Los Angeles is a team that varies its offensive tempo.
That's been plainly apparent about the league's No. 2 scoring club throughout the season, and was one of the reasons why head coach Sean McVay's headset communication with quarterback Jared Goff became a talking point earlier in the week.
But as McVay said on Wednesday, it's not like the Rams are simply calling audibles at every turn. Sometimes the offense runs a traditional huddle, sometimes the unit hurries to the line after a quick huddle, and other times L.A. won't huddle at all.
McVay said he feels the Rams have mixed up tempos more than he expected coming into the year.
"I think that's a credit to our players because the more that you can do in terms of changing up the tempo throughout the course of the game, we feel like is an advantage to our offense," McVay said this week. "And we've got a lot of smart players that have kind of absorbed the material where we can really run almost our entire offensive playbook at the line of scrimmage or coming out of the huddle."
"It varies every game," quarterback Jared Goff said of the approach. "Sometimes we do a lot of it, sometimes we slow it down. It depends on situations in the game. It depends on what we're trying to do."
Still, especially since the bye, Los Angeles has run a significant amount of no-huddle offense — particularly to start the game. And the Rams have been successful with it, scoring touchdowns on their first drives against the Vikings and Saints in the last two weeks.
"Coach does a great job with planning out those plays for that first series and, as you see, we kind of go up-tempo and we get on the ball. We kind of throw a lot at you fast and it's just executing at that point," right guard Jamon Brown said. "Once we get in that fast tempo it's hard to keep up and make adjustments defensively. So we just kind of use that to our advantage and it works."
"It's been working so far. We've been pretty good on the first couple drives of the game," running back Todd Gurley said. "It kind of wears teams down and they know what to expect — they've seen it on tape week after week and I feel like we've just been doing a great job of just going in there and executing and being able to run our plays."
Though McVay has always been a proponent of varying tempos, players and coaches admitted the offense is running more no-huddle than they anticipated coming into the season.
"It's kind of picked up some steam because we feel like it's been pretty successful with it," offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur said.
"Most definitely — a lot more than expected," Gurley said. "I feel like I'm back at Georgia right now. It feels like college ball, but it's cool. Being at Georgia and being able to do signals and no huddle kind of helped me out and that's just how the game is these days."
"Yeah, a lot more. And I think it's so that we can continue to play more of the attacking role against defenses, rather than the more passive," left guard Rodger Saffold said. "A lot of times when you huddle up, they can think of more, different blitzes than being kind of pretty much vanilla in the secondary, as well as in the blitz packages. So it helps us out in protection. And I think we get better looks, as far as run stoppers. They may have an extra guy in the box, but you rarely don't get what you want, front-wise, when you go no huddle."
As McVay mentioned, it takes a lot from the players' above-the-neck approach in order to successfully run as much no-huddle as the Rams have lately. That stems from the players' strong knowledge of the system, which many said was easy to pick up as they were learning it back in the offseason program and training camp. But even now, Saffold said, the Rams are implementing new wrinkles to the offense each week.
"We're constantly adding new verbiage, constantly adding numbers," Saffold said. "So, really, you don't know exactly what you've got coming at you all the time. And I think that's great for us — the fact that we have that ability to adapt every week is putting us in great positions to make big plays down the field, and help us out with the minute game. Because two-minute is basically no-huddle offense like we already run. So I think that we get in a good rhythm, most of the time that we go two-minute, we end up with points."
If there is a downside to utilizing so much no-huddle, it's that it can tire out the offense, too.
"I just think we get used to it," Brown said. "It can be tough at times but because we do it everyday at practice, it makes the games easier and we know how to handle those things and what to do, which one is which — we have different forms of on the ball, like a fast moving offense. I think for us, we're pretty adjusted to it."
"It's definitely tiresome sometimes, especially those first couple drives," Gurley said. "But after that it's pretty good."
That's because the offense is often getting off the field with points. And according to Saffold, that might have a bit to do with why L.A. hasn't had as many choreographed celebrations this year.
"I think we sacrifice the celebrations because usually by the time we score a touchdown, we can't breathe," Saffold said with a laugh. "A lot of times you'll just see us chilling at the 15, ready to kick the extra point."