Even before the Los Angeles Rams lost in overtime to the Seattle Seahawks in Week 18, there were murmurs about Sean McVay potentially retiring in the offseason. Those murmurs have grown even louder and there seems to be a legitimate chance that the Super Bowl-winning head coach elects to take a break from coaching football.
Following the team’s Super Bowl victory a season ago, McVay was getting offers from television networks, leading some to believe that he could trade his headset for a nice suit and tie. Despite receiving lucrative offers to become an analyst, McVay inked an extension with the Rams ahead of this season.
But amid all of the injuries and struggles the Rams endured this season, things have noticeably taken a toll on the young head coach. With networks likely clamoring to get McVay to join their booth again this offseason, and the possibility of him stepping away from coaching, here are five potential coaching candidates the Rams could consider to replace him.
Rams assistant head coach Thomas Brown
(AP Photo/Tony Avelar)
If McVay decides to walk away from coaching and the Rams want to keep his replacement in-house, Thomas Brown seems like a logical choice to replace him. Brown joined McVay’s coaching staff in 2020 as the team’s running backs coach and he’s quickly climbed the coaching ranks.
After just one year with the organization, Brown had assistant head coach added to his title and he began coaching tight ends in 2022. McVay and players have raved about Brown since his arrival and he’s someone that has experience in the NFL as a player and coach.
Rams defensive coordinator Raheem Morris
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Hiring Raheem Morris to replace McVay would certainly prompt a split reaction from fans. The current defensive coordinator of the Rams gets praise from some fans, while others are hoping the team is considering replacing him on the defensive side of the ball.
Morris does have previous head-coaching experience as he went 17-31 with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 2009-2011 (he went 10-6 in 2010) and he went 4-7 as the interim head coach of the Atlanta Falcons in 2020. Regardless of how some people feel about him, Jalen Ramsey and other players on the Rams have expressed their respect for Morris since he joined McVay’s staff in 2021.
Former Saints head coach Sean Payton
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The biggest name available in the list of coaching candidates this offseason is undoubtedly Sean Payton. Payton took this season off after coaching the New Orleans Saints from 2006-2021, but there continue to be a ton of rumors swirling around that he’d be interested to return to coaching in the NFL in 2023.
Pairing Payton with Matthew Stafford (who has said he isn’t retiring yet) would certainly prove that the Rams are still committed to competing now, seeing as the Saints have reportedly said they won’t take anything less than a first-round pick for Payton (who is still under contract with the Saints). Getting a coach with a Super Bowl ring himself to replace McVay could make the transition a lot easier entering next season and would be another home-run move for the team in horns.
49ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans
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Another notable name that should deservedly drum up interest around the league is DeMeco Ryans. The former Pro Bowl linebacker started as a defensive quality control coach in 2017 with the San Francisco 49ers and he’s now been arguably the best defensive coordinator in the NFL since replacing Robert Saleh in 2021.
The 49ers have boasted a top-seven DVOA defense in back-to-back seasons under Ryans and it’s clear that the players love playing for him. If McVay steps away and the Rams want a fresh face to lead the team, they should stay within the NFC West and consider bringing in Ryans.
Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson
The Detroit Lions fell short of making the playoffs — due to the Rams losing to the Seahawks in Week 18 — but that shouldn’t take away from the season they had. Forgotten among the deserving praise for Dan Campbell is how well Ben Johnson performed as the offensive coordinator of the Lions in 2022.
In his first year as the team’s offensive coordinator, the Lions were the No. 6-ranked DVOA offense, they produced the fifth-most points per game (26.6), and they recorded the most 30-point games in the NFL. Johnson, who’s been with the Lions since 2019, has also worked with Stafford, so there’s somewhat of a relationship already built there.