Key Rams Coach Switches Lock Rooms in LA, Helps Arizona in 2021
This past weekend, the Los Angeles Chargers announced they would be hiring Los Angeles Rams defensive coordinator, Brandon Staley, to serve as the team’s next head coach, replacing Anthony Lynn who was let go just a few weeks ago. Staley had previously served as the outside linebackers coach with the Chicago Bears (2017-2019) as well as the Denver Broncos (2019), both serving under defensive guru, Vic Fangio. The Rams brought Staley in for the 2020 season after firing Wade Phillips, who had the Rams defense ranked #13 in the league in terms of total yards/game (339.6) and #17 in the league in points/game (22.8) at the end of 2019. Under Staley, the Rams defense significantly improved to finishing #1 in both categories, 281.9 yds/game and 18.5 pts/game respectively. The Rams also added one more win to their 2020 record, finishing at 10-6 including a wild card appearance. The Rams took down the Seattle Seahawks on the road, 30-20, holding Russell Wilson to under 175 passing yards before being bounced by the top seed in the NFC, Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers.
Cardinals fans should be ecstatic that the architect of the best defense in their division, let alone the entire league this year has switched conferences. The Cardinals managed a combined 31 points against Phillips’ Rams in 2019, while managing 35 against Staley’s 2020 defense. This is a step forward for Arizona when taking into account that the offense did improve immensely with the improved quarterback play of Kyler Murray and the addition of DeAndre Hopkins to the receiving core; they are sure to see much higher production in 2021. The Cardinals were however outscored by LA, 56-35 in two combined games this season. 3 touchdowns separated these teams. That’s it. I can’t speak for Vegas or the betting line, but I’m willing to bet that not only will the Cardinals trim that deficit in 2021, but that they will outscore the Rams next season.
While a coach can only do so much in terms of what happens on the field, there is no denying that the Rams took a huge step forward in 2020 on the defensive side of the ball, a step that is sure to see regression this upcoming season without Brandon Staley at the helm of that unit.