LOS ANGELES (AP) — Sean McVay is grateful for the days he spent pondering his professional future after the roughest season of his life.
That time allowed him to articulate everything he loves about coaching, and they left him more determined than ever to stay in the fight.
McVay said he made “a decision for years to come” when he elected to stick with the Los Angeles Rams after the first losing season of his precocious NFL career. The youngest head coach ever to win the Super Bowl strongly considered walking away from his draining profession, but several days of reflection and conversations led McVay to a refreshed mindset and a genuine excitement for the future.
“For me, the most important thing was reestablishing a purpose,” McVay said Friday in his first extensive public comments about his decision to return for a seventh season and beyond with Los Angeles.
“This is a blessing to be able to do this,” McVay added. “I love coaching. I love working with players and coaches, and I think in some instances, when you lose your way, you can lose your perspective on things.”
McVay said he found that perspective in January during the days after the Rams finished 5-12. Freed from the week-to-week grind of preparing and patching an injury-plagued team that lost nine of its last 11 games, McVay was able to perceive the many positives in his highly paid, emotionally tumultuous job.
“When you go through some of the things that we went through last year, you can really get lost in things becoming a burden more than a blessing,” McVay said. “When you really take a step back and get a chance to reflect, sometimes that reflection is best served after the humbling experiences and the challenging experiences."
McVay also said repeatedly that he doesn’t expect to put the Rams and their fans through the same uncertainty they experienced in the past two offseasons while he openly contemplated retirement or a move to a cushy broadcasting booth.
With the Rams beginning a franchise reset of sorts following their losing season and the probable departures of several veterans, McVay was visibly excited to continue for several seasons to come.
“I’m really committed to not having this become a story every year," McVay said. "Because I know that’s probably something that people are asking or wondering, and I don’t take that lightly. That was why the reflection, because there was never a doubt whether you wanted to coach again. It’s really just, ‘Are you going to be able to have the appropriate perspective to be the best version of yourself for the players and the coaches?’ And I feel confident that that can exist moving forward.”
The 37-year-old McVay is 60-38 in six seasons in charge of the Rams with five winning seasons, four playoff berths, three NFC West titles, two Super Bowl appearances and one championship. He is still the youngest head coach in the NFL heading into his seventh season.
Once he could see more clearly after the season, the Rams' first major struggles of his career also stoked McVay's competitive fire.
“To say that as a competitor that that’s something that I would have felt comfortable walking away with, no," McVay said. “I would not have felt comfortable walking away from a situation where I think I owed more to the people than that.”
McVay is already hard at work on the process described by general manager Les Snead as a “remodel,” rather than a rebuild. The Rams are preparing for a future constructed around Matthew Stafford, Aaron Donald and Cooper Kupp as they head into a spring with 10 draft picks and a determination to solidify their foundation after years of flashy veteran acquisitions.
McVay also must establish cohesion in a coaching staff with 10 new members, including offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur, special teams coordinator Chase Blackburn and a host of veteran assistants. McVay seemed particularly excited about the opportunities created by the introduction of a host of new voices around him and defensive coordinator Raheem Morris.
Although the Rams are in transition, McVay isn't ready to put any ceiling on their possibilities for next season. He's still exuding excitement as a coach who has already done it all, but is determined to show he can do it again.
“Let's not try to write the story before we've even opened up the first page of the book,” McVay said with a grin. “Let's figure out what we can do with the circumstances.”
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