New Los Angeles Rams defensive coordinator Brandon Staley will have some big shoes to fill taking over for a legend like Wade Phillips.
The defense had been a point of strength for this team in the 2019 NFL season, however, the disappointing result spurred head coach Sean McVay to make some significant changes to his staff this offseason. There is no question that the hiring of an unknown commodity like Staley took many by surprise.
Unlike most defensive coaches, Staley actually boasts an offensive background as a former college quarterback at Northern Illinois. He is now using this knowledge to formulate his own approach on the defensive side of the ball.
Staley admittedly feels that playing quarterback has helped him get a better feel of what the offense is trying to do, via Stu Jackson of the team’s official website:
“What being a quarterback has done is really opened up my lens, and from a defensive perspective, try and get the player to understand what he’s looking at and how they’re operating,” Staley told theRams.com. “And so, it’s really meant a lot to me in my career. I would say that it’s been the biggest benefit for me.”
Staley added that being a quarterback also forced him to have a better grasp of how every position functions and he is hoping to get his players to operate at the same capacity:
“A quarterback is responsible for all 22 players on the field,” Staley said. “As a defensive coordinator, when you operate like that, you know the tempo and the rhythm that you have to be able to function at to be able to compete with these guys. There’s only 32 starting quarterbacks in the world and they’re all really, really special. So if your defenses can’t operate at the same speed that the quarterbacks and the offenses do, then you’re just going to be behind.”
It is safe to say that Staley’s experience playing quarterback has helped pay huge dividends for his emergence into a defensive coach. He has certainly come a long way in a short amount of time by going from linebackers coach to defensive coordinator in a matter of three seasons.
Defensive tackle Aaron Donald and cornerback Jalen Ramsey have opened up about how their new coach has already reached out to them since his hiring to talk a bit about the scheme. The onus will ultimately fall on Staley to show that he is much more qualified for the job than his relatively green resume would suggest.