After multiple offseasons in a row of addressing retirement rumors, Sean McVay now says he is in it for the long haul.
When head coach McVay took over for the 4-12 Los Angeles Rams in 2017, many questions were asked about the future of the franchise. The youngest coach in NFL history was taking over a team that was last in most offensive statistics the year prior, and needed a full culture reboot to stop the mediocrity that they had fallen into for roughly ten years.
McVay would go on to have success, not just 2017, but for the next five years he would not have a losing season. While compiling a 55-26 record, he was able to completely turn around an abysmal offense, win multiple division and conference titles, while also appearing in two Super Bowls, capping off the run with a 2021 Super Bowl championship.
Quickly after getting his first ring, rumors began to swirl that McVay would be retiring to leave for TV. Who could blame him? What he did in those five years as a head coach could be a very successful 15-year career for others.
McVay, however, would comeback for the 2022 season, only to experience the first losing season of his head coaching career. The year was plagued with injuries, frustration and heartbreak. As core players and coaches, from a team only a year removed from the Super Bowl, walked out the door in the offseason, most fans just waited for the inevitable announcement that McVay would be leaving too.
That announcement never came though, and he would rejoin the team this offseason, ushering in a new era of Rams football.
McVay is now in it for the long haul, addressing his decision to come back, saying:
“You don’t ever want to sit here and act like you can predict the future, but it’s not something that I’m looking at as a short-term type of decision. My plan is that this is something that I’m committed to for the long term.”
He also touched on his past retirement rumors last week on The Pivot podcast, saying:
“When all those things happen in five years, and you’re accelerating a lot of things that take a lot of time, I don’t know if there was an appreciation for all that type of stuff because it happened in a manner that, you know, went relatively quickly and the lies you tell yourself are once we’re able to do that, I’ll be ready for something else and that’s just not the truth at all.”
When speaking about his previous interest in moving to broadcasting, McVay mentioned:
“Is this something down the road in the future that I would be interested in? Of course” but continued “It’s not something that I think is anywhere in the near future now.”
There’s more evidence that McVay is ready to lead for years to come and it’s how the Rams are going about building their new group for 2023.
This group, void of many returning starters, feels very similar to McVay’s first season as a head coach in LA. Like in 2017, McVay will need to completely re-establish his culture for a large number of new players and set the tone for what is to be expected early and often.
Luckily, this time around McVay has some veterans to lean on in Cooper Kupp, who was a rookie in McVay’s first season, as well as quarterback Matthew Stafford and future Hall of Famer, Aaron Donald.
This team is very young with rookies making up almost half of the roster spots. Why would McVay, or Stafford and Donald for that matter, sign up for one more season that they know is probably going to have some growing pains, only to retire after?
I don’t believe they would.
GM Les Snead and McVay have a plan in place that involves throwing out a huge net on a high quantity of rookies, giving the team a higher probability of finding some diamonds in the rough.
Having a young defense, while keeping their high caliber offense mostly intact, looks to follow the outline set by last year’s Super Bowl winning team, The Kansas City Chiefs, who had the most rookie starts since 1991. (61 total starts between all the first year players on the roster)
There is no tanking for USC quarterback Caleb Williams, this Rams squad likely has too much talent on and off the field to warrant a pick high enough to be able to get Williams, especially after the recent addition of safety John Johnson III back to the team.
This year will be about finding some young talent, establishing a culture and being competitive in every phase of the game. It’s hard not to focus on 2024, LA will have a good amount of cap space as well as a first round pick for the first time since 2016, but I truly believe the Rams can still be a competitive team this season and maybe even sneak into a wild card spot in a wide open NFC.
If McVay can find his success from 2017, they may just make the playoffs, something McVay has done four times out of the six years he’s been a head coach. One thing is for sure, in a year of uncertainty, McVay is a constant and here to stay.