LA Rams starting quarterback Jared Goff needed help in 2019, help which never arrived. It has arrived this season, and he is the new Rams offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell
The LA Rams struggled noticeably on offense in 2019, perhaps the first time in young quarterback Jared Goff‘s four season career when that has happened. Isn’t that something? Rams quarterback Jared Goff is just now entering his fifth season, and he’s already a seasoned veteran quarterback with plenty of NFL playoff experience. He’s even played in the Super Bowl.
So it’s very easy to fail to look behind all that bravado and resume fodder and see Goff for who he truly was in 2019. A young NFL quarterback on an island. Running an NFL offense where it all fell upon him to make things happen. The Rams rushing offense combined for just1,499 yards. That is nearly the amount running back Todd Gurley rushed for in each of the previous two seasons.
Alone on an island, behind an offensive line decimated by injuries. At the time when the young man needed coaching support the most? The team failed him. No adapting the game plan to help the hurler. Not changing the plays to help protect the team’s franchise quarterback. Instead, a playbook laminated and hardbound, as rigid as that of Super Bowl 53. And almost as ineffective.
Thankfully, help has arrived in 2020 in the form of newly hired offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell. Until now, the Rams offense has been the brainchild of head coach Sean McVay almost exclusively. But a head coach has more on his plate than adjusting the offensive playbook or plays called individually based on the team’s opponent. With O’Connell, that is all about to change.
Give Goff his comfort zone
If you simply look at the Washington Redskins record, or even their offensive output, you’ve missed about 99.9 percent of O’Connell’s value. After all, Kevin O’Connell worked not only with Washington redskins quarterback Case Keenum, but also with rookie QB Dwayne Haskins. And it is that work with Haskins which is the most valuable asset O’Connell brings to his new role with the LA Rams.
O’Connell is less about finding talent to run HIS plays, and more about finding plays to emphasize the strengths of HIS quarterback. That’s huge, and a completely refreshing change to the Rams offensive philosophy.
Kevin O’Connell says his play calling has really evolved as Dwayne Haskins has progressed – the team works hard to figure out the best plays that still allow the QB to play fast
— JP Finlay (@JPFinlayNBCS) November 29, 2019
Adapting an offense to the quarterback’s strengths is the key to unlocking Goff’s true potential.
Paper tiger becomes on-field juggernaut
On paper, this LA Rams team’s offense is loaded with talent. The team has three wide receivers who can haul in over 1,000 yards each in WRs Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods, and Brandin Cooks. Toss in running back Todd Gurley, plus the fresh legs of Malcolm Brown and Darrell Henderson. For good measure, factor in the power of the two tight end sets of Tyler Higbee and Gerald Everett, and you have a formidable offense.
The offense has plenty of “oomph” on paper. But translating that into on-field production failed in 2019. That’s where O’Connell comes in. A perfect example was the stellar game planning used by the Washington Redskins against the Philadelphia Eagles late in the season. O’Connell abandoned the run early, and instead called a series of quick passes to bolster his young quarterback’s confidence. A steady mix of quick slants, short outs, and high percentage pass plays gave Washington an early lead against the eventual NFC division champions.
Now imagine that same “flex to the QB strengths” mindset applied to Goff and the Rams offense, and you begin to see the power of change.
O’Connell is not a miracle worker. He can’t faith heal injured offensive linemen, nor can he levitate Goff above the playing field to ensure he isn’t sacked over 20 times a season. But he can shorten the plays to speed up the release, given both quarterback and offensive line a fighting chance. The results may end up being very similar.
With few salary cap dollars and a soon to be very young offensive line, O’Connell is the perfect addition to the Rams coaching staff. The NFC West division is becoming the powerhouse of the NFL. Instead of fighting those strong defensive fronts, the LA Rams are stealing a page right out of the playbook of the New England Patriots. The Rams will outflank their opponents with quick plays and attack the defense’s weakness.
2020 is promising to be an exciting season for the LA Rams.