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Between the Horns - Episode 50 Recap

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  • Between the Horns - Episode 50 Recap

    Myles Simmons and D'Marco Farr recapped what they have observed at OTAs on the Between the Horns podcast.

    -Still looking at key areas. Defensively, they look exceptional at corner and in the middle.

    -Offensively, the team is taking a step forward with an offense they already know. There will be some coming back to earth for the offense, because teams have a year of film to see what you’re doing. But it also means you’ve got a year to build on and grow. Offense is improving and getting better.

    -Offense does not look like a Day 1 OTA offense. This is the first time in a while the Rams have had the same offensive coordinator (McVay) in back to back years, and it shows. Jared Goff got guys together to go through routes and work on timing. Cooks joined them after the trade. Cooks is as good as advertised. Fast, quick, polished. There’s no way he can’t help this offense.

    -Regarding questions about Goff’s growth as a leader on and off the field, Cooper Kupp says we need to start calling it what it is and say Goff is the leader of this offense, period. To hear Kupp say that, especially after the way things have gone for Goff so far in his career, is big time. He has the chance to be special and we're starting to see him take steps forward.

    -Looking at offense, they have one new starter (Cooks) and both agree that the Rams got better. That’s not a slight on Watkins, but more their opinion of Cooks. Cooks is a guy who has at least 1000 yards and 7 TDs in the last three seasons.

    -Regarding Tight End, McVay wants more out of that position and may go into different personnel groups (1 RB 2 TEs). Far says 12 personnel is awful for defenses because it’s balanced and the defense doesn’t know which way the ball is going until the snap. When you have a lead and a running back like Gurley, you want to go into 12 and pound them.

    -With Cooks, Woods, and Kupp, how do you cover it? They had fun talking about how to block Suh, Donald, and Brockers, but now how do defenses cover Cooks and Woods on the outside with Kupp stretching the middle? That receiving group, with Goff feeding them the ball, McVay designing plays, can be just as hard to deal with as Donald, Suh, and Brockers.

    -Holt’s impression at OTAs, the first guy he mentioned was Josh Reynolds. He’s a guy who has so much room to grow. We saw enough to say we want to see more, and the potential is there. Holt loves the other guys as well; loves Cooks’s attention to detail. Reynolds wants to prove that even though he has the size, he wants to prove that he’s more than that. How does he get on the field when you’ve got Cooks, Woods, and Kupp? There are going to be reps out there, no one can play every single one. Also dependent on people staying healthy.

    -Farr can’t wait to see Temarrick Hemingway in this offense. McVay in the OTA and camp stages last year said they had plans for this guy, then he had the injury. Having to sit gave Hemingway a different perspective, about how much the game means to him and having to watch means he saw things differently. Now he’s looking forward to bringing that stuff to the field. Farr said with a guy that big at that position, your football coach becomes a basketball coach – you can go big or small or change up. It’s more for the defense to have to worry about. It’s more than just scheme but it’s size as well.

    -Another injury to bring up is Morgan Fox. Especially unfortunate because he had been lining up with 1’s at OLB and he was flashing. He has potential and moving him to OLB opposite Samson Ebukam gave him the opportunity but it’s a shame he is injured. Now the guy to get ready is Justin Lawler, who also has flashed and has a nose for the football. Kind of a good sign that there’s a guy who knows where to be and knows what’s in front of him to step into that role. Give Wade Phillips as much credit for the defense as McVay gets for the offense. They think Wade can get Lawler ready to play.

    -Regarding OLB, Samsun Ebukam has flipped sides. Last year he backed up Barwin, now he’s playing Quinn’s old spot. He likes it better there because he rushes more. Simmons thinks he can take a significant step forward. Farr compares it to baseball and a DH, where everyone wants to do it until you’re it and you have to do it. Now Ebukam has to do it and rush the passer, he’s got to win one on one.

    -Farr not surprised to learn that Littleton is the new defensive signal caller. It was either going to be Cory or Barron, or maybe Hager. But one of those was going to be the QB of the defense. Littleton had a fantastic year on defense and special teams so he’s earned the right to become the starter. Not sure if he’s going to end up being that guy but he’s putting best foot forward.

    -Farr’ first thought on what could keep this defense from being great is communication. If call isn’t adjusted all the way through the defense, then the offense will keep moving the ball on them.

    -About the corners, Simmons says it’s hard not to be impressed with how the secondary looks on the field. Farr says he doesn’t know who you go after in the secondary and with what route. The other thing is depth behind them; NRC one of the best nickel corners in the league.

