Back in February, the Los Angeles Rams and head coach Sean McVay became World Champions, finally cashing in on their ‘F them picks’ philosophy that so many questioned could ever work in a league as unpredictable as the NFL.
Now, the team is experiencing the downside of that mindset, which is the lack of depth at key positions if players do go down. Let’s be honest, the Rams have not drafted very well lately, as some below average players have been somewhat hidden behind the star players that the team has accumulated.
Without Andrew Whitworth, the offensive line has taken a massive step back, with players under-performing as well as injuries occurring all over the lineup. In turn, the run game has taken a huge hit, making it virtually impossible to run the ball. Not only that, but aging quarterback Matthew Stafford has taken a beating because of the porous offensive line. Without Odell Beckham Jr., the Rams lack a legitimate threat outside of Cooper Kupp, as the signing of Allen Robinson has looked more and more like a bad fit for both sides.
On the other side of the ball, the loss of Von Miller was evident early on in the season, as the team lacked constant pressure aside from the greatness of Aaron Donald. Darious Williams left town for Jacksonville in the offseason, which left a hole in the corner spot opposite that of Jalen Ramsey.
The Rams lost key players in key roles heading into the ‘Run it Back’ season, needing their homegrown talent to step up and perform well in those roles in order to achieve the same sort of success that they did in 2021. However, that has not been the case, and L.A. is now suffering from the lack of depth.
Not only is the squad suffering from a personnel perspective, but it seems as if the loss of Kevin O’Connell has had much more of an impact than many would have imagined prior to the season. Listen, Sean McVay is as brilliant as it gets on the offensive side of the ball, and I am not saying that O’Connell was the key to the offensive success the Rams saw last season. However, I will say that McVay needs to be challenged at times, maybe by a second opinion that he respects and will listen to as he sees fit.
O’Connell famously called the first touchdown in the 2021-2022 NFC Championship game on a 3rd and long, in which McVay praised him for during the game. Following O’Connell’s departure to the Minnesota Vikings, Los Angeles brought in Liam Coen, former Kentucky offensive coordinator as well a former Rams assistant coach. The offense this season, to put it simply, has been elementary, with absolutely zero identity throughout the year thus far.
A majority of that drop-off does have to do with the lack of production/injuries up front, so McVay gets sort of a scapegoat in the lack of offense this season. With that being said, we have become accustomed to seeing this L.A. offense near the top of the league in terms of yardage/points per game, so there is a standard that McVay has set for himself that he will be, rightfully so, compared to.
With all of that being said, there is one question that I believe more need to consider, and that is as follows: Was Sean McVay as focused as he has been in his previous off-season’s this past off-season?
He became the youngest head coach in NFL history, won NFL coach of the year in just his first season, took the Rams to a Super Bowl in his second season, and won the Super Bowl in his fifth season. Since becoming head coach in 2017, McVay and the Rams have been to two Super Bowls, won the NFC West three times, and have made the playoffs four times. Sean McVay has accomplished more in five (soon to be six) seasons than many head coaches will in their entire careers, stamping himself as the greatest head coach in Rams franchise history.
Coming off of a Super Bowl victory, McVay officially accomplished all he had ever dreamed of at the young age of just 36 years. Prior to that victory he was an extremely hungry coach, desperate to get back to the Super Bowl to avenge his embarrassing showing on the grand stage back in Super Bowl 53. Football has always been the biggest part of his life, relentlessly pursuing greatness on a yearly basis en route to trying to become the best.
Now, not to say football is no longer important to him, but McVay is now a married man, he and his wife officially tied the knot in the same year he hoisted the Lombardi Trophy. McVay has said before that he is concerned about ‘burning out’, as he has already spent a vast majority of his life either playing or coaching in the sport. He has also said he wants to start a family soon and, given his experiences as a football son/grandson, he wants to be more present than they were at times in his upbringing.
Sean McVay undoubtedly loves football, and will most likely be around the game in some way, shape, or form until the day he dies. He already has interest from the likes of ESPN and Amazon to be one of their main commentators, so he already has a post-coaching career lined up and waiting for him. Even so, I do not believe Sean McVay’s drive and competitiveness that put him in the position he is in today will allow him to leave on such a sour note.
Sometimes in life, when people achieve great things, complacency can inevitably set in. The comfort in knowing that you’ve reached the mountain top can, understandably so, lead someone to take a step back and bask in your own greatness. The only way to get back into that same mindset as before reaching the mountain top is to hit rock bottom, which McVay and the Rams have done this season.
Although Sean McVay has the ability to take the easy way out in this situation and pursue a post-coaching career, I do not believe he will. McVay wants to be great, and no great bows out when things get tough, he is simply not cut from that type of cloth. I fully expect Sean McVay to return to the Rams next season and, not only that, come back better than he ever has before, channeling that same hunger that put him in the position he is in today.