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The 5 O'Clock Club: Game Day - LA Rams edition

It’s 5 o’clock somewhere...

The 5 o’clock club aims to provide a forum for reader-driven discussion at a time of day when there isn’t much NFL news being published. Feel free to introduce topics that interest you in the comments below.

Brian Quick

This is a homecoming for Brian Quick, who was drafted by the Rams in the same year that the Redskins selected RG3 and Kirk Cousins. Quick was taken #33 overall. I was reminded of this when I read this comment on the Turf Show Times:

Bold prediction: Brian Quick drops a crucial 3rd down pass late in the game that helps that put the Redskins away, with the Rams scoring a field goal on their next possession

The Rams in Week One

The Rams started the Sean McVay era with a win at home, and 46 points on the scoreboard.

Jared Goff looked like a real NFL quarterback with skills.

Todd Gurley had some tough runs, as well as some nice receiving yards.

The WR corps of Sammy Watkins, Tavon Austin & Cooper Kupp looked a lot better than I would have expected. Kupp, in particular, looked like a seasoned pro on some of his catches.

The rookie tight end, Everett, looked good too.

Aaron Donald has returned to the Rams, and everyone says that he’ll be playing on Sunday. This is a Wade Phillips defense, and they looked pretty damned good against Scott Tolzien and the Colts last Sunday (Good enough that Tolzien has been benched for the Colts second game). We’ll see if Captain Kirk & his crew can fare better.

I’m glad Sean McVay got his first win in Week 1 — I won’t feel so bad when we hand him his first loss as a head coach. In fact, I won’t feel bad at all.

Kirk Cousins talks to the LA press about Sean McVay

Speaking of McVay, the Rams SB Nation site, Turf Show Times, posted a really good article this week. It’s the transcript of the Cousins conference call, and he talks at length about his relationship with Sean McVay:

(On what ways he feels like Rams Head Coach Sean McVay aided his development in Washington)

“Well, being our play caller and our offensive coordinator, he had as big a role in my development as anybody. This is the first year in the NFL that I’ve not been able to work with him because he’s been on the staff every year of my career with the Redskins. I have a lot of respect for him and am grateful for the role that he played, which is a very large role in my development.”

(On how McVay makes life easy on the quarterback)

“Well, I think he does a good job all week long, working really hard, putting in long hours and really having an intent for every play that he calls. He’s not just spinning a rolodex and picking a play out at random. He really has a reason and intention for every play he calls and he’s designed those plays during the week for a specific reason. He’s not just drawing them up in the dirt and hoping they work. There’s an intention there and a mastery of football that enables him to design those plays. Ultimately, players have to execute them, but he does a really good job with the design, the scheme and then he has to communicate it to the players. You know, those plays are no good if you don’t have the ability to transfer it to the players and he does a good job all week installing, teaching and communicating in such a way that the players understand their job and they do it.”

(On what exactly makes McVay an exceptional play caller)

“I think he’s a quick thinker, he’s got a sharp mind. He’s highly organized. He’s a good communicator. All those things play a role in being a strong play caller. As to what sets him apart the most, hard to say. I think when you can have all those abilities in one, not many people have that in one package. He also has a lot of presence up front, so when he communicates to the team or to the offense, people are listening. And, they follow what he’s saying and they get behind him because of the presence he carries himself with.”

(On if he noticed a difference from when McVay first started play calling to the end of their time together in Washington)

“I think he improved. I think he was very sharp and on top of it from the start. But, in 2014, I think there was a lot that was new, with a new head coach and I think we were all trying to understand how it was going to work. I think 2014 was a bit of a trial by fire and a learning experience for all of us. Then, where Sean really took off was in that offseason of 2015 getting ready for the 2015 season. He just did a really good job of going back to the basics. Having a plan and a reason for everything we did. Organizing the gameplan and the installs and just communicating really well. That carried over through the ‘15 season into the ‘16 season and we were really getting better each year. Thrilled for him that through those positive seasons he was able to transform that into a head coaching opportunity. You always want to see guys that you play with and work with have a chance to move up in this league and certainly that was the case with Sean.”

