Sometimes being trapped between a rock and a hard place is a good position to be in, and that proved true with Head Coach Sean McVay. In Week 2 against the New Orleans Saints, Los Angeles Rams’ starting tight end Tyler Higbee suffered a chest injury which sidelined him the remainder of that game, as well as Week 3.
The injury forced McVay to use more of Gerald Everett, an elite mismatch tight end the Rams hardly ever feature. Here’s Everett’s snap counts by week:
Week 1: 30 (39.5%)
Week 2: 48 (71.6%)
Week 3: 56 (87.5%)
Week 4: 50 (56.2%)
Week 5: 58 (80.6%)
Coincidentally, Everett’s targets have increased every week since Week 3:
Week 1: 1 target
Week 2: 4 targets
Week 3: 2 targets
Week 4: 8 targets
Week 5: 11 targets
When looking at the Rams’ Week 5 contest versus the Seattle Seahawks, the gameplan was adjusted to include more 12 personnel sets (one running back, two tight ends) as opposed to 11 personnel (one running back, one tight end). McVay has become famous for his extensive use of 11 personnel, though he showed the ability to adjust:
After using 11 personnel on 85% of plays YTD Sean McVay switched things up vs SEA.— Warren Sharp (@SharpFootball) October 9, 2019
Used 11 on only 58% of snaps & 12 on 36% of snaps (up from 5% YTD).
Problem was predictability:
100% pass on 38 snaps in 11
71% run on 24 snaps in 12
• the 7 passes from 12 were all play action
The adjustment to 12 personnel resulted in a cleaner and more balanced attack. Quarterback Jared Goff had arguably his best performance this season, as his yards per attempt figure was the second highest of any game this year. Everett — who saw extensive usage — secured seven receptions for 136 yards receiving on 11 targets, leading the team in both categories.
Everett’s crisp route running, speed, movement ability in space, and ability to create yards after the catch proved to be a thorn in the Seahawks’ side. Everett made the big catch-and-run in the dying seconds in the fourth quarter to give the Rams a shot to win the game on a 44-yard field goal which was ultimately missed.
Here’s what 12 personnel allowed the Rams to do in Week 5 (all stats courtesy of Team Rankings):
Yards Per Rush Attempt: 4.6 (14th)
Yards Per Play: 7.1 (6th)
First Downs Per Play: 0.358 (10th)
Yards Per Pass Attempt: 8.1 (7th)
It’s evident the usage of more personnel groupings, as well as the utilization of athletic mismatch Gerald Everett allowed the Rams to be more explosive and productive on offense. The gameplan in Week 6 will be an intriguing one as the San Francisco 49ers are among the best defenses in the league.
Will the Rams transition into a more balanced attack that features another dangerous weapon?
Only time will tell.