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Q&A on Rams Assistant Head Coach Thomas Brown | Houston Texans Head Coach Search

Los Angeles Rams Assistant Head Coach/Tight Ends Coach Thomas Brown interviewed for the Houston Texans head coaching position this week. Deepi Sidhu spoke with Greg Beacham, who covers the Rams for the Associated Press, to get insight on Brown as a head coaching candidate.

DS: There is a lot of buzz surrounding Rams Assistant Head Coach Thomas Brown. He has only been in the NFL for three seasons so why is the star so high on Thomas Brown?

GB: Well, he has the NFL's attention because anybody who talks to him can tell that he seems like a head coach in the making. Thomas Brown has a charisma, football knowledge, a coaching pedigree that makes people sit up and take notice. I mean, he's been one of Sean McVay's right hand men for three years now. And before that, he learned at Georgia, the University of Miami under Mark Richt, who he played for with the Bulldogs, he started to get attention last year for bigger jobs when the Dolphins requested to interview him for their head coaching position. And it's continuing with the Texans. Teams love to pick off a coaching tree that's been bearing fruit. Sean McVay's had four former assistants who became head coaches. They've all taken their teams to the playoffs. That's a lot of fruit.

DS: Brown was not promoted to OC when Kevin O'Connell left last year. What has changed from last year to this year where Brown is now being considered for HC jobs?

GB: He was one of the top considerations for the offensive coordinator job last year, but Sean McVay decided to use that position to get another rising coaching star, Liam Coen, back to Los Angeles after a year away at Kentucky. He needed to bolster his staff overall, they'd had another brain drain, as they always do, and he used that to make a more overall strong staff. Thomas was assigned from the running backs to the tight ends so that he could deepen his overall understanding of the offense, the different players in it, the different ways that they work together. But Sean said it was also so Thomas could take a more overall view of everything going on with the Rams and could continue to build his base of knowledge for bigger and better assignments as the Rams assistant head coach. Sean is very high on Thomas as you know, sees him as a head coach in the making and he wants to put him in a position to succeed and that's why they did all that. I think it all got accomplished last year. He even thought about going to Minnesota with Kevin O'Connell to be the Vikings offensive coordinator, but decided to stay on the track he's on in LA in terms of learning the overall landscape of the NFL and putting himself in position for big jobs. And I think that was that was a mission accomplished last year.

DS: What sort of qualities do you think would make Brown a good head coach?

GB: He's getting attention for head coaching jobs, even though it seems like a big risk to hire somebody with only three, four years of NFL coaching experience where he is because anybody who talks to him can tell there's a potential big reward with that big risk. He's a former five-star running back, an elite player who would have had an NFL career if he hadn't got injured. He has that combination of charisma and football knowledge as a coach that are going to put him in position to succeed in any role he gets. I mean, it's out-of-the-box thinking to hire a head coach who hasn't been a coordinator, but it's been done before. A lot of college coaches got head jobs that being coordinators like Dabo Swinney, Kirk Ferentz, Urban Meyer, Jim Harbaugh come to mind. Then the NFL's Mike Tomlin had a one year as a coordinator. John Harbaugh was a special teams coordinator. This is not without precedent. A lot of teams have done this over the years and with a lot of success in many situations because the people who are doing the hiring recognize those people as big potential leaders and big potential upsides to their to their coaching career. You know, when you meet Thomas Brown, you can immediately tell he's a leader who players will follow and respect. He's proven that in coaching. If the Texans or another team, want to think about the long term at their franchise and build an exciting new culture in their team around a guy who's going to be there for the long haul, then Thomas Brown is somebody to take a good long look at because you can see the future when you talk to him.

DS: Any particular moment during your time covering the Rams with Thomas Brown that left an impression on you?

GB: Yeah, there's a couple. Thomas did a great job navigating a sticky situation this year when Rams running back Cam Akers clashed with the coaching staff and got sent away from the team for three weeks. The Rams never said it publicly, but it was pretty clear that Akers clashed in particular with Ra'Shaad Samples, who was the coach that replaced Thomas as running backs coach. The Rams managed to get Akers back in the fold by giving a supervisory role over the running backs to Thomas Brown again. Akers responded with the best football he's played in three years with the Rams. He was a wrecking machine for the last few weeks on this team, and they're really looking forward to having him back next year after trying to trade him for three weeks in the middle of the season, which is pretty remarkable in terms of an overall supervisory coaching role. I think you can trace all that back to Thomas, but it's clear how much that Akers likes and respects Thomas Brown. The rest of the roster, you don't find a bad word about Thomas Brown in that locker room.

On a more personal note, I interviewed Thomas at length last year for a story about minority coaching opportunities and the way he presented the roots of the NFL's lack of head coaching diversity really resonated with me. He said it was just like his high school. He grew up in Atlanta. He said his high school was very integrated, very cool, no drama. He had friends all over the social map. But when it came time to go eat lunch in the cafeteria, everybody ate with the people that made them feel the most comfortable and that tended to fall along racial lines. He said that's the soft middle barrier that the world needs to get over, to get out of their comfort zone, to take a small risk, to open up yourself to new possibilities, new knowledge. That's exactly what a team would be doing if they take a chance on Thomas Brown at this stage in his career. Given everything I know about him and everything that the NFL is learning about him, it probably won't seem like a risk for much longer. The Texans have a chance to get in early on a coaching stock that is definitely on the rise.

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