Before the Los Angeles Rams woke up the NFL world on Wednesday, August 25, by trading for Sony Michel, plus before the franchise decided to send two late draft picks to the New England Patriots to lure Michel in, Sean McVay had to talk to who he called the “huge influence” behind the move.
That person of interest? Someone who coached up Michel and found a way to unlock his potential.
But this person was not Super Bowl winning head coach Bill Belichick. Nor was it Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. It also wasn’t Pats’ running back coach Ivan Fears who was the “influence.”
McVay revealed the man who played a key role in getting the former Georgia Bulldog to the Rams was a man who coached him at that university…and is on the Rams staff now.
“A huge influence on it was Thomas Brown,” McVay shared with reporters, which can be heard near the 31 minute mark of the Thursday, August 26, post practice video below. “Having worked with Sony, having that relationship and being able to have some really intimate knowledge about the human being is what you feel so good about making a decision like that.”
Michel Addresses Reuniting with Brown
Michel and Brown were Georgia Bulldogs together for one season: The 2015 campaign.
And in that lone season they were on the same roster, Brown became the first running backs coach to guide Michel to his first 1,000-yard season as a collegiate running back.
The then-sophomore Michel went on to produce 1,136 rushing yards to lead a deep UGA ground game that also featured future Cleveland Brown Nick Chubb. Michel additionally added 270 receiving yards to accumulate 1,406 yards from scrimmage. He crossed the end zone 11 times that season, which also led all Bulldog running backs. Brown found a way to get Michel to use his power after contact and determination on runs, plus opened up his versatility.
Brown went on to accept the offensive coordinator position at the University of Miami in 2016. Michel’s production dipped that season: Falling to 989 yards from scrimmage (840 rushing yards) and scored just five touchdowns.
However, Michel bounced back the next year and put together his finest campaign in Athens, Georgia: 1,227 yards and led the ‘Dawgs with 16 rushing touchdowns – in a year that see him and Chubb become a 1,000-yard duo.
Michel said it feels good to be back with Brown, saying “Me knowing some of his ways, learning and getting back and adjusting to what he does and how he runs things, it was good listening to him and listening to some of the key points and just trying to learn, really.”
McVay Also Explains Reasoning Behind Trade
McVay wants to clarify: He has faith in the backs not named Sony Michel. However, even he grew concerned over the pileup of sprains and Achilles tears in the Rams’ backfield – with the most recent injury Darrell Henderson‘s sprained thumb last week.
“When you look at it, it was an opportunity to acquire a really good player who has had a lot of success,” McVay said. “He offers a physical presence to our room. And really, we feel good about our running back situation, but some of the volatility of what Darrell’s gone through and even throughout the course of camp, we wanted to make sure we got someone else who has played in some big time games and that brings a physical presence to that room. But I’ve been really pleased with what Jake Funk’s done, also Xavier (Jones).”
McVay reaffirms Henderson will still get touches, saying “Darrell is still going to have a really big role. Doesn’t really change the outlook for him. And then we’ll see how quickly we can get Sony up to speed.”
But along with the “huge influence” in the Rams move who helped orchestrate the Michel trade, McVay additionally received strong feedback from the last group of coaches and team personnel who were around Michel.
“Here’s what went into it,” McVay explained. “You’ve seen the body of work. You know that he’s coming from a place that they’re doing the little things the right way. The relationships in that building that I have, I really trust the perspective and the opinions that they have. And they speak really highly of him.”