FNF Coaches Talk — Sean McVay on Over-Preparation, Coverage vs. Pass Rush, a Coach’s Summer Checklist

Good afternoon, Coaches. Here are a few stories that we’re discussing in our newsroom today.

1. Rams coach Sean McVay believes he made mistake of over-preparing for Super Bowl (MMQB)

Three months ago, the Rams defense produced what could prove to be the most impressive forgotten Super Bowl performance in history. Tom Brady and the Patriots came in averaging 27.3 points a game in the regular season and 39 points a game in the playoffs, and Los Angeles held them to just 13.

Rams coach Sean McVay has watched the Super Bowl film a few times, the first being the Monday after the game.

“I was ready to talk a couple of hours after the game,” McVay says. “It would be spurts where [I would] be OK and then [suddenly] it was like, ‘I can’t flippin’ believe that we lost that game!’ Or you suddenly think, ‘I was so bad in that moment!” Then when you think you are past that, something comes up and again you’re like, ‘I can’t flippin’ believe that!’ But I really was over it in 48 hours.
“But you have to give the Patriots credit, they were their best when their best was demanded. And personally, I wasn’t good enough. I have to do a better job.”

McVay has thought about the adjustments he’ll make should the Rams “be fortunate enough to return” to a Super Bowl—and much of it would be in his personal preparation.

“In the back of my mind, [when making the Super Bowl game plan back in L.A.], I operated knowing I had another week. That urgency to completely finalize the gameplan wasn’t quite there, and that led to me watching so much film that you can almost water down your thought process.”
A coach’s instinct, he explains, is to want to do as much work as possible. But before the Super Bowl, McVay admits that “you have so much time that you can over-prepare and get away from some of the things that helped you get there. I watched every game from New England’s season. You see stuff that worked in, say, Week 3, but you forget about the amount of stuff that’s taken place since Week 3. You can watch so much film that you lose perspective. You have 18 games of film you can pore over. And then I even watched the Philly and Atlanta Super Bowls closely.”

How do you prevent yourself from studying too much film before facing an opponent?

2. PFF Data Study: Coverage vs. Pass Rush (Pro Football Focus)

Coaches — which would you rather have? A strong pass rush or a solid secondary? Pro Football Focus took a deep dive into that topic.

PFF coverage grades both explain and predict defensive success better than pass rush, but they come at the expense of year-to-year stability at both the player and team level. Next year’s Aaron Donald is likely to be Aaron Donald, but if a team is going to have a ton of success as a result of strong play by their defense, they will likely need to have next year’s Stephon Gilmore on their team (who is probably not going to be Stephon Gilmore himself).

So, it appears that it’s easier to predict which defensive linemen will be dominant from year to year, but it’s more important to a defense to have a dominant secondary.

Coverage players who grade well one year are more likely to grade well the next year than those who do not, but the uncertainty is substantial. Second, and likely more importantly, your defensive success is largely a function of the offenses (and, more specifically, the quarterbacks) your team faces – something it has little control over even when sound personnel and scheme decisions are made.

Would you rather have a dominant pass-rusher or defensive back on your team? Why?

3. The Football Coach’s 42-Point Summer Checklist (MaxOne)

Our partners over at MaxOne have teamed up with the experts at X&O Labs and Beyond The Ball Coaching to put together a “Summer Checklist for High School Football Coaches” that you’ll want to check out.

This FREE download has been created specifically with high school football coaches in mind and covers the 42 things that successful coaches are doing within their programs every summer.

If you’re struggling to stay organized this summer, or just want to see how the top coaches plan, then you’ll love this download. In it, you’ll see the 5 key areas for a successful summer, including…

  • Program Organization
  • Planning Events
  • Season Preparation
  • Staffing
  • And more…

Click here to download the checklist.

What is the most important thing on your summer checklist?

What’s driving the conversation in your locker room? Email Managing Editor Dan Guttenplan or Tweet us @fnfcoaches. Don’t forget to use that hashtag #FNFCoachesTalk!