*** The following post is the first chapter from my book, Breaking Down the 2018 L.A. Rams Offense. The first chapter of the book focuses on the personal character and leadership of coach McVay, and, in turn, the culture that his character/leadership allows him to develop within the team. As the first chapter explains, without the work ethic and humility that McVay has developed within himself, the genius of the Rams’ scheme would not exist. Without McVay’s leadership (which stems from his personal character), the Rams championship-level culture would not exist leading to poor execution of the scheme, no matter how ‘genius’ it was. I believe anyone can learn from the example set by McVay to become a better version of themselves and to become a more effective leader.
PERSONAL CHARACTER, LEADERSHIP, & TEAM CULTURE
“Sean McVay is a genius.” This is a sentiment that has been echoed by many people. This praise of McVay mirrors that of Bill Walsh when he was first building his dynasty in San Francisco. In Walsh’s book, The Score Takes Care of Itself, he has a section titled “Don’t Let Anybody Call You a Genius” where he states that “when the “Genius” title turned on me, I backed away from it as far as I could get.” I would guess that McVay would express similar feelings to the ‘genius’ label. While McVay is definitely a smart guy, I believe calling him a ‘genius’ is misguided. While McVay and his staff may have created a ‘genius’ scheme, crediting all of this to McVay’s natural intellect ignores his work ethic and other character traits that have led to his success. This also ignores McVay’s leadership abilities and does not recognize the rest of his staff for their contributions in developing the scheme. In addition to this, the team culture of the Rams, which stems from McVay and his staff’s leadership, plays just as big of a role in the success of the team as the scheme does. Former Michigan head football coach, Bo Schembechler, famously said, “I’ve always believed eye-popping innovation is not as important as perfect execution.” The way the Rams think, the attitude they take towards their work, and the way they go about their day-to-day business, in other words, their culture, is what allows them to execute the scheme to the best of their abilities. So, as the chart shows below, everything starts with the leader’s personal character.
Throughout the Brees-Payton era in New Orleans, the Saints have consistently finished as one of the top passing offenses in the NFL. Since 2012, the Saints have finished as one of the top 5 drop-back passing offenses in the NFL each season (in terms of yards per play).
While much of this success needs to be accredited to Drew Brees and other great players that the Saints have had over this period, their scheme has done a good job of maximizing the talent they have had over the years. A staple of Saints passing game over the years has been the Stick-Option concept. Below shows the combined statistics for their variations of this concept over the last 3 seasons (all of the stats from this article are based on the 2016-2018 seasons):
This article will go over the different variations of this concept that the Saints have used over the past 3 seasons. Below shows the basic structure of these concepts:
This preview will contain a few excerpts from the book to hopefully give the reader a good idea of what the book will be like. Hopefully, these excerpts can also give you some context on the Rams offense leading into the Super Bowl. There will be updates made to the book based on the Super Bowl, so the sections shown here will likely be slightly different when the book is released, but this is very close to what the final product will look like. There are 26 of the 359 pages shown below. The rest of the book follows the same structure to what is shown in the preview.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
INTRODUCTION – 1
CHAPTER 1: PERSONAL CHARACTER, LEADERSHIP, & TEAM CULTURE – 3
Dating back to at least his early Oregon days, a Y-Cross concept known as “Saints” has been a staple of Chip Kelly’s offense. This was the #1 ran passing concept for both Oregon and the Eagles during Kelly’s tenure there. Here are the stats for “Saints” over Chip Kelly’s last 5 years in coaching: * Passer Rating is based on NFL calculation.
In 2014, Willie Fritz’s first year at Georgia Southern in addition to the Eagles’ first year at the FBS level, Georgia Southern was an offensive juggernaut running their way to a Sun Belt Conference championship. The Eagles had won 7 games at the FCS level the year prior before going 9-3 at the FBS level under Willie Fritz. Georgia Southern was first in the nation in rushing yards per game at 381.1, first in rushing yards per attempt at 7.1, first in rushing touchdowns at 55, and second in yards per play at 7.34. They accomplished this using a unique shotgun option run scheme featuring primarily inside zone and power-based schemes. While much of their blocking schemes differed from the veer schemes traditional flexbone offenses such as Navy or Georgia Tech have used, they still utilized the same option principles and series-based approach to play calling.
Note: This article will focus solely on their 2014 season.
Georgia Southern’s run game in 2014 utilized 5 blocking schemes: Inside Zone, Power/Counter, Speed Option, Load Option, and Draw/Lead Draw. Much of their run game revolved around their “bread and butter” play, the inside zone read. They could run the zone read as either a double or triple option play, and was the base play which helped set up the majority of the offense. They had multiple plays which were designed to look like a zone read option play, but were really just called gives to the running back. They were able to stretch the field horizontally with their option game, which helped create misdirection when running their constraint plays. This negated the need for them to use extensive RPOs since they could account for defenders with their option fakes.