Rare that a head coach gets asked what his coin toss approach is, but Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay was asked this question during the final episode of season two of the “Flying Coach” podcast on Wednesday morning.
Obviously, choosing “heads” or “tails” helps set the tone for the rest of the game. However, one fan asked if McVay swings a certain way due to the fact that teams have preferred kicking off the football instead of receiving it. One example: According to a March 2020 report from Bruins Analytics, playoff teams between 2015 to 2019 chose to defer 85% of the time. Back in 2002-2006, teams chose to kick off at a rate of 5.5%.
But McVay revealed it’s not always him who chooses whether to send the kicking unit or kick return team.
“I defer to our players on that,” McVay said on the podcast he co-hosts with the NFL Network’s Peter Schrager.
‘Whatever Their Feel Is’
While McVay is tabbed as an offensive guru, he’s joined the litany of coaches who prefer to start off on defense. But again, he turns to his players on that front, saying “Whatever their feel is.”
McVay then unveiled the one Ram who had a lot of sway in coin toss decisions.
“I know Cooper Kupp liked to have lot of influence on whatever Jared (Goff) would call,” McVay said.
And the receiver turned out to be a good luck charm when it came to the silver dollar.
“It was uncanny the amount of coin tosses we won when we were actually making that decision,” McVay joked.
Still Playing the Possession Game
There was one notable coin toss dilemma involving McVay and the Rams back in December 2019.
Regardless if the Rams win or lose the coin toss, McVay is more about winning the possession game. He points to one strategy after the flip of the coin.
“I think in a lot of instances, it’s about trying to steal that possession at the end based on how you want to play out the first half as trying to get a possession, kind of a 2-for-1 if you will, where you get a possession before you get into the half and then you know you’re getting it coming out of the half,” McVay explained. “I would say this: For the most part, if you said the over-arching philosophy of what I’ve done the majority of the time would be defer. But if you felt like ‘Hey man, we need some momentum’ or we’re going to come out and we need to talk to the team about taking the ball and we’re going right down the field and score, then you might take the ball first.”
One other aspect that plays a role into deciding to defer: The outside elements.
“You know the weather plays a factor – the wind and all of those things would be the outliers that you can’t be naive about to ignore as a coach,” McVay said. “Generally speaking, if the weather and the elements for that specific week are a factor, you’re typically deferring and you try to be smart about how that thing unfolds.”
More on McVay’s final podcast episode of the season, which featured Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin and Rams defensive coordinator Raheem Morris as guests, can be listened to below.