After reaching the Super Bowl last season, the Los Angeles Rams took a big step back in 2019. They finished at 9-7, missing the postseason for the first time in the Sean McVay era.
The Rams retained almost their entire core from the NFC Championship team, but they quickly learned that nothing is guaranteed in this league.
A big reason the Rams took a step back was because of the inconsistency of their defense. In a handful of their losses – against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Baltimore Ravens, Dallas Cowboys and 49ers – in particular, the defense did not even give the offense a chance.
Because of that, defensive coordinator Wade Phillips was reported to be on the hot seat with his contract coming to an end. After thinking about it for a bit, it appears that general manager Les Snead and McVay have made a decision. Gary Klein of the L.A. Times is reporting that Phillips will not be returning in 2020:
Rams defensive coordinator Wade Phillips has been informed he will not be retained, a person with knowledge of the situation said.
— Gary Klein (@LATimesklein) January 6, 2020
The Rams may be making some more changes on the defensive side of the ball, but that will come at a later time, per Lindsey Thiry of ESPN:
According to sources, don’t expect any other shakeups on the defensive side of the ball today. However, once a new defensive coordinator is named, the staff will be evaluated. Also, some assistants are among candidates for positions at college level, so could be further changes.
— Lindsey Thiry (@LindseyThiry) January 6, 2020
Phillips had been McVay’s right-hand man since he took over three years ago, so this is certainly a significant change for Los Angeles.
The 72-year-old has been coaching for five decades and is known to be one of the brightest defensive minds this sport has ever had to offer. The Rams do not lack talent on the defensive side of the ball though, so definitely should have been better and more consistent than they were this season.
It is unclear who the Rams will peg as Phillips’ replacementment, but linebackers coach Joe Berry has been a rumored candidate. It would also not be surprising to see them look outside the organization for someone with more experience in a defensive coordinator role. Whoever takes the job will be inheriting some solid pieces like Aaron Donald, Jalen Ramsey, Taylor Rapp, John Johnson III, Clay Matthews and others.
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