McVay demands more from himself even as Rams remain unbeaten
THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (AP) — The Los Angeles Rams are the last undefeated team in the NFL. That doesn't mean there are no issues to address.
For coach Sean McVay, it starts with himself.
McVay was again critical of his own play calling, this time in the Rams' 23-20 win at the Denver Broncos on Sunday, believing it to be responsible for continued struggles by the offense in the red zone and a season-high five sacks of quarterback Jared Goff.
"To be 6-0 in this league is really hard, but we want to focus on our process, our standard of performance, and that's focusing on getting better and getting better as the season progresses," McVay said Monday night. "Nobody stops the season after six weeks. If they did and they said this is when everything is finalized, then, hey, maybe we could enjoy it and appreciate that, but there is a lot of football left."
The Rams scored just two touchdowns in five trips into the red zone. Despite averaging 32.7 points per game, the third-highest total in the league, they have scored touchdowns on just 56.7 percent of red-zone possessions.
McVay blamed his failure to stick with the flow of the game for those issues. He pointed to the fourth play of the game when he called a first-down pass from the Denver 12. Goff's throw to running back Todd Gurley was incomplete, and it led to the Rams settling for a 26-yard field goal by Cairo Santos.
"Anytime that you're in the role that I am, our job is to put the players in the best spots," McVay said. "You don't want to waste plays. My gut told me to take a timeout in that instance, and I didn't do it and it led to us not executing the way we are accustomed to. That's a result of the operation that starts with me, and that's an instance right there."
McVay also said his approach was responsible for the pressure Goff faced, with Broncos outside linebacker Bradley Chubb taking advantage. One call McVay cited had a tight end as the primary blocker on the fifth overall selection in the 2018 draft, while another at the start of a two-minute drill was too slow developing to keep Chubb at bay.
The Rams had allowed a total of six sacks in their first five games, but Chubb had three of Denver's five.
"I do think it's unfair to the linemen to think that those were a result of their actual production when, in fact, most of those to me are pegged on some of the plays and spots I put our guys in," McVay said.
McVay said the onus is on himself to continue to improve, looking for the same high standard he asks of his players.
"Those plays didn't work out in our favor, but they didn't really go in alignment with some of the flow and the feel of the game with the way we were running the football, and those are things you hopefully get better with and learn from experience," McVay said.
Still, McVay is pleased the Rams continue to find ways to overcome adversity. It is a trend he hopes continues at the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday.
"Can't say enough about how resilient and what a great job guys have done finishing out games, finding a way to get wins, but our focus and concentration is on now getting ready for a tough division opponent," McVay said.
But as the wins keep piling up for the Rams, so do the injuries.
Wide receiver Cooper Kupp sustained a sprained knee when he his left leg bent back awkwardly on a horse-collar tackle by Broncos safety Darian Stewart.
Kupp, who leads the team with five touchdown receptions, is not likely to play at the 49ers on Sunday and is week to week.
"Unfortunate for Cooper that he probably will miss this week, but thank goodness that it wasn't something that looked like it could be season-ending," McVay said.
Left guard Rodger Saffold also sustained a sprained knee. Outside linebacker Matt Longacre was limited because of back spasms, and defensive end Michael Brockers sustained a sprained AC joint in his shoulder. However, McVay does not believe any of those injuries are serious.
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