In January, it was reported that Rams offensive coordinator Kevin O'Connell had been blocked from interviewing for that same position with another NFL team.
More than a month later, Rams head coach Sean McVay confirmed it was true – and done for a good reason.
"Kevin's a great coach," McVay said during a video conference last Thursday. "He's our offensive coordinator. He has a huge say and a huge influence on how we want to operate, and I think even more so moving forward."
In their first season working together, McVay and O'Connell helped the Rams produce the No. 11 total offense in the NFL at 377 yards per game. Additionally, while O'Connell didn't explicitly have quarterbacks coach in his title, he was responsible for overseeing and working directly with the group.
Given his contributions in those roles and how well they worked together, O'Connell was someone McVay did not want to lose this offseason.
"I was really excited about the opportunity to be able to work with him in year two, continue to collaborate, learn from him," McVay said. "He understands how valuable he is to me and to the Rams and we talked about all those things, but I think it's a credit to the respect that he's garnered around the league. What I would say is he's our OC and that's why we blocked him (laughs)."
O'Connell was the Rams' first full-time offensive coordinator on staff since his first season as head coach (2017), when current Packers head coach Matt LaFleur served in that role before being hired as the Titans' next offensive coordinator in 2018.
Even though LaFleur's move at the time technically could have been considered a lateral move – like O'Connell's would've been this year – McVay did not block it because he strongly believes in helping coaches grow. McVay was, and still is, Los Angeles' offensive play-caller, and not blocking the move allowed LaFleur to move from a non-playcalling offensive coordinator job with L.A. to a playcalling one with Tennessee.
Will that precedent – along with O'Connell's aforementioned value and influence – collectively translate to increased opportunities for him to call plays this upcoming season?
"Yeah, those are things you always talk about," McVay said. "I think each situation is independent. I don't think you ever want to pigeonhole yourself into (a role). Kevin and I had a lot of great dialogue and I'm always going to listen. I'm not interested in losing a coach to go do that same role and I'm not naive to the fact that the play calling, and those things are very important and when that situation came up with Matt, we talked about that. Kevin and I have had great conversations, but I would like to think that anybody that's been a part of this Rams' building knows that there is an investment in us trying to help guys continue to grow and if opportunities that they have outside this building don't exist in-house, then usually that's when we're going to let guys go, even if it doesn't help the Rams and that's kind of been the approach."
Regardless of the scope of potential playcalling duties, O'Connell will continue to be an important voice for Los Angeles' offense approaching Year 2 on its staff.
"I would like to think that he and I both are really excited about the opportunities that we have moving forward working with the offensive coaches, these players and what next year can look like for us with him leading the way offensively," McVay said.