At this point, you’re probably all tired of hearing about it. Is Sean McVay leaving or is he staying? That’s an answer that we probably won’t know for the next couple of weeks. Outside of minority candidates or coaches not currently in the NFL, teams can’t start officially interviewing coaches until January 17. It wouldn’t be surprising if a McVay decision doesn’t come until then.
As with most things in 2023, when it comes to a big story such as this one, a lot of different things are said, some of which aren’t even the truth. There’s a difference in speculation and reporting. It’s how we get Mike Florio’s report on Sunday Night Football that many have hung on to.
Mike Florio on Sean McVay: "There's a growing sense that he will [step down]. My understanding is it's not because of burnout or he wants to get into TV, he won a Super Bowl and now he's facing a multi-year rebuild that he just doesn't want to be apart of..." pic.twitter.com/I404b6g18r— @ (@FTBeard7) January 9, 2023
“There’s a growing sense that he will [step down]. My understanding is it’s not because of burnout or he wants to get into TV, he won a Super Bowl and now he’s looking at a multi-year rebuild that he just doesn’t want to be apart of.”
However, reports like these are irresponsible. There are people who do journalism the right way and others who don’t. Mike Florio has been a journalist driven by agenda. That type of journalism is dangerous and leads to misinformation. There’s little debate that Florio has had an anti-Rams agenda, specifically since the Stafford trade when the Rams went all-in. This isn’t new when it comes to Florio.
In repeated attempts to make assumptions without asking people directly! @ProFootballTalk has got another story wrong and failed to take any responsibility! Have a great Friday folks! ! https://t.co/DXyPSNOkJH— Andrew Whitworth (@AndrewWhitworth) August 26, 2022
Reports like the one above from Florio are why I believe it’s important to lay out everything that we do know about McVay’s future and the reasons why he’s considering stepping down. Clarity is needed.
Florio’s report makes McVay out as selfish and afraid of taking on a challenge. That’s not to mention the Rams don’t even need a full-on rebuild next season. Sure, they need to re-tool in areas and get healthy. However, that’s no different than many other teams that failed to make the postseason.
The report on Sunday Night Football contradicts what many others in the media have said, starting with Peter Schrager on Bill Simmons’ Podcast on The Ringer.
Could this week be Sean McVay's last game as head coach of the Rams?@BillSimmons and @PSchrags discuss McVay's future as the Rams' head coach following a down year with the team. pic.twitter.com/udFnP5R96C— The Ringer (@ringer) January 7, 2023
“I just think he is so burnt out and I’m not speaking on behalf of him, but I’ll say as someone who speaks to him often, this season has been really tough on him. And I’m taking mentally, emotionally, all of it, and it’s paired with real life stuff. You know, his wife is Ukranian. Her whole family is over there. He’s dealing with that as well. He didn’t really have a break because he got married over the offseason and then he got the honeymoon and came right back into things. With all of these injuries and all of this, he’s poured himself into it, obviously. I think he’s just spent. I don’t know if this is his last game, but he needs a long vacation and he’s going to think things through. He’s going to take some time after this season and make some decisions about his life - not just his coaching career.”
Schrager added to this on FOX NFL Sunday on Sunday morning, saying,
“I spoke with Sean McVay yesterday and this is an ongoing dialogue with both he and the Rams brass. There will be no surprise, there will be no crazy piece of new tomorrow that McVay is stepping away and retiring. Sean McVay and the Rams are talking right now in an open dialogue about his future. Anyone that tells you that has been decided already...doesn’t know because he has gone back and fourth over the last several days and he truly just wants to take the time to reconsider everything...This season was a rough one both on the field and off and he wants to take the time to asses what he wants to do for the future. Of course, the Rams want answer, but they also want the best version of Sean McVay. That answer is not known right now.”
The #Rams and Sean McVay are openly talking about his return for the 2023 season. Kliff Kingsbury surprised #Cardinals J.J. Watt with a congratulatory retirement video as he plays in his last game today.@PSchrags is keeping us In The Know ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/JXaDKAzMh1— FOX Sports: NFL (@NFLonFOX) January 8, 2023
While Schrager specifically says that he isn’t speaking on behalf of McVay, this is someone who is close to McVay and speaks to him frequently. His second report comes just one day after speaking directly to McVay. It holds much more base than the Florio report, especially when you pair that with the Adam Schefter report that echoed the same thing.
