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If Baker Mayfield sticks with Rams, he likely will be dealing with coaching changes

After his heroic debut performance with the Rams, quarterback Baker Mayfield thanked the coaches who helped with his crash course to learn the offense in two days.

Offensive coordinator Liam Coen was among them.

But if Mayfield sticks with the Rams beyond this season, he might be tutored by a new coordinator.

Coen has been in discussions with Kentucky about returning as offensive coordinator, the position he held before re-joining the Rams’ staff as Kevin O’Connell’s successor, coach Sean McVay confirmed Friday.

“We’ve talked about that being a possibility,” McVay said during a videoconference when asked about an ESPN report. “I don’t think anything’s official yet, but if that’s the direction that he goes, then he’ll do a great job, just like he did previously.

Then-Kentucky offensive coordinator Liam Coen runs a drill in 2021.

(Michael Clubb / Associated Press)

“He and I have a great relationship no matter how it ends up finishing up. He’s going to do a great job with us the rest of this year.”

If he departs, Coen could be the third offensive coach to leave during or after the season. Running backs coach Ra’Shaad Samples accepted a job with Arizona State, and offensive assistant Jake Peetz reportedly could join Nebraska’s staff.

Mayfield’s performance in the final minutes of the Rams’ 17-16 victory over the Las Vegas Raiders on Thursday night — just 48 hours after joining the team — does not erase the Rams’ season-long deficiencies on offense, which contributed greatly to the defending Super Bowl champions’ precipitous fall.

Before he was placed on injured reserve because of what McVay has described as a spinal cord contusion, quarterback Matthew Stafford did not perform nearly as well as he did in 2021.

The running game was virtually nonexistent, new receiver Allen Robinson was slow to adapt and the offensive line was ravaged by injuries.

Before the season, McVay moved Thomas Brown from running backs coach to tight ends coach to help build the assistant’s resume in anticipation of potential coordinator or head coach opportunities.

Will McVay, who remains the play-caller, consider Brown a candidate to replace Coen?

“Certainly,” McVay said. “Thomas is a great coach that is more than capable of being able to do that.

“There’s still so many things that are going to occur even in the next month, that I’ll worry about that once we get there.

“I think the focus and concentration will be on this team finishing out this season the right way. Hopefully, be able to have some more fun games like what [Thursday] night was and then we’ll deal with a lot of different things after the season.”

Stafford will not play the rest of the season as Mayfield auditions for a role as his backup — or as a conduit to draft compensation capital if he signs with another team.

Stafford’s condition will not require a surgical procedure after the season, McVay said.

“To my knowledge, there’s nothing like that, that’s going to be required or necessary,” he said.

McVay plans to start Mayfield in the last four games against the Green Bay Packers, Denver Broncos, Chargers and Seattle Seahawks.

But Friday, McVay and the Rams still were processing Mayfield’s performance and the victory that ended a six-game losing streak. After taking a “deep breath” the Rams will work on getting Mayfield acclimated so they can expand the playbook, McVay said.

“We’ll start to get a plan together for the Packers and I think we’ll just at least have a little bit more normalcy to a weekly rhythm,” he said. “What he did [Thursday] night was miraculous. … We just want to take it a day at a time, and it’ll be fun to be able to see what we can do with it for the last part of the season.”

On Thursday night, Mayfield had help from Rams receivers — and the Raiders — during the game-winning drive.

An interception by Raiders safety Duron Harmon was nullified because of a pass interference penalty against cornerback Amik Robertson.

On the next play, the Raiders sacked Mayfield but after the whistle lineman Jerry Tillery knocked the ball out of Mayfield’s hand and was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct.

And the Raiders played press coverage against Van Jefferson, who beat it for the 23-yard game-winning touchdown catch.

“I was truly shocked they pressed him, up with 15 seconds left knowing that we didn’t have any timeouts left,” Mayfield said after the game. “He did a great job winning off the line of scrimmage and going and making a play.”

Mayfield said he was thankful for the help from coaches and teammates in his “crash course” absorbing the offense, and he sounded eager to experience what comes next with more typical preparation.

“I can’t control the future,” he said. “I know I have the next four games here. I’m trying to build on that and just be the best version of me and improve.”

Etc.

Receiver Jacob Harris suffered a torn pectoral muscle against the Raiders and will have surgery, McVay said. “He’s done a really good job and I’ve really seen a lot of growth from Jacob and that’s a bummer to end his season like that,” McVay said. Defensive lineman Marquise Copeland suffered a high ankle sprain.

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