Rams head coach Sean McVay has moments of incredible self-awareness and honesty and a moment like that came in the coach’s latest press conference when he said, “I was spoiled with a lot of the good things.”
Referencing his early success as a head coach and perhaps his success in general, McVay goes on to talk about needing to learn from it. We’ll get into the entire quote below, but that right there sums up what makes this coach so endearing to fans. He is aware, he wants you to know he is aware, and he wants you to know that is all ok.
As if to say to Rams nation you are ok, he is ok, and right now the Rams are ok because they are in real playoff contention, but the team and fans shouldn’t only be happy about being in playoff contention. It’s that the team looks like they can get better.
McVay quickly gets into talking about the Cleveland Browns and their defense coordinator, Jim Schwartz. The Rams head coach expresses and almost seems to lament having to go against this particular coordinator so many times. It’s fair to say these coaches know each other well, and it’s fair to say that Schwartz may have an idea or two on how to deal with McVay’s offense.
“All three levels. You know...Coach Scwartz does an excellent job. He’s always...been a guy that I have a lot of respect for from going against him, Whether it was when I was back in Washington or you know even in our early parts of when we first got here. It seemed like we played Philly almost every single year when he was the d-coordinator.”
Whether Myles Garrett suits up for the Browns or not this defense is going to be difficult. I would expect them to come at Matthew Stafford and the offensive line is going to need to hold up to keep Stafford upright.
“They’ve got great players on all three levels of the defense. They do an excellent job of really attacking you...they’re as good as advertised.”
The AFC North may have four of the toughest defenses in football. The Rams have already played the Cincinnati Bengals and the Pittsburgh Steelers this season. LA is 0-2 in those games. Now they face the Browns. The Rams have another chance to get their first win against an AFC North opponent this season in Week 13.
“We gotta be ready for all of them.”
As mentioned at the top this Rams team has seemingly shown an ability to get better. The head coach seems to agree that this roster has grown in the last 12 weeks of the NFL season.
“They’ve come along way. You know they’re conscientous. I think it’s a real credit to them.”
As much credit goes to the players as possible, but there is another group that deserves high praise as well. The coaches. Especially on the defensive side of the ball.
“I think the coaches deserve a tremendous amount of respect to be able to work in collaboration and coordination with those guys...I think our defense has really done a nice job. Especially coming off of the bye.”
The NFL is loaded with talent. Take the worst team in the league. They are still one of the best football teams in the entire world. Top 32 even. What is a major difference between a lot of these teams? It’s not all about talent. It’s about coaching too. However this right combination of talent, coaching and execution has this team humming.
How does the team feel about being in the playoff hunt? Is the team aware of what it takes to stay relevent and in contetion?
“I think really the guys understood that ‘Hey if you take care of your business then you keep, you know, playing games that have importance and you stay relevant in regards to those things you’re talking about.’...If you take care of your business then that conversation continues on.”
McVay clearly feels the team is growing, he says it week in and week out, but now the fans are seeing it, and the team is seeing it with back to back wins. Part of the reason for LA’s turnaround has been the emergence of Royce Freeman.
“Grown man, physical player, pro’s pro.”
Between Freeman and Kyren Williams it seems like the Rams have found a one-two punch that can work for this season. Maybe even more than just this season, but one season at a time.
“Him and Kyren being able to compliment one another was key and critical for our run game and obviously the big fellas did a great job with that as well.”
Can Williams get better now that he has returned from IR and if so how? Can the offense continue to lean on the run game like they did against the Arizona Cardinals?
“I think just the consistency. You don’t have to press at all. Play one snap at a time...each week is a new week.”
To this point McVay had given a fairly standard presser. Nothing wrong with that, and McVay can be extraordinary even in ordinary moments. That is part of what makes him special, but at this point (around the 8:30 mark in the video above) the coach is asked a question. I can’t totally hear what is asked, but the head coach responds by talking about taking the season not one season at a time, not one week at a time, but one day at a time. Being greatful for the ups and downs, and overall trying to do the best that you possibly can do. In my opinion the head coach is not just talking about football, but of life too.
Check it out.
“I think the players and the coaches have done a great job of...just being able to stay one day at a time. You know not forget, you know, the joy and the journey. I think there’s a lot to be said...you can’t establish grit unless you go through some real challenging experiences, and you know I can’t speak for other people but I do know that...I was spoiled with a lot of the good things and it forces you to continue to grow and mature as a leader, as the man that you want to be for the people that you love and care about and...a lot of those things are the constiency of how you respond to certain things, instead of you know whether it be spoiled or taken for granted, you know, a lot of the good things that have come our way and then you just think ‘O well it’s not then you know it’s not worth it’ and that is just SO wrong, and I did not like a lot of the things that occurred last year but man...it was so neccessary...and I’m greatful for those scars, and I’m greatful for the learning opportunites that came from it. I think it makes you better equipped to be able to handle things the way that you want to instead of looking back with regret...but I can only speak for myself on that, but I’ve just been really proud of, you know...wanting to go to work and make sure that you’re not letting the person down next to you. You know, are you doing your job within the framework of your role to the best of your ability with the energy, the vibe, the work ethic, you know, the authentic enthusiasm that you’re bringing, and I think because we got the right guys in that locker room to be able to handle it the right way and the right coaches...it makes it...you know...it makes it easy to be able to say ‘Man, even when you don’t get that result you want or you have some of those setbacks, let’s just keep pushing, let’s keep growing and let’s become more resilient together.’”
Taking everything one day at a time, being yourself, doing the best of your ability within the reality of what you can control. That is great advice for life and in the case of football that is exactly what McVay thinks this team has been doing together, and because of that now the fans and the team are seeing the success that McVay has talked about all year. Even in losses the head coach would talk about growth, but that falls on deaf ears when a team loses three games in a row. Now that the team has won two game in a row all eyes and ears are open. Rams fans expect a real playoff push now. Can LA deliver? Has the team turned a corner?
“I think it’s hard to say...I think the last game was a step in the right direction...”
Playoff contention is bound to bring a new type of energy for the team and fanbase. Here’s something fun about being a fan. Fans don’t have to manage thier expectations. They can shoot for the moon. For the Rams on the other hand, it would be wise to take it one day at a time. That is all the team can do, and taking everything one day at a time seems to be working out so far.