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New OC Kevin O’Connell, ex-Aztecs QB, plans to help Jared Goff rebound.

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  • New OC Kevin O’Connell, ex-Aztecs QB, plans to help Jared Goff rebound.

    La Costa Canyon HS alum is coordinator under Sean McVay; played under Aztecs coaches Tom Craft, Chuck Long

    Former SDSU quarterback Kevin O’Connell joined the Rams after three years with Washington.
    La Costa Canyon HS alum is coordinator under Sean McVay; played under Aztecs coaches Tom Craft, Chuck Long

    MAY 21, 20206:08 PM
    Working from home during the coronavirus pandemic hasn’t kept Kevin O’Connell, the former San Diego State quarterback, from getting in strenuous workouts. Improvising, the 34-year-old father of three cranks out “family” push-ups. “It’s normally with my son or my daughter on my back, trying to add a little extra weight to make my push-ups a little harder,” O’Connell said Thursday, laughing.

    If only it were so simple to restore the Rams offense to its muscle of not long ago. The talent has fallen off since the team’s Super Bowl run two years ago. There’s no sugar-coating the No. 1 challenge that confronts O’Connell, the former La Costa Canyon High star who joined coach Sean McVay’s staff as a coordinator in January after three years as an assistant with the Washington Redskins. Simply, the Rams’ line is in a hazardous state. Rams blockers were overwhelmed against the explosive Niners in October, leading to a 20-7 defeat in the Los Angeles Coliseum. Jared Goff threw for 78 yards, a career low.

    A week later, the Niners faced the O’Connell-coordinated Redskins. Windy weather discouraged passing, but O’Connell’s biggest test was the talent gap in the lines. The Redskins started with 10 rushing plays and largely kept the Niners from teeing off on quarterback Case Keenum, but they never scored. Keenum threw for 77 yards in the 9-0 defeat. O’Connell, replying to a reporter’s question during a video chat Thursday, said that not just the Niners but the other two NFC West rivals — the Seahawks and Cardinals — will present the Rams with “some real problems.” All three teams, he added, seem to have improved this offseason.

    On the other hand, he said Rams talent man Les Snead has done good work, too. Targeting the offense, Snead used his first draft pick last month on running back Cam Akers and his second pick on wide receiver Van Jefferson. O’Connell praised Akers for his “grit” and ability to gain yards against Florida State opponents that overloaded against the run. He lauded the route running of Florida alum Jefferson, whose father, Shawn, was a starting receiver for the only San Diego team to reach a Super Bowl.

    What O’Connell brings to the Rams are, among other traits, much-praised ability to see the game and a rare football background. Though he appeared in only two official NFL games (both for the Patriots in 2008) and didn’t become a coach until 2015, he has worked under several top thinkers in today’s NFL. He counts Tom Brady as a friend, having spent a season and two training camps as his backup. Patriots coach Bill Belilchick, after interviewing him, selected O’Connell in the third round of the 2008 draft. From Josh McDaniels — the longtime Patriots coordinator — he has said he learned a lot about protecting quarterbacks.

    O’Connell also spent four years under Bill Callahan, one of the NFL’s top line coaches. The quarterbacks O’Connell has taught include brainy veterans such as Alex Smith, Josh McCown and Kirk Cousins. In other words, if he didn’t know his stuff, he would’ve been found out. “The why gets asked a lot,” he said. “They want to know why you’re doing things, and you have to have the answers for that.”

    It’s tempting to suggest O’Connell is on the head-coach track, in light of McVay’s former offensive coordinators Matt LaFleur and Zac Taylor having taken over the Packers and Bengals, respectively, after the 2018 Rams reached the Super Bowl.