(On how QB Jared Goff, as a young quarterback, will benefit the most from working with McVay)

“Well, I think Sean has experience working with another young quarterback in myself. He knows what it’s like to try to teach his system to somebody who’s new to the league and new to starting, so this is not the first time around for Sean along those lines and Jared has all the talent in the world, you know with the arm talent and that certainly gives them a great chance then, because that doesn’t limit what Sean can do from a play calling standpoint when Jared has that ability to throw it all over the field. I think with some of the additions they were able to get this offseason and then trade for (WR) Sammy Watkins, it gives them the resources they need to make those plays work. I think when Sean has those tools at his disposal, that’s when he’s really able to be at his best.”

(On if he’s concerned that he’s playing against a staff that knows him and if that presents any challenges for him)

“Sure. We have to be smart and aware that they’re very familiar with our scheme and with our personnel. It is a unique situation, so we have to be aware of that and plan accordingly. In this league that tends to happen week-to-week or year-to-year as people change and move. There’s always people in other buildings that have information or experience that they can share to try to help each end. You just have to try to be a step ahead and have a plan to handle that.”

(On DT Aaron Donald not being present in film from the Rams-Colts game and how that will affect their game planning)

“Well, it’s just going to come down to match-ups where Aaron is such a great player and we have to understand that he can really take over a game and we have to account for him and have a plan to block him in both the run game and the pass game. He’s a great player and we’ll certainly be aware of his presence on the field come Sunday.”

(On his first impression of McVay)

“I remember more or less meeting him when I was drafted. He was the tight ends coach. It was 2012 in the spring, we just start by doing drills on the field. I remember just throwing routes to the wide receivers and tight ends and there was this really, really young guy coaching the tight ends and I thought that’s interesting. I don’t know how old he is, but he can’t be more than 27 years old. I thought that was just unique, because where I had come from at Michigan State – which is all I had known at the time – we didn’t have coaches that were that young, position coaches. We had (Rams offensive coordinator) Matt LaFleur, we had (49ers Head Coach) Kyle Shanahan – all those coaches were young at that time, but they were all sharp. You could see right away, Sean, as he coached the tight ends – not only was he sharp, but he knew his material inside and out. There was a conviction when he taught it that what this guy is saying, not only is correct, but it’s going to help me become a better player. Regardless of his age I think guys listen to him right away and people who were older than him were willing to be coached by him because they respected his knowledge for the game and his desire for them to succeed.”

The Redskins in Week One

The Redskins defense looked good aside from the inability to get off the field on 3rd down versus the Eagles, but the offense looked very much like “a work in progress”, and special teams had too much bad and nothing really great. We’ll be looking for a rebound from Jay Gruden’s traditionally slow-starting group this week.

Jay Gruden talks to the LA press

The Turf Show Times also posted the transcript of the Gruden conference call, which covers many of the same topics. I’ll give you a bit less of the Gruden transcript:

(On what he saw from Rams QB Jared Goff in the first game and if he can already see McVay’s imprint on him)

“Yeah, obviously they scored a lot of points and they were in great situations. The defense got two touchdowns for them and they had a big lead, so it’s a lot easier for a play caller, without a doubt. You’re comfortable and your whole playbook is open. It’s a little bit more difficult when you’re trailing by seven or 10 or something like that and you have third and longs that you’ve got to deal with. But you can see his imprint without a doubt. The play-passes, the nakeds (boot legs), to the running game and obviously the drop-back passing game with all the stacks and all the different formations that you’re going to get. He’s done a good job of implementing it, making it easy for Jared and Jared did a great job of executing and that’s what you’ve got to have. You’ve got to have a guy that can handle calling all those plays and formations, but then you have to execute it and Jared did a good job.”

(On the instinct of improvisation element when play calling)

“Well you have your scripts for every situation. You have 120-150 plays sometimes on your game plan call sheet, but you have your scripts as far as third and two-to-five, third and six-to-nine, third and 10-plus – whatever it is, you have short yardage, goal line, you have redzone, redzone third downs, so you go by the script of what you practiced. You’re not going to deviate off of that. Now, what you’re going to call as far as when you’re going to call your play-actions and your running game and all that stuff, that’s the important thing, to mix it in there. But, once you get down you become one dimensional and then your script becomes very, very tight and small and that’s where it becomes difficult. Fortunately for Sean, he didn’t have to deal with that last week, hopefully he will this week (laughs). But, that’s the whole goal of this offense and anybody’s offense, quite frankly. You look around the league and there was a lot of offenses that struggled, the majority of those were down and got in a lot of third downs and couldn’t get any rhythm going. You have to convert on third downs. I don’t know what the Rams were last week, but we were three-for-10 and that just makes it hard for the play caller because the next drive you’ve got to get something going instead of maintaining the ball and field position and all that stuff where you can keep the defense off balance. Each game is different, different challenges, but it’s very important for the [playcaller] to adjust and Sean’s always done a pretty good job of that.”

