Sean McVay and the Rams are rolling into 2020 much differently than they did in 2018. The offense isn’t as explosive, the defense is expected to take a step back, and the kicking situation is unproven. Put simply, most positions are worse now than in 2018. When the talent of the personnel isn’t dominant like in that year, the scheme and play-calling become much more critical to the overall success of the team. More than any previous year, Head Coach McVay must know that his ability to scheme will determine the success of the Rams this year.
Ability Of Sean McVay To Scheme Will Determine 2020 Outlook
No Defense? Big Problems
Many teams can have their offensive shortcomings bailed out by their defense from time to time. However, McVay cannot count on that this season. With a rookie defensive coordinator in Brandon Staley, the downgrade at cornerback from Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters to Jalen Ramsey and Troy Hill (with Ramsey being a push and Hill being a big step back) combined with the loss of linebackers Cory Littleton, Dante Fowler, and Clay Matthews, the defense is likely to be a constant liability. Put simply, the Rams defense could quite easily fall from 16th-best in points per game well into the 20s.
Less Talent? More Difficult
The young veteran coach also cannot use his offensive personnel to steamroll teams like in years past. Without Brandin Cooks and with a struggling offensive line, an unknown situation at running back, and the advent of quarterback Jared Goff’s near-complete inability to singlehandedly take over a game, McVay’s scheme will be the crutch from which this offense needs to operate.
However, all is not lost with the offense as the team still has enough pieces to put together a winning offense if used correctly. With receivers, Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp, Van Jefferson and tight ends Tyler Higbee, and Gerald Everett as well as the second-round running back Cam Akers, the offense could get humming if the pieces are used with the utmost efficiency. In other words, McVay’s scheme needs to be the focal point of this offense and it needs to be one that can adapt and exploit the schematic weaknesses of the opposing teams that the Rams will face. Otherwise worded, the scheme needs to be three steps ahead of opposing defenses, in order to stay ahead of Staley’s leaky defense, and in order to recover from an expected uptick in wasted drives due to field goal misses by rookie kicker Samuel Sloman.
No Offense? Game Over For McVay
In the end, McVay needs to resemble Chiefs Head Coach Andy Reid in how he unlocks opposing schemes. He can do this by tweaking his play calls to put receivers on the best routes to find holes in zone coverages and discover matchup weaknesses in man-to-man coverages. This will maximize each play of the offense and make it as easy as possible for Jared Goff to hit the open man with his first read or allow the running back to run into a defensive coverage that is playing back, expecting a pass. Put briefly, the young coach will need to take on the burden of manufacturing offense because the days of steamrolling opposing teams with overwhelming talent and simple schemes are in the past.