Sean McVay described the play in the meeting room, a version of the old “hook and lateral.” Jared Goff would throw a screen to Cooper Kupp, who would pitch the ball to a sprinting Tavon Austin. Eyes rolled.
“We’re just like, ‘Yeah, right, this is the NFL,’” Rams running back Todd Gurley said with a laugh.
McVay called the play in the red zone last Sunday, all three players executed it perfectly, and it picked up 9 yards and set up a go-ahead field goal in the second quarter of what turned into a blowout victory.
This is McVay: young, excitable, full of ideas of energy, bringer of much-needed excitement and belief to a Rams offense that moved like a tortoise last year. McVay, the offense’s architect and play-caller, has developed a reputation as a constant tinkerer, one always looking for new wrinkles and new plays.
McVay’s offensive mind is the major reason why the Rams have the NFL’s highest-scoring offense and take a 6-2 record, and first-place standing in the NFC West, into Sunday’s home game against Houston.
“He’s up all night,” Gurley said. “He’ll tell you, he doesn’t have much to do. He’s always copying ideas.”
Indeed, McVay said this week, “I probably kind of have no life outside of football.” And for that, the Rams are grateful.
There’s one part of the story Gurley forgot, or perhaps repressed. The Kupp-Austin lateral? The New York Jets ran the exact same play against the Rams a year earlier, in the same stadium, and scored a touchdown. McVay wasn’t even with the Rams then, but clearly he saw the play when he reviewed film.
“We’ve got very capable players that can do a lot of the things that we’re asking them to do,” McVay said. “When you have that, it makes it fun, as an offensive coaching staff, to kind of find creative ways to do some different things that fit within the framework of our system.”
And here’s the thing about McVay: he’s smart enough not to take credit. He deflects praise at every opportunity, to his players and assistant coaches, and openly admits that he borrows ideas from other coaches. Specifically, near the start of this season, McVay said he lifted a play from Andy Reid.
Among the many problems for the Rams’ defense last year was stagnant coaching. Coach Jeff Fisher and offensive coordinator Rob Boras (who was in his first full year as an NFL coordinator) really tried to shake up an offense that was bland and ineffective. It was the same stuff for 16 weeks,…