking to take a more youthful approach to their coaching staff, Los Angeles would be a perfect place for Lewis to prove he is still more than capable of helping lead a team with Super Bowl aspirations.
4. Kris Richard
A long-time assistant under Pete Carroll at both USC and with the Seattle Seahawks, Kris Richard has a ton of experience in this league. He has served as both a defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach, most recently with the Cowboys.
Getting a fresh mind into the building could be exactly what the Rams need on defense, and while Richard isn’t as big of a name as Lewis, he’s certainly qualified enough for the job given his track record with teams that have high expectations.