    First things first. Will a few Rams’ blockers emerge as reliable? The 2018 Rams had a terrific offensive line, as did the 2017 team that led the NFL in scoring (and also had a dominant running back in Todd Gurley, now with the Falcons). Goff was comfortable, posting passer ratings of 100-plus in those two seasons before falling to 86.5 last year while throwing a league-high 626 passes. If Goff could run nearly as fast as O’Connell did — he holds several Aztecs rushing records for a quarterback and clocked a 4.61 in the 40-yard dash — the line’s limitations would matter less. Even so, Goff is above average at other tasks that are more important, such as reading defenses and throwing where he aims.

    O’Connell said he’ll work with the 25-year-old on small details, seeking incremental gains. “If we could just get one or two percent better across the board at all of those different things,” he said, “I think he’s got a chance to have a great season, and I’m really excited for him.”

  • #2
    Really informative article, thanks for sharing Maui. I think O'Connell has about the most critical job of the Rams coaching staff after McVay for the 2020 season. We've had our share of criticisms of the Rams O-Line after last season, but this article points out that Goff must amp up his skill at reading defenses and passing accuracy. Those issues are taking into account that the run game was deficient and his downfield receiving target missed several games.

    I've heard on TV that 2020 could be a boom or bust year for Goff. He has talent, but few consider him worthy of the first pick in the 2016 draft. Our division will be a heavily contested offensive gameplan with the Cards stepping up their offense with the expected leap by Kyler Murray and acquiring DeAndre Hopkins. We'll need to score points similar to 2017 & 2018 if we want to contest for the title. Plus we'll be playing teams like the Cowboys, Eagles & Bucs who have pretty strong offenses so it will take a bunch of points to win those games.

    I feel confident that the play calling by McVay will get better as he's got a better RB to work with plus receivers who are good route runners so Goff will have the weapons he needs, but a lot of it be be on him and we'll need him to deliver.


    • #3
      Boom or bust in 2020 might be a bit strong concerning Goff, considering decent QBs don't grow on trees and Goff has only been around for 3+ years. Where he was picked is kind of immaterial now- the Rams were desperate for a QB at the time, cast their die with Goff and vested in his future. Can't see the Rams giving up on him unless he proves himself to be a total disaster and regresses even further. However, that doesn't mean he won't be monitored or have questions asked as the season unfolds.

      A point of debate on this forum and elsewhere is the degree of culpability Goff has for his decline in play last season. I have long maintained that although it's far from easy, elite QBs can still produce even with substandard play around them. While Goff was indeed hampered by poor line play and a diminished running game at times, he must do a MUCH better job reading defenses and getting rid of the football. I read in a separate piece yesterday that Jared Goff had a 34.5 QBR when pressured last season- the worst in football. This is alarming and suggests he must handle himself better under duress. And it was obvious to see to any Rams fan watching.

      Can Goff be an upper tier QB? Or is he destined to be a guy who can be solid when things are good around him but a skittish mess when things aren't?
      Last edited by NJ Ramsfan1; -05-23-2020, 04:22 AM.


      • #4
        I agree with your point that boom or bust is a bit of a strong label for Goff given the fact that he has already taken us to the Super Bowl. I do think that label was used in the context that Goff really needs to "make it happen" this year. I say that largely due to the amount of weapons being given to our offense both in the passing and running game. Sean McVay has spent this off-season reinventing his offense and Kevin O'Connell is a large part of that. Fortunately Goff is already familiar with the players around him so when training camps open, one hopes, it won't be a whole new learning process. Our NFC West will be a very tough division, if not the toughest, to champion

        For that reason I suspect football media is placing much of the burden on Jared Goff as would happen with any team's QB. I very much believe in Goff and root for him to succeed. I like his quiet confidence and think it blends well with the other players on our offense. It has been since the GSOT days that I've felt this much confidence in our roster and coaching staff. As I previously said, the NFC West will be among the toughest divisions to win and the other 10 players on the offense will be important, but none more important than the QB.


