An outstanding strategy that Bill Belichick has relied on over the years is to focus on neutralizing an opponent's star skill player – his top receiver, his most dynamic ending, or his most explosive race – and reinforce the other players to force. There is only one question about this strategy for the Patriots when they face these Rams this Sunday: Who is the best offensive player in LA?
The Rams have an incredibly balanced skillgroup down the line, with two de facto no. 1 recipient in Robert Woods and Brandin Cooks, an all-rounder in Josh Reynolds and a versatile couple in Tyler Higbee and Gerald Everett. But there is no real man in this group. Even All-Pro, who runs back to Todd Gurley, is a part-time player in late, splitting reruns with a resurgent CJ Anderson, and if the Rams can win, with Gurley halfway on the sidelines ̵
That's the beauty of the Rams-Juggernaut offense: Los Angeles does not need a star player to carry the group. Yes, it's a talented unit, but its true strength is that it's also one of the most flexible in the league. With so much interchangeability in Sean McVay's system – almost every player in this group can play multiple roles – it's hard for any defense to focus on just one thing. The Rams are more than just an offense in the league, and they seem to be able to counter Belichick's crazy scientists – and that could be the difference for L.A. in Super Bowl LIII.
The Patriots' 37-31 victory over the Chiefs in the championship round was an easy decision to build their defense plan around the league's most unique striker, Tyreek Hill. They doubled the first-team All-Pro receiver in almost every game, limiting it to just three goals on just one catch. This opened up a bit for Kansas City's other offensive players, but Hill was largely taken out of the Downs attack of the Chiefs, K.C. all that was missing was someone who was able to change the speed of the home run, and Patrick Mahomes II and Co. failed throughout the first half. There are just not many players in the world who have Hill & # 39; s explosiveness as a Downfield Pass Catcher.
The Rams have no receivers that can match Hill's playmaker talent, but they have some much-needed redundancy in the roles of each pass-catcher or rewind player. "It's helpful to be as balanced as we are," Shane Waldron, L.A.'s pass-game coordinator, told me this week. "If a team wants to try to take something away, we can usually find it elsewhere."
L.A.'s offense bears some resemblance to that of New England, as it is able to be offensive chameleons. If there is a defense to stop Gurley, Anderson, and the run game, quarterback Jared Goff has proved that he can carry the team with his arm. We saw it in New Orleans in the championship round: the Saints stifled the Rams's ground clearance and kept them at only 77 yards and 3.0 yards per carry, but Goff rose in the second half with nasty throws in the second half. And if a team is too focused on stopping the pass and bringing the players back to try to compete, the Rams have little problem, just throw them into the dust with a Smashmouth Run game to beat. In her victory in the division rounds against the Cowboys L. A. has played the ball amazingly 48 times, collecting 273 yards and three points on the ground.
There is also another level of redundancy in each phase. In the run game, Gurley and Anderson have different styles – Gurley's slasher at homer speed, while Anderson is more of a downfield tackle breaker, a combination that allows the Rams to mix running concepts and keep the defense on their heels – but both can be a sustainable advantage that can carry more than 30 covers in one game.
In the transient attack, this is a similar story: if a defense of Cook's would turn on, Woods would be right there to make up the gap; If they tried to shut down Woods, both Cooks and Reynolds could take over. And no matter which player an opponent wants to take away, the Rams have trained all their receivers to stand somewhere on the field and execute the schematic concepts they rely so heavily on. All three can play outside and everyone has a lot of experience with the slot. In the two playoff wins by L.A. against Cowboys and Saints, Cooks and Reynolds stood in a row on about a third of their distances, and Woods was 58 percent. "If you have intelligent receivers that can be placed in all different places, you can move them," says Waldron. "All three guys can drive off all three levels of the routes and set up in several places."
This versatility is the lifeblood of the entire Rams attack. The Rams had 90 percent of their games this season from eleven employees – a look with three receivers, a back and a one-tight-end – and while they relied more frequently in the playoffs on two-tight-end sets The three recipient groups continue to form the basis of the system. Crucially, both in run play and in pass attack, L.A can achieve all of his goals with this look, as each player on the field can perform so many different tasks. The narrow ends of the Rams can execute routes and their receivers can block. As McVay recently noted, the Rams are "12- and 21-employee concepts (heavier utterances that have two narrow ends or two back ridges). 'We only make it 11 because we have receivers ready to block' – and Rams' brilliant, playful head coach is not afraid to use as many variations and permutations of the same offensive game as he can. Spray with a healthy dose of misguidance, and the defense just never knows what's coming.
"You do not know who gets blocked. They do not know who will get the fly-sweeper. They do not know who is going deep, who is running out. They do not know if our quarterback will run, "Woods told me this week. "There are only a lot of weapons in our attack. You never know what's coming.
Here's an example of what he means:
Woods is very pleased when he plays in this relatively balanced gender equality system. "Not only are you [playing your role in the offense] for your brother, but you are rewarded as well. you also get your games, "he said. "Not only do they carry out clear-out routes, they not only block full-time. You can get the ball. You are excited when you play these pieces because you feel part of them.
"They could block a defensive end, and Brandin Cooks runs 60 meters lower to play a game," Woods said. "And I contributed to this piece. All these things you are asked to play, even if you do not have the ball in your hand. "
Belichick knows that defending all these different permutations will force the defense into a trap. "[McVay’s] has four or five things that I'd say are quite specific to their offenses," the Patriot Coach said last week. "I'm not going to say that we've never met her before, but I think the way they do, they go well together. They somehow merge together. … They mix it up so it's different, but it's the same, but it's different. It's hard for the defense to really differentiate or be in the right place.
To make the defense even more complicated, each of the players in the Rams variable system must accommodate every potential with a little of their own direction permutation. "One of the coolest things [about our scheme] is that you get completely different body types and athletic qualities and then try to maximize them," Waldron said. "In the Jet Sweeps, for example, we realized we could put in many different types: Now it's up to us [Reynold’s] – well, he has it and he's the long-stripe, the slick athlete and he has his own style the jet sweeps.
This is akin to a team using a "thunder and lightning" retreat committee to keep track of opposing defenders. The moment a defender thinks he has the right timing to attack a man, another athlete comes into play to drop him off.
However, what sets the Aries apart from other teams is not just a great program or their athlete collection. It is the ability of these players to consistently execute. "Execution," Reynolds replied when asked to name the most important attribute of the Rams offense. "You see many of these games run by other teams in the league, but the performance is not that good. So you do not see that it works for them. That's the kind of stuff we watch. It's good to see – it's because we do it better than it does. "
Ultimately, Belichick can not simply focus on taking just one player away from the Rams – his defense would be eaten alive by LA. & # 39; s other playmaker. And since this is Belichick, he definitely has something else up his sleeve. When asked last week how the Rams played hard during a conference call, Belichick gave an answer that clarified the problem if one focused too much on stopping some of Rams' offensive puzzle. "Yes, they are very good at [play-action]," he said. "But here they are good at everything. They are good at guiding the ball. They are good at game actions. They are good in screens; They are good at the deep ball. They are good at catch-and-run games. They are good at everything. "