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  • Clues to plans, identities of Rams’ new coordinators emerge

    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 plan. Staley is a former quarterback who found his calling on the defensive side of the ball and since has coached in each defensive tier, including coordinating experience in the secondary.

    “You guys that know Sean, that’s how he is on offense. He can coach all the positions on the field,” Staley said, “and certainly I’ve tried to be as well-rounded as possible so that I can communicate effectively to everybody in the room and not just a certain (position group).”

    O’Connell wants Goff to take ownership of the details of the offense
    O’Connell, who has an extensive background as a quarterbacks coach, will have a large role with Goff. He’s expected to work with the fifth-year quarterback quite a bit, with the goal that Goff becomes more consistent but also grows in his command of the offense and of the position room.

    O’Connell said that elevating Goff’s play overall might be about improving even the most minute of details by “one or two percent.”

    “There are a lot of layers to it,” he said. “You have the fundamentals of playing the position, where you strip it down and it can be as pure as a first step on a dropback from underneath the center. It could be his base at the top of the drop. It could be where his eyes are going off a play-action fake. It could be understanding what’s happening on the other side of the ball, versus the play call and what our job is at the quarterback position to give our offense the best possible chance of success.”

    To O’Connell, excellence at the position means the ability to marry the details of the day-to-day with the bigger picture as Goff comes of age as an NFL quarterback.

    “There’s a layer, going into his fifth year … in the offense, of ownership,” O’Connell said. “Where you feel strongly about presenting him with a plan where he can truly have some ownership, while also understanding at the end of the day that it’s just about being great with the details of doing his job…

    “If he does his job at a really high level (and is) consistent with that, whether it be technique, fundamentals, the Xs and Os of it, maybe it’s a leadership thing, maybe it’s making sure we’re great in and out of the huddle, maybe it’s little details like that where if we can just get one or two percent better across the board at all of those different things, I think he has a chance to have a great season.”

    The staff is entrusting Goff with little details, even amid the challenges of working virtually during this time. Instead of mandating safe, socially distant workouts for him, they are leaving the organization of throwing sessions with receivers up to him, O’Connell said, to give him ownership over that important piece of the offseason.


    The quarterbacks room will be all about communication
    “It’s really important to me that (the quarterback room) is a room of communication, open dialogue,” O’Connell said. “Sometimes you plan a two-hour meeting and you only get 25 percent of it done because Jared has had a great question, John (Wolford) has had a great question, Coach McVay maybe comes in with a layer of a topic that takes it to a whole other level.”

    O’Connell compared it to preparing a lesson plan as a teacher, but being open to fluidity if the students bring up points that open up further dialogue. He believes that gives the quarterbacks a sense of ownership of their own room, while still working within the offense as a whole.

    “(It’s about) understanding that we have an offense, we have a system, we have rules, and finding that real fine line between the two: Really letting the players grow while also allowing yourself to really present and sell the plan moving forward,” he said.


    O’Connell sees big potential for rookie running back Cam Akers
    Akers, a second-round draft pick last month — and the Rams’ initial pick — faces an uphill battle because he can’t fully get adjusted to an NFL offseason due to coronavirus restrictions. Akers, likely in combination with second-year back Darrell Henderson, is expected to shoulder a heavy workload in 2020 as the Rams look to re-establish a running identity after parting ways with former star Todd Gurley in March.

    “You really saw the amount of personal grit and determination,” O’Connell said of Akers’ time at Florida State. “He was running against of loaded looks … and he was able to create a lot on his own. You see the upside — I think it was a great running back draft, there was a lot of depth there across the board — but for us, and for me personally with Cam, just watching and thinking about where he could possible get to and maximized in our offense, it’s really exciting.”


    Staley is forming a strong bond with star corner Jalen Ramsey
    Ramsey was an All-Pro cornerback in 2017, and after a couple of tumultuous seasons — including his trade to Los Angeles from Jacksonville last year — he is preparing for his first full season with the Rams.

    And Staley has high expectations — which he believes Ramsey can match.

    “I think there’s a lot more in him than he’s shown in the NFL,” Staley said. “I mean, he’s shown himself to be one of the premier guys. But I know there’s a lot more in him for him to showcase.”

    Staley wants to get creative with Ramsey, who he feels can do a lot of different things for the Rams depending on how they need to counter an offense from week to week. If the Rams are struggling to contain the middle of the field — like against productive tight ends, for example — Staley wants to put Ramsey in the slot. Ramsey can even play safety, Staley added, and of course would take the lead against a team’s featured receiver when necessary.

    “He’s got command of all the positions in the defensive backfield,” Staley said. “You know, I do not look at him just as a corner. I look at him as a (defensive back). This guy can do anything. He thinks like a quarterback. This game means a lot to him. His craft, his focus, his commitment … I couldn’t be more impressed with this guy.”

    The two are developing a strong relationship and talk multiple times a day, according to Staley.

    “I love coaching this guy,” he said. “It has been one of the unique parts about this whole thing, the relationship that I’ve been able to form with him in a short time.”


