Redskins head to LA familiar with Rams' McVay
LOS ANGELES -- Los Angeles Rams coach Sean McVay will welcome some old friends to the Los Angeles Coliseum on Sunday.
Then he will try to bury their season.
After watching nearly everything go right in their 46-9 demolition of the Indianapolis Colts, the Rams (1-0) will face a Washington Redskins team trying to avoid an 0-2 start.
McVay spent seven seasons with Washington, including the last three as offensive coordinator, during which time he helped develop quarterback Kirk Cousins. It's safe to say he knows a little bit about the team's offense.
"To go against Sean the first time is kind of nerve-racking," Trent Williams, the Redskins' All-Pro left tackle, told the Los Angeles Times. "Because I know for a fact he knows everything about everybody on this team that was here when he was here."
McVay pointed out that the familiarity is a double-edged sword.
"You want to help guys out with some of the keys that you have, but it will be the same thing with (Redskins coach) Jay (Gruden) knowing exactly how we want to operate offensively," McVay said during a conference call with reporters. "So I think it kind of goes both ways, but really as a coach, you are just trying to make sure we make good decisions and try to put our players in good spots to have success."
Any advantage McVay has only adds to the Redskins' worries after their 30-17 loss to the Eagles.
Despite preaching balance, Washington never established the run, Cousins was sacked four times, and when he did have time to throw he was often inaccurate, completing 23 of 40 attempts.
History would suggest Cousins will rebound. In his three season openers he has thrown five interceptions and lost two fumbles. He and the offense will have to be better Sunday. Following the Rams, Washington hosts the Raiders on Sunday night, then travels to Kansas City before their bye week.
The Rams defense dominated -- and outscored -- the Colts, putting up 16 points. The Colts made only 10 first downs and were 0 of 10 on third-down conversions, the first time a team hasn't converted a third down since the last week of 2015, when Cincinnati went 0 for 9 versus Baltimore.
The rich will get richer if defensive tackle Aaron Donald, who ended his 37-day contract holdout and reported to the Rams the day before the opener, is ready to play.
Cousins and company will confront a secondary that returned two interceptions for touchdowns against the Colts while surrendering just 150 yards through the air.
Redskins wide receiver Josh Doctson, who missed three of four preseason games with a hamstring injury, wasn't targeted during his 20 snaps Sunday. He was limited in practice Wednesday with a hamstring injury, according to Gruden.
Washington's revamped defense showed improvement against the Eagles. The Redskins stopped the run and scored on linebacker Ryan Kerrigan's interception return.
The problem was that they couldn't get off the field often enough, a carryover from a year ago. The Redskins' defense allowed the Eagles to convert 8 of 14 third downs, including six of 7 yards or more.
"At the end of the day, you've got to rush the passer," Gruden said. "You can't give the quarterback time to throw and set his feet that easily like we did. It's easy for pro quarterbacks to pick you apart and find an open receiver if they have time."
Redskins safety D.J. Swearinger (back) was limited Wednesday. For the Rams, safety Maurice Alexander and cornerback Kayvon Webster (shoulder) did not practice.
Rams quarterback Jared Goff connected with eight receivers while completing 21 of 29 passes for 307 yards and a touchdown in Week 1. His new receivers -- Sammy Watkins, Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp -- combined for 12 catches.
Goff will need to duplicate that effort as the Rams managed 63 yards on 33 carries for a dismal 1.9 yards per attempt average against the Colts, while the Redskins held the Eagles to 58 yards rushing.
"Obviously their scheme is new. They've got a new defensive coordinator, but I think just all across the board, they've got talent from the front seven all the way through the secondary," Goff said of the Redskins. "You've got to be careful with them and just take care of the ball."
Sunday's reunion will leave someone disappointed, but midweek Cousins was happy to reflect on McVay's impact on his success.
"I mean, Sean meant a lot to my career," Cousins said. "I signed a jersey for him when he left and it just said -- and there's a lot of people I could say this to but certainly to him -- I just said 'I owe you my career,' and then signed it."