LOS ANGELES—Kirk Cousins was an eager young quarterback and Sean McVay a precocious offensive co-ordinator when they got together in Washington.
After they collaborated on two tremendously-productive seasons, the partnership led to big things for both men: McVay became the NFL's youngest head coach in Los Angeles while Cousins got an $84-million contract in Minnesota.
“I'm very grateful for having crossed paths with him," Cousins said. ”And I'm always rooting for him.
“But certainly, though, we want to get the 'W' this week.”
Indeed, they're getting back together tonight in a compelling early-season NFC showdown between McVay's Rams (3-0) and Cousins' Vikings (1-1-1).
And both say they wouldn't be there under the Coliseum lights without the other.
“I feel fortunate to have worked with Kirk,” McVay said.
“Sometimes you hear people talk about not having the strongest arm or whatever, [but] I'm not sure what film they're watching,” McVay added.
“He can make every single throw.”
Their meeting will be an interesting barometer for both teams' early-season fortunes.
The Rams largely have been outstanding during their unbeaten start to a season that has picked up right where McVay's first team left off.
But coach Mike Zimmer's Vikings defence gave perhaps the most impressive performance of last season against the high-octane Rams, who managed only one early touchdown from Todd Gurley in a 24-7 loss at Minnesota.
“We didn't run the ball as well as we had in other games against this defence,” said Aaron Kromer, the Rams' running game co-ordinator.
“They're a stout defence. They're built to stop the run," he noted. ”That's their No. 1 goal.
“We have to do a much better job,” Kromer added.
“I think we're a lot smarter football team than we were in the past so I hope that shows [tonight].”
The Vikings flew to L.A. on Tuesday evening, hoping to better acclimate to the two time-zone change. The Vikings are 1-5 in Thursday night road games, winning only at Dallas in 1978.
Travelling cross-country to play one of the NFL's best teams with three days of rest is a daunting task.
“Yeah, it's a problem," Zimmer conceded. ”We haven't had a home game on a short week since I've been here in five years.
“But you play the schedule how it is.”
The Rams also are unenthused about their short-week schedule, although they're grateful they got to stay home for it.
McVay joked that he's running on “maybe two” hours of sleep per night.
Last weekend, Gurley summed up many players' feelings about Thursday football: “It's the dumbest thing ever.”
The Vikings will play without defensive end Everson Griffen, a captain and three-time Pro Bowl pick.
The former USC star won't make his Coliseum return while he is sidelined indefinitely for treatment of mental illness following a pattern of erratic and threatening behaviour.
With players, coaches, and staff concerned about Griffen's well-being, the show must go on.
Stephen Weatherly had his first career sack against the Buffalo Bills while starting in place of Griffen on Sunday.
The Rams, meanwhile, have bigger problems than a late start time.
Their star-studded defence suddenly is short-handed after former Pro Bowl cornerbacks Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters both incurred injuries in last week's win over the San Diego Chargers.
Talib needs ankle surgery and will be out for at least eight weeks. Peters' calf injury isn't so serious but still might keep him out.
The Rams likely are to go against Cousins with back-up cornerbacks, including Sam Shields, Troy Hill, and Nickell Robey-Coleman.
“I feel like we're going to be great,” Robey-Coleman said.
“I can't take away from the hard work that every guy on this depth chart put in to get an opportunity to get on the field.”