The NFL’s grand Sean McVay experiment is nearly to the season’s midpoint, and the results are mixed.
The Green Bay Packers and the Cincinnati Bengals hired young McVay disciples. Neither had experience as a head coach.
Matt LaFleur, 39, has guided the Packers to a 6-1 start.
Zac Taylor, 36, is winless with the Cincinnati Bengals, the seventh time the franchise has started the season with seven losses.
McVay, in his third season, matches up against Taylor, the Rams’ assistant receivers coach in 2017 and quarterbacks coach last season, on Sunday when the Rams play the Bengals at Wembley Stadium in London.
McVay, LaFleur and Taylor remain in contact.
“I’ve always stayed in touch with Sean,” Taylor said Wednesday. “We spoke probably two or three weeks ago. Obviously, as the game gets closer you don’t want to talk to anybody over there.”
The Rams’ 37-10 victory over the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday ended a losing streak at three games and improved their record to 4-3 heading into the game, their second in London under McVay.
The Bengals lost 27-17 to the Jacksonville Jaguars. But Taylor said he has seen weekly improvement.
“Culture is turning the right way,” he said. “There’s a lot of positives that kind of go unseen right now because we haven’t matched it with a lot of wins, but we see the progress and that this team’s heading in the right direction.”
Said McVay: “To see the way that he’s handled things only further demonstrates why he’s a special person.”
Taylor’s knowledge of the Rams might help a Bengals defense that ranks last in the NFL in total yards and rushing yards given up. The Bengals are giving up nearly 27 points per game.
“It kind of works both ways,” Taylor said of his familiarity with McVay’s system. “You don’t want to overthink it and overcoach. ... You don’t want to hang your hat on one thing because he does a great job of studying himself, studying what they put on the tape and using all the complementary pieces to help cover up the tendencies you think you know.”
Rams quarterback Jared Goff said Taylor’s insight about his tendencies and the Rams’ strengths and weaknesses only goes so far.
“We have changed a lot in the last six to nine months,” Goff said. “Since he was here, we’ve changed defensively, offensively, schematically at times.
“There is the thought that he will be a step ahead of us, but we’re going to go out and play our game. I wish Zac the best, still want to beat him this week, but I wish him the best and I think he will do a great job moving forward.”
Shane Waldron, the Rams’ pass-game coordinator, interviewed with the Bengals after last season. He keeps an eye on LaFleur and Taylor but said he is not looking ahead to a possible opportunity for himself.
“Really just more worried about this year,” he said. “Figure out the other stuff later.”
Cornerback Troy Hill (hamstring), running back Malcolm Brown (ankle) and linebacker Bryce Hager (linebacker) did not practice, according to the injury report. ... The Rams practiced at Georgia Tech, and will do so again Thursday before departing for London in the evening.