ATLANTA — Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay enjoyed the pomp and circumstance of Super Bowl LIII Opening Night but eagerly turned the page to final preparations for the New England Patriots on Tuesday.
“After last night, you can appreciate the magnitude of this game. Getting up this morning, we’re going to put the finishing touches on the game plan. The guys will have the day off with the exception of the guys you’re going to visit with today,” McVay said from the Marriott Atlanta Buckhead Hotel and Conference Center.
McVay spent last week studying the Patriots and specifically the final eight games of the season. The takeaway?
“They’re one of the best for a reason,” McVay said.
The Rams are one of the best — 15-3 including the playoffs — this season because of their ability to score, a combination of McVay’s inventiveness and a boatload of talent. Quarterback Jared Goff passed for 4,688 yards and 32 touchdowns, the Rams had two 1,200-yard receivers and running back Todd Gurley put up 1,831 combined yards with 21 touchdowns.
“A lot of coaches try to fit players into their offense, whereas he’s fitting an offense around our players,” Goff said Tuesday. “The scheme he brought from Washington is great. But it’s changed so much. Based on what I’m good at, what Todd’s good at, what Brandin (Cooks) is good at.”
McVay’s film study revealed a key challenge the Patriots present. They rarely wear the same look twice.
“Anytime you’re able to keep your quarterback clean and run the football, that’s going to be a recipe for success,” he said.
You can see there’s been a commitment to run the football,” McVay said. “Tom (Brady) does a great job with play-action, knowing when to run the football. What you respect so much about coach (Bill) Belichick and (Josh) McDaniels is there a definite identity with the way they are using those play calls.”
McVay has more than adjusted his scheme. He credits his family for engaging the many big personalities on the Rams’ roster as individuals. McVay laughed when pressed about why star status hasn’t become unmanageable in a locker room lined with Pro Bowl talent.
“It starts with people. These are all very smart players passionate about the game of football,” McVay said. “Everybody’s kind of got a voice. We share that ownership. You want to make sure you are listening, learning and then you are leading. It’s for coaches too. ... I’ve had nothing but pleasant experiences with these guys. They play for each other, they play for one another.”
Goff said players praise McVay, at 33 the youngest head coach in Super Bowl history, for his leadership style.
“It starts with accountability, and he is the one that sets that example,” Goff said.