Peter King on the Rams

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Mon Oct 02, 2017 6:34 am

From Peter King MMQB-- ... -king-mmqb

BALTIMORE — We’re almost 25 percent of the way through the 2017 season (28 of 32 teams have played four of their 16 games as of this morning), and this is what blows me away about the NFL through the first quarter:

• The Rams are the story of the year, with the coach of the first quarter in 31-year-old Sean McVay (nudging Andy Reid) bizarrely turning a moribund offense into the best in the NFL in the first month.

• If you had the Rams, Texans and Jags as three of the four highest-scoring offenses in the league after a quarter of the season, you’re officially very smart about football.

• Sunday: Buffalo (on the road) 23, Atlanta 17 … Rams (on the road) 35, Dallas 20 … Carolina (on the road) 33, New England 30. In the outlier game: Houston (at home) 57, Tennessee 14. Fifty-seven on a Dick LeBeau team, with a rookie quarterback doing the damage.

“Nobody saw a lot of these coming,” McVay said over the phone from Texas on Sunday afternoon. “But that’s the NFL every year, isn’t it?”

McVay is scary precocious. It showed in his post-game scrum with the team Sunday, after the Rams walked into Jerry World and beat the Cowboys 35-30. He sounded like a veteran head coach, not one who 11 years ago this week was walking across the Miami campus in Oxford, Ohio, scurrying to class as a senior.

“Love the way you guys continue to compete from first snap to last snap!” he barked, all eyes on him. “Great win! Three-and-one—we accomplished our goal of finishing the first quarter that way. Enjoy it! Love you guys. Love where we’re going.” Then he handed out game balls to kicker Greg Zeurlein (seven of seven on field goal attempts) and defensive coordinator Wade Phillips (for beating the team he used to head-coach) … and told Phillips to break the team down, and then snuck out of the way so Phillips could be the center of attention for a few moments.

Not only did it look like McVay had been there before at the ripe old age of 31, but he let Phillips have the moment. Smart move. McVay’s made a lot of those. Like running some involved pass plays for Jared Goff on first downs, when foes are gearing for the run and again-brilliant back Todd Gurley, and when Goff can take advantage of play-action to get some route combinations when he knows he’ll have someone open. “What I like about the offense is I know I’ll always have a receiver open,” Goff told me in training camp. What’s also helped: picking up Sammy Watkins in trade, Robert Woods in free agency and Cooper Kupp in the draft. Along with speedy but heretofore underachieving Tavon Austin, that’s a very good top-four receiver group. McVay’s route combinations create the kind of traffic that ensures Goff will keep seeing open receivers.

“What I’ve appreciated about Jared,” McVay said Sunday, “is that no pressure gets to him. No moment’s felt too big for him, not even today on a stage like this, in this stadium against the Dallas Cowboys. He’s very even-keel.”

Add two veteran linemen—left tackle Andrew Whitworth and center John Sullivan—and Gurley’s impact (596 total yards, seven touchdowns), and you’ve got the kind of difference-making on the ground that the 2016 Rams just didn’t have. Gurley couldn’t breathe last season. “This guy is a hell of a versatile back,” McVay said. “Maybe he’s not [Darren] Sproles as a receiver out of the backfield, but I think he’s excellent in the open field, which is one of the reasons you really want him to catch balls in space.”

Also: GM Les Snead was on a cold streak at the end of last season, when he barely survived the ax that got Jeff Fisher. But Whitworth was a superior signing. Sullivan and Woods have become major additions. Snead’s architecture and McVay’s could have the Rams in contention in December, and who’d have thought that would happen with a coach who gets carded in L.A.

Said McVay: “We’re growing. We’re going in the right direction.” To put it mildly.

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Mon Oct 02, 2017 8:09 am

To quote Jeff Spicolli, "AWESOME, TOTALLY AWESOME!"

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Mon Oct 02, 2017 12:23 pm

Good stuff....

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Mon Oct 02, 2017 10:57 pm

Ramborumble wrote:
Mon Oct 02, 2017 8:09 am
To quote Jeff Spicolli, "AWESOME, TOTALLY AWESOME!"

(is there a way to post a gif without just the link to it?)

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