The NFC West retains two of the most respected head coaches in the NFL with the Seattle Seahawks’ Pete Carroll and the Arizona Cardinals’ Bruce Arians. The San Francisco 49ers brought in offensive guru Kyle Shanahan, while the Los Angeles Rams secured the youngest head coach in NFL history in Sean McVay. Clearly McVay is the underdog of the division, and if you’re uncertain, reread the intro.
Many experts seem to focus primarily on McVay’s age, and it’s because veterans on the team are older than the coach. The age is a minor concern to the Rams’ overall problems. The Rams are coming off an abysmal 4-12 season, and they will probably have the same core players due to cap space limitations and the lack of a first round pick. The front office must be creative and selective with free agents and the 2017 NFL Draft.
The 2017 season could easily be repeat of last season’s standings. As of now, the team to beat remains the Seahawks. They are aging in some areas and still need help on the offensive line, but the Seahawks may be able to correct that this offseason. The Cardinals took a major step backward last season, but they are a quarterback away from turning things around. Another year of Carson Palmer isn’t ideal. The 49ers have a ton of work to do. Their defense has a solid foundation, but the offense will need Shanahan’s guidance. It will likely take more than one offseason to see a huge impact.
What this essentially means is that things are looking rough for McVay and the Rams, but the entire division has plenty to work on this offseason too. There’s no doubt that McVay is the underdog of the division, but that’s partially why owner Stan Kroenke and general manager Les Snead appreciate what he brings to the table. McVay has endured and thrived at the underdog role.
McVay came from an underwhelming team like the Washington Redskins. The Redskins have struggled, yet McVay has been praised despite all of this. It’s because of what he’s done with journeymen, free agents and limited talent. Take quarterback Kirk Cousins for example: he developed him into a Pro Bowler. His first task will be to find a way to tap into Jared Goff’s potential. The Rams invested heavily into Goff’s future. It is up to the coaching staff and front office to make sure that Goff’s talents aren’t wasted.
I wasn’t sold on McVay until I heard an interview on the ESPN’s Cooley and Kevin podcast. The passion and dedication to hear from McVay is encouraging. Also, host Chris Cooley played under McVay and made it clear far before the Rams even showed interest that McVay would be a head coach soon. McVay is a football guy, who appears to be detailed with his instruction. He might be the type of coach the Rams need to help guys like Goff, Greg Robinson and even Todd Gurley to an extent.
It’s true, the Rams are limited this offseason in terms of team transactions. But kudos to Kroenke and Snead for at least having a “Plan B.” If they can’t bring in more talent, at least they changed the coaching approach. McVay is the key part of this coaching lifestyle, but the Rams overhauled the entire coaching staff with hopefully even more quality coaching. Don’t count out the Rams just yet, McVay and the Rams may be the underdogs of the NFC West, but the influence of mentor can produce remarkable results.