clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Rams have embraced Patriots-like mentality over 2023 offseason

Sean McVay continues to learn from 2018 Super Bowl loss and admiration of Bill Belichick.

Los Angeles Rams Offseason Workout Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

The 2018 Super Bowl loss to Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots was a pivotal moment in the development of Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay. Much of who the young head coach is today — and the unbridled ambition that resulted in a victory in Super Bowl LVI —s tems from that game.

McVay has always publicly expressed admiration for Belichick’s success and tactics, and LA’s lead man has embraced a very Patriots-like approach to the 2023 offseason.

While the Rams running game has been anemic over the last couple of seasons, McVay hired former Patriots offensive lineman and former Buffalo Bills assistant coach Ryan Wendell to lead the OL group. Wendell has changed the offensive line room pretty significantly already, opting for larger bodies and a more physical presence from the men up front.

Los Angeles also added New England’s tight ends coach Nick Caley, who will hold the same title under McVay. Caley was passed up last season when the Patriots were searching for a new offensive coordinator—instead opting for a head scratching combination of Joe Judge and Matt Patricia.

New England Patriots v Las Vegas Raiders
Nick Caley with Matt Patricia
Photo by Chris Unger/Getty Images

McVay is likely hoping that the additions of Wendell and Caley could help his offense become more multiple on the ground, and deploy gap schemes in addition to their staple zone plays. As the Vic Fangio-Brandon Staley style of defense continues to gain popularity across the NFL, it will be important to run vertically at opposing defenses that are pushing players deeper into the secondary versus closer to the line of scrimmage. Running east to west is starting to lose it’s efficiency, and it’s time the Rams find a way to adjust.

But McVay and the Rams’ offseason has more similarities than the coaching hires that have direct New England roots. One of the hallmarks of the Patriots’ long-term success is that they are able to re-load each and every year by pulling together whatever resources they can come up with.

Most of the time this comes in the form of veteran signings with a short-term length, and Belichick has done this over and over. Whether it’s a player who has fallen out of favor elsewhere around the league or were pigeon holed into a role that miscast their skillset, the Patriots have always seemed to get the most out of unheralded veterans that are still available deep into the offseason.

It’s a strategy that is probably easier said than done. If it was simple every team around the league would emulate the approach that has brought New England success year after year.

But the Rams have maybe caught a few of those sparks this offseason by bringing in receivers Demarcus Robinson and Tyler Johnson, finding a starting corner in Ahkello Witherspoon, as well as reuniting with safety John Johnson. Robinson has been one of the stars of training camp, and he seems to be ascending the depth chart while Van Jefferson routinely sits out of practice. LA also signed Sony Michel—who recently announced his retirement from professional football—and the team signed Royce Freeman as his veteran replacement amongst a stable of very young running backs.

Adding veterans to a roster with more than 40 rookies can be a difficult balance to strike. How do you ensure young players that you’ve made draft capital investments in get quality opportunities before you cast them to the side? Can you thread the needle between giving your team its best chance to win now without sacrificing for the future? Playing time for these young Rams will be of the upmost importance, and it will be interesting to see how short-term veteran signings might thwart their development.

With that said, you cannot deny the obvious influence that Bill Belichick and the Patriots had on the 2023 offseason for Sean McVay and the Rams. There are connections both from a schematic and personnel perspective, and we could see more of these New England-esque moves from Los Angeles as the franchise pivots to a more sustainable salary cap future.

Los Angeles Rams v Buffalo Bills Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images