    -Zuerlein is kicking again, to see him kicking is a good sign. Rams still have Ficken so they won’t push Zuerlein and risk a setback, but it’s good to see him kicking off and attempt FGs in nonpressure situation. Could lead the league in total points due to this offense.

    -Issues and unknowns from last year have largely been resolved. Last year, talking about the right side of the offensive line and where those guys fit. Around this time, Rams were moving on from Robinson after working at right tackle, then Brown tried it, and then they went back to usual alignment. LB spots seem like issues now, but you can overcome guys who are learning their positions. What’s special about Rams is what’s going on on offense and how much of a jump you can get on teams there.

    -McVay is a fan of the self-scout: what did we do well last year, what were our tendencies, how can we be creative and keep defenses on their toes. Knowing the personnel with a year under his belt, he is so driven to succeed and get better, it’s going to be fun.

Related Topics


  • Nick
    Five Takeaways from Rams 2017 OTAs
    by Nick
    Five Takeaways from Rams 2017 OTAs
    Posted 4 hours ago
    Myles Simmons
    Rams Insider

    The Rams’ offseason program is just about complete, with next week’s mandatory minicamp the final event before everyone gets away for summer vacation. Here are six key takeaways from head coach Sean McVay’s first OTAs.

    1) Goff looks in command of the offense

    According to his coaches, quarterback Jared Goff has picked up Los Angeles’ new playbook quickly and well. That’s come through during practice, as he’s delivered confident, accurate passes over the last few weeks. Whether it’s deep balls, or timing routes to the sidelines, Goff looks, understandably, much farther ahead from where he was a year ago as a rookie.

    “I think he has done a nice job improving every single day and that’s what’s going to give us a chance,” McVay said.

    With the first-team offense and defense lining up against one another at this point in the offseason, middle linebacker Alec Ogletree said he’s observed significant progress from Goff as well.

    “He’s much more calm in the pocket. He’s able to get in and out of the huddle and get the ball where it needs to go. He’s definitely putting the ball where it needs to be. He’s definitely had a lot of good throws this offseason here,” Ogletree said. “So we just hope he continues to get better, improves his leadership some more, and just really takes over the offense.”

    There’s still plenty more work to be done as the Rams go into minicamp next week and training camp in late July. But Goff looks like someone poised to take a significant step forward in Year 2.

    2) Defensive transition appears to be going smoothly

    By now you surely know the Rams are moving their base defense from a 4-3 to a 3-4 under coordinator Wade Phillips. But based on the way coaches and players have described Phillips’ scheme, there haven’t been many complications in making that adjustment.

    “I mean, it’s not much different,” Ogletree said. “The calls are different, and that’s really about it. Everything else is still pretty much the same.”

    “The main thing is — it’s just words. It’s terminology, you know? Everyone somewhat runs the same coverages,” linebackers coach Joe Barry said. “But it’s just maybe what he’s been used to calling ‘apples’ the last five years, well now it’s ‘oranges.’”

    Watching practice, there’s a lot of chatter on defense in order to make sure everyone is lined up correctly before the play begins. Much like Goff being in command of the offense, Ogletree has done well to gain a solid understanding of the new defense as its leader.

    “On our side of the ball, I always say the middle linebacker is no different than the quarterback,” Barry said. “I walk through my meeting room every morning at 6:30 in the chow hall, and there’s ‘Tree in the meeting room watching film...
    -06-09-2017, 04:49 PM
  • RockinRam
    Rockin's Post-Game Thoughts
    by RockinRam
    1) We Need to Be More Diversified Than Just the 11-Personnel

    I get what McVay is trying to do with his 11-Personnel scheme. And obviously, it has been/can be very successful. However, with the way McVay runs the system, it heavily relies upon your 3 receivers and your 1 TE being able to consistently beat the guy in front of him, as well as a successful run game to set up the play-action.

    And it works...if we can consistently run the ball and if our personnel can beat their personnel. But what we've seen this season is if their secondary can effectively lock down our receivers, take away the middle of the field, and can force McVay to overthink the game and shy away from the run game, we are screwed.

    Obviously I am not an NFL coach, but I do think McVay needs to add more diversity and personnel groupings. I would love to see Goff out of the shotgun more spreading the ball around with Gurley as dump-off/short route option.

    Goff plays well in the shotgun and he has the ability to dissect defenses when he's given that extra time to sit in the pocket.

