To those outside the organization, the Rams' decision to not send offensive coordinator Kevin O'Connell and defensive coordinator Brandon Staley to this year's NFL Scouting Combine was surprising.
However, after being forced to close the facilities and conduct their offseason program virtually, the extra time afforded by it ultimately proved beneficial.
"I think back on that week as truly invaluable for me personally, and I know Brandon Staley feels the same way," O'Connell said during a video conference with reporters last month. "That time we got that week with (head) coach (Sean) McVay, really kind of breaking things down and getting to accelerate the process was huge, there's no doubt about it."
Two weeks after assistant coaches and members of Los Angeles' personnel and scouting departments traveled to Indianapolis, they, along with O'Connell and Staley, were forced to complete their draft prep and other offseason work exclusively remotely.
With the exception of private player-led workouts away from the facility, the league's protocols as well as ongoing local public health guidelines prevented Rams players and coaches from convening at the facility for on-field work traditionally afforded to teams in the spring. As a result, all of the instruction from the coaching staff took place virtually and deprived every team of key on-field reps - Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin estimated a loss of 900 snaps.
While McConnell felt comfortable with the offense's progress in late May – about three weeks before the end of the offseason program – Staley's unit has been most impacted by the absence of on-field work, making that week in the facility in late February all the more valuable.
"It's been a lot more seamless than I ever would've thought," Staley said of the digital transition during a video conference with reporters in May. "I think everybody was ready for challenges, but I felt like our communication has been at a premium and I've really enjoyed getting to do it this way."
Thanks to the smooth virtual pivot and amount of prep done beforehand, the Rams were able to accomplish enough that McVay felt confident ending the offseason program two weeks early. And if they are just as prepared for training camp, they can point back to that week in late February as one of the reasons why.
"It was best-case scenario for me personally," O'Connell said. "I'm really thankful for that during that time."