2019 was a tough season for the team and coaching staff. It’s doubly difficult for a team to win after a Cinderella-like rise to the top. Just like the Super Bowl, Coach McVay tried too hard in 2019, trying to push his agenda, his playbook, onto the field to defenses who were well-prepared to thwart their efforts. While the offense was still rather successful, it could not overcome the defense which struggled to stop the run and special teams’ play that plummeted to the bottom third of the NFL.
It all forced McVay to look at himself in the mirror, and admit his vulnerability. Despite a solid defensive performance in the Super Bowl, he wanted a more responsive defense. And so, out with veteran defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, and in with rookie defensive coordinator Brandon Staley. Along the same lines, McVay realized that he cannot be the only voice to the offense. And so, he brought in an offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell to keep him honest.
A team over individual
Give McVay credit. He was wise enough to know that he cannot do this alone. Knowing one’s limits is a test of humility, which is an essential element of success. But he was also wise enough to know that the LA Rams was out of synch. The defense did what it did, special teams did what it did, and the offense did what it did. But there was no common ground. The greatest step forward in 2020 is that the Rams have placed coordination back into the coordinator roles. Now, the offense, defense, and special teams will aim to complement one another.
Winning is more than just outscoring opponents. To win more than half of the games, teams must win in a variety of ways. Sometimes the offense must carry the team. But other times the defense must win the day. And on still other occasions, a special teams’ play must be the key to victory. The Rams are tapping into that synergy this season. Perhaps just in the nick of time, as 2020 suddenly looms as one of the most important seasons of Sean McVay’s head coaching career.