    2) Our Offensive Line was Ranked #1...But the Patriots Were Able to Find a Weakness

    Our o-line may have been top-ranked this season, but the Patriots were able to find a weakness. Their first strategy was sending bull-rushes through Sullivan and Blythe's part of the line. Blythe was unable to hold his ground and Sullivan just simply looked outmatched. He's a very intelligent player but I think it's time we find an upgrade. Time and time again, the Patriots were able to effectively beat Sullivan and Blythe.

    Our left side of the line is superb, but our weakest link right now is Sullivan-Blythe, with Sullivan being the weaker of the two. If we can get a young, sturdy, athletic center, our line can ascend to the next level.

    3) Goff Needs to Speed up His Internal Clock

    I am a Goff fan. I think he's a good QB. I think he's talented enough to win a Superbowl. However, he does have some very defined weaknesses.

    Namely, he will occasionally take too much time to go through his progressions and will get himself into trouble. We saw that with him taking too much time to spot Cooks on that wide open potential TD throw. We saw that with him not being able to recognize the open man which allowed the pass rush to get to him and forcing him to rush his throwing motion, which resulted in multiple wobbly, inaccurate balls.

    He has the arm talent to throw amazingly accurate balls, but when under pressure or when rushed, he will have the tendency to throw a very poor ball.

    4) I'm Not Sure What's Up with Gurley, But...

    Is TG injured? Is he in McVay's dog house for some unknown reason? At this point, no one really knows what the truth is besides McVay and Gurley. There are a ton of speculations floating around, and even Bleacher Report published...
    -02-06-2019, 08:40 AM
  • RockinRam
    Rockin's Midseason Thoughts
    by RockinRam
    If you would have asked me at the beginning of the season that we would be 6-2 at the halfway point, I would have laughed. I had hopes for this season, but the current results have blown me away. I'm 100% behind this new leadership that now runs this team.

    1. Thank God we did not hire Kyle Shanahan
    I was a big proponent for hiring Shanahan. I thought the challenges he faced as a coach on the Browns squad would help him face adversity. I thought he was "the next offensive guru"...and maybe he is, but McVay is heads and shoulders above Shanahan from a leadership, communication, technical, attitude, energy and wisdom perspective. I am Team McVay and I love what he is doing.

    2. Do we have a single weak spot on the offensive line?
    If you think about it, we still have 3 of the same starters from last year. What changed? I think Aaron Kromer has done an amazing job and it speaks volumes on the contributions of Whitworth and Sullivan. Adding two guys who are respected at their positions really added a new dimension to a young offensive line in desperate need of leadership and stability (Greg Robinson who?).

    3. Carson Wentz is playing at a HOF level...but Goff is looking pretty good too
    I've watched Wentz play quite a bit this season and man...this guy is special. His footwork in the pocket, his vision, his well-executed pump fakes, his accuracy...I think he's the total package. I am of the opinion that Carson Wentz and his personality would have been the perfect fit with McVay. However, Goff has shown a lot of improvement this year and is trending upward. I love his underrated mobility and he looks much better going through his progressions. I still hate his wobbly balls that he just somehow will throw occasionally and he needs to improve on this, especially the easy throws he needs to connect.

    4. I am still not a fan of Tavon
    I still am not a fan of Tavon, and it is incredibly frustrating when he misses holes because he decides to run east-west instead and do his "hop-skip". I think Pharaoh Cooper can seamlessly replace him. Honestly...I don't understand why we're not running jet sweeps with Sammy Watkins.

    5. We need a dominant Nose Tackle
    Donald and Brockers have both been dominant at the DE positions, but Tanzel Smart has been very inconsistent. Since he is undersized, he gets blown up quite a bit. He did not have a good game against the Giants as he was consistently getting dominated by a no-name center. This leads to linemen getting to the second level to neutralize Barron and Ogletree.

    6. Nothing has changed with Robert Quinn...he's just a slower one-trick pony
    I have always had my doubts with Quinn. During his one dominant season, he really only had one move, and that was to just run as fast as possible by the OT and pray that he doesn't get held and that he doesn't slip. Sure that may work in the short-term, but it's...
    -11-07-2017, 07:43 AM
  • Nick
    After First Week of OTAs, Cooks Presence is Already Being Felt
    by Nick
    After First Week of OTAs, Cooks Presence is Already Being Felt
    Posted 1 hour ago
    Kristen Lago
    Rams Writer/Reporter

    Moving to a new environment. Learning a new offense. Getting to know a new set of teammates.

