The Los Angeles Rams were forced to usher in some major changes to their coaching staff following the 2020 NFL season.
Although most of the attention has been fixed on the departure of defensive coordinator Brandon Staley, they also had a notable void to fill with their special teams coordinator since replacing John Bonamengo after an underwhelming debut season in Los Angeles. The onus will now fall on Joe DeCamillis to get this group back on track.
While the defense flourished and the offense struggled, the Rams’ special teams also struggled to make much of an impact throughout the course of the year. Fortunately, DeCamillis already has an idea of where this unit can improve.
DeCamillis covered a number of topics during his introductory press conference. As far as the kicking game goes, he plans to put an emphasis on condensing the field, via Stu Jackson of the team’s official website:
DeCamillis wants punt and kickoff coverage units to condense the field as much as possible, and “we’ve got a great punter to do that, and the kicker I think is going to get better as we go.”
DeCamillis added that they will be trying to do the opposite by spreading the field when it comes to the return game and they are looking for a better returner to execute that:
In the return game, DeCamillis said “you want to spread the field, make it as wide as you can, get as many gaps as you can,” and “we’ve got to get a great returner. We’ve got to get a guy that can ring the bell and drop the ball over the goal line.” That phase is still being assessed by DeCamillis, who later added that an effective return game starts with great blocking.
DeCamillis certainly has good reason to be optimistic given the weapons at his disposal. Of course, the challenge now lies in being able to utilize their talent to the fullest.
Punter Johnny Hekker struggled to find his footing during the 2020 campaign after registering the worst punting average of his stellar nine-year career. Regardless, his status as a four-time first-team All-Pro means there is plenty of potential for a resurgence next season.
The Rams went through a number of different placekickers to start the season before they finally settled on Matt Gay. His performance down the stretch gives them much more stability at the position going into the offseason.
Of course, the biggest question remains on whether or not long snapper Jake McQuaide will be back as he gets set to hit the market as an unrestricted free agent.
Additionally, it appears they will try to replace return man Nsimba Webster, who made a number of mistakes in 2020.