    Staley keeps energy levels high in team meetings
    Multiple players have said in the last few weeks that Staley has a way of getting everybody fired up in meetings, despite the virtual setting that could turn pretty monotonous.

    “It’s a great privilege to get in front of your players,” Staley said. “I don’t care what level you get to coach … I think especially in times like this, you want to be able to create energy every day that they can feed off of. I think we’ve all been in classes, or at conferences or seminars, where a lot of it is depending on how good the teacher or the presenter is, about how you really learn the material.

    “So what we try to do as coaches is be on fire every day to prepare something that is really going to help them get better and make it as like being in the office or on the field as possible … and try to come in each day with purpose, and then follow up with a lot of communication afterwards.”

    Staley’s gusto for coaching has long been a major aspect of his personality.

    “I’m a son of a teacher and a coach,” he said. “My parents are my heroes. I started drinking coffee and reading the newspaper when I was in first grade … I fell in love with sports a long time ago. I’ve always felt that passion to teach and to coach…

    “I feel like being a competitor is really important as a coach. I think your players need to know that you’re competing, just like they are. I feel like that’s what I probably see myself more as than anything, is a competitor. That probably expresses itself to players — I hope it does — and I want those guys to know that we’re not just going to talk about things, we’re going to be those things.”


    Defense will be multiple as Staley hopes to get creative
    Yes, if you want to categorize Staley’s “base defense,” it’s a 3-4. But try to avoid getting boxed-in with the terminology here, because Staley wants to be as multiple as possible while maximizing the skill sets of players such as Aaron Donald, the star defensive tackle who brings so much versatility and ability up front, and Ramsey in the back half.

    “We play so many different packages,” said Staley, who added that while technically the defense he coached in while in Chicago was also a 3-4 “base,” they were in nickel 84 percent of the time.

    “I think the 3-4 just is a framework of who your personnel is, but how you activate that personnel … that will express itself when those best players emerge, the matchup within the game. We like that personnel grouping because it gives you a lot of flexibility in how you can play people.”

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

    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
  • MauiRam
    The California Cool of Jared Goff
    by MauiRam
    In the midst of a wild three-year career arc that has taken him from rookie bust to MVP candidate, the Rams quarterback has learned to enjoy the ride. How far can his surge lift L.A.?
    BY TIM KEOWN
    11/14/18

    Not long ago, the keepers of football's sacred texts detected a tragic flaw. The college game was spreading out and speeding up. It had become too simple, too bloodless -- and the repercussions could cripple the NFL. What they were witnessing was an insult to the thousands of men who sacrificed their bodies and brains on the game's altar. A quarterback standing 15 feet behind the center, catching a snap and throwing the ball to a receiver before the defense could even react? This was an act of pure expedience, a shortcut in a sport that does not abide them. Who was left to teach a young quarterback to nudge up close to the center, put his hands in another man's haunch and take a proper snap? A quarterback should be close enough to feel fear, and to smell a nose guard's rancid breath, and the suggestion that these gimmicky offenses would work in the NFL -- against grown-ass men, they thundered -- was an affront to the legacies of every great American who ever took the time to teach a man the seven-step drop.

    But one by one, the thundering old men were replaced by younger men who identified an opportunity within the perceived decay, and the sacred texts began to be rewritten. These new men, unburdened by the psychic lore of Joe Namath's creaky knees or Joe Montana's jigsaw-puzzle spine or Y.A. Tittle's bleeding forehead, took the obvious skills of the spread quarterbacks and set them loose against NFL defenses.

    And now what is this we have before us -- fun? Yes, a league that can't define a catch without seven pages of footnotes is being overrun by this most endangered concept. Fun destroys the myth that everything must be difficult and exhausting and earned. Fun puts the game's inherent martiality at risk. Turns out you can make your way down the field faster, more efficiently and far more often by standing back there and finding the receiver most open.

    It's starting to feel like a revolution, and every revolution needs a frontman. Rams quarterback Jared Goff, under the progressive vision of head coach Sean McVay, is the leader of one of the NFL's most dynamic offenses. Just two years after 2016's top pick suffered through the turgid, sclerotic final days of the crumbling Jeff Fisher empire -- losing all seven of his rookie starts -- Goff is an ascendant star, an MVP candidate, a player who symbolizes the promise of the new over the stubbornness of the old.

    "It's funny that the spread quarterback was seen as such a scary thing going into every draft," Goff says. "I played in the spread, Patrick Mahomes played in the spread, Deshaun Watson, Mitchell Trubisky -- the NFL is so stuck in its ways sometimes. If you don't innovate and adapt, you're going to be left...
    -11-15-2018, 12:25 AM
  • Nick
    Between the Horns - Episode 50 Recap
    by Nick
    https://soundcloud.com/betweenthehor...n-at-rams-otas

    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...
    -06-11-2018, 06:19 AM
  • Nick
    Sean McVay’s intensity gets Rams’ attention as offseason work begins
    by Nick
    Sean McVay’s intensity gets Rams’ attention as offseason work begins
    By RICH HAMMOND | [email protected] | Orange County Register
    PUBLISHED: April 10, 2017 at 4:32 pm | UPDATED: April 10, 2017 at 4:34 pm

    THOUSAND OAKS — It’s a tradition on almost every team. Show up to camp, collect your T-shirt with the catchy, coach-speak slogan on the back and attempt to minimize the eye-rolling.

