The Rams will be looking for a new defensive line coach this offseason.
USC earlier this week named Eric Henderson – who served as the Rams' defensive line coach and run game coordinator – as its co-defensive coordinator, defensive line coach and run game coordinator.
"He's been awesome," Rams head coach Sean McVay said Wednesday. "Came here in 2019, basically established his own culture within the defensive line room. He's had a really good track record of developing people, building relationships with our players. I think there's a toughness, there's an identity that we played with on the defensive line that is a real credit to him. It was a unique opportunity, and this was something that came up a few weeks ago. Obviously, we love Eric Henderson and think the world of him, but I think it was one of those opportunities where he got a chance to work with some previous relationships. Obviously, SC's an incredible program. I think very highly of (USC Head Coach) Lincoln (Riley) and what those guys will continue to do there. It was a good chance for he and his family to do something that was in alignment with some of his goals."
Henderson's final season as part of the Rams coaching staff was highlighted by nose tackle Kobie Turner tying defensive tackle Aaron Donald's franchise rookie record with nine sacks – a team-high – as well as Donald recording at least eight sacks for the 8th time in his 10 seasons.
The Rams' run defense, meanwhile, allowed the 12th-fewest rushing yards per game in the 2023 regular season at 106.8.
For the 2021 season, Henderson was voted by his peers as the John Teerlinck Defensive Line Coach of the Year, which presented annually at the NFL Scouting Combine and named after one of the top defensive line coaches in league history. That year, Los Angeles' defensive line helped generate 50 sacks during the regular season – third-most behind the Vikings' 51 and the Steelers' 55. Donald led the way to 12.5 on his way to his eighth Pro Bowl nod and seventh All-Pro selection as the Rams went on to win Super Bowl LVI.
McVay said that any changes to the Rams' coaching staff would be because of those departing getting better opportunities – similar to Henderson's situation.
McVay said he would wait to see what happens with defensive coordinator Raheem Morris – who has been requested by five teams for head coach interviews – before hiring Henderson's replacement.
"It was a good chance for he and his family to do something that was in alignment with some of his goals," McVay said of Henderson. "Nothing but love on my side and we've got some capable guys. I thought (Assistant Defensive Line Coach) AC Carter did a great job working alongside him this year, but I think the appropriate direction to go is wait to see what exactly happens with Raheem before I make any decisions as it relates to any possible openings on the defensive side of the ball."