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Great Ringer article on the NFC West

August 13, 2019 06:16AM
[www.theringer.com]

Really like some of the writing at this site. This is the section specifically about the Rams but you should read the whole article.

Los Angeles Rams: This One Goes to 11

His team’s three-point Super Bowl dud notwithstanding, McVay is unquestionably one of the league’s foremost offensive geniuses. When he was hired by the Rams before the 2017 season, the precocious, energetic former Redskins coordinator transformed the NFL’s worst offense into one of the best seemingly overnight, salvaging the smoldering ruin of Jared Goff’s young career while taking the team from worst to first in scoring in Year 1. In his second year at the helm, McVay’s explosive offense propelled the team to a Super Bowl berth. In 2019, the sky’s the limit for what his high-octane group can do.

The core tenets of McVay’s scheme are neither completely new nor unique, but he’s combined them in a way that no coach really has before. McVay’s offense, as he explained to The Ringer’s Robert Mays last fall, is centered on creating a marriage between the run and the pass game. The 33-year-old play-caller adopted what was already becoming the league’s most-used personnel grouping—a three-receiver, one-back, and one-tight-end set called “11 personnel”—and took it up a notch, lining up in that group on a league-high 87 percent of plays in 2018. By putting three receivers on the field on nearly every play, McVay spread opposing teams’ pass defenses thin—at the same time making it tough for them to defend the run. The combination of the speed of Brandin Cooks, versatility of Robert Woods, and quickness of Cooper Kupp gives L.A. plenty of mismatches in the passing attack, but also creates a massive opportunity for superstar running back Todd Gurley. The All-Pro runner faced a loaded box (eight-plus defenders) on just 8.2 percent of his carries last year, easily the lowest among runners with at least 100-plus totes.

However, while the Rams led the charge in the proliferation of 11 personnel last year, they cut against the grain when it came to the usage of shotgun formations, which have skyrocketed around the league over the last few years. L.A. lined up with Goff under center on a league-high 63 percent of snaps in 2018, using that as the schematic bedrock for the team’s play-action passing attack. The Rams ran the ball on 66 percent of those under-center plays, but when they did throw it from those looks, they very frequently utilized “run action” before throwing, sending offensive linemen into forward-focused run blocks at the snap (instead of backward-stepping pass blocks) to give opposing defenses the exact same looks up front regardless of the play call.

Adding to that ruse, the Rams used tight receiver splits (lining up their receivers close to the formation) and/or sweep action (running one of their receivers across the formation just before and after the snap) on nearly every snap, whether they were throwing or running, creating very few pre-snap “tells” for the defense. In other words, most of the Rams’ under-center plays looked exactly the same right up until the point Goff either handed off or dropped back to make a play-action pass. That’s the beauty of McVay’s offense: Its formational simplicity creates deception and complexity. Per the Football Outsiders Almanac, the Rams ran more play-action fakes than any team since the 2012 Redskins, a team, not coincidentally, that featured a young tight ends coach named Sean McVay on its staff (it was also coordinated by Kyle Shanahan—more on him in a bit). L.A. was among the league leaders in jet and sweep motion at the snap (which stresses defenses laterally), used screen passes with devastating effect, and leaned on trips and stack looks on the outside to give their receivers easy releases. Simply put, the Rams offense is built on putting defenders in conflict. Every offense in the league should make this a priority in 2019.

The NFL is famously a copycat league, and everyone wants a piece of McVay’s offensive artistry. The running joke, of course, is that having a cup of coffee with McVay is now enough to get you onto an NFL interview list. His fingerprints will undoubtedly be all over the Bengals offense under his former assistant Zac Taylor; and the Packers’ new scheme under another former McVay protege Matt LaFleur will feature plenty of the Rams’ hallmark concepts. But teams don’t necessarily need former McVay assistants to incorporate his ideas: The use of 11 personnel could continue to grow (even if the Rams use it less often), and the continued proliferation of play-action passing is going to be a major story line this year. Don’t be surprised if more teams adopt jet- and sweep-action type concepts, use a higher number of tight receiver splits, or run plays from under center more often.

Look for teams to employ the Rams’ savvy audible system, too. Los Angeles’s offense frequently hurries to the line of scrimmage between plays, giving McVay time to survey the defensive look and call in audibles to his quarterback before the helmet speaker cuts off with 15 seconds on the play clock. That tactic isn’t foolproof, and disciplined defenses capable of hiding their intentions can make it tough for the play-caller to choose the best play. But it also puts more stress on a defense in the pre-snap phase, because if L.A. snaps the ball quickly instead of letting the clock run down, they can catch defenders out of position and vulnerable.
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  Great Ringer article on the NFC West

PeoriaRa366August 13, 2019 06:16AM

  Re: Great Ringer article on the NFC West

BeachBoy66August 14, 2019 03:21PM