LOS ANGELES -- The void left behind by the departures of Matt LaFleur and Greg Olson will, in some way, be filled by Sean McVay.
LaFleur left the Rams to become the Tennessee Titans' offensive coordinator and Olson is now the Oakland Raiders' offensive coordinator, which means that -- for the fourth consecutive year, really -- the voices surrounding Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff will be different. But the continuity will lie in McVay, who plans to spend a lot more time with Goff in his second year as the Rams' head coach.
McVay described it as "being more present."
"Not only the head coach-quarterback relationship, but the playcaller-quarterback relationship is paramount for us moving forward, to continue to improve on the rapport that we've already developed and the relationship that we have," McVay said in a phone conversation from the scouting combine in Indianapolis earlier this week.
"It's just being intentional about connecting with your guy. Year 2, when you don't have the amount of things that you're not necessarily accustomed to doing -- I think just getting a more comfortable rhythm will allow you to kind of project being around a little bit more, but still also letting your coaches coach."
One of the central reasons McVay landed the job as the Rams' coach when he was still only 30 years old stemmed from the growth Kirk Cousins made at quarterback under his watch. McVay was able to build a close relationship with Cousins while serving as the Washington Redskins' offensive coordinator from 2014 to 2016. But his first year as the Rams' head coach and offensive playcaller pulled him in an assortment of different directions that didn't allow him to build a close enough bond with Goff.
This year will be different.
"That's what I'm excited about," McVay said, "with the offseason and not having to do a bunch of different things, but just kind of fine-tune going into Year 2."
McVay no longer has to assemble an entire coaching staff, or map out an offseason program from scratch, or familiarize himself with a new organization, or grow accustomed to the rigors of a more demanding position. Everything should be a little bit easier now, which is why the plan was always to be more involved with Goff in his second year. It's even more crucial with LaFleur (the Rams' offensive coordinator last season) and Olson (their former quarterbacks coach) elsewhere.
But McVay expressed confidence in Shane Waldron and Zac Taylor, who will essentially replace them. The Rams will not have an official offensive coordinator this season; the duties will be split between offensive line coach Aaron Kromer, who will be the running game coordinator, and Waldron, the tight ends coach who will double as the passing-game coordinator. Taylor, who worked closely with Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill from 2012 to 2015, will move from assistant wide receivers coach to quarterbacks coach.
"It's a fine line because you want to be able to give Shane and Zac their time," McVay said of being more hands-on with Goff. "You don't want to be overbearing. The biggest thing is our ability to communicate and be on the same page. There will be more opportunities than maybe there were last year. I think that’s just with any experience as you get more comfortable with your rhythm."
After adjusting to the pro game in his rookie season in 2016, Goff made tremendous strides when he transitioned from Jeff Fisher's staff to McVay's staff in 2017. The former No. 1 overall pick made significant improvements in completion percentage (54.6 to 62.1), yards per attempt (5.3 to 8.0), touchdown-to-interception ratio (0.7 to 4.0) and passer rating (63.6 to 100.5). Goff passed for 3,804 yards with 28 touchdowns and seven interceptions in 15 regular-season games, making the Pro Bowl after guiding a team that won 11 games and led the NFL in points.
"As good as he played," McVay said, "and as many good things as we felt like we did offensively, there's a lot we can improve on, and that's what's exciting about it."
McVay's increased involvement will play out gradually, in organized team activities, during training camp and throughout the regular season. He wants Goff to keep improving on "the fundamentals, the techniques, the ownership of our offense."
"And really," McVay said, "that's a give-and-take, where it's him being able to communicate, me understanding that. I don't think you can ever have a great enough mastery just of your decision-making and what that entails."
McVay also mentioned consistency with Goff's throwing motion, something he will once again work on at the 3DQB academy during the window when NFL rules don't allow coaches to communicate with their players.
Most important for Goff, however, is "understanding the intent of all the playcalls -- what are the mechanics, what are the problems that could arise, and what are the ways that I can fix it based on my mastery of the offense?" McVay said. "It's kind of a never-ending process on always focusing on improving."