Rams and Sean McVay's preseason code of silence unveils new wrinkles in Week 1

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. -- Sean McVay knew it wasn’t for everyone.

But the Los Angeles Rams coach stuck to his plan and kept his offensive starters on the sideline, with his refreshed playbook under wraps, the entire preseason.

The result?

The offense started the season healthy, with some rust, but also with plenty of promise as the unit overcame a slow start in a season-opening victory over the Oakland Raiders.

“I think just any first-time games at the beginning of the year, you’re dealing with some of that,” quarterback Jared Goff said of the rust. “You saw it around the league and it’s no different for us. Just the first drive or two you can kind of get those jitters out and move on.”

New wrinkles have been added to an offense that last season averaged 29.9 points per game to lead the NFL in scoring. And a few old tricks have been re-tooled, with 10 of 11 starters returning.

Over the offseason, Goff lost his deep target when receiver Sammy Watkins signed a three-year, $48 million free-agent contract with the Kansas City Chiefs.

Enter Brandin Cooks, who the Rams acquired in an offseason trade with the New England Patriots in exchange for a first and sixth-round pick.

“He stretches the field because of his speed,” Goff said.

Cooks, a first-round pick in 2014, caught five passes for 87 yards. And the potential was there to double the total.

Goff and Cooks developed notable chemistry throughout the offseason program and training camp, connecting on deep routes daily. But against the Raiders, they missed on two attempts that could have gone for touchdowns.

“A couple of inches,” Goff said. “Some games you hit all of them, sometimes you don’t.”

Instead, Cooks drew pass interference on both plays, 87 yards in total -- the most yards gained on defensive pass interference for the Rams in a game in the last 15 years, according to ESPN Stats and Information.

“I look at it from a standpoint of what we have to go forward and build on,” Cooks said. “Just got a lot of work to do to continue to better ourselves.”

And what about the jet sweep that McVay often utilized last season with Tavon Austin, who has since been traded to the Dallas Cowboys?

The motion lives on. Austin has been replaced by committee.

Cooks ran the jet sweep for a five-yard gain in an opening drive. The next series, Todd Gurley was in motion and took a shovel pass 19 yards for a touchdown. Later in the first half, Cooper Kupp got in on the action for a 12-yard pick up. And not to be left out, Robert Woods took a handoff and went six yards before halftime.

“It was a great overall team effort,” said Gurley, who rushed for 108 yards in 20 carries and caught four passes for 39 yards and a touchdown.

As for Goff, the third-year pro overcame a difficult first half to finish 18-of-33 for 233 yards and two touchdowns.

The knowledge, trust and command that he demonstrated throughout training camp was on display, even as he missed on deep throws to Cooks and Woods and had a sack-fumble, which the Rams recovered.

“I thought he settled in pretty good,” McVay said. “Some of those throws that we just missed, you know those are hard throws down the field where it’s just a tick off and he’ll continue to work at that.”

The sample size was small - one game, 60 plays. But McVay showed just enough to keep opponents guessing.

And for Goff, there’s at least one certainty about the new-look offense going forward.

“We are going to stay aggressive,” Goff said. “We love these guys going deep and keep throwing it.”