INDIANAPOLIS — It's no secret the Rams have struggled on offense recently, finishing No. 32 in total yards each of the past two years. In the Los Angeles' head coaching search, one of the most significant qualities the club looked for was an ability to create a cohesive, competitive offensive unit. That's part of why the club landed on Sean McVay.
"Going back to when we were searching for a head coach, one of the things that stood out about Sean is — and I know it's getting talked about at this Combine — the last two seasons that Kirk Cousins had," general manager Les Snead said Thursday. "So, he's taken a quarterback that was, hey, drafted in the mid rounds and wasn't drafted to be a starter, and he's probably the darling of the Combine for content for really one thing: His last two seasons were really productive.
"So there's no doubt Sean's offense has been successful," Snead continued. "So we do think, just him coming in and setting up his system will help our team."
Even so, McVay sought to temper any grandiose expectations for 2017 as he addressed the media on Thursday.
"I think really what we're looking at is that daily improvement," McVay said. "You know, we're not going to make any promises, but we are going to focus on getting better every single day, focusing on our process, developing our standard of performance. And if we do that, then I think you'll see those incremental improvements that will lead to big things over time."
McVay described his offense as being based in the West Coast system, in large part because of what he's learned from both Jon and Jay Gruden.
"I think when you look at some of the quick game, the way that you have that quick game, where you're using the width of the field, have it become an extension of your run game, there's some definite principles," McVay said. "But I think really when you talk about West Coast it's more of what is your verbiage and how you call plays and different things like that, so it is West Coast based in that regard."
Generally, though, McVay's aim is to marry the run and pass in order to make a cohesive unit that can score from anywhere on the field. But in order to do that, the offense has to stay what coaches term "on schedule" or "ahead of the chains" by avoiding lengthy second- and third-down situations.
"You know a lot of the things that we've been fortunate enough to do in Washington and some of the offenses I've been a part of, the play actions and the movement are where you can kind of create some of those explosive plays," McVay said. "And then, obviously, being able to run the football is going to be a very important part of it, to stay in manageable third downs."
"And then we'll talk about being situational masters. We've got to do a great job in red zone, third down, and two minute," McVay added. "Those will be the three main situations that we talk about with our offense specifically and, really, defense as well."
While L.A. will certainly look at external options for improving its offense, McVay said there are players already on the Rams' offense he's looking forward to working with to further their development.
"You look at Todd Gurley, you look at Tavon Austin — two explosive playmakers and you can never have enough of those guys," McVay said. "I see encouraging traits in Jared Goff and some guys up front. You look at Rob Havenstein, you look at a Tim Barnes, Rodger Saffold, you know Greg Robinson is showing signs."
And so when it comes to building a competitive offense, Snead described a three-pronged approach the Rams will take over the course of the offseason.
"I think this: We've got to improve the offense," Snead said. "And that could come by addition, it can come by subtractions, it can come by evolution, which is the less sexy guys from within."
"I think there's a lot of things that we're looking to do moving forward, where it's figuring out what do our players do best?" McVay said. "And then there's also going to players we'll acquire in free agency and the draft that are going to try to help that process of becoming a good offense."