THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – Like his fellow Rams coaching staff member Thomas Brown, Chris Shula finds himself breaking from routine after his previous time on staff.
Shula's first five years in Los Angeles revolved around coaching the linebackers, Now, he's taking on pass game coordinator duties and also coaching the defensive backs in 2022.
It's a different challenge, but one Shula is excited about.
"It is a great challenge to move to the back end," Shula said during a video conference Wednesday. "I think when you're talking about, just from an overall defensive perspective, everybody knows that the game starts with the quarterback, and affecting the quarterback and affecting the pass game. That's kind of how this league is evolving, too. So just the opportunity that (head coach) Sean (McVay) and (defensive coordinator) Raheem (Morris) to have the confidence in me to pair me with (defensive backs coach Jonathan) Cooley to help run the back end is truly an honor. But it's a great perspective."
Shula doesn't see any sort of proving ground or hurdle to clear when it comes to coaching a new position group, comparing it to last year when he switched from coaching the outside linebackers to coaching the inside linebackers. He said he already knows the players well because he's been here since all of them were brought on to the Rams, so those pre-existing relationships help with the transition.
"It's a two-way street where we're trying everything we can do to get these guys to play their best, to do everything we can to put them in the best position to make plays and be their best selves," Shula said. "And usually, when you're doing that, and you prove that you work hard and do everything that you can do it, it'll work out with the players and and you can sleep well at night."
Those players he'll get to work with are part of the reason he's excited for the change. Shula also looks forward to it because of the way it will allow him to see the Rams' defense. Former Rams secondary coach Ejiro Evero – hired as the Broncos' defensive coordinator this offseason – told Shula before he left that the safety/defensive back perspective was a great one to view how all 11 players on the unit are tied together.
"It's a great thing just as far as developing the whole perspective," Shula said. "I think, if you could just do like an internship and coach every position on offense and defense, not that that's possible. But, you know, it's obviously one of the best ways to learn the game."
While this wasn't a move Shula foresaw happening at any point, nor was it something he and McVay planned together, or he approached McVay about. Shula does recognize the value, though, when it comes to his career growth and development.
"It's a great opportunity to me to kind of move back, move into another position, see the game in a different light," Shula said.