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These five plays show why Sean McVay is the best young head coach in the NFL

How the Rams set up their entire offense shows just why McVay is ready to take on the next era of the NFL.

NFL: Los Angeles Rams at Oakland Raiders Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The statement I’m about to make isn’t a hot take. It’s probably the furthest thing from it.

After re-watching the Los Angeles Rams vs Oakland Raiders week one matchup (multiple times), I’ve come away with a handful of plays that show the thought process in which Head Coach Sean McVay schemes plays and how he wanted to attack the Raiders’ defense and why that makes him the best young head coach in the NFL.

(Editor’s note: That’s a hot take.)

First things first, everything works off of the run game. In the first half, the Rams hardly had the ball - and didn’t establish the run whatsoever. Stud running back Todd Gurley had a total of four carries and the Rams offense faltered for it. In the second half things managed to pick up. The offensive line was downright dominant and Gurley was his typical self using his patience to setup their blocks, finding the right hole, and bursting through with explosion.

Here’s a run play from the game:

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The Rams were running an outside zone run play here. LT Andrew Whitworth absolutely buries his guy here, but it’s far enough in the backfield that Gurley realizes he wont be able to bounce the run outside. LG Rodger Saffold and C John Sullivan dominate a DT at the point of attack with a combo block with Sully moving to the second level to find the middle “mike” linebacker. The backside of the play features another three solid blocks by RG Austin Blythe who demolishes his defender, RT Rob Havenstein, and TE Tyler Higbee. The play may not have went for major yardage, but these are the types of run plays that set up an effective play action threat later on.

For smart, high-football IQ individuals like WR Cooper Kupp, the positives of a strong running game are endless. Here’s the play:

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Here in the red zone, the Rams run a play action pass with Kupp using a fake block on S Reggie Nelson to get him to bite and totally forget about coverage. Nelson’s eyes are 100% committed to the backfield, and Kupp releases into his out route completely alone walking in for an easy touchdown.

This time, the Rams run a hard playaction fake to the left simulating another outside zone run instead attacking all three levels of the defense. The pass was a 30-yard completion to WR Brandin Cooks. Take a look:

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Watching the Raiders’ linebackers and S Reggie Nelson tells you all you need to know about the respect they grew for the Rams’ running game as the game wore on. As they got gashed in the run game, their defenders started to cheat and focused on primarily stopping the run. The offensive line created a great pocket for Goff to dropback and feel comfortable in. Goff threw a dart to a wide open Cooks for easy yardage.

Once again, on this passing play the Rams took advantage of a strong running game to the tune of another heavy play action fake. Unfortunately this time the pass was underthrown and not completed. Here’s the play:

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See how this play was a bit different than the playaction pass right above? The Rams still have Cooks running the deep crosser with Kupp running the underneath crosser, but the Rams set this up for it to work by running a bunch of crossing routes all game. Kupp’s crosser turned into a wheel route up the sideline where he found himself wide open. Goff didn’t get enough under the ball making his receiver turn around and start back peddling for the ball, but this concept is really fun.

Here’s the last passing play that worked off of heavy playaction:

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With not much time left in the game, Goff seen his WR Robert Woods making a break on the post to get behind the entire defense (which he does) though they couldn’t connect. Goff overthrew Woods by maybe a yard, but the play design worked to perfection again. Riding the coattails of a strong running game and play action fakes, the play had Kupp chipping as a blocker and delayed releasing into the flat as a checkdown, Cooks running the crosser (as the Rams were hitting all game), and Woods running the post. The play also had a different wrinkle with Tyler Higbee coming across the formation with a fake “pull” or “wham block”.


When you look at the versatility of the Rams’ weapons, their offense relies on simplicity.

Don’t get me wrong. McVay is a genius, and he is going to work in more complex subtleties. But the Rams’ ability to do everything and move guys around makes the offense that much more dangerous. Watching how the strong run game turns into a strong intermediate play action passing game turn into a strong deep play action passing game is awesome.

And should only get more impressive as the season goes on.