The Los Angeles Rams are coming off of a bye week in Week 11 prior to playing the Seattle Seahawks. A bye week is a good time for teams to self-reflect and make adjustments. That will especially be the case for the Rams coming off of a three-game losing streak. Here are five adjustments that the Rams should make coming out of their bye week.
1. Utilize Quentin Lake at the ‘star role’
The Rams started the season with Cobie Durant as their primary slot defender and the player in the “star” role that was left vacant by Jalen Ramsey. Over the past few weeks, Quentin Lake has taken over that role and thrived.
In the two weeks prior to the Rams’ bye week, Lake was allowing 0.62 yards per snap from the slot, ranking him ninth out of 26 defensive backs with at least 35 slot reps. Lake has also been very good in the run game. He’s been the physical presence that the Rams have lacked in the secondary.
2. Offense needs more vertical concepts
The Rams offense has been missing a lot of the vertical concepts and deep shots to help create explosives. Matthew Stafford ranks seventh in the NFL in deep passing (20+ yards) with a passer rating of 118.7. He’s completing 51.6% of those passes which ranks fifth. However, Stafford’s 31 passes of 20 or more yards ranks 17th. His 11.2% deep passing percentage ranks 21st.
This is partially to do with the offensive line. Stafford has the seventh-fastest average time to throw and his 58 percent of throws under 2.5 seconds ranks fifth in the NFL. The offense lacks a vertical element. It’s hard to say it’s because they don’t have the personnel considering TuTu Atwell has found success here in the past.
3. Be more multiple on offense
This leads into the Rams needing to be more multiple on offense. Among personnel tendencies with at least 40 plays run, the San Francisco 49ers’ 60 plays from 22 personnel leads the NFL with a 0.41 EPA per play. The Miami Dolphins have run 4 plays from 12 personnel and are right behind the 49ers at 0.36 EPA per play in that grouping. The Atlanta Falcons have found success in 13 personnel at 0.21 EPA per play. Baltimore has run 140 plays out of 21 personnel and average 0.21 EPA per play as well.
The Rams have run 92.4 percent of their plays from 11 personnel this season. No team has run a single personnel grouping more this season than the Rams have out of 11 personnel. The Rams are relatively predictable when they’re in 12 personnel as they have a 34.1 percent pass rate which is the second-lowest in the league.
Most teams run their offenses out of 11 personnel, but it’s about adding variety and getting more multiple. The Rams have the ability to utilize Brycen Hopkins, Tyler Higbee, and Davis Allen on the field together. They could use Kyren Williams and Darrell Henderson on the field together. It doesn’t need to be the primary offensive package, but it’s another wrinkle.
4. Less Michael Hoecht in coverage
No edge rusher has played more snaps in coverage this season than Michael Hoecht. Hoecht’s 111 coverage snaps lead all edge rushers with Miami’s Andrew Van Ginkel as the next closest with 76. The gap between Hoecht at one and Van Ginkel at two is the same as Van Ginkel at two and Jonathon Cooper at 13.
This is despite Hoecht having the second-worst coverage grade and allowing 18 receptions on 18 targets. His 10.2 yards per reception allowed ranked seventh. Putting Hoecht in coverage does allow Raheem Morris to disguise some blitz packages, but we need less of it.
5. Incorporate more play action into offense
Sean McVay consistently discusses the marriage between the run and the pass in defining a successful offense. The issue has been that they are two very separate entities right now in the Rams offense. Despite the Rams having a successful running game, ranking fifth in the NFL in rushing success rate, Stafford only ranks 34th in play-action dropback percentage at 16.8 percent.
That’s down from 24.3 percent in 2022 and 23.5 percent in 2021. The 16.8 play-action dropback percentage would be one of the lowest rates of Stafford’s career. He hasn’t been lower than 20 percent since 2018 and his lowest is 14.1 percent in 2016. McVay needs to bring the run and passing game together and that starts with play-action.