Rams’ Aaron Donald, Jalen Ramsey are taking Wade Phillips’ departure in stride
After playing in the Super Bowl last year in Atlanta, it was an odd feeling for Donald.
“At this time last year, we were practicing and preparing to play on Sunday,” he said.
The Rams finished 9-7 and were absent from the postseason for the first time in coach Sean McVay’s three seasons.
In the aftermath of the disappointing season, McVay has revamped his coaching staff. He chose not to retain veteran defensive coordinator Wade Phillips and replaced him with Brandon Staley, a linebackers coach for the Chicago Bears and Denver Broncos the last three seasons.
Donald and Ramsey are taking Phillips’ departure in stride.
“He was great,” Donald said. “Everybody knows he’s been doing it a long time with a lot of success and coached a lot of great players.
Defensive lineman Michael Brockers doesn’t know where he will land next, but the soon-to-be free agent gives thanks to Rams for a great run.
“He’s a guy that helped our defense to do a lot of great things, helped us as individual players to have success, so he put us in great positions. He’s definitely a guy you’re going to miss.
“Just a part of the business. It sucks, but just got to understand it’s a business.”
Ramsey, acquired in a midseason trade with the Jacksonville Jaguars, enjoyed his eight-game stint playing for Phillips.
“Going to L.A. in the first place, I felt blessed to be able to play under a legend,” Ramsey said, adding, “I enjoyed every minute, to be honest.
“We had a really good defense. We had a couple bumps in the road against some good teams. ... I like how he utilized me, how he let me play. And I think it could have grown into something even more special. But with that being said, everything happens for a reason.”
The Rams have yet to officially announce Staley or other new coaches, including offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell. McVay also must replace special teams coordinator John Fassel and running backs coach Skip Peete, both now members of the Dallas Cowboys’ staff. McVay is expected to complete his staff in the coming week.
Sammy Watkins said his season with the Rams changed his NFL career, and that rise led him to Super Bowl LIV with the Chiefs, who face the 49ers on Sunday.
Donald and Ramsey said McVay reached out to them when Staley was hired.
“I know just talking to Coach, and hearing his mindset, what he’s going to bring,” Donald said. “I’m excited to see.”
Ramsey said McVay told him Staley’s arrival was something he was excited about, and something that Ramsey would be excited about.
“I was appreciative of him letting me know ... and exited to hear kind of the game plan of how things were planning to be moving forward,” Ramsey said.
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