June 23, 2024

Head coach of the Los Angeles Rams, Sean McVay, has never hesitated to surround himself with seasoned defensive minds. Wade Phillips was infamously added on his first staff by him to oversee the defense. Following Brandon Staley’s brief tenure, McVay went back to Raheem Morris, another longtime coach. McVay went to a mind a decade younger now that Morris had left to take over as head coach of the Atlanta Falcons. Chris Shula, a linebacker coach, was named Los Angeles’ newest defensive coordinator. Although he doesn’t have as much experience as his predecessor, the appointment was warmly received.

Sean McVay to Join Miami's Cradle of Coaches in May - Miami University  RedHawks

On Friday, the Rams went back to the well to help fill one of its vacancies. Los Angeles hired Giff Smith to be the defensive line coach and run-game coordinator, per Tom Pelissero.

Smith most recently replaced Staley as the Los Angeles Chargers’ temporary head coach. Eric Henderson, who left to become the co-defensive coordinator of the USC Trojans, will be replaced by Smith.

Under Smith’s direction, the Chargers lost three games by a single possession and did not win any. Los Angeles had a 63-21 loss the week before he was promoted. Smith started his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Arkansas in 1991. He then proceeded to four more institutions, working his way up on the defensive end of the ball. He entered the NFL as the defensive line coach of the Buffalo Bills in 2010. Smith was hired by the Chargers with the same goal in mind after serving as defensive line coach for two seasons with the Tennessee Titans. Up until 2022, when he was promoted to outside linebackers coach, he oversaw the defensive line. He remained in that role until the end of the 2023 campaign.

Smith brings three decades of experience, and while Los Angeles struggled to stop the run for much of his tenure, he is well-respected and is connected to McVay through their mutual relationship with Staley. Related: Could Rams’ Shula Be the Next Branch on the McVay Coaching Tree? He’s a nice complement to the youth movement Shula signifies and will look to improve upon a unit that ranked 12th in success rate and 13th in expected points added per play against the run.


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