August 1, 2021

DCTRS

Damascus Center for Theoretical and Civil Rights Studies

Rams’ Brandon Staley is being pursued for head-coaching jobs

The Rams are going into the NFC wild-card playoff game Saturday against the Seattle Seahawks with a defense that finished the regular season ranked No. 1 in fewest yards and fewest points given up.

The rest of the NFL took notice — especially teams searching for new head coaches.

The Chargers and New York Jets on Monday requested permission to interview defensive coordinator Brandon Staley, a person with knowledge of the situation said. Interviews with coaches involved in the playoffs cannot be conducted until after their teams’ wild-card games.

Staley, 38, coached outside linebackers for the Chicago Bears and Denver Broncos before Rams coach Sean McVay hired him last January to replace Wade Phillips.

McVay was not made available to reporters Monday, but he said last month that Staley “checks all the boxes” to be a head coach.

“Even though the Rams would get worse,” he said of a possible Staley departure, “that’s what it’s about. And if that’s something that he wants to do, and he gets an opportunity to compete for the job, there’s no doubt in my mind he’ll do a great job.”

The Rams (10-6) gave up only 281.9 yards and 18.5 points per game this season en route to clinching a playoff spot with an 18-7 victory over the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday.

Staley oversees a defense that includes stars Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey at tackle and cornerback, respectively, but other players have raised their profiles under the direction of their coordinator.

Edge rusher Leonard Floyd recorded a career-best 10½ sacks. Cornerback Darious Williams had four interceptions. Cornerback Troy Hill returned two of his three interceptions for touchdowns and also scored on a fumble return.

In November, the Rams forced three turnovers in a 23-16 victory over the Seahawks at SoFi Stadium. A month later, they forced none in a 20-9 loss to the Seahawks at Lumen Field.

After the victory Sunday over the Cardinals, Hill said the defense does not feel pressure to create turnovers and score against the Seahawks.

“I feel like pressure is what we apply,” he said.

Hill is among Rams players who have raved about Staley since virtual offseason meetings began last spring.

Defensive lineman Morgan Fox, who has a career-best six sacks, said Staley brings energy, and preaches the importance of bonding and focus.

“He just brings such an attention to detail and emphasis on doing the little things right that it kind of helps bring the big picture together,” Fox said Monday during a videoconference with reporters.

The defense has carried a Rams team that is back in the playoffs after a one-year absence. The offense has been inconsistent throughout the season and has not scored a touchdown in the last two games.

Yet to be determined is who will start at quarterback against the Seahawks. Jared Goff sat out against the Cardinals after undergoing right thumb surgery last Monday, and John Wolford stepped in and led the Rams to victory in his first NFL game.

McVay is not expected to announce who will start until evaluating Goff during practices this week.

“We have confidence in both of those guys,” Fox said of Goff and Wolford, adding, “Our job is to give them the ball, whoever’s back there, and give them a chance to score and put us in a good position.”

The Rams are looking forward to a third game this season against the NFC West-champion Seahawks, Fox said.

“It’s always a tough game with them,” he said. “We see each other so much that one or two plays against them can always swing the game.”

Finishing at the top of the league in several defensive categories was a “cool achievement” for the defense, Fox said, but the focus is on the Seahawks and continuing to win.

“We’re pumped about it,” he said, “but it’s not done.”