        • #5
          Originally posted by mde8352gorams View Post
          Sean McVay has spent this off-season reinventing his offense and Kevin O'Connell is a large part of that. Fortunately Goff is already familiar with the players around him so when training camps open, one hopes, it won't be a whole new learning process. Our NFC West will be a very tough division, if not the toughest, to champion
          If Kevin O. can figure out a way for the Rams (with our current personnel) to move the ball on the ground consistently, Goff will be fine. If not, then opposing D’s will lay back their ears and - Katy bar the door!

          Play action is a thing of beauty when defenses have to respect the run. Can we run the ball given the current O-line? I don’t pretend to know. I do know that if we can’t, it will not go well for Jared. If this kid Akers can get yards after contact (the way he did in college) at the NFL level, we might generate a good running game. Kromer hopefully can get the best out of what we’ve got currently.

          O’Connell’s track record seems solid. I particularly like the Krasovic quote: “What O’Connell brings to the Rams are, among other traits, much-praised ability to see the game and a rare football background.” Sometimes it has appeared (to me) that McVay gets stuck – blinders if you will – with regard to play calling. Maybe Kev will turn out to be the catalyst that fires up our O. Hope springs eternal ...


          • #6
            Maui, you hit the nail on the head. To paraphrase the words of political strategist, James Carville, "it's the running game stupid". The moment Gurley went down in 2018 it has been hard for Jared to perform as effectively as before. Even those who blame our O-Line for our trouble have to admit if we establish a proficient run game defenses won't be able to pin their ears back and rush the QB. With McVay using the run game as the foundation of his offense, he's likely to be better at play calling as he can find the mismatches that move the chains. As you say, "hope springs eternal".


            • #7
              [QUOTE=NJ Ramsfan1;n833012] I read in a separate piece yesterday that Jared Goff had a 34.5 QBR when pressured last season- the worst in football. This is alarming and suggests he must handle himself better under duress. And it was obvious to see to any Rams fan watching.



              that is it for me! Every QB will be under duress at any point in any game. Goff seemed to really shrink last year in this regard.


              • #8
                Thus reverting to the vital need -- among others -- to improve our OL protection.

                And yes, Goff himself.


                Related Topics


                • Nick
                  Bonsignore: ‘Project Goff’ is underway at Rams headquarters
                  by Nick
                  Bonsignore: ‘Project Goff’ is underway at Rams headquarters
                  By VINCENT BONSIGNORE | [email protected] | Daily News
                  PUBLISHED: April 23, 2017 at 8:00 am | UPDATED: April 23, 2017 at 8:47 am

                  From the inner sanctum of his Fired Football Coaches Association office some 2,500 miles from Los Angeles, Jon Gruden scoured the key piece of evidence in the case of Rams rookie quarterback Jared Goff.

                  The game tape, football coaches maintain, always tells the truth.

                  And in Goff’s case, the images flickering from the big screen inside Gruden’s Tampa, Fla., based football think tank provided key clues to explain how Goff’s first NFL season deteriorated into a nightmare.

                  “That’s an offensive line that has struggled,” Gruden testified recently. “That’s a receiving corps that has struggled.”

                  Gruden could have added a flawed coaching staff short on both imagination and a proven track record of quarterback development, one that failed even the basic principals of providing support for a rookie quarterback. Like establishing a sound running game Goff could lean on – in spite of having reigning Offensive Rookie of the Year Todd Gurley on the roster – or functional game plans, or a culture of discipline in which frustrating, drive-sabotaging penalties would finally be eradicated.

                  And while factually true, it would have been speculative considering the evidence at hand.

                  “I do think he went into a difficult situation,” Gruden summed up, politely.

                  The result being a rugged rookie season that left fans and pundits wondering if the Rams severely over-reached by relinquishing six draft picks to move to the top of last year’s draft to select the former Cal star.

                  But from Gruden’s vantage point, most of the dynamics involved were out of Goff’s control.

                  The Rams, it appears, agree.

