On the day coach Sean McVay introduced him as the Rams’ new offensive coordinator, Kevin O’Connell said he was drawn to the opportunity because of the role and the other coaches on the staff.
“The quarterback had a lot to do with it for me as well,” O’Connell said in February.
Six months later, O’Connell is finally getting the opportunity to work on the field with Jared Goff.
The COVID-19 pandemic forced NFL teams to conduct virtual offseason programs, so O’Connell attempted to build a relationship with Goff and other players through a computer screen.
Since the start of training camp two weeks ago, O’Connell has helped direct the offense during meetings and walk-throughs.
The Rams were off Sunday. They begin practice this week.
“It’s early on,” O’Connell said Saturday during a videoconference with reporters, “but I think it’s an exciting time for everybody as this thing kind of builds together.”
McVay is the play-caller and chief architect of the offense for a team that was without a titled offensive coordinator the last two seasons. O’Connell, 35, is expected to fill a role similar to the one Matt LaFleur provided during the 2017 season. LaFleur parlayed that opportunity into a play-calling role for the Tennessee Titans before he was hired as head coach of the Green Bay Packers.
Though untitled, O’Connell also is the quarterbacks coach.
Goff welcomes the addition of a coach who played quarterback at San Diego State and had stints as a player with several NFL teams. O’Connell has been a quarterbacks coach for the Cleveland Browns and the Washington Football Team and also was passing game coordinator and offensive coordinator for Washington.
“Just getting a feel of his demeanor, the way he talks, the way he communicates — he’s played the position,” Goff said at the outset of training camp. “He understands the little intricacies that go along with playing it, and I’m super excited.”
O’Connell and Goff are making up ground for the on-field time that was absent during the offseason. “Little things,” such as questions about a fundamental or certain pass coverages, have led to expanded conversations, O’Connell said.
O’Connell is assisting with an offense that will feature a different personality than the last two seasons. The Rams released star running back Todd Gurley and traded wide receiver Brandin Cooks. So young players such as rookie running back Cam Akers will be counted on to help fill the void.
The Rams open the season Sept. 13 against the Dallas Cowboys at SoFi Stadium on “Sunday Night Football.” After going through an acclimation phase of training camp the last two weeks, O’Connell is eager for practices to commence.
“We’ve had a lot of time to challenge these guys” in meetings and walk-throughs, he said. “Really testing their communication and kind of that controlled setting, testing their understanding, both veterans and new players, as far as what we’re going to ask them to do once things start to speed up.”