Rams head coach Sean McVay often says, "The truest measure of performance is consistency."
He brought it up again on Monday evening while assessing Los Angeles' 35-30 victory over the Cowboys, this time in relation to the club scoring 142 points through just four games. The Rams currently lead the league in scoring, averaging 35.5 points per game.
True to another mantra the head coach often preaches — "We not me" — McVay gave credit to the players and his offensive staff for how the first quarter of the season played out offensively. And it's a "one day at a time" attitude that has really kept the Rams grounded and in the best position to compete.
"I think it's, 'How can we try to be the best that we can possibly be each and every week?' And I think to the players' credit, they've made a handful of plays," McVay said. "Can't say enough about our offensive coaching staff and their ability to prepare those players for some of the looks. And they were able to get it done in a tough road atmosphere yesterday."
With quarterback Jared Goff excelling as a thrower — he's currently No. 1 in yards per attempt and yards per completion — McVay said he has noticed some teams starting to make adjustments based on what the Rams have put on film. But that's when McVay brought up that consistency.
"Just like we're preparing for the defensive looks that we've seen, they're doing the same thing," McVay said. "I think to our players' credit, there's a couple of different ways that we've been able to attack people. And you always want to be mindful, from a self-scout standpoint, of what you're doing and what they're preparing for.
"But when you've got a variety of playmakers," McVay continued, "you've got linemen that are doing a good job all playing as one unit up front, a back that's doing some special things, and a quarterback that with the exception of the Washington game [is] turnover free, you're going to give yourself a chance to play pretty well offensively."
If there's one place the Rams' offense can improve it's scoring touchdowns instead of field goals when the unit gets deep into opponent territory. Kicker Greg Zuerlein set a single-game franchise record with seven field goals on Sunday, and with the team still scoring 35 points one might say it's hard to nit pick. But McVay said himself that he'd rather "have a couple more PATs."
What's preventing that? McVay was notably self critical on some of his play calls from Sunday afternoon when the Rams were in the red zone.
"We were 1-for-4 in the red zone. And credit them, they did a nice job," McVay said. "But I look at a couple of the play calls that I made — I think we'd done a good job running the football. The one series where we end up going three passes in a row, that's where you look at yourself critically as a play caller and say, 'let's not lose sight of some of the things we've done a good job [of] that have allowed us to succeed at a pretty good rate so far.' So I think some of it is the play calling. And then I also think defensive execution."
Twice the Rams passed on three consecutive plays in the red zone — once in the third quarter and another time in the fourth. But one play that particularly seemed to eat at McVay came on 3rd-and-4 from Dallas' 14 with 2:12 left in the game.
"I really was bothered by the last call that I made," McVay said, also crediting Dallas defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli. "3rd-and-4, you'd like to punch that in with a touchdown. He brought in a zone pressure off the slot with [cornerback Orlando] Scandrick — it was a great call and it wasn't a very good play call that I gave our guys. And fortunately, the defense made it right and Greg ended up kicking the field goal."
"I think what you try to do is look at those plays that can be corrected. But we did move the football fairly well. But I think just looking at the red zone overall, that's something we've got to do a better job of. And that starts with me."
But when McVay goes back and looks at plays he feels he could have called better, he's doing his best to learn from them. He admitted that he laments his unsuccessful play calls "a lot." But that goes to another one of McVay's signature sayings: daily improvement.
"It's not necessarily whether they work or not," McVay said. "It's just, based on what's shown up, do you make sure that you have answers and you can at least provide the players with a best-case scenario, because it's a guessing game. And a lot of times you're lucky, or you get a play call where players make it right if that's not what you were anticipating have happen.
"But I think the biggest thing is if you've got certain calls that you're making that go away from some of the preparation, or you maybe could've been a little more thorough to avoid those situations, that's where you've got to look at yourself," McVay added. "The more that you do this, the more that I've been humbled by this game, and you have an appreciation to draw on your previous experiences — whether they're good or bad — and then how that affects your future approach."
And so as the Rams continue through the 2017 season, McVay appears encouraged but not satisfied with the offense's performance through four games.
"The truest measure of performance is that consistency," McVay said. And that's what we've got to see against that Seattle team coming in here next week."
McVay began his Monday press conference expressing condolences as well as thoughts and prayers for the victims of the tragedy in Las Vegas.
"It's so unfortunate that one person's decision to do something like this can affect so many people," McVay said. "And it just makes you so appreciative of the blessings you have to be able to do what we do. But it also gives you a real perspective on some of the things that go on in this life that are so much more important than this game. And for that to occur, we just want to continue to let those people know that they're in our thoughts and our prayers as an organization. And just wish nothing but the best. And we're with them all the way. But that's certainly something that's very unfortunate that takes place. And it's amazing how one person's decision like that can affect so many people in a negative way."