The Los Angeles Rams have been struggling in their first season since Kevin O’Connell left their staff to become the head coach of the Minnesota Vikings.
Five games into the 2022 season and the Minnesota Vikings are sitting pretty with a 4-1 record in their first year with Kevin O’Connell as their head coach. Meanwhile, O’Connell’s former team, the Los Angeles Rams, have stumbled to a 2-3 record to begin their 2022 season.
With O’Connell as their offensive coordinator in 2021, the Rams ranked seventh in points scored in the NFL, ninth in total yards, fifth in passing yards, and second in passing touchdowns. So far this season, Los Angeles only ranks 29th in points scored, 26th in total yards, 18th in passing yards, and 19th in passing touchdowns.
Now, is this a product of O’Connell’s departure or are there other factors that have lead to the Rams struggling to begin the 2022 season?
Minnesota Vikings took more than just Kevin O’Connell away from the Los Angeles Rams
When O’Connell was hired to be Minnesota’s new head coach earlier this year, he brought along some of his friends from Los Angeles to join him in the Twin Cities too.
In addition to losing O’Connell to the Vikings, the Rams also saw their pass game coordinator/tight ends coach Wes Phillips, offensive assistant Chris O’Hara, and director of sports science/assistant athletic trainer Tyler Williams leave for Minnesota.
Considering the struggles that Los Angeles has experienced with their passing attack this season, O’Connell and Phillips would seem to be the departures that have had the biggest impact on Los Angeles this year.
The Rams have also seen their offensive line take tremendous steps backward this season when compared to 2021. PFF currently has Los Angeles as the second-worst graded pass-blocking offense in the NFL, just a year after PFF graded them as the best pass-blocking offense in the league.
Coincidentally, the Vikings’ offensive line has significantly improved in just a short amount of time with O’Connell as their head coach this season. Minnesota finished 2021 with PFF’s 27th-best grade in pass blocking, and this year, their pass-blocking grade ranks 15th in the NFL.
Rams head coach Sean McVay is constantly labeled an offensive genius for some of the innovations he’s implemented into his play-calling. But even McVay hasn’t been able to get Los Angeles out of the funk that they’ve found themselves in to begin the 2022 season.
While the Rams’ struggles this year are likely a combination of multiple things, it wouldn’t be fair to say that the departure of O’Connell hasn’t played a part in them only winning two of their first five games this season.
It’s hard to imagine that Los Angeles would still be performing as poorly as they currently are if O’Connell was still on their coaching staff.