THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – In an interview with The Athletic's Jeff Howe last month, Liam Coen told Howe that the only team he would leave the University of Kentucky for was the Rams.
Coen's first stint with the Rams' coaching staff proved that impactful – he's now their new offensive coordinator.
"I came to work here every day for three years, truly wanting to come into this building," Coen told theRams.com last week. "You pull in and you're excited to be here. The atmosphere with (head coach) Sean (McVay) and the organization creates for growth and to be able to work in a great environment – that was something that I wanted to be a part of again. Had an unbelievable experience at Kentucky, love that whole Big Blue Nation. Lexington was unbelievable for my family and I, but this was different. It always was. And it really held a special place in my heart being here and my first NFL experience. But this was the only job that I was going to leave that place for because Lexington really was a great place for us."
Coen is back his second stint in Los Angeles. Prior to joining Kentucky's staff last season, he was an assistant wide receivers coach (2018 and 2019) and assistant quarterbacks coach (2020) for the Rams.
For Coen, that experience helped him gain a greater understanding of how those positions operate from a technique standpoint, which will help his approach to his current role from a foundational standpoint.
Coen's background is rooted at quarterback, having played the position in high school and college. Working with wide receivers coach Eric Yarber and his group offered a different perspective.
"Sometimes as a quarterback, you take for granted what the receivers have to do, especially in this system in this offense," Coen said. "So to be around Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods, I felt like that was really more so the things I was able to learn from, was those guys, (wide receivers coach) Eric Yarber, and to know more fundamentals and technique of the receiver position. That's really what Sean's specialty is – he was a former receiver, he's really been a part of this whole thing in terms of the receiver play. And he knows all 11, but it really helped myself to be able to work in terms of understanding the fundamentals and techniques of the position, not just the quarterback role."
It didn't take long for Coen to make an impact in those roles. After Coen was hired as Kentucky's offensive coordinator last spring, McVay told ESPN's Joe Tessitore that Coen was one of his most trusted coaches that he leaned on heavily behind the scenes.
Coen attributed that being the case for their relationship due to seeing the game from a similar lens lens.
"Just our overall football philosophy and what we expect out of the players and what we envision it to look like – just the overall toughness, physicality of what we're looking for, I thought was always in alignment," Coen said. "And especially when you get to the quarterback and receiver play, whereas we're both kind of in that similar roles of coming up in this profession in terms of, 'Hey, what's that focal point?' Just saw things through a similar lens. And when you are the assistant receivers coach or assistant quarterbacks coach, you do get a lot of knowledge with from him and a lot of access to him, which I think kind of just experiences more growth there."
When head coaches who also call plays make these types of hires, sometimes they talk about those hires being extensions of themselves. New Vikings head coach and former Rams offensive coordinator Kevin O'Connell said at the NFL Scouting Combine that was a factor in hiring former Rams tight ends coach and pass game coordinator Wes Phillips as his offensive coordinator.
That familiarity for Coen is already benefiting him as he gets started on the job.
"I think just starting off – yesterday, it was my first day – was the familiarity just walking in the building and knowing the staff, having a little bit of a familiarity with, obviously the system, the video, everything that goes into the day to day operations, there's familiarity already," Coen said. "And so just to be able to help (McVay) take some things off of his plate. I went and installed this offense at Kentucky and it worked, we did some good things. But being able to take anything off of his plate that we can do as a staff specifically in my role, to go run a meeting if he needs to go do something, or communicate things to the staff, or run a drill that I know that he's familiar with and wants to see, I think those are some of the avenues that I'm able to help."