Rams' Sean McVay using timeouts earlier than other coaches – ESPN (blog)


THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. — The Los Angeles Rams had just won decisively, beating the division-rival Arizona Cardinals, 33-0 to head into their bye week with a 5-2 record.

But one aspect continued to gnaw at first-year head coach Sean McVay: His premature use of timeouts.

“Inexcusable,” McVay said after Sunday’s game from London. “It’s something that I’ve got to get fixed and that’s really the bottom line.”

McVay has burned 73.1 percent of his timeouts outside the final two minutes of either half, a time when coaches often need to conserve clock. It’s the highest percentage in the NFL, according to research from ESPN’s analytics department. In the most recent win, McVay used all three of his first-half timeouts with more than 12 minutes remaining, which kept him from challenging a call that could have been reversed.

Rams special-teams coordinator John Fassel, who served as the team’s interim head coach in the final three games last season, will tell you that McVay is simply using his timeouts when he needs them, which is really the point. Most of the time, Fassel added, the timeouts have been utilized to get the Rams out of what would’ve been a bad play.

“I think it’s been great,” Fassel said. “I’m really happy with the way he’s used them.”

But McVay believes he can be more prudent. On Tuesday, he was asked if there’s anything about his in-game management that he still needs to work on and cracked, “Other than the timeouts?”

It drew a laugh, but he wasn’t joking.

“Some of those timeouts is inexcusable,” McVay said, “and those are things that are very important.”

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