THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – Change can be difficult, especially when it comes to a departure from a consistent and familiar aspect of one's career.
Thomas Brown has coached running backs at every stop of his coaching career between college and the NFL, except for his first year of his coaching career when he served as an assistant strength and conditioning coach at his alma mater, Georgia. Factor in that he began playing the position when he was eight years old, and the 35-year-old Brown has been around the position in some capacity for 27 years, or nearly 80 percent of his life.
So when Rams head coach Sean McVay approached Brown – last year the assistant head coach/running backs coach – about moving over to coach tight ends, there was some natural apprehension.
"It was really Sean's idea to be able to have an opportunity for me to move from running backs coaching to tight ends, which I definitely appreciate him for that," Brown said during a video conference Wednesday. "It was not my thought, and I'll be honest with you, at the beginning I was somewhat reluctant to just because I've tried to master my career craft around running bank play and development when it comes to every single detail when it comes to that position."
Ultimately, Brown decided the move was in his best interest for his overall career growth and development.
"Places of comfort are great, but you never grow from places of comfort," Brown said.
For Brown, this new role will allow him to be more involved and have more input in the passing game while gaining exposure to blocking techniques and the routes and concepts pertaining to the tight end position. That involvement in those conversations is not something he's had throughout his coaching career when he's coached running backs.
"Obviously, we do everything together for the most part when it comes to group installs that (head coach) Sean (McVay) and (offensive coordinator) Liam (Coen) will run when it comes to the pass game installs," Brown said. "But being able to have a chance to actually coach those routes and those concepts, (and) like I said before, having an opportunity to be able to be involved when it comes to up front combinations between our tackles and our tight ends, individual blocking with those guys versus different techniques, whether it be a six technique, a nine technique, an eight technique or six on the backside of it, the thought process kind of went into being able to continue to develop and grow which is always appreciated and looking forward to it."
Brown said that when he first got into coaching, he didn't think about striving to be an offensive coordinator or a head coach. His goal was just to figure out how to be the best at what he was asked to do, which was coach running backs. Even coming to the NFL, he aimed to establish himself as one of the best at that in the league, and potentially get a run game coordinator title down the road, and see what happens from there. Part of the reason for that was because there weren't a lot of examples of black coordinators and head coaches when he began his journey.
Ultimately, Brown's focus on controlling what he can control and excelling in his current role.
"All I can do is prepare myself, do the best I can here," Brown said. "I'm in a great position, a great place, and I'm loving it being here. So if opportunities present themselves in the future, awesome. If they don't, I'm going to continue to kick ass in my role and be the best I can be for the guys around me."