Sean McVay talks up how ‘hypothetically’ Odell Beckham Jr. would fit with Rams
Keen anticipation was an early hallmark of coach Sean McVay’s play-calling success for the Rams, so it came as no surprise that he utilized the skill when he sat down for breakfast with reporters at the NFL owners meetings Tuesday.
After McVay sipped from a glass of water, but before he was fully settled into his seat or fielded a question, he posed one.
“Suh or the speculation on Odell first,” he said, “which one is it?”
For the next hour, with his voice beginning to scratch near the midpoint, McVay seamlessly handled queries about the Rams’ most recent acquisition — star defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh — and the pursuit of New York Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr.
As he did Monday night after news broke of the Rams’ interest in Beckham, McVay prefaced answers to questions about him by saying he could not talk about other teams’ players because of tampering rules. He then reiterated that the Rams have demonstrated this offseason that they are not shy about pursuing any trade.
Translation: The Rams would love to add Beckham to a team that led the NFL in scoring last season.
Many coaches and NFL executives disdain and refuse to answer questions posed as hypotheticals. But McVay politely and enthusiastically embraced an onslaught.
“Hypothetically, I think a player of his caliber can kind of really do everything,” McVay said.
Asked, hypothetically, how he felt about trading a first-round pick or using other options to acquire a targeted player, McVay replied with what sounded like a not-so-veiled recruiting pitch.
“One of the things that being able to play in such a unique environment and atmosphere like L.A., it provides an opportunity to take advantage of that,” he said, “and that’s something we want to be proactive about.”
How would McVay give everyone on a star-laden offense enough touches if, hypothetically, Beckham joined the Rams?
“As long as we have lot of snaps a game,” he said, “I think we can keep everybody happy.”
On Monday, several people with knowledge of the situation said that the Rams had contacted the Giants about Beckham, who is entering the final year of his contract.
After Tuesday’s breakfast, which featured all 32 of the league’s coaches at separate tables, Giants general manager Dave Gettleman was asked if the Rams had reached out regarding Beckham.
“I’m not responding to that report,” Gettleman said.
Regardless of whether Beckham eventually lands in Los Angeles, where he spends the offseason, the addition of Suh and cornerbacks Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib injects three large personalities into the Rams’ defense and locker room.
Not a problem, according to McVay.
“The defensive coordinator has more swag than all of them,” he said, referring to 70-year-old Wade Phillips, “so we’ll be in good shape.”
After the Rams announced they had agreed to terms with Suh on a one-year contract, Phillips tweeted a GIF of cartoon character SpongeBob SquarePants giving a thumbs-up.
Now he will oversee a defense that features two of the NFL’s most dominant tackles, Suh and Aaron Donald, playing side-by-side in a 3-4 scheme.
McVay said that Suh would line up as the nose tackle in the Rams’ base defense. Donald, the reigning NFL defensive player of the year, will continue to play the “three-technique” position, which typically lines up on the outside shoulder of an offensive guard.
“He’s coached a lot of great players,” McVay said, “and I don’t think it’s by chance that those great players seem to have their best production under his guidance and under his leadership.”
The Rams sought feedback from Donald, Peters, Talib, defensive lineman Michael Brockers and safety Lamarcus Joyner while pursuing Suh, McVay said. Donald, 26, also communicated with the 31-year-old Suh during the process, the coach said.
“The mutual respect that exists between those two players was imperative and really paramount to even pursue this in the first place,” McVay said. “They felt good about it.
“And I think the one thing you feel so good about Aaron Donald is he said, ‘Hey, the guy’s a great football player. If he can help us win let’s get him on board.’”
Suh, who will earn $14 million, has a reputation for overly aggressive play. He accrued nearly $300,000 in fines and was suspended for two games during his first five seasons with the Detroit Lions. He was not fined by the league during his three seasons playing for the Miami Dolphins.
“He doesn’t shy away from some of the things that have gone on in the past,” McVay said. “But I think when you really look back at it, that’s in his past and I think he’s learned from it. He’s moved on.”
The Rams, however, have not made a long-term investment in Suh.
“If he’s able to do the things that we expect, and I think that he anticipates as well, this is something that we hope to extend past that one year,” McVay said. “But in this league you take it one year at a time.”
Follow Gary Klein on Twitter @latimesklein
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