(On what he saw from the Rams defense on film)

“It’s a (Rams Defensive Coordinator) Wade Phillips blueprint without a doubt. He’s an excellent football coach, we know that and he’s got great personnel. He had great personnel in Denver. I don’t know how many Pro Bowlers he had over there, I don’t know how many he’s got this year. He’s got five first-round picks on the defensive line, he’s got (Rams LB Alec) Ogletree, he’s got a heck of a corner (Rams CB Trumaine Johnson) who is a Pro Bowl type corner. (Rams S Lamarcus) Joyner is playing excellent. (Rams LB Mark) Barron, I don’t know if he’s a Pro Bowler, but he damn near looks like one. So, they’ve got a very talented defense over there and when you have talented cover guys and you can play man-to-man and rush five or four and get home with your four-man pressures, you can be very successful no matter what you call. But his system is very solid and very sound – people know what they’re doing, they don’t have any coverage mess-ups, the quarterback is always, always getting hurried, at least (Indianapolis QB Scott) Tolzien was. I mean, every play he was getting hit or had somebody in his face. When you disrupt the timing of routes and you have four-man rushes and five-man rushes that get to the quarterback, you’re going to have a ton of success on defense and that’s the look of a Wade Phillips defense right there.”

(On how difficult it is to project what the Rams will do with DT Aaron Donald)

“We know where he’s going to be – he’s going to be a three-tech and he’s going to rush and he’s going to rush hard. He’s a heck of a pass rusher, the best three-technique pass rusher and we just played a great one in (Philadelphia DT) Fletcher Cox. Now, okay, we’re done with Fletcher Cox and now we’ve got Aaron Donald, so two great challenges, two of the best three-techniques in the game back-to-back weeks. Our guards have got to be ready. They have to strap it up and protect because he’s got every move you want – he can power rush you, he can spin you, he can rip you, he gets off the snap with great tempo and he’s fast, so it will be a great challenge. Then you’ve got (Rams OLB Robert) Quinn over there and (Rams DT Michael) Brockers, they’ve got a nonstop arsenal of pass rushers. (Rams OLB) Connor Barwin still looks good. They’re a good football team.”

Two exciting AFC matchups coming after the Rams

It’ll be interesting to see if the Redskins can shake off the ugly opening week and the trip west to come away with a badly-needed win before taking on two AFC West teams: a prime-time Sunday night home game against a good Raiders team that had a gritty win to open the season, followed by a Monday night road game against the Kansas City team that just dropped a 40-burger on the Pats to open the season.

Two prime-time games against the AFC West! The Redskins get two back-to-back chances to show a national audience what kind of team they are. And two of the three games before the bye are versus teams that put up 40+ points in Week 1 — one of them against a very good team — so we should find out how good this new-look Redskin defense really is ahead of the Week 5 bye.

Taking care of NFC business first

But Sunday they have to travel to the LA and take care of business against a team that’s excited about its new head coach that we know so well,

that has a “7-9 bullshit” chip on its shoulder left over from its old head coach whom everyone loves to hate.

I don’t expect this to be an easy road trip.


Question 1: How many points will the Redskins score against the Rams?

This poll is closed

  • 9%
    less than 10
    (6 votes)
  • 28%
    11 - 17
    (19 votes)
  • 37%
    18 - 24
    (25 votes)
  • 19%
    (13 votes)
  • 4%
    (3 votes)
66 votes total Vote Now


Question 2: How many sacks will the Redskins defense get against the Rams?

This poll is closed

  • 1%
    (1 vote)
  • 16%
    (10 votes)
  • 21%
    (13 votes)
  • 30%
    (18 votes)
  • 18%
    (11 votes)
  • 6%
    (4 votes)
  • 5%
    6 or more
    (3 votes)
60 votes total Vote Now