Working for LA Rams coach Sean McVay has become the Golden Ticket for future NFL jobs. And future NFL success. It’s fun to take a ride down the Sean McVay Coaching Tree and see just how many branches and roots it has.
The seeds were first planted with the Florida Tuskers in the United Football League.
Surely, you remember the UFL? The Tuskers were quarterbacked by former Wisconsin star Brooks Bollinger and lost in the UFL Championship Game to the Las Vegas Locomotives in Overtime. And on the Tuskers staff was a young (very young) McVay.
McVay went from Tusker to coach with the Washington (then) Redskins working for Mike Shanahan.
Mike Shanahan is the Root of the McVay Tree. McVay was tight ends coach for Mike Shanahan for three years, then was promoted to Offensive Coordinator when Shanahan got dumped for Jay Gruden. McVay helped get Kirk Cousins a lot of money before jumping to the Rams in 2017.
Since becoming the head coach of the Rams, the McVay tree has flourished. Even Brooks Bollinger became a high school football head coach for a few years.
The McVay Rookie Class
In McVay’s first year in 2017 the Rams went from last to first in offense in the NFL and reached the playoffs for the first time since 2004. There are at least nine coaches on McVay’s first staff who went on to other jobs in the NFL or professional football (you’ll see), which is an amazing number.
- Matt LaFleur – Head Coach of Green Bay Packers
- Wade Phillips – Head Coach of Houston Roughnecks in XFL (let Wade coach as long as he wants, wherever he wants)
- Joe Barry – Defensive Coordinator of Green Bay Packers
- Ejiro Evero – Was Denver Broncos defensive coordinator, now getting head coaching interviews
- John Fassel – Special teams coach with Dallas Cowboys
- Aaron Kromer – Buffalo Bills offensive line coach
- Greg Olsen – Was Raiders offensive coordinator, spent 2022 as Rams offensive assistant
- Zac Taylor – Head Coach of Cincinnati Bengals
- Shane Waldron – Seattle Seahawks offensive coordinator
The Big Branches
These are the guys who learned under McVay and have now planted roots of their own in the NFL.
Zac Taylor, Bengals Head Coach
Taylor is in his fourth year as head coach with the Bengals after working under McVay in 2017 as assistant wide receivers coach and quarterbacks coach in 2018. Give the Bengals come credit for sticking with Taylor who went 2-14 his first year, and then 4-11-1. Of course, drafting Joe Burrow helped.
The Bengals went to the Super Bowl last year losing to (checks notes) McVay and the Rams 23-20. They are in the Divisional Round this weekend against the Bills.
Matt LaFleur, Packers Head Coach
LaFleur only spent one season with McVay, but they also worked together with the Redskins (by the way, with so much coaching talent on staff, the Redskins were somehow still horrible). LaFleur just finished his fourth year with the Packers, and has taken them to the playoffs three times while managing the enigmatic Aaron Rodgers.
The Pack went 8-9 this year, just missing out on a playoff spot.
Brandon Staley, Chargers Head Coach
Staley was the Rams defensive coordinator in 2020 under McVay before being named the head coach across town with the Chargers. In two years with the Chargers, well, it’s been mixed success. The Chargers just missed out on a playoff spot in 2021 and are coming off a shocking loss in the playoffs to Jacksonville a week ago. There were rumors Staley was in trouble, but he has been retained. Still, next year is probably make-or-break for him.
More where that came from…
Kevin O’Connell, Vikings Head Coach
In his first year as head coach, O’Connell directed the Vikings to the NFC North title in 2022 working with Kirk Cousins (remember the Washington connection). He had been the Rams offensive coordinator during their Super Bowl run last year and in 2020.
Unfortunately, the Vikings were knocked out in the Super Wild Card round by the New York Giants last week.
Jeff Fisch, University of Arizona Head Coach
Fisch got connected with the Rams and McVay after being interim head coach at UCLA for a few months. He became an offensive assistant with the Rams in 2018, then assistant offensive coordinator in 2019.
After a year in New England, he was named Wildcats head coach in 2021. They went 1-11 his first year, but 5-7 last year, so progress.
Smaller Branch Offices
These are prominent coaches who have worked with McVay somewhere along the way.
Mike McDaniel, Miami Dolphins Head Coach
McDaniel is coming off his first year with the Dolphins and guided them to the playoffs, despite tons of injuries (Tua). McDaniel and McVay were colleagues together back in Washington.
Kyle Shanahan, San Francisco 49ers Head Coach
The McVay Archnemesis, honestly, the bad guy in McVay’s dreams, but you have to tip your hat to Shanahan who has turned the 49ers into a West Coast powerhouse. Kyle Shanahan was the OC in Washington while McVay worked under him.
Raheem Morris, Rams defensive coordinator
We list Morris because he’s currently the Rams defensive coordinator but is one of the hot names for coaching positions in the NFL right now. It’s only a matter of time before Morris gets another shot. Did you know that Morris and McVay also worked together in Washington?