                  And it has prompted them to devote almost every bit of energy and focus this offseason on improving the infrastructure around Goff and maximizing his chances of succeeding.

                  Their Thousand Oaks headquarters is now the home of Project Goff, with almost every decision they make – including the direction they take in this week’s draft – motivated by creating an environment that helps expedite the development and efficiency of a position around which their world revolves.

                  That includes building a coaching staff deeply rooted in quarterback development. And adding left tackle Andrew Whitworth, not only to help protect Goff but also to free up tight ends to be more active in the passing game and elevate Todd Gurley in the running game. And signing former USC wide receiver Robert Woods, a precise, dependable route-runner with sure hands who Goff can trust as a go-to target.

                  All of it is designed to create a better environment in which Goff can excel.

                  “Everything that we do starts with the quarterback in...
                  -04-23-2017, 09:29 AM
                • RockinRam
                  Jared Goff says Rams can run Redskins' deep passing offense under Sean McVay
                  by RockinRam
                  Eric Edholm
                  Shutdown CornerJan 21, 2017, 12:55 PM

                  Jared Goff has had time to rest up from a trying first season, let his body heal, spend a little time in Mexico with his friends … but now he’s ready to go back to work. He has a new head coach, a new offensive system and new perspective heading into his first full offseason of work in the NFL.

                  The Los Angeles Rams quarterback spent much of last season waiting his turn (for much of it as the team’s third quarterback) before starting the final seven games of the season and still seeking his first victory in the league. He’ll be doing it under his third head coach following the firing of Jeff Fisher, and with interim coach John Fassel being replaced by 30-year-old, first-time head coach Sean McVay.

                  Goff is now back in Los Angeles (more on that below), and he’s excited to get working with McVay on a new direction offensively.

                  “He’s ready, ready to get this thing turned around, as am I,” Goff told Shutdown Corner Friday night. “We’ve talked now a few times since he’s been hired, and it’s a great start.”

                  Goff met with McVay before and after the new coach was hired, and he was the only coach Goff met with during the Rams’ interview process — which might say a lot about how impressive McVay with the team’s brass.

                  “I thought after that first meeting, if he gets the job I am completely on board,” Goff said. “I was very, very pleased. Now the hard work begins.”

                  Goff believes the Rams’ offense can have the same type of feel as the system McVay ran with the Washington Redskins.

                  “I think we’re going to do a lot of what they did last year: a lot of downfield passing stuff,” Goff said of the Redskins’ offense, which ranked second in the NFL in yards per pass play and passing yards per game. “I think that’s obviously transferable here.”

                  Goff had no idea at the time, but starting early last season he would be watching tape of opposing defenses, and he said it seemed that every other week he was getting a look at what the Redskins and quarterback Kirk Cousins did offensively.

                  “I kept saying, either to myself or to the other quarterbacks in the room, ‘Hey, man, I really like this. I like what they do.’ I had no idea [McVay] would be bringing that here at the time,” Goff said. “Great concepts, lots of variety, great execution. It’s all there.

                  “Now I get to run that. You could see Kirk making tough throws, but they were scheming stuff up to get guys open. That’s one thing I noticed, a lot of guys running free, which is obviously appealing to me.”

                  As far as McVay’s age, Goff says he is not worried at all. The Rams were the youngest team in the NFL last season and likely will be one of the youngest again this season.

                  “If there’s a team it’s not going to be a problem with, it’s us,” he said. “But I don’t think it would be a problem regardless,...
                  -01-23-2017, 08:42 AM
                • MauiRam
                  Rams burning question: Can Sean McVay make Jared Goff a poor man's Kirk Cousins?
                  by MauiRam
                  Cousins is pretty rich, so that wouldn't be the worst thing in the world

                  Rookie seasons are rarely memorable for NFL quarterbacks, but Jared Goff's first shot as an NFL signal caller was entirely forgettable. He rode pine until late November, with Rams coach Jeff Fisher stubbornly sticking by Case Keenum. When he finally got the starting job, Goff went 0-7, was a little lucky to complete 50 percent of his passes and threw just five touchdown passes, three of which came in one game against the Saints.

