After Jared Goff’s rookie season many people were thinking that he was just going to be the second coming of JaMarcus Russell. Too bad Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay has different plans. McVay, the youngest head coach in NFL history at 31 years old, led the Rams to a 46-9 victory over the Andrew Luck-less Colts Sunday. He managed the play calling and helped Goff post a 117.9 quarterback rating after having a terrible rookie season. It may have been due to the struggle of switching over from a spread offense to a west coast scheme but the former number 1 pick looked great in the first game.
Now, it is not that impressive to take down a team when their starting quarterback at the time has the last name Tolzien but good teams take care of business; the Rams took care of business.
The team was running on all cylinders. Offense played well, special teams played well, and the defense was tremendous. Can we expect this every Sunday from Los Angeles? Don’t be surprised if it happens. The Rams have plenty of talent on both sides of the ball and McVay looks like he is ready to utilize every ounce of it.
Before McVay got the head coaching job with the Rams, he was the offensive coordinator of the Washington Redskins who’s offense averaged the third most yards per game in 2016. But, it wasn’t the smoothest transition to become the third best offense in the league.
McVay had to handle a big quarterback controversy in Washington. McVay became the Redskins offensive coordinator in 2014 and was put in a very difficult position. His supposed starting quarterback Robert Griffin III was often injured. RGIII was supposed to be the future of the Redskins but injuries forced him to miss time and eventually end up where he is today; out of the NFL. The man who replaced RGIII was Kirk Cousins who McVay helped turn into a potential franchise quarterback. In his two full seasons starting with McVay as coordinator, Cousins threw for 29 and 25 touchdowns while never having lower than a 67 completion percentage and after the first game of the season, it looks reasonable to wonder if Goff can become a similar ,if not better, quarterback that Cousins was under McVay. Cousins, McVay, and co. combined to lead the Redskins offense in 2015 and 2016 but, if you look at the Redskins on paper, the Rams have much more talent.
Washington used receivers Jamison Crowder, Pierre Garcon, DeSean Jackson, and oft-injured tight end Jordan Reed. Not a bad bunch but Garcon was 30 years old last year, Crowder was very inconsistent, Jackson was strictly a deep threat, they couldn’t find a consistent running game, and Reed found it tough to find the field. Even with all those challenges, McVay still managed to get the Redskins to average 403 yards a game.
Now looking at the Rams, they averaged the worst yards per play (4.4) and the worst total yards per game by not even averaging 300 yards (262.7). But, this season the Rams have added Sammy Watkins, Robert Woods, rookie Cooper Kupp, and they still have stud running back Todd Gurley and speedster Tavon Austin. These weapons helped the Rams net 373 yards against the atrocious Colts defense.
In Watkins and Woods, there are two guys who looked like he needed a change of scenery after some rough years in a rush heavy Buffalo offense. Kupp was one of the most prolific pass catchers in NCAA history and it looks like he is going to be a factor in the NFL after catching 4 passes for 76 yards and a touchdown on Sunday. Austin is a similar player to DeSean Jackson but is younger and more versatile because of his ability to run with the ball.
One of the problems with the Rams last year was the offensive line but adding all-pro Andrew Whitworth and veteran John Sullivan will definitely reduce the 49 sacks they gave up last season. The new and improved line will give Goff more time in the pocket to make better throws and once Goff starts throwing like he is capable of, running lanes will open up for Todd Gurley to run through because teams aren’t going to just continue to stack the box and let Goff pick them apart. An improved line, Goff, and receiving core will surely help the Rams convert on third down after they were the worst in the league last season only converting 32 percent of the time (the Redskins with McVay at OC got a new set of downs almost half the time with a 45 percent conversion rate).
McVay can help make the Los Angeles offense potent in 2017 while the defense has the ability to do its part with studs Aaron Donald, Trumaine Johnson, Roberto Quinn, Alec Ogletree, and more. That group held the league to a mere 337 yards a game; good enough for 9th best in the NFL.
The Rams only lost safety T.J. McDonald and defensive end Eugene Simms this offsesason while they added pass rusher Connor Barwin, corner Nickell Robey-Coleman, corner Kayvon Webster, and DT Tyrunn Walker who even got a sack against the Colts (one of 4 sacks).
With a stout defense, a vastly improved offense, and a smart coach ready to make his mark on the NFL, the Rams look ready for a big year and can maybe even grab a wildcard spot. This isn’t even close to the same 7-9 Jeff Fisher Rams. These are the Sean McVay Rams who are going to come at the league with some firepower that hasn’t been seen in Los Angeles since Eric Dickerson graced the Colosseum’s field.