Rams Rout Colts; Coach McVay Is Praised
September 14, 2017
Over 50,000 loyal Los Angeles Ram fans got a sneak preview of their team's potential on Sunday, September 10, in the L.A. Coliseum. The completely reformatted and inspired Rams decimated the hapless Indianapolis Colts, 46-9, on a hot and humid afternoon to open the 2017 NFL season. The dynamic and entertaining performance underscored Sean McVay's head coaching debut.
The most noticeable difference from last season's league-worse offense was the sudden effectiveness of second-year quarterback Jared Goff and the Ram offense. Goff's best performance by far as a pro was not a coincidence under McVay's and first-year offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur's system.
"I thought he (Goff) did a great job making good decisions, getting the ball out in the timing and rhythm of the play. We were able to avoid sacks for the most part... I thought he took good care of the football, made good decisions and he did seem to have good command of it," said McVay postgame.
"I thought he's done a great job with his preparation throughout the course of the week. Put himself in a position to make good decisions, anticipate some throws and credit to him, he did an excellent job executing. Now we've got to see if we can do it again next week."
The tone was set on the game's opening drive setting up Greg Zuerlein's 50-yard field goal for a 3-0 Ram lead. Three plays later cornerback Trumaine Johnson intercepted Colt quarterback Scott Tolzein and returned it for a touchdown. The Coliseum was already rocking less than four minutes into the game.
Indianapolis responded with a 74-yard drive to the Los Angeles 1-yard line and first down. The Ram defense countered with a defining goal line stand forcing a 20-yard field goal by Colt kicker Adam Vinatieri. Then with two minutes to go in the first quarter Trumaine Johnson struck again with a forced fumble and recovery at the Colt 34-yard line.
Early in the second quarter Goff and the offense drove with conviction from their own 31-yard line and nailed the game in the process. Rookie wide receiver Cooper Kupp caught a 24-yard pass. Two plays later Goff hit rookie tight end for 39 yards to the Colt 6-yard line. Two plays later running back Todd Gurley powered up the middle for a 5-yard touchdown. The rout was on.
"I thought we came out and executed well. I thought there was a lot of things that we can definitely clean up... I thought we played well as an offense and as a defense," said Goff.
"I'd love to say the O-line great job today – just keeping me upright. I think I got sacked once and maybe hit twice. It was a great day for them and ultimately just keeping the pressure off and when they can do that it opens up a lot of things and it all starts with them."
Trumaine Johnson: "Just trying to set the tone early coming in on defense and we did that. I was glad I was able to make a play for this team... Scoring on defense is big. We put emphasis on that all week. We had a couple pick sixes, a couple turnovers. It was good. It was good for our defense."
Kupp caught an 18-yard touchdown pass six minutes later and Zuerlein connected on a 35-yard field goal to give the Rams an insurmountable 27-3 halftime lead. The newest Ram NFL Hall of Famer Kurt Warner was honored at halftime along with Ram Hall of Famers Eric Dickerson, Marshall Faulk, Tom Mack, Orlando Pace, Jackie Slater, and Jack Youngblood.
Midway through the third quarter Lamarcus Joyner gave the Rams their second pick-six of the day as he intercepted Tolzein and dashed 29 yards into the end zone. Minutes into the fourth quarter Colt running back Marlon Mack scored from the 3-yard line. Minutes later backup Colt quarterback Jacoby Brissett was tackled in the end zone by defensive end Morgan Fox for a safety.
The Rams final score was a 3-yard touchdown run off left guard by running back Malcolm Brown with minutes remaining on the game clock. The very satisfied fanbase in a half-filled stadium knew they were treated to something special. It also gave the Los Angeles Rams a perfect 2-0 record in opening games since their return to the Southland. Last season they beat the Seattle Seahawks 9-3 at home.
"I thought the overall energy, the intensity that the guys came out with, you could see there was a focus and a resolve where they were ready to go," said McVay. "Certainly it wasn't perfect. There's a lot of things that we can clean up, but ultimately it's about coming away with a win and I can't say enough about what those guys did to find a way to do that."
The Rams also had great news about the return defensive tackle Aaron Donald, rated as one of the best NFL defensive players, who ended his holdout last Saturday. Donald is listed as a starter for Sunday's game against the Washington Redskins. "He's back here with us now and looking to get him going," said McVay.
"As far as how he'll be utilized in this game and kind of exactly what that plan entails is going to be predicated on how he feels going out to practice and getting involved. Those will be things that Reggie, myself and the rest of our coaching staff will discuss as far as how he's feeling."
The Rams will host the Washington Redskins (0-1) this Sunday at the Coliseum. Washington is coming off a 30-17 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles at home last Sunday. The obvious intrigue is Coach McVay taking on his former team where he spent the past seven seasons on the coaching staff including the last three years as the Washington offensive coordinator under Redskin Head Coach Jay Gruden.
McVay: "Coach Gruden taught me a lot of stuff, so I know he's mixed it up. I've got a lot of respect for him. He's taught me a large portion of things that I know and things that we do here, so we've got some familiarity with each other. But, I can't say enough about how much I respect him and what he's done for my coaching career."
It was only one win against a very compromised Colt team but a very important start nonetheless as the Rams organization reestablishes its roots in Southern California. There were multiple players who deserved a game ball but at the top of the list has to be McVay and his coaching staff. The fact that the team was so prepared in their first test is unquestionable.
"They had our guys ready to go and that's where you feel so fortunate to have such a great coaching staff. When you look at Wade Phillips leading the defense, Assistant Head Coach Joe Barry... Special teams, John Fassel had those guys ready to go, Tyrone McKenzie. And the offensively, Matt LaFleur, Coach (Aaron) Kromer, (Greg) Olson...," said McVay.
"Every single one of our coaches, I feel very fortunate to have these guys. They've done an excellent job and then the players responded. We know it's not a perfect game, but there's a lot of things that the players did a great job with and, ultimately, it's about coming away with a win and we were able to do that."