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Rams

Rams close to hiring offensive and defensive coordinators

Aaron Donald (99) celebrates with the Rams defense after sacking Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph in the end zone for a safety during a game Nov. 19.
Aaron Donald (99) celebrates with the Rams defense after sacking Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph in the end zone for a safety during a game Nov. 19.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

The remade Rams coaching staff began to take shape Friday as coach Sean McVay worked to finalize the hiring of Brandon Staley as defensive coordinator and Kevin O’Connell as offensive coordinator, people with knowledge of the situation said.

Staley, 37, coached outside linebackers for the Chicago Bears in 2017 and 2018, and then joined the Denver Broncos this season in a similar role under first-year coach Vic Fangio, the former defensive coordinator for the Bears.

Staley would replace Wade Phillips, who was not retained by McVay after three seasons in which the Rams made the playoffs twice. The Rams played in the Super Bowl to end the 2018 season before finishing 9-7 and missing the playoffs this season.

Like the Rams, the Broncos and Bears ran 3-4 defenses. So the addition of Staley would not require a personnel overhaul for general manager Les Snead. Lineman Michael Brockers, linebacker Cory Littleton and edge-rusher Dante Fowler are pending unrestricted free agents.

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Staley coached in college at John Carroll University, James Madison and Tennessee, among other stops. His addition to the Rams staff as coordinator could trigger the departure of linebackers coach Joe Barry, who is regarded as a leading candidate to become USC’s defensive coordinator.

Just twice since realignment in 2002 have sixth-seeded teams won Super Bowls: Pittsburgh in 2005 and Green Bay in 2010. The Vikings and Titans are trying to become the third.

O’Connell, 34, was the Washington Redskins’ offensive coordinator this season and also worked as the team’s quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator. He coached previously with the San Francisco 49ers and Cleveland Browns. He played quarterback at San Diego State and spent time with five NFL teams, including the New England Patriots.

With McVay the de facto offensive coordinator and play-caller, the Rams have not had a titled offensive coordinator since McVay’s first season in 2017.

O’Connell’s role is expected to be similar to the one Matt LaFleur filled on McVay’s staff before leaving to become a play-calling coordinator for the Tennessee Titans. LaFleur is in his first season as coach of the Green Bay Packers, who play the Seattle Seahawks in an NFC divisional-round playoff game Sunday.


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