Rams hope 'diverse' attack can thwart Pats' defense

ATLANTA -- Bill Belichick is known as a master defensive schemer who can take away an opponent's best players, forcing the second, third and fourth options to win the game.

In Super Bowl LIII, the Los Angeles Rams bring a diverse set of skill players that make it difficult for defenses to clamp down on just one or two targets. Jared Goff is a cerebral, rising quarterback who can throw with accuracy. Todd Gurley and C.J. Anderson provide a speed and power combination. Brandin Cooks brings speed on the outside. Robert Woods is an over-the-middle menace. Josh Reynolds brings size to the receiver corps. And tight ends Tyler Higbee and Gerald Everett can be threats in both the pass and run games.

Behind Sean McVay's brilliant offensive mind, the Rams believe they have the weapons to counter whatever Belichick and the Patriots throw at them Sunday.

"I think it makes all 11 guys a dangerous weapon, you don't know who's going to block, you don't know who's get the fly-sweep, you don't know who's going to be running deep and who's going to be running short, you don't know if our quarterback's going to be running," Woods said. "Just a lot of weapons on our field, in our offense, you never know what's going to come."

Belichick has faced an offense that ranked top-five in scoring and total offense twice in the Super Bowl and won both matchups (Super Bowl XXXVI & LI). The Rams ranked second in scoring (32.9) and total offense (421.1) in 2018.

Woods noted that the diverse nature of the Rams' weapons give L.A. options if the Pats take away certain bread-and-butter plays.

"You never know what they're going to do," he said. "You know New England, they're going to switch it up, they're going to show something, switch it up. They did something totally new to Kansas City, so you never know what they're going to do. But I think it definitely helps us having all these weapons. Having two tight ends, having two backs, having multiple receivers, having a quarterback who can make the decision and tuck it, make the smart decisions and not throw the ball. I think all these things make our offense very dangerous."

That dangerous offense has missed one key piece down the stretch: Cooper Kupp. The slot receiver played an integral role in the offense, and was Goff's security blanket in key spots. In games Kupp played, Goff compiled more than a 111 passer rating. In games Kupp missed due to injury, the QB earned an 88.6 rating.

"We miss Cooper Kupp, great receiver for us, really just another weapon for this offense," Woods said. "When he went down it was a tough loss, but just adding Josh Reynolds to the mix, picking up the trio of guys, just adding a different style. We call him Big Smooth, just a long lanky guy being able to go up and get the ball. He knew he had to step in and fill Cooper's shoes and I think he's been doing well so far."

Even with the diverse receiving weapons, the Rams know opponents like Belichick will remain committed to stopping Gurley and the run game.

"If you don't stop the run, you're not going to stop us at all," Reynolds told NFL.com. "You're not stopping the run, you're not going to stop the play-action, you're not going to be ready for any of that."

In McVay's system, Goff used play action at the highest rate in the NFL this season (35.2 percent of dropbacks). If the Patriots take away the run game, and waylay the play action, the Rams still believe they have playmaking pass-catchers who can take advantage on Sunday.

"Unless you've got an All-Star secondary back there, it's going to be some mismatches around, even in the tight ends," Reynolds said.

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