One of the distinctive strategies that Bill Belichick has relied on for many years is to focus on neutralizing the main player of the opponent — his best receiver, their most dynamic narrow end or their most explosive garbage — and forcing the other players of this team to step up. There is only one question that hangs over this strategy for the Patriots when they encounter this Rams this Sunday: who is even the best forward LA?
Rams can boast an incredibly balanced group of skills in all directions, with no two actually. 1 receiver in Robert Woods and Brandina Cooks, the universal pass catcher in Josh Reynolds and a pair of universal hard ends in Tyler Higby and Gerald Everett. But in this group there is no real amateur guy. Even All-Pro, running back Todd Gurley, has recently been working part-time, sharing repetitions with resurgent CJ Anderson, and if Rems can win with Gurley standing aside for half the game – as they did in the championship round Saints – no one knows who will be at the intersection of Belichick this week.
That's the beauty of the Rams attack: Los Angeles does not rely on a single star player carrying a group. Yes, this is a talented division, but its real strength is that it is also one of the most flexible in the championship. With so much interchangeability built into the scheme of Sean McVey — almost any player in this group can play several roles — any defense is difficult to focus on to kill only one thing. More than any violation in the league, Rams look capable of resisting the intrigues of the mad scientist Belichick – and this may be a difference for LA in the Super Bowl LIII.
In the Patriots' victory over the leaders in the 37-31 championship round, it was easy to decide on a defensive game around the most explosive league player, Tyrik Hill. They doubled the All-Pro first-team receiver in almost every game, limiting it to only one catch for three goals. This, of course, opened up some of the opportunities for other Kansas City strikers, but with Hill, mostly carried away from the passing pass of the leaders, K.S. there was simply no one who could intervene to replicate this game-changing home run speed, and Patrick Mahomes II and Co. could not score in the entire first half. There are just not so many players on the ground with Hill's explosive ability as a catcher of a passage down the field.
The Rams have no receivers that could match the Hilmeyking talent, but they have some much-needed redundancy in the roles that each passing catcher or backward plays. “This is useful when you are balanced, like us,” Shane Waldron, LA play coordinator, told me this week. "If the team wants to try to pick something up, we can find it somewhere else."
Crime LA bears some resemblance to the New England crime in that they can be abusive chameleons. If the defense is loading to stop Gurley, Anderson and the run, defender Jared Goff has proven that he can carry the team with his hand. We saw this in New Orleans in the championship round: The Saints suppressed Rams' ground game, holding them only 77 yards and 3.0 yards per carry, but Goff came out in the second half with some outstanding throws during the crunch. And if the team is too focused on stopping the passage, throwing the players back to the coverage area to try to match, Remnoff has a small problem, just scoring them with the help of the game with a breakdown. In his divisional victory over the Cowboys, LA surprisingly ran the ball 48 times, gaining 273 yards and three points on the ground.
Each phase also has a different level of redundancy. In the game “Run”, Gurley and Anderson have different styles – Gurley – a slasher with a home strike speed, and Anderson has more catcher gear, a combination that gives Rems the ability to mix running concepts and keep defenses on heels – but both can be a permanent leader which can cope with more than 30 shifts in the game.
In a passing attack, this is a similar story: if the defense were for Cook, Woods would be here to correct the slack; if they try to lock Woods, then both the cook and Reynolds will be able to take on his role. And no matter what player the opponent is trying to take away, the Rams trained all their receivers to line up anywhere on the field and carry out the schematic concepts they rely on so much. All three can play on the street, and everyone has a lot of experience playing games from the slot. In two victories L.A. in the playoffs over the Cowboys and the Saints, cooks and Reynolds lined up about a third of their routes inside, and Woods was there 58 percent of the time. “When you have smart receivers that can line up at different points, you can move them,” Waldron said. "All three guys can run all three levels of routes and line up in several places."
This versatility is the lifeblood of the entire Rams crime. This season, Rams played 90% of their games of 11 people – a glance with three recipients, one on the back and one end, and although they often relied on two narrow ends in the playoffs, the personnel teams with three recipients continue to form the basis scheme. It is important to note that LA can achieve all his goals from this type, both in running game, and in passing attack, because each player on the field can perform so many different tasks. The narrow ends of the sheep can lay routes, and their receivers can block — as McVeigh recently noted, sheep “work with 12 and 21 personnel.” concepts (heavier looks that will have two narrow ends or two running backs), we just make it out of 11 because we have receivers who are ready to block, ”and the brilliant Rems head coach is not afraid to use so many variations and permutations the same attacking game as he can. Sprinkle a healthy dose of the wrong direction, and the defense simply never knows what will happen.
“You do not know who is going to block; You do not know who is going to get a fly; You do not know who will run deep, who runs; You don't know if our defender will work, ”Woods told me this week. “In our attack, just a lot of weapons. You never know what will happen. ”
Here is one example of what he means:
Woods, for example, enjoys playing with this relatively balanced system of equal opportunities. "You are not only [playing your role in the offense] for your brother, but you also get a reward; you get your plays too, ”he said. “You are not only doing open routes, you are not only blocking full-time work; You can get the ball. You get excited when you do these plays because you feel like a part of it.
“Perhaps you are blocking the defense, and Branden Cooks runs 60 yards down to play,” said Woods. “And you know, I participated in this play. All these things you are asked to do, you play, even when you do not have the ball in your hand. ”
Belichick knows that the protection of all these various permutations will put a defense at a standstill. "[McVay’s] I have four or five things that I would say are quite specific to their crime, ”said the Patriots coach last week. “I will not say that we have never seen them before, but I think that, as they do, they combine well with each other. They seem to merge with each other. … They mix it up so that it is different, but it is the same, but it is different. It is difficult for a defender to really differentiate or get to the right place. ”
The situation is complicated by the fact that each of the players in a variable Rams scheme contributes its own taste to each potential permutation. "One of the cool things [about our scheme] This is what you get completely different body types, athletic qualities, and then try to make the most of them, ”Waldron said. "One thing that we discovered, for example, using jet shooting, is that we were able to use a lot of different guys: now this [Reynold’s] a twist – well, he gets it, and he's so long-legged, this sleek athlete, and he has his own style on the jet sweeps. ”
It’s like a team using a thunder-and-lightning-type running committee to keep opponents on their heels. At that moment, when the defender believes that he does not have time to defeat one guy, another type of athlete comes to throw him away.
However, what distinguishes Baranov from other teams is not just a great scheme or their collection of athletes. This is the ability of these players to perform consistently. "Execution," Reynolds replied when asked to name the most important sign of a Rams crime. “You see a lot of these games that other teams are in the league, but the performance is not so good. So you do not see that it works for them. These are the things we look at; good to see – this is because we do it better than they do. ”
Ultimately, Belichik cannot just concentrate on picking only one player on the Rams – his defense will be eaten alive by other playmakers L.А. And since this is Belichik, he will definitely have something else up his sleeve. When asked last week about how Rams is actively using the game action on a conference call, Belichik gave an answer illustrating the problem of focusing too much on stopping one piece of Rams’s offensive puzzle. "Yes, they are very good [play-action], "he said." But again, they are good at everything. They are good at running around the ball; they are good at playing; they are good at the screens; they are good at the deep ball; they are good at catching and running. They are good in all.