                  Fisher was fired midseason and the Rams cleaned house after 2016 ended, all while watching the Titans select a talented wideout with the top-five pick that the Rams handed them as part of last year's Goff deal. The Rams' next hire was a critical one and they went uber young with it, bringing 30-year-old Sean McVay over from Washington.

                  (The Rams are back at training camp! Don't MISS anything as they prepare to try and make the playoffs -- take five seconds to Sign up for our Free Rams newsletter now!)

                  Make no mistake, McVay's hire is about turning Goff into a legitimate quarterback. McVay's tutelage in Washington turned Kirk Cousins into the ultimate conundrum: a quarterback who plays well enough you have to pay him but not well enough to commit past massive single-year franchise tag deals.

                  A lot of what you see with Goff and the Rams from 2016 is a case of Los Angeles putting major reigns on their rookie quarterback and limiting what he can do with a particular play. There are four guys running routes here but only one of them is really in play here. Goff is throwing to Tyler Higbee. via NFL GamePass
                  It's not surprising for an offense to put a cap on a rookie early on and for coaches to limit the amount of things a player has to worry about, but Goff was so obviously locked into a single target that he was sometimes throwing before he finished his drop. via NFL GamePass
                  Again, there are four routes being run but three of them might as well be decoys. This throw, by the way, resulted in a 19-yard completion and even set up a 24-yard Todd Gurley touchdown run. But let's not get too caught up in results. Everything about the gameplan in Goff's first start -- Week 11 against the Dolphins -- was rudimentary to the nth degree.

                  The creativity level was about what you would expect out of the worst offense in the league. The Rams averaged a measly 14 points per game and trailed even the 31st-ranked Jets by a healthy margin in DVOA. On a critical 3rd-and-4 play call against Miami, with the Rams leading 7-0 and 2:32 left in the second quarter, here's what Goff saw at the top of his shotgun drop. via NFL GamePass
                  It looks like rush hour between the hash marks. Ndamukong Suh ripping through the offensive line didn't help matters and it resulted in a sack. Pressure was a problem for Goff, who finished the...
                  -08-10-2017, 01:22 AM
                • MauiRam
                  Goff has a fan in new Rams quarterback coach Greg Olson
                  by MauiRam

                  Former Jaguars offensive coordinator Greg Olson watches from the sideline before a game against the Dolphins in 2015. (Phelan M. Ebenhack / Associated Press)

                  (From the L.A. Times)

                  By Gary Klein

                  He has been entrusted with developing the cornerstone of the franchise, a player the Rams mortgaged their future to acquire.

                  New quarterbacks coach Greg Olson said Friday that he was looking forward to working with second-year pro Jared Goff, the No. 1 pick in the 2016 draft.

                  “I’m really excited about the challenge with that,” Olson said during an introductory event for Coach Sean McVay’s new staff at the Rams’ training facility at Cal Lutheran, “but it certainly is a much easier challenge when you have talented player.”

                  Olson — along with McVay and offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur — is part of a triumvirate charged with turning Goff into a productive player, if not a star.

                  After trading six draft picks last April to select Goff first overall, the Rams finished 4-12 last season. They featured the NFL’s worst offense for the second season in a row under former coach Jeff Fisher and his staff.

                  Goff was inactive for the opener and sat the bench for eight games behind journeyman Case Keenum. He started the final seven games but struggled mightily at times, passing for five touchdowns, with seven interceptions, and finishing without a victory.

                  Now Goff will transition from a coaching staff that featured a quarterbacks coach with one year of NFL experience to a staff full of coaches with pedigrees developing NFL passers.

