The Los Angeles Rams made headlines by opting to go with the relatively unknown Brandon Staley as their replacement for Wade Phillips at defensive coordinator.
The move took many by surprise considering Staley’s lack of experience and unproven track record as an NFL coach. As a result, there is now plenty of concern regarding whether or not he will be able to earn the respect of household names like defensive tackle Aaron Donald and cornerback Jalen Ramsey the way that Phillips did.
Staley certainly has some big shoes to fill for a Rams team with high expectations despite coming off a disappointing 2019 NFL season. It seems one of his former colleagues have since come to bat for him.
According to Rich Hammond of The Athletic, Akron head coach Tom Arth feels one of Staley’s most defining qualities is his ability to lead:
I think you have to start with his ability to relate, his ability to galvanize a group and bring them together, believing in his style of play. I think you have to start there, with his leadership. From there, I think you look at his expertise. Brandon is as good of a football coach as I’ve ever been around. That goes back to my time as a player. Brandon is so smart. You hear how people describe Sean and his football acumen. Honestly, that’s how I feel about Brandon. I think he’s got this incredible, incredible football mind. The game comes very easily to him. He works extremely hard at it. Very well-prepared, very smart and detailed. He just has this innate ability to understand opposing offenses.
Arth added that he expects Staley to be a perfect fit in Los Angeles alongside head coach Sean McVay:
Very rarely does somebody have the ability to come in and just absolutely exceed every expectation that you could possibly have. I really feel like that’s what Brandon does.
Arth originally hired Staley as his defensive coordinator at John Carroll University and they coached together for several years until the latter was hired by the Chicago Bears to be a part of defensive coordinator Vic Fangio’s staff. Staley followed Fangio to the Denver Broncos as the outside linebackers coach before joining McVay in Los Angeles.
Arth’s comments on his leadership and relatability with players is indicative of the approach McVay has taken when bringing in new faces to his coaching staff. Although there will continue to be doubts cast throughout the offseason, the Rams have become accustomed to making such moves since their decision to hire the youngest coach in NFL history three years ago panned out so well early on.