    All three of these factors would be challenging for many NFL players. But for Rams wide receiver Brandin Cooks, they’ve become second-nature. This season marks Cooks’ third offseason program in a new location over the last four years — as he was drafted by the Saints in 2014, before heading to New England last season.

    But after being traded to the Rams in early April, the Oregon State product has made quick work of his transition to Los Angeles.

    “I think it’s going great,” Cooks said after the first day of OTAs. “I think just first of all being around the guys, working out with them, getting used to the system and being coached by [Rams head coach Sean] McVay — it’s great.”

    The receiver wasn’t the only one happy with his progress. McVay praised Cooks’ approach to the offseason, noting how even as a new addition to the roster, the wideout was already setting the tone on and off the field.

    “One of the things that’s been really impressive about Brandin is how smart and conscientious he’s been in the meetings — his attention to detail — being able to translate some of the stuff from Phase II, and then watching him compete today,” McVay said. “You can feel him in a lot of different phases of our offense.”

    During the first week of OTAs, quarterback Jared Goff has connected with Cooks on several deep balls downfield. The coaching staff has also been able to involve the receiver in a number of different ways, both on the outside and in the slot.

    “It’s a great guy to have in the room with those other guys,” Goff agreed. “I think he did a great job today. I know Sean will come up with ways to use him and put us in the best situation possible.”

    “He’s great and it’s not just on the field that you see, [it’s] when we walk back into this building here, the attitude that he brings and the way that he pushes people,” wide receiver Cooper Kupp said. “His work ethic is not just in the weight room, it’s in the film room, all those things. He just elevates everyone around him.”

    And though Cooks’ isn’t completely sure of what exact role he will end up playing come the regular season, he did express confidence that McVay would put him in the best spot to succeed.

    “It’s early, but [it’s about] trusting coach,” Cooks said. “He’s been known to put guys in their best spots, I think I’m just going to continue to trust that process. As we go along, I’ll see that shape.”

    For now, Cooks is just enjoying the chance to continue learning the Rams’ offensive system, while getting the opportunity to challenge himself against two of the league’s best cornerbacks.

    “It’s a dream,...
    -05-24-2018, 05:25 PM
  • Nick
    Clues to plans, identities of Rams’ new coordinators emerge
    by Nick
    Clues to plans, identities of Rams’ new coordinators emerge
    By Jourdan Rodrigue
    5h ago

    So, what exactly are the Rams getting in new coordinators Kevin O’Connell and Brandon Staley? Will their respective offensive and defensive units reflect their own identities?

    As the team inches closer to in-person and on-field workouts — with hopeful estimations of holding training camp on time in July, and in California — we can glean clues bit by bit about O’Connell, the offensive coordinator who also will have a big say in the continued development of quarterback Jared Goff, and about Staley, the first-time NFL defensive coordinator who one national pundit called a “secret weapon” for the Rams last week.

    They share more than similar backgrounds with head coach Sean McVay
    Each of McVay’s new coordinators was, like McVay himself, once a high school quarterback. And we know that while McVay went on to play receiver at Miami University (Ohio), O’Connell stuck with quarterback at San Diego State (and in a few places in the NFL), while Staley played quarterback at Dayton.

    And O’Connell shares a vaguely similar NFL coaching path with McVay. Both worked under Jay Gruden in Washington as offensive coordinators, with both serving as position coaches before their promotions (they never worked on the same staff).

    But more important, perhaps, than any parallels on their resume seem to be — upon early appraisal — the similarities in their approaches to coaching, teaching and studying the game.

    “We’ve been able to really slow it down, strip it down to the point where we’re teaching every single day. Great detail on the technique and fundamentals as well as scheme and growing, kind of putting it all together so that players can really understand the sequence of the ‘why,'” said O’Connell, of how offensive meetings have adjusted in an all-virtual setting.

    Yes, O’Connell is a “why” guy — something McVay emphasized heavily upon his own arrival in Los Angeles in 2017. As McVay searched for his coordinators, he wasn’t looking for a “mentor” type anymore — instead, he seemed to key in on specific qualities that he has known to work for himself over the years. Understanding not just what a plan is, but why it is — and teaching accordingly — seems to be one of them.

    “You come in, and you have to learn first,” O’Connell said. “You have to really submerge yourself in the details of how the ‘why’ has come about, because that’s the only way you can coach it.”

    In Staley, McVay seemed to seek another similar quality represented in himself: Experience coaching a ton of different positions, and the ability to translate all of those different “languages” into a smart, cohesive...
    -05-26-2020, 01:35 PM