“Sean McVay’s immediate future as the Los Angeles Rams head coach is in limbo, multiple sources told ESPN. Those sources believe McVay will take some time after Sunday’s regular-season finale against the Seattle Seahawks to determine whether he will return in 2023. McVay has gone back and forth on the decision, and needs time to get away to process all that has transpired over the past year — winning a Super Bowl, being courted to work in television, getting married, watching his wife’s home country of Ukraine invaded, losing his grandfather, and then coaching a team that has fallen short of its expectations.”
Pairing Schefter and Schrager’s reports, it’s clear that this year has taken it’s toll on McVay. He lost his grandfather earlier this year which would be tough on anybody. Pair that with his wife’s family quite literally being in a war zone in Ukraine and it’s a lot. Between the short offseason following a Super Bowl win that included a wedding and honeymoon and McVay didn’t get the time away that he normally would.
NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport had a similar report. Rapoport said,
“Sean McVay plans to take some time this offseason to consider his future. This isn't something that’s particularly surprising. He actually did the same exact thing last year. You talk to people close to him, it has been trying, it has been emotional, it has been difficult.”
Lastly, there’s the piece that came from The Athletic’s Jourdan Rodrigue. According to Rodrigue,
“Sean McVay is in the process of deciding whether he wants to return to the team in 2023, and has been gathering perspective on the matter from confidants, advisers and friends, multiple team and league sources with direct knowledge of the ongoing situation...McVay’s mind is not made up, (sources) said...One league source said that the next two weeks will be pivotal to the Rams’ next steps as an entire entity...McVay does not have a timeline for making this decision, nor does he have a deadline from the Rams.”
Rodrigue does a great job outlining everything that McVay has gone through this season and it’s certainly worth a read.
There’s a lot of different layers to this. This year has been trying on McVay on the field. After everything that he’s accomplished, you can’t blame him for not wanting to rebuild if that is in fact the case. However, that’s not a challenge that McVay has shied away from in the past.
When McVay arrived in Los Angeles, the Rams were coming off of a 4-12 season and hadn’t finished with a winning record in 12 years. Jared Goff was considered a bust who couldn’t be fixed. The Rams made the playoffs in McVay’s first year.
It’s fair to say that McVay isn’t just running away from a rebuild either, especially, according to Rapoport, this is something that he considered last year as well after winning the Super Bowl.
There are a couple takeaways that we can take from these reports:
- McVay has gone through a lot over the last year both on and off the field.
- McVay’s mind is not made up. He’s going to take time over the next few weeks to evaluate his future.
- The next two weeks are important. It wouldn’t be surprising to have a decision by the Super Bowl.
- McVay’s time with the Rams is limited. He took time last year to consider his future and is doing the same this year. He’ll likely do the same next year if he does return.
The reason for Sean McVay leaving isn’t really important. Whether Florio is right and that McVay doesn’t want to rebuild or the rest of the reporting is correct and he’s dealing with burnout, it’s not important. Only McVay can answer that and when the time comes, he probably will.
It’s no surprise that Rams Coach Sean McVay might need a breather. We should find out soon if he will step away for awhile. pic.twitter.com/dWOGeT1AKr— Steve Wyche (@wyche89) January 9, 2023
Steve Wyche noted on NFL Now,
“The thing that makes him great is the fact that he runs at a completely different gear than most coaches. That’s a compliment. It’s been successful. To operate in that red line for as long as he has, at some point he did need to decompress. There’s a lot of things going on. A lot of people are going to say, ‘Ok, they lost so he doesn’t want to push through it to try to win.’ He might. They just don’t know. If they get players healthy next year, they can be competitive. For his personal well-being, he may need to take a step away...but this might need to be a simmer down period.”
After two Super Bowl appearances, a Super Bowl win, and all of his success, he’s earned a break if that’s what he needs. It’s no secret that McVay puts everything into the game. He’s not someone that’s going to “half-ass it”.
As Baker Mayfield said after the game on Sunday, “(McVay) is so truly invested in (putting) everything he has into this game. Everything he thinks about is about football.”
This is also a conversation about mental health. If we’re going to take conversations about mental health seriously, the narratives of McVay “quitting” or “being weak” need to stop. That’s especially the case if he is indeed dealing with burnout, as people like Schefter, Schrager, and Rodrigue have suggested. Those labels are disrespectful to everything that McVay has accomplished since joining the Rams.
We’ll find out sooner or later what McVay’s future is with the Rams. However, in a story like this, it’s important to lay out the facts and everything that we do know at this point. If there is anything for certain, it’s that Sean McVay’s future with the Rams is not.