Able to adapt to many different functions
That word “versatility” is simply a buzzword today. When the season starts, it will be the bread and butter of the Rams defense. In short, it means that the LA Rams defense will be able to adapt to many different functions. How that works in defense is the key. Since offensive coordinators have become so effective at cracking the basic defensive formation codes, Staley’s route is to improve the encryption of the defensive formation.
The concepts will be based in the Fangio philosophy, where defenses show zone coverage, but transform into man coverage. That’s very similar to the defense Wade Phillips uses as well, and one of the key reasons why McVay sought Staley to be Phillips successor as defensive coordinator.
The match zone defense is very much like basketball, where defenders play man to man with a receiver, but hand that player off to another defender to cover at a specific range. Former Rams DC Phillips explained the match zone like this:
"“We say, ‘Hey, you’re playing this zone, but when a guy comes over there, you match with him,’” Phillips explained. “You pass it off, just like in basketball. When another guy comes there, you go there. That’s the simple way to tell you how we played matchup zone. We play a lot of match zone, but people think we’re playing man-to-man. Hopefully that confuses them. It probably confused you already.” – per interview with Rich Kurtzman, Broncoswire.usatoday.com"
That begs the question, what are the differences we can expect for the Rams 3-4 defense right out of the gates?