LA Rams HC Sean McVay leads team to his 50th win

Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports /

When the LA Rams hired head coach Sean McVay to be the youngest head coach in the NFL, the hope was that with a bit of innovation and a fresh outlook, McVay might lead the Rams to new heights. New heights? The guy is taking the team to the stratosphere.

When he took over the Rams in 2017, the team had just emerged from a 4-12 season. The team boasted All-Pro defensive lineman Aaron Donald and rookie quarterback Jared Goff on the roster. While the defense was stingy on real estate, sitting among the NFL’s Top-10 in yards allowed. But the defense allowed opponents to score, coming in as the 23rd-ranked scoring defense. The offense was dead last in moving the football and in scoring.

McVay was an offensive coach, so he took over immediately to rework the Rams offense. Meanwhile, he added veteran Wade Phillips to run the defense autonomously and retained John Fassel to oversee special teams, a role he had done for five years prior.

Let’s get to work!

Then he went to work. NFL offenses had fallen into a bit of a rut by committing to two WR. McVay changed all that and began to devise the LA Rams offensive playbook around three WR formations as the base. While it had been part of the NFL playbooks all along, it had not been the basis for the playbook like McVay envisioned. He wanted to run the ball, run play-action passes, and challenge defenses to cover the entire football field.

To do that, the team needed more offensive skill players and proceeded to add TE Gerald Everett, WR Cooper Kupp, and WR Josh Reynolds in the 2017 NFL Draft. They joined OT Andrew Whitworth and WR Robert Woods, two veterans who the team had added from the 2017 NFL Free Agency market.

With the influx of receivers and an upgraded offensive line, the Rams turned on the jets. In 2017, the LA Rams jumped to the top-scoring offense in the NFL and led the team to an 11-5 record. The next season, despite averaging 3.0 more points per game, the Rams could only come in as the second-ranked scoring NFL offense. Still, the Rams rose to a record of 13-3. In that year, the Rams advanced to compete in Super Bowl LIII, only to lose to the New England Patriots by the disappointing score of 13-3.

Reloading on the fly

After that almost instantaneous run, the organization was convinced that it had a winning formula. So they handed out huge deals to the players who were instrumental in propelling the team into post-season: Jared Goff, Brandin Cooks, Todd Gurley, and Aaron Donald were all extended.

The 2019 NFL season was a learning process. The offensive line was decimated by injuries, and without a strong line of scrimmage, the Rams struggled to run. Without a strong running game, the team learned that Jared Goff was just not good enough to carry the offense.  It seemed that after they landed huge contracts, many of the team’s offensive stars simply did not live up to their contracts.  The team did end up with a 9-7 record, but the lesson was learned.

In 2020, the Rams relied upon healthy offensive linemen to recover on offense. The team placed the yolk upon quarterback Jared Goff to improve his play. And the Rams traded WR Brandin Cooks and cut RB Todd Gurley.  Once more, the team reloaded, adding WR Van Jefferson and RB Cam Akers in the draft. The gamble paid off, as the team rose to a 10-6 record and advanced to the Divisional Round of the NFL Playoffs.

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Third time is the charm?

But once more, the Rams were turned away. The offense seemed to sputter whenever defenses change their pre-snap looks. Sean McVay knew that the Rams needed someone who could diagnose what the defenses were doing instantly, who could improvise, who could elevate the play of the rest of the offense.

They found a custom-ordered quarterback when the Detroit Lions reported agreed to trade veteran quarterback Matthew Stafford.  Knowing the importance of getting Stafford in a Rams uniform, McVay himself lobbied owner Stan Kroenke to authorize the team to put together a winning trade package.

It seems to have paid off handsomely. The LA Rams emerged from Week 8  with their seventh win of the season. That means that head coach Sean McVay has just won his 50th game with the Rams.

So now the LA Rams are tied with the Green Bay Packers and the Arizona Cardinals with the best record in the NFL with a 7-1 record. Unfortunately, thanks to the lone loss to the Cardinals, the Rams are only looking at a Wild Card Berth. That can change if the Rams beat the Cardinals outright in their rematch.

50 wins in five NFL seasons is pretty impressive folks. With his next win, LA Rams head coach Sean McVay enters the record books as the 100th-ranked winningest NFL head with 51 wins, tying the record with Coach Monte Clark and Coach LeRoy Andrews.  With each win thereafter, McVay will climb the ladder rapidly. If the Rams finish the season with 12 wins, McVay could be as high as the NFL’s 86th-ranked winningest head coach, tied with Coach Art Shell.

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The LA Rams are now 7-1. But the schedule becomes far more difficult quickly in November. Let’s hope that this team is ready.