Why the Rams should monitor D’Anton Lynn’s progress at USC

It can not be disputed that the NFL is a cutthroat business and job security seems like a word of fiction for an institution that has a coined term for its yearly firings titled “Black Monday.”

I say this with respect to Rams defensive coordinator Chris Shula. Shula was an in-house hire, taking over defensive play-calling duties from the departing Raheem Morris. Shula, a member of the Rams’ coaching staff since 2017 and the grandson of the legendary Don Shula, has never held a coordinator position before this year. In a league with star players and evolving schemes, perhaps Shula may struggle. Perhaps he may need more time as a position coach.

If Shula struggles in his new role, the Rams need to be in a position to make a quick hire in a few years before top candidates get taken off the free-agent market. Someone that the Rams should be monitoring is USC defensive coordinator D’Anton Lynn.

Lynn, the son of former Los Angeles Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn, enters his first season with the Trojans. Lynn made a shocking move this offseason from UCLA and is quickly making a name for himself on the collegiate circuit. Lynn was hired by UCLA in 2023 from the Baltimore Ravens, where he served the AFC North franchise as their safeties coach from 2021-2022.

At UCLA, Lynn excelled. His defense played lights out in the points-happy Pac-12 conference. Averaging only 18 points surrendered per game on defense, Lynn’s squad was firing on all cylinders. They held the expected No. 1 overall pick in the upcoming draft, Caleb Williams, to 20 points in the Victory Bell. They held then Heisman candidate Cam Ward to 17 points in the Bruins; upset victory over the No. 13-ranked Washington State Cougars. Ward the previous week threw for 404 yards and four touchdowns in the Cougars’ victory over No. 14 Oregon State. UCLA held teams to 14 or fewer points on five occasions.

Lynn is now inheriting one of the worst defenses in college football. In 2023, USC surrendered 28 or more points per game 11 times. They played 13 games. If Lynn turns them around, that would be two Power Five program revamps in two years. As a player developer, both expected first-round pick Laiatu Latu and his pass-rushing partner Gabriel Murphy will be drafted this year. He has it all.

Lynn also comes from the Baltimore school of defense, an organization pumping out defensive minds like crazy. Mike Macdonald was a longtime Ravens position coach who got his opportunity with the Michigan Wolverines as a play caller and is now the head coach of the Seattle Seahawks.

Jesse Minter, another Harbaugh football disciple, was a longtime position coach with the Ravens before he replaced Macdonald at Michigan. Minter follows Jim Harbaugh to the Los Angeles Chargers as his defensive coordinator.

God forbid anything happens that would require the Rams to move on from Shula, Lynn is currently making a name for himself. With Sean McVay’s track record of hiring coaches from college, Lynn is a name for the future.

Story originally appeared on Rams Wire