In this week's Opposing View of Rams vs. Cowboys on Sept. 13 presented by SoFi, a look at the Rams' influence on the Cowboys.
When he took a gap year from coaching after nearly 13 seasons as head coach of the Packers, one of the offenses new Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy studied as he prepared for his return was Rams head coach Sean McVay's.
"He does a lot of great things," McCarthy said on a conference call with Rams beat writers Wednesday. "He really challenges the defense from a communication standpoint with the pre-snap, as far as cadence variation and ability to shift the motion on certain plays, lining up in a standard huddle and immediately shifting up to the line of scrimmage, and going quick count, then following up with a hard count. So, when you have a chance to watch that much TV, watch the different games and also watch the TV copies, you just really have an appreciation for the coaching in the league. And Sean does a great job."
However, as the two teams prepare to face each other on Sunday Night Football, McCarthy's appreciation for the Rams goes beyond their offense.
Former Los Angeles special teams coordinator John Fassel, who spent eight seasons with the club, was one of McCarthy's first hires when he began to assemble his new staff in Dallas. Fassel then brought assistant special teams coach Matt Daniels with him to fill the same role. McCarthy also hired former Rams running backs coach Skip Peete to fill the same position for the Cowboys.
"John's reputation, we've had friends in common that have worked with John, so I've always admired his work from afar," McCarthy said. "I think he's not only an outstanding football coach, but I've been so impressed with him as a person. His positivity is infectious and I think he's definitely a big part of our staff."
The Cowboys also signed former Rams kicker Greg Zuerlein, whose tenure with the Rams overlapped with Fassel's (eight seasons, 2012-19). McCarthy said he has "always respected" Zuerlein's ability and production.
"You know, one of the things that jumps out at you is the way Greg lifts the ball. I mean, his lift is really as good as I have seen," McCarthy said. "Being around (Green Bay Packers kicker) Mason Crosby the last 10 years, I think Greg is definitely one of the top kickers in the game. So, we're very fortunate to have the opportunity to sign him here and he's been an excellent fit for us."
As for current Rams players, McCarthy is mindful of the impact ones like cornerback Jalen Ramsey – who on Wednesday agreed to terms on a five-year extension – and defensive tackle Aaron Donald have on game preparation.
When any coaching staff assembles a gameplan, McCarthy explained, "feature players" are always discussed, and Donald is "at the top of that list." Ramsey, meanwhile, "has everything you're looking for in a shutdown corner."
"At the end of the day, we want to play through what we feel we do best," McCarthy said. "But, you definitely need to know where those two guys are at all times, they're impact players. Aaron has been the best defensive player in the league now for a couple years. He's definitely a focus of ours."
The respect doesn't stop at the players and coaches, either, as the team that opens up SoFi Stadium against the Rams. McCarthy said Cowboys Owner/President/General Manager Jerry Jones has "told us all about the stadium" and is excited for this moment for the Rams organization.
"We're excited to be part of that, it's no question," McCarthy said. "It's supposed to be an unbelievable venue. So, looking forward to competing out there."