Kevin O’Connell, who grew up in San Diego, went to La Costa Canyon High School in Carlsbad and played quarterback at San Diego State, recently landed a high-profile job in the National Football League, Offensive Coordinator for the Los Angeles Rams.
“As far as Los Angeles, and the offensive and defensive staff here, it’s by far the best staff I’ve been a part of,” O’Connell told NBC 7 Sports.
In just his sixth year of NFL coaching with 4 different teams (Cleveland Brown, San Francisco 49ers, Washington Redskins and now the Rams), O’Connell is a coach on the rise. He’s consistently praised for his coaching acumen and considered to be on the fast track for a future NFL head coaching job.
“When I hear those things, I hear that I need to keep learning on a daily basis and I need to be exposed to a lot of different things, but I’m in a situation now where if I don’t look at the job that’s in front of me, with the type of responsibility that Rams head coach Sean McVay has bestowed on me, I’ll be doing a disservice to this situation if I start thinking about what’s down the line, but I am extremely flattered by that stuff,” he said.
Just before O’Connell got into coaching, he was part of the team at NBC 7 working as an analyst on our Football Night in San Diego show during the 2013 and 2014 NFL seasons.
“I really enjoyed breaking down games, I felt like I had something to say. It’s not out of the question that you’ll find me back on Sports Wrap or Football Night in San Diego at one point,” he said.
That point is just not now. After a 5-year career as a backup NFL quarterback, O’Connell is now partnering with McVay to run what has been one of the NFL’s highest powered offenses. One of O’Connell’s main jobs is to get the most out of Rams quarterback Jared Goff, easily the most talented and accomplished QB O’Connell has worked with his NFL coaching career.
Asked what excites him most about Goff, O’Connell says it’s his ability to throw the football.
“Some kids pick up a football and it just makes sense for them to throw a football, he’s one of those guys! The ball comes out of his hand with juice, torque and velocity, all these things that the average fan at home may think are boing, guys like me geek out on. Now, on a daily basis, we can really be trying to tweak Jared’s lower body and fundamentals. He’s already played at a Pro-Bowl level at times in his career, we can make it more consistent and we can allow his evolution as QB to continue, I’m really excited to see where he can get to.”
Among the 6 different NFL teams O’Connell played for were the Patriots, including a stint as Tom Brady’s backup in New England. This season O’Connell will coach against Brady when the Rams visit the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, this will be his third coaching matchup against Brady.
“It’s really funny because pre-game I’m like ‘Oh I don’t want to bug him,’ but I’ll get a bear hug from behind or hear someone scream ‘K.O.’ from other side of field and I’ll turnaround and it’s him. It’s always great to talk with him and catch up, we still communicate here and there. He never misses opportunity tell me he’s proud of me as a coach, but it will be weird going down to Tamp and seeing him run out of the tunnel not in that navy and white,” O’Connell said.
That Rams vs. Bucs game is scheduled for November 23, but with the COVID-19 crisis, O’Connell acknowledges that the NFL season is a fluid situation.
“The thought of not having any games what so ever is really hard to imagine. Now I know there is a lot of science and professional opinions that will go into making sure people are healthy and aren’t at risk, including the players and us as coaches are safe, but I don’t see a scenario where we don’t get to play some games at some point, we may lose a few weeks, but I do see us playing some version of a season.”
If and when this season runs its course, and when O’Connell’s coaching career does the same, I know a place in San Diego where he kind find some work.
“I’ll put the suit back on and join you on Football Night and break down some plays like I used to,” he said.
That’s a deal we may have to hold him to, and maybe, if things work out for Coach O’Connell, he can bring his Super Bowl ring with him.