After a bevy of practices and four exhibition games, the preseason has come to a close with Thursday's loss to the Packers. And with it, Rams head coach Sean McVay and the rest of the club appear ready to move on to games that count.
"I thought it was a great opportunity to see a handful of guys compete who maybe haven't gotten a chance in the first few preseason games," McVay said after the contest. "We feel good with where we're at, and looking forward to getting going in the regular season now."
From going through the last four weeks, McVay said he's grown comfortable with the game management aspects of being a head coach. And while McVay said he's not anticipating everything to be flawless, he does continue to feel good about being able to lean on defensive coordinator Wade Phillips and special teams coordinator John Fassel for their experience in different situations.
"I think we feel really good collectively as a staff," McVay said. "I thought the preseason was an excellent opportunity to be able to work through some of those things so that by the time you reach that first regular-season game, you're not having to say, 'Oh, well, if this comes up, then what will we do?' You've been able to work through those situations and scenarios where, we know it's not going to be perfect, but at least we feel good about having a big picture in mind and knowing how we want to adjust and adapt to what comes up."
But there was still work to do before ending the preseason. With so many players sitting out Thursday's game — including all of the Rams' starters and many of their depth pieces — McVay opted to put quarterback Jared Goff and the offensive skill players through an extensive workout a few hours before kickoff.
"Just making sure that those guys were going to get some work in that weren't playing in the game today. I think we just want to be mindful of making sure we capitalize on every single opportunity, especially moving towards that September 10th date," McVay said. "And being able to get out there with the skill guys and Jared throwing to them, I felt we got some excellent work in."
Now the tough work begins, as the Rams must reduce their roster to 53 players by early Saturday afternoon. And though McVay has been a part of the process as an offensive coordinator, the experience ill be different as a head coach.
"It's difficult, you know, because you're talking about people's lives right here," McVay said. "And all these guys have done is continue to compete every single day. They've been a true joy to be around. You just talked to the team [in the locker room] and said, 'Unfortunately this is the last time we're going to be able to do this together as a team.' But can't say enough about the way that they've gone about their business every single day. And, really, been impressed with the group as a whole.
"Any time that you're going to have to let 37 guys go, that's never a fun decision," McVay continued. "But that's a part of this business. But there's still a human element that you never lose sight of. And that's never fun, when you're in this situation."
The Rams have plenty of information from the last month of practices and games, but McVay said there are still worthwhile elements to go over from Thursday's contest.
"I think there are going to be some good things from this game for us to be able to evaluate," McVay said. "Those conversations are constant and ongoing where you kind of have a projected ideal 53 going into this game. And then you've got to take into consideration some of the people who would be possible claims for us, especially being able to be in that fifth spot where you might take advantage of that.
"But definitely going to be some tough discussions towards the end of that — when you're looking at in between that 46 and 53. But those are good problems to have. And that's a credit to the 90 guys that we do have in that locker room right now."