    The intensity in new coach Sean McVay’s eyes and voice, though, made it impossible to scoff at the “We Not Me” message that Rams players, coaches and staff members wore on blue, cotton tees Monday as the team opened the first phase of its two-month offseason workout program at Cal Lutheran.

    “Everyone was at full attention,” McVay said. “Guys were locked in. They were engaged. They were ready to go. I think it was definitely the way we wanted it to come off, as a coaching staff. Right now, it’s about building relationships with these guys.”

    It’s time for a culture change. Previous coach Jeff Fisher largely took a laissez-faire attitude that basically told players to have fun and be loose, as long as they prepared and came ready to play on Sunday. That level of trust made Fisher popular among players, but it also produced a 31-45-1 record from 2012-16.

    It’s far too early to fete McVay, the youngest coach in NFL history when the Rams hired him in January, but one thing is already clear: McVay is no Fisher. McVay’s body language suggests perpetual intensity, and that seemed to come across to players during their first formal meeting with McVay on Monday.

    “I think there’s some really good, new energy here,” quarterback Jared Goff said. “Coach McVay and the rest of his staff have done a great job exuding that energy and really letting us feel it. I think it’s really a fresh start for a lot of people. I think it’s a really good feeling. Just freshness is the best way to describe it.”

    There’s plenty of work ahead. This phase of offseason work, which will continue for two weeks, will focus mostly on off-field strength and conditioning. Per NFL rules, practice-like simulations aren’t allowed until next month, but Monday represented an important moment for McVay and the Rams.

    For the first time, McVay could transition from handshakes and salutations to football talk. He could distribute playbooks and talk about offensive and defensive systems and possible position changes.

    Most of all, he could make a good first impression on the players, and vice versa. That seems to have been a success. These offseason workouts are optional, but McVay said all players attended Monday, just more than three months after they completed a dismal 4-12 season.

    “Everybody came with a fresh start, a different mindset,” defensive tackle Aaron Donald said. “We left with a real bad taste in our mouths last year; a horrible taste. I’m pretty sure everybody is ready,...
    -04-10-2017, 05:22 PM
  • Nick
    Rams mailbag: Free-agent priorities, possible coaching changes & contract situations
    by Nick
    Rams mailbag: Free-agent priorities, possible coaching changes and contract situations
    By Rich Hammond Dec 24, 2019 6

    This Rams season is going to end sooner than most everyone expected, not in the Super Bowl or even in the playoffs but with an all-but-meaningless Week 17 home game against the Arizona Cardinals.

    The end is just the beginning, though, as the Rams, who will finish no better than 9-7, must face an extraordinary number of offseason questions that touch every aspect of the organization, from coaching to player personnel.

    Rams fans, understandably, have a lot of questions. They presented them via Twitter this week, so let’s jump into a season-ending Rams mailbag.



    If you’re a Rams fan — and I know you are — you should hope so. Not even necessarily a coordinator. Sean McVay can call the position whatever he chooses, whether it be “senior assistant” or “analyst” or whatever. Steve Wyche of NFL Network, one of the best reporters out there, said on air this week that McVay might be open to adding someone like that to his staff. That’s a good thing. It’s not a failure on McVay’s part. This season — and really, going back to the end of last season — got more challenging, and it doesn’t hurt to have another voice and another set of eyes. I’ve yet to hear what the negatives would be for a move such as this one.




    I know this is going to be an unsatisfactory answer, but I always want to be as honest as I can be … There really is no “top priority.” Things basically get done (or don’t get done) on their own schedule. Think back to the Aaron Donald contract situation, which I know we all remember with great fondness. You could say Donald, during that time, was the Rams’ “top priority,” but they ended up getting several other deals done before Donald, including the Todd Gurley extension.

    It’s fair to say, though, that the first step for the Rams, in terms of assessing their offseason moves, involves which free agents (or players with options) are most likely to return. That would include guys such as Littleton, Andrew Whitworth, Austin Blythe, Michael Brockers and Eric Weddle. You assess who might return and then the possibilities to replace them, either internally or externally. So it’s not necessarily a checklist, to where the front-office folks sit in a room and say, “OK, let’s start with Cory Littleton.” Everything is happening at once. Specific to Littleton, since you asked about him, negotiations have been ongoing for a quite a while and obviously nothing has been completed. That’s not a great sign if you’re hoping to see him back in 2020.




    It seems as though it’s at least a possibility. Reports surfaced over the weekend...
    -12-25-2019, 01:32 PM
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