Rams coach Sean McVay shouldn’t be stunned. Neither is cornerback Troy Hill nor security Jordan Fuller.
When Brandon Staley coordinated the Rams protection in 2020, the unit statistically ranked because the NFL’s greatest. Now, in his second season as a head coach, Staley has the Chargers headed to the playoffs.
“The first time I met him, you could tell, like, he was a great football mind,” Hill mentioned Wednesday. “He was all about ball.
“He would always say, ‘Can’t get tired of talking about ball.’ You could tell he really cared about it, and it was his passion.”
The Rams will face Staley for the primary time in a regular-season recreation Sunday at SoFi Stadium.
The Rams, eradicated from playoff rivalry two weeks in the past, are 5-10 after final Sunday’s 51-14 victory over the Denver Broncos.
The Chargers on Monday improved to 9-6 and clinched a playoff spot with a 20-3 victory over the Indianapolis Colts.
McVay led the Rams to the playoffs in his first season in 2017. It was the Rams’ first playoff look since 2004.
It took Staley two seasons for the Chargers to finish what had grown to a three-year playoff drought.
“He had a drive and a motivation and a love and a passion for the game that’s as strong as anybody I’ve been around,” McVay mentioned.
After the Rams missed the playoffs in 2019, McVay fired defensive coordinator Wade Phillips and employed the then 37-year-old Staley.
McVay was intrigued partially as a result of Staley had labored for the Chicago Bears as a linebackers coach in 2018, when Vic Fangio was defensive coordinator for a unit that dominated in a 15-6 Rams defeat at Soldier Area. When the Denver Broncos employed Fangio as head coach in 2020, Staley moved with him.
McVay mentioned Wednesday that Staley “definitely put his own spin” on Fangio’s system.
“From the time of his interview, we immediately hit it off,” McVay mentioned, including, “You just learn about the drive, the consistent approach, the relentless approach to try to be able to find solutions, put players in the right positions. … He’s a great coach. Learned a lot from him.”
In 2020, the Rams ranked first within the NFL in whole protection, giving solely 281.9 yards per recreation. They gave up a league-low 18.5 factors and 190.7 yards passing per recreation, and ranked third in speeding protection, giving up 91.3 yards per recreation.
The Rams completed with a 10-6 file and defeated the Seattle Seahawks in an NFC wild-card playoff recreation earlier than shedding within the divisional spherical to the Inexperienced Bay Packers.
The day after the Rams’ loss, the Chargers employed Staley.
Final season, the Chargers completed 9-8 and missed the playoffs.
Now they’re sure for the postseason.
Fuller, a third-year professional, recalled the steering he obtained as a rookie from Staley.
“He gave me so much different knowledge on football in general, how to play certain things,” mentioned Fuller, who’s on injured reserve due to a hamstring damage. “He was one of the people who believed in me too.
“So, grateful to him and happy that they’ve had success. But, hopefully, not too much this week.”
The Chargers protection options edge rusher Khalil Mack and security Derwin James Jr. amongst others, together with former Rams defensive linemen Sebastian Joseph-Day and Morgan Fox, and linebacker Troy Reeder.
The Chargers have given up 22.9 factors a recreation, which ranks twenty second amongst 32 groups. They’re in ninth in move protection (201.9 yards per recreation) and twenty sixth in speeding protection (140.5 ypg).
However the Chargers haven’t given up greater than 17 factors in three straight victories over the Miami Dolphins, Tennessee Titans and the Colts.
McVay acknowledges Staley’s scheme from their season along with the Rams.
“You can see some similar principles,” McVay mentioned, “but then also the evolution that’s he’s had over the last couple years to fit to what they’re doing with the Chargers.”
And so on.
Offensive lineman Oday Aboushi is anticipated to begin at proper guard after NFL appeals officers diminished one-game suspensions to fines for Aboushi and Broncos exterior linebacker Randy Gregory for his or her roles in an altercation after the Rams’ victory final Sunday at SoFi Stadium. Gregory was fined $50,000, Aboushi $12,000. “The video proved everything,” Aboushi mentioned. “I thought they made the right call.”… Tight finish Tyler Higbee (relaxation), offensive lineman Ty Nsehke (sickness), defensive lineman Aaron Donald (ankle), receiver Ben Skowronek (calf), middle Brian Allen (calf) and quarterback John Wolford (neck) didn’t follow. Defensive lineman Marquise Copeland (ankle) and linebacker Travin Howard (hip) had been restricted.