After a tumultuous 2016 season in Los Angeles that finished with him as interim head coach, John Fassel could have easily looked elsewhere for 2017. Instead, he's said, there wasn’t any other place he wanted to be.
Fassel and new head coach Sean McVay reportedly had a quick and easy discussion that kept the special teams coordinator around for what will be his sixth season with the Rams.
“He said he wants to keep me around — and that’s all I needed to know,” Fassel told the Los Angeles Times in January. “I said, ‘I want to be here, so I appreciate it.’”
In an interview with therams.com, Fassel said he first met McVay the day of the head coach’s introductory press conference at the team facility in Thousand Oaks. And even then, Fassel could feel a good sense of chemistry.
“The first time I met him was the day he got introduced as the head coach, so we bumped into each other in the hallway and were high-fiving, and hugging, and it’s almost like we had coached together and known each other for years,” Fassel said. “So it was kind of just like, spontaneous combustion and then here we go. So it was fun right off the bat. And it’s been a great couple of weeks so far.”
While Fassel said he can see how being a familiar face to many players could be beneficial, he’s also taking 2017 as a fresh start.
“I also feel like I’m new, which is kind of cool. I feel like I’m coming into a new team because it’s a new staff and there are going to be some new players,” Fassel said. “But the relationships I have with the players is just so important to me, and I’m glad I get to keep that with a lot of the guys.”
So much so that Fassel gave credit to many of those players for the fact that he was asked to stay on.
“I’ve reached out to a lot of guys and thanked them for their professionalism, work ethic, and success because, you know, if the players play good, then usually coaches have the opportunity to stay — let’s face it,” Fassel said. “So I was very grateful for those guys for really giving me the opportunity to stay as well as coach.”
With the myriad experiences Fassel had as a coach and person in 2016, he said it’s hard to boil it down to one overarching lesson. But stepping in as the club’s interim head coach was clearly among his most meaningful experiences.
“That was like a whole new world that opened up to me that [taught me to] be prepared for the unexpected,” Fassel said. “If you’re not really sure how to do something, figure it out really fast. So, there’s not one thing I can pinpoint that I can say, ‘That’s what I learned.’ It’s just a whole hodgepodge, potpourri of stuff that kind of came at me fast. And It was a great experience for me. I’m super grateful for it, and I think I’m a better coach for it.”