Even when Sean McVay took over as a first-time head coach in 2017 for an L.A. Rams team that had gone 4-12 the season before, he’s never had a roster anything like this one. McVay knew that days like Tuesday were probably inevitable, but the NFL’s youngest head coach was no less frustrated by Rams players at the team’s latest practice.
And that’s not even counting the fact that one of L.A.’s best players left with a hamstring injury with an undetermined recovery timeline.
“We got a really long way to go,” said McVay, practically unprompted to be that honest about his players. But the usually upbeat personality in press conferences who is a master at diplomatic coachspeak wasn’t afraid to hold back after the second day in pads.
Asked about edge rusher Byron Young, the team’s third round pick and arguably the number one outside linebacker on the roster because L.A. lacks many other choices, McVay gave a couple of compliments but was quick to say that he’s “got a long ways to go.”
McVay continued with statements like:
“We were sloppy, not sharp.”
“We have to be better than we were today.”
“It’s not about one guy doing his job, it’s about all 11, I didn’t think that was reflected good enough as a whole.”
“I didn’t think yesterday was frustrating...If there’s a gimme you’re giving up, those are things I want to be better at as a team.”
“Because we’re making a mistake because of coverage or rush integrity or because we’re not doing what we’re supposed to be doing on the offensive side of the ball. Those are the things I get frustrated (by) and I felt that was too consistent of a theme whether it be offense or defense.”
On the Rams top draft pick, guard Steve Avila, McVay said he “did good” but had to mention that Avila “got tired today,” and that he wasn’t the only rookie to seem ill prepared for NFL-level conditioning.
“I like his mindset and mentality, but like all rookies, this is a different deal. We have to be physically and mentally ready for a full season and push through on these types of days.”
The “positive spin” McVay ended by saying that bad days were a necessary part of the maturation process and said he wanted guys to be stressed so that they could learn from mistakes. But ultimately, feeling that he had seen better days from L.A.’s young roster earlier in the offseason, McVay felt he didn’t get the best effort possible from the team.
“I know that we can be better than that.”
McVay has a little more than a month left to figure out which of his young players will be starting, who will have a key reserve role, and who isn’t ready for primetime. Through the first week of practice, it doesn’t sound like that answer is much more clear on Wednesday than it was after the draft.