The Los Angeles Rams took a risk by hiring inexperienced head coach Sean McVay. That’s not to say that McVay hasn’t coached before, but this is his first stint as a head coach. What can we expect with McVay? That question can be answered by looking at his previous stops.
McVay has coached in the NFL for eight years, beginning as an offensive assistant with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2008. He was hired by the Florida Tuskers in the UFL as a tight ends coach in 2009, before reaching the Washington Redskins in 2010. He initially started as an offensive assistant before being promoted as the Redskins’ tight ends coach the following season.
McVay’s impact was immediately clear after TE Fred Davis became one of the Redskins’ top receiving target. Davis had flashed potential in the past, but he emerged with the best season of his career in 2011 after finishing with 59 receptions for 796 receiving yards and three touchdowns. Veteran Chris Cooley was plagued with injuries, so McVay didn’t have the ideal situation, but he mentored Davis enough to improve the tight end production.
In 2013, the Redskins struggled under head coach Mike Shanahan, finishing with an embarrassing 3-13 record. One of the few bright points on the offense though was at tight end. Veteran Logan Paulsen improved his receiving numbers, despite being valued more for his blocking skills. He recorded 28 receptions for 267 yards and three touchdowns under McVay’s tutelage. But the biggest success was rookie tight end Jordan Reed. He only played in nine games but still produced 499 receiving yards and three touchdowns that season.
Considering the impact McVay made on subpar teams, the Redskins promoted him to offensive coordinator in 2014. Overall, the offense struggled, but it was the year the Redskins discovered that backup quarterback Kirk Cousins had enough talent to overthrow Robert Griffin III. Cousins wasn’t perfect, but starting in only five games, he compiled 1,710 yards and 10 touchdowns.
On the surface, it didn’t seem like McVay made an immediate impact, but this past season proved his attention detail paid off. The Redskins were in the top 10 in nearly every offensive category, and their record improved to 8-7-1. Quite possibly the most intriguing aspect of their turnaround was being ranked third overall in total yards.
McVay’s mentorship of Kirk Cousins is intriguing, because he helped develop the former Michigan State standout for most of his career. Last season, Cousins earned a spot on the Pro Bowl roster after finishing with 4,917 receiving yards, 25 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Reed made it to the Pro Bowl, and McVay had a huge impact with Reed also. The tight end recorded 66 receptions for 686 yards and six touchdowns.
It’s difficult to truly see McVay’s impact on the team just by stats, but considering the talent on the Redskins roster, and where the team was two years ago, it’s clear that McVay can potentially become a great head coach. The question now becomes is he ready?
In regards to the Rams, they aren’t too far off from the 2014-2015 Washington Redskins. It might be naïve to assume that McVay can turn around the team in just one season, but the key is to look for improvement. McVay will be working with Jared Goff, and has a young corps of players who should be able to relate to him. If he can make an immediate impact, the Rams may have invested in a long-term head coach.