The progression was picture-perfect, and it resulted in a touchdown.
On a second-and-goal play against the New Orleans Saints, Rams quarterback Jared Goff caught the snap in the shotgun formation, dropped back and quickly surveyed the coverage.
He looked to his far right and saw that receiver Cooper Kupp was covered. He turned his head slightly and pump-faked to tight end Gerald Everett.
And then — in a move that belied a seasoned-veteran — he pointed at receiver Josh Reynolds in the middle of the end zone and directed him to keep moving left.
Goff fired a pass and the diving Reynolds caught it for his first touchdown.
The play — in a victory that improved the Rams’ record to 8-3 — showed Goff’s development.
“That’s a great representation of a mature quarterback,” McVay said Wednesday.
Goff had help.
The Rams had lined up quickly. Just as Goff appeared ready to begin a snap count, he paused, looked to the sideline and then called an audible. It came from McVay and was delivered through the earpiece in Goff’s helmet.
NFL rules allow coaches to talk to one offensive player and one defensive player between plays until 15 seconds remain on the play clock.
And McVay, the Rams’ play-caller, has maximized that time with Goff, especially when the Rams line up quickly to afford McVay extra time to evaluate the defense.
“He’s great on the headset,” Goff said.
Sometimes, Goff said, McVay utilizes all of the allotted time. Others he uses only five or 10 seconds.
McVay said he communicates with Goff the same way he did with quarterbacks Kirk Cousins and Colt McCoy with the Washington Redskins, and that various tempos of the offense dictate how much time he spends communicating with Goff.
He dismissed reports that intimated he was solely responsible for Goff’s success at the line of scrimmage.
“To say that I’m in his ear the whole time, that wouldn’t be the case,” McVay said.
Said Goff: “There’s plenty of times where it gets below 15 and we have to ad-lib a little bit.”
Whatever the case, it’s working.
After struggling in seven starts last season under former coach Jeff Fisher and offensive coordinator Rob Boras, Goff is flourishing.
He has passed for 2,964 yards and 18 touchdowns, with five interceptions. He is completing 62% of his passes going into Sunday’s road game against the Arizona Cardinals.
“We talk about it all the time,” McVay said, “the quarterbacks being an extension of the coaching staff.
“And that’s certainly what Jared has become.”
McVay’s scheme and play-calling have fast-tracked Goff’s development.
Goff also has benefited from improved offensive line play, Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said.
“Last year he hardly had a chance to stand in there and throw it,” Arians said during a teleconference. “But, the running game and then his pocket presence — he knows exactly where he’s going with the football, and he’s got that great arm and if you let him sit still in that pocket he’s going to kill you.”
McVay’s communication with Goff at the line of scrimmage was not unusual, Arians said.
“It’s not the first time it’s been done, that’s for sure,” he said. “When you have a young quarterback in a new system it helps tremendously.
“You wish you could talk to him all the way to five seconds.”
The last time Goff faced the Cardinals he completed 22 of 37 passes for 235 yards and a touchdown, with one interception, in a 33-0 rout at London.
He has remained efficient, passing for more than 300 yards three times in the last four games.
Goff’s touchdown pass last week to Reynolds, McVay said, was an example of Goff turning a poor play call by the coach into a success.
“That was all him,” McVay said, adding, “That’s good players making a bad play call look very good right there.”