There is only one story with the Los Angeles Rams right now and obviously it’s the fate of Sean McVay. We almost always have to wait until the right time to find out if a franchise wants to fire its head coach, but the Rams are in the rare position of holding out until the head coach decides if he wants to fire the NFL.
Or at least, put the Rams franchise on a temporary leave of absence.
The decision for the L.A. Rams and McVay to part ways or stay together is not based in failure, although the team did not have near the success that they expected to have this past season. Instead, it is based in commitment and only McVay has the power to decide if he wants to come back for a seventh season to try and become only the 13th head coach in history to reach three Super Bowls; but McVay will have done so in only seven years if he manages to return and lead the team back to the promised land.
Also known as Las Vegas, Nevada.
Site of the 2024 Super Bowl.
McVay says there is no timeline on his decision and while other teams have already begun virtual interviews with prospective candidates, including two requests already for defensive coordinator Raheem Morris, the L.A. Rams do not have to be in a rush.
After all, they are not the only team that is unclear if their current head coach will also be their next head coach.
Last year, Sean Payton announced his decision to leave the New Orleans Saints on January 25th. Bruce Arians didn’t walk away from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers until March 30th. You can make the argument that those franchises didn’t get the opportunities then to interview head coaching candidates, which is why they turned to defensive coordinators Dennis Allen and Todd Bowles with underwhelming results.
You could also argue that said opportunities would have only left them with Matt Eberflus or Nathaniel Hackett as their head coaches.
Teams also often fire head coaches after playoff runs or wait to hire head coaches until after those coordinators are done with a deep postseason appearance, such as in 2017 when the San Francisco 49ers held out until February for Kyle Shanahan. As of right now, not everybody is sold on the premise that Mike McCarthy is safe with the Dallas Cowboys, that Bowles is safe with the Bucs, or that Brandon Staley is safe with the L.A. Chargers despite those teams all being in the playoffs. Only last week, stories of Mike McDaniel being on the hot seat in Miami were much more rampant than anyone could have predicted in the middle of his first campaign with the Dolphins.
And as surprising as exits were for Payton and Arians, who really knows the future of Pete Carroll?
As such, Tuesday is the first day that teams can interview candidates and those coaches must be for teams who do not have wild card games. That means a long list of great candidates is unavailable until January 17.
The Rams still have time to decide if they want to keep Morris, in the event that they lose McVay. They also still have a week to curate a list of the coaches who they would want to speak with, even if they get a week behind potential candidates like Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson or Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon.
In the case of Gannon or any coach on a bye week, they aren’t going anywhere. And a team shock hiring Ben Johnson immediately would come as...a shock.
Given the return of Matthew Stafford and more likely than not the return of Aaron Donald, less he’s ready to walk away from tens of millions of dollars, including having to give the Rams a refund on money already paid out to him, the Rams will be an attractive destination to many coaches. They have a blank check owner, a few star players, and most importantly, the support of an NFL that is desperate for pro football to work in Los Angeles.
It would be great if Sean McVay gave us a decision one way or the other by Tuesday. We could stop writing stories about whether he will or won’t. But if McVay waits another week, it should not make a difference to the team’s ability to move in the best direction for the future with or without him.