                  Olson, 53, worked with Drew Brees at Purdue and in the NFL with Derek Carr of the Raiders and Blake Bortles of the Jaguars among others.

                  LaFleur, 37, spent the last two seasons as quarterbacks coach for the Atlanta Falcons, where he worked with NFL most valuable player Matt Ryan in the league’s highest-scoring offense.

                  And McVay, 31, tutored Kirk Cousins as offensive coordinator for the Washington Redskins.

                  “It’s very important for all of us to be on the same page,” McVay said when asked how the three will handle Goff, adding. “We’ll all be on the same rhythm as far as what we’re communicating to Jared, what the expectations are.”

                  Olson will work directly with Goff.

                  Olson, who has coached in the NFL for 15 seasons, said Goff has “unbelievable arm talent; he’s had that since high school — a very talented player with a ton of potential.” - Olson evaluated Goff when he played at California, and has spent the last few weeks watching his Goff’s performances last season.

                  “Nothing that I have watched so far has deterred me from that evaluation,” Olson said.

                  Goff took first-team snaps in rookie camp last spring but was otherwise relegated to back-up status throughout organized-team activities and training camp. He took first-team...
                  -02-12-2017, 01:19 PM
                • MauiRam
                  Data dislike Goff and, thus, the Rams' 2017 prospects ..
                  by MauiRam
                  Seth Walder ESPN Analyt

                  Expectations for Jared Goff and the Rams' offense really can't get any lower.

                  One year after the former Cal quarterback was selected with the first overall pick by the Rams, Los Angeles' offense is widely anticipated to be one of the worst -- if not the worst -- in the NFL. ESPN's FPI thinks even that is generous.

                  Under the hood in FPI are two offensive strength predictions for each team: one assuming the starting quarterback is playing and the other assuming the backup is playing. Both measurements incorporate expected points added per play and are derived from a combination of the team's offensive performance the year before, a version of the quarterback's
                  Total QBR
                  history and a team's Vegas win total.

                  With 32 teams and two quarterbacks apiece, that means 64 theoretical offenses are ranked. The Rams with Jared Goff under center? They're behind the Colts with Scott Tolzien, the Jaguars with Chad Henne and the Jets with Bryce Petty. That's right: The Rams with Goff are predicted to have the 64th-best offense among the group -- dead last. That's the kind of forecast that probably leaves Rams fans yearning for the days of guaranteed mediocrity under Jeff Fisher.

                  But being 64th means something else, too. It shows that FPI thinks the Rams, at this moment, would have a better chance of winning with backup Sean Mannion-- he of 13 career pass attempts -- instead of Goff. While FPI doesn't project the Rams' offense with recently signed veteran Dan Orlovsky because he is the third-string quarterback, it's safe to assume that FPI would also predict Los Angeles to have a better chance with the 33-year-old manning the offense, based on the Lions' predicted EPA/P with him as their backup last year and how little the metric thinks of Goff.

                  This, of course, comes on the heels of a disastrous rookie season in which Goff couldn't even beat Case Keenumfor the top spot on the depth chart until the 10th game of the season and then posted a QBR of 22.2 in his seven starts.

                  Optimists will point out that the situation Goff walked into wasn't ideal. It's true -- his teammates did not ease his transition to the pros.

                  Goff was constantly under duress during his seven weeks as a starter. He was sacked a league-high 26 times in that span and dealt with pressure on 35.6 percent of his dropbacks, third-most in the NFL. Opponents blitzed him like crazy -- more than anyone else in the league during those weeks. Interestingly, despite his offensive line allowing pressure on 53.8 percent of dropbacks when blitzed (the second-highest rate in the NFL during that span), Goff was actually better when opponents brought five or more pass-rushers. When he wasn't blitzed, Goff's protection was better, though, as the Rams allowed him to be pressured at only the 10th-highest rate in the league.

                  Once/if Goff got rid of the ball, his teammates still...
                  -07-28-2017, 02:13 AM