Rams Role reversal: Sean McVay crafting offense to complement elite defense

Eric D. Williams

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. -- Sean McVay continues to show his versatility as an offensive play caller this season.

The Los Angeles Rams head coach engineered one of the highest scoring offenses in the NFL two years ago in leading his team to the Super Bowl.

But with an aging Todd Gurley -- the engine of that offense -- moving on to the Atlanta Falcons during the offseason, McVay had to somewhat alter what he’s done schematically to fit the personnel still left on the roster, along with the other side of the football led by new defensive coordinator Brandon Staley that has emerged as one of the best in the league.

With that in mind, McVay morphed his offense from a high-flying act to more of a ball-control scheme that eats up clock and takes shots when available. Yes, McVay would like to score more than the 24 points game the Rams average, a career-low for his offense in the NFL.

However, when your defense is allowing just 18.7 points a contest, leaning on the run game, eating up clock and taking care of the football is a good blueprint for winning football.

It’s the way McVay’s NFC West division rival Pete Carroll won a Super Bowl after the 2013 regular season, leaning on an elite defense and Marshawn Lynch.

The Rams are averaging 134 rushing yards a contest, No. 8 in the NFL. McVay’s offense runs it 46.6 percent of the time this season vs. 44.7 percent of the time during the team’s Super Bowl run. And they are holding the football an average time of 31:47 a game, No. 5 in the NFL.

That said, McVay would like to see his offense put the ball in the end zone a few more times a game.

“I want to just see us consistently sustain (offense) throughout,” McVay said, after his team’s 23-16 win over the Seattle Seahawks last week “It is about winning the football game. I’m never going to take that for granted, but I do think that we can continue to produce at a level that was in alignment with how we started that all through the four quarters of the game.”

Where the Rams have to get better is creating explosive plays and scoring touchdowns in the red zone.

This season, the Rams have 32 passing plays of 20-plus yards. During the team’s Super Bowl season, the Rams had 69 passing plays of 20-plus yards, No. 3 in the NFL.

The Rams are currently No. 16 in the NFL in red zone efficiency, scoring touchdowns inside the 20-yard line a little over 60 percent of the time, No. 16 in the league.

“It’s just reps,” Rams quarterback Jared Goff said. “It’s just making sure everything keeps clicking. I think we’re really close to answer your question. I think it’s extremely close.

“Today (Sunday) was a good day to see that. Run game, pass game, play action game, screen game, everything was kind of working. We’re just that close on a handful of those plays that would have really opened it up. And again, you’re complaining about a seven-point win -- I don’t want to sound like that. I’m happy about the win, but we can keep pushing to be better and we will.”