LeGere: Bears coaches are big fans of Rams' McVay
The Bears' veteran defensive coordinator Vic Fangio will match wits Sunday night with the Rams' 32-year-old head coach and offensive architect, Sean McVay, in a mind game that could go a long way toward determining the outcome.
"He's done a great job obviously," Fangio said. "I like that he's got a simple, but yet very effective offense that creates conflicts for the defense (in) that they marry their run game and passing game together in a such a really good fashion. I've always been impressed with him."
The precocious McVay began his NFL coaching career at 22 as an assistant WR coach at Tampa Bay under Jon Gruden and became Washington's offensive coordinator in 2014 at age 28 before getting the Rams' top job two years later.
"I remember a couple years ago, not too long before he got hired by the Rams, I was speaking to a general manager in the league, and he was asking me about offensive coaches to consider because he thought he might be looking for a head coach," Fangio said. "I mentioned (McVay's) name to him. That's how highly I thought of him back then even, before the success he's had."
Bears head coach Matt Nagy, an offensive mastermind who inherited a 5-11 team and is 8-4 in his first season, has been compared to McVay. The Rams' coach took over a 4-12 team and transformed it into an 11-5 powerhouse in his first year. Nagy is a fan of his L.A. counterpart.
"Schematically, he does a great job," Nagy said. "The nice thing with both of us is I feel like we've been tutored and mentored by really good people and coaches that were in the game for a while. I have a ton of respect for Sean. The other thing that I think from others that have either coached with him or know him well or better than me is I think he does a great job connecting and he's a really good teacher.
"You've got to be able to reach your guys, and he does that. The numbers speak for themselves. He has a quarterback; he's got players. He said it (Wednesday): 'Players are what make the plays,' but he also does a great job of manipulating everything and making it work."
The offensive fireworks in the Rams' 54-51 victory over the Chiefs two weeks ago on national television highlighted the explosiveness of both those attacks, but the potency of the Rams' offense has been on display every week.
"It doesn't have to be that game only," Fangio said. "All the games you look at kind of resemble that. They're just really good. I hate to be vanilla and repetitive, but they have a really good scheme, really good playcaller, and really good players. That equals whatever they're averaging on offense."
That's 35 points per game, and as brilliant as McVay's system and play calling have been, he's also blessed with elite personnel. QB Jared Goff, an offseason workout partner of Mitch Trubisky's, has a 109.9 passer rating, which is fifth in the NFL, and he's third with a 9.1-yard average per attempt.
"He runs the show very well, as far as the play-action game," Fangio said of Goff. "He does his part in making everything look the same, and then he comes up out of there firing very accurately. They're not throwing a lot of short passes. They're throwing the ball into that 15-, 25-yard range and beyond, and he's a very accurate passer in those areas, and he's done a great job with this offense."
Having the threat of NFL rushing leader Todd Gurley forces opponents to respect the Rams' play-action game and is the cornerstone of the offense.
"Great player," Fangio said. "Good size. Good speed. Runs hard. Got great vision. Does a really good job in their running game, their zone schemes, of how to find the open area, hit it and get it. And he's an excellent receiver out of the backfield, too. So he's a complete back."
And he's a big reason why Rams have a complete offense.
• Bob LeGere is a senior writer at Pro Football Weekly. Follow Bob's Bears reports on Twitter @BobLeGere or @PFWeekly.