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Sean McVay’s Rams Tenure Couldn’t Have Gotten Off to a Better Start

Jared Goff and Co. put in an explosive performance to kick off their second year in their new home

Rams coach Sean McVay Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images

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The Rams beat the Colts so badly on Sunday that Indy head coach Chuck Pagano didn’t even know who they were playing.

The Rams opened the Sean McVay era about as well as possible on Sunday with a 46–9 thrashing of the Colts, the most points the franchise has scored since 2014. Rams quarterback Jared Goff, who was more of a punch line in his rookie season than an actual NFL player, looked downright competent. He finished the game 21-of-29 for 306 yards with a touchdown and no interceptions in what was easily the best performance of his young career. We’re not used to seeing him thread throws like this:

Todd Gurley had 19 rushes for 40 yards and a touchdown, a line that fantasy owners were used to last season, but he added 56 receiving yards and was rested during garbage time. Despite the pedestrian yards-per-carry number, Gurley looked every bit the electric and powerful back that Rams fans know he can be, especially on his 5-yard touchdown, during which he chopped his feet and fought past four defenders for a score.

As surprising as it is to see 46 points on the board for the Rams, the defense was the main story of the game. One of McVay’s first moves as coach was to poach Wade Phillips from the Broncos, where he was the architect of a defense that was no. 1 in DVOA the two years prior. Though the Rams already had a stout defense, adding Phillips as defensive coordinator was an instant upgrade and a wise, stabilizing presence for a young head coach. The move looked like it has already paid dividends, with the Rams’ defense scoring two pick-sixes and a safety, worth more points than the Colts scored as a team.

The Rams’ defense completely smothered the Colts’ offense, allowing only a field goal while the game was still competitive and forcing Pagano to bench quarterback Scott Tolzien in favor of Jacoby Brissett, who has been with the team since only September 2. The Rams waxed the Colts even without star defensive lineman Aaron Donald, who ended his holdout and reported to the team yesterday but had already been ruled out of this game. Adding Donald to Phillips’s defense is a scary prospect for the rest of the NFC West.

Meanwhile, the Colts looked lost at sea. Clearly Tolzien was never the answer for Indy at quarterback. Watching the offense squirm without Andrew Luck under center made it even more perplexing why the team waited until September to acquire a promising backup, especially when the Colts have had since January to prepare for Luck’s absence. But the roster is so bad that even his return alone might not be enough to stave off a bottom-five finish, especially considering how much rust he’ll have to shake off when he does return.

While the Colts are sinking, the Rams have their sights set on competing this season. They may be the youngest team in the league, and they may be led by the youngest coach ever, but if they keep playing like this, nobody will forget their name ever again.