Sean McVay's quest for playcalling perfection

Clark: Gurley is the difference for Rams offense (1:22)

Ryan Clark breaks down why Todd Gurley is the key to the versatile playcalling of Sean McVay and how that makes the Rams difficult to stop. (1:22)

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. -- Sean McVay is critical of himself. But that's what he believes a good head coach and playcaller should be.

Accountability is everything for the Los Angeles Rams, the only remaining undefeated team in the NFL. And it starts with McVay.

"The cold didn't really dictate the play selection," McVay said after the Rams held off the Broncos 23-20 last Sunday in bone-chilling Denver temperatures. "If anything, the cold might have just affected my brain with some of the decisions I made."

The critique seemed harsh, if not unwarranted. The Rams, after all, had just won their sixth consecutive game -- their second straight on the road, and Todd Gurley rushed for a career-high 208 yards.

"I don't want to be some Negative Nelly," said McVay, brazenly aware of his harsh self-evaluation. But the reality is, the second-year coach points out what he must improve, knowing his team has the potential to go as far as he can lead them -- and yes, that is a Super Bowl.

The Rams feature the top-ranked offense in the NFL, Gurley leads the league in rushing yards and Jared Goff is fourth in passing yards.

But even as the Rams average 464.3 yards and 32.7 points per game, McVay sees plenty of areas for growth, beginning with him as the playcaller.

"One of the things that I'm not afraid to admit is that this is only the fourth year that I've done it," the 32-year-old McVay said. "By no means do I have all the answers or the solutions."

But he's certainly trying to find them.

Goff, who has passed for 1,928 yards and 12 touchdowns with five interceptions this season, said McVay can be too hard on himself.

"He does a great job with us," Goff said. "And he holds himself to a high standard."

In the immediate aftermath of each of the Rams' victories, McVay is quick to credit players, while often chastising himself, stating that he could have put his team in better situations.

"That's what we love about him," Gurley said. "He is just a great coach no matter if it is our fault. He is always taking the blame and he says he can do a better job."

And while some of McVay's critiques seem overly critical, he does have a point, to some extent. Despite having the top-ranked offense, the Rams are ranked ninth on third-down conversions and 12th in the red zone, where they're scoring on 56.7 percent of their trips inside their opponents' 20-yard line.

Goff is quick to shoulder some responsibility for their red zone woes. "I've thrown three interceptions in the red zone," Goff said. "And that's definitely not helping us out."

But for McVay, his players' errors start with him. "You want to make sure you're putting them in good spots," McVay said. "That's your job."

Against the Broncos -- and, as McVay pointed out, the Seahawks, Vikings, Chargers, Cardinals and Raiders -- he didn't think he always did that.

Earlier this week, he rattled off a list of plays that he would have called differently in Denver.

The fourth play of the game, Gurley was in motion, then bobbled and dropped a short pass from Goff. A similar play in Week 1 against the Oakland Raiders went for a 19-yard touchdown.

"My gut told me to take a timeout in that instance and I didn't do it," McVay said. "It ended up leading us to not executing the way that we're accustomed to and that's a result of the operation that starts with me."

Inside the two-minute warning, McVay called for a longer-developing play that resulted in Bradley Chubb sacking Goff for a 5-yard loss. And in the third quarter, Goff threw an interception that bounced off the face mask of Josh Reynolds and into the hands of Darian Stewart.

That play? Yes, McVay took the blame for it, too.

"I put us in some horrible spots throughout the game really getting impatient, forcing things that weren't there," McVay said. "The players bailed me out finding a way to get a win."

Said Goff: "He may say differently, but I thought he did a great job."

McVay spends a tedious amount of time throughout the week preparing his game plan. He's the student who studies for an exam throughout the week, shows up a bit on edge, as though he might not pass, but comes away with straight A's -- only to repeat the process again the following week.

Tape is pored over, a play menu is developed and input is sought.

"We try to do such a thorough job as a coaching staff of thinking through things," McVay said. But the challenge becomes sticking to his plan on game day, while being flexible enough to adjust when needed.

"You try to stay sound," McVay said. "Try to keep an even-keel demeanor throughout the course of the game and don't ride that emotional wave."

As McVay continues to develop as a playcaller, there's only one thing he won't budge on.

"The aggressive nature in which we operate and try to attack people," McVay said. "I'll never apologize for that."

McVay said he does not believe it's possible to call a perfect game.

But deep down, it seems the Rams coach will never stop trying.