INDIANAPOLIS – Former Rams offensive coordinator and current Vikings head coach Kevin O'Connell worked with his eventual successor Liam Coen for one season, but Coen made a strong impression during that time.
"Liam was great," O'Connell said Wednesday at the NFL Scouting Combine. "From very early on in the process, you could see that he wanted to grow, he had the capability, high capacity guy, really smart. But then you see him connect with the players. We worked side-by-side in 2020, and seeing not only his connection with the other quarterbacks, in addition to Jared (Goff), but our whole roster and just offense, defense – it's when guys have that type of capacity, a lot of different players search those guys out, and you could see his connection with our team here. I knew he would do great things to Kentucky, which he did. It wasn't a surprise to me."
Those traits are what Coen will be bringing to the Rams as their new offensive coordinator, with his hiring made official Wednesday.
Besides that ability to connect with players across the roster, one other factor that will help Coen succeed is his familiarity with the Rams' offensive system.
His first stint in Los Angeles spanned three seasons – overlapping with Sean McVay's second, third and fourth as head coach. During that time, Coen became one of McVay's most trusted coaches that McVay leaned on behind the scenes, according to what McVay told ESPN's Joe Tessitore upon Cohen being named offensive coordinator and quarterbacks for the University of Kentucky last year.
That ability to also connect and be with McVay "every step of the way" is important, and influenced O'Connell in his decision to hire former Rams tight ends coach and pass game coordinator Wes Phillips as his offensive coordinator for the Vikings.
"Something that I've really looked for here, having been in that role, getting a guy like Wes Phillips here as our offensive coordinator was huge for me, because that role, when you are the head coach, you are the play caller, i's very, very important to have somebody that's an extension of you, that can answer a lot of the questions in your absence, that can be the guy leading from the front with that unit, when the head coach can't be around and gets pulled in different directions."
"I'm excited for him to get back there to L.A.," O'Connell said. "It'l be fun to watch him kind of assume a new role there and really help Sean and support him in every way he can."