By JUAN ROQUE JAN. 13, 2017
On a day where Los Angeles saw a second NFL team move into its borders after an abysmal season from the recently moved Rams there was a hiring that raises eyebrows. While the Spanos family, owners of the Chargers, was attempting to positively spin their eviction from San Diego (another topic altogether after the city’s residents and government failed to provide a new stadium) by announcing their move to the City of Angels complete with new logo the Rams were not to be upstaged. On what can now be tabbed as an historic day in Los Angeles which after 20 seasons of no NFL saw TWO teams move in within a year of one another the Rams named a very young, not very experienced but with a legitimate NFL DNA bloodline as their new Head Coach.
Let’s rewind first before we get into that.
When Rams owner Stan Kroenke fired both Head Coach Jeff Fisher and with GM Les Snead in a seat hotter than an Arizona summer the popular chatter was the Rams would “go big” with the next hire. It was only natural to think that way. Why? Well the Rams are not in small market St. Louis anymore they’re in Los Angeles home to ESPN studios, movie stars and an excited fan base that packed an aging Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The Rams averaged 74,121 fans in attendance each game which ranks #7 in the NFL which is stellar given they were 4-8. The Rams are a team at a crossroads already after one season on the West Coast. They have many needs, no First Round pick in 2017 and a young Quarterback Jarod Goff who failed to impress as a rookie #1 overall pick. In a season that saw a fourth round pick, Dallas QB Dak Prescott, go 14-2 as a starter and #1 NFC Seed the hapless Goff started 7 games with a not impressive 63.6 Rating. With stars on the roster like RB Todd Gurley, LB Alec Ogletree and DT Aaron Donald the Rams are not a depleted team but they are a team with gaping holes in the Offensive Line and the receiving corps which can forgive Goff’s miserable rookie campaign. The window is small though and the Rams need to make bold moves in a hurry to become contenders in a conference that can be perceived as wide open for 2017.
Who the hell is Sean McVay?
“We are confident in his vision to make this team a consistent winner and we will all continue to work together to achieve our ultimate goal — bringing a Rams Super Bowl championship home to Los Angeles.” – Stan Kroenke on his new Head Coach Sean McVay
Yesterday as the news was heating up about the Chargers moving to Los Angeles Stan Kroenke made that an afterthought later in the day by announcing that Washington Redskins Offensive Coordinator Sean McVay will be the new head coach of the Rams. Many, myself included, where like “Who!!!???” With names like Jon Gruden and Sean Payton being floated around as replacements for Jeff Fisher this announcement clearly came out of left field (forgive the baseball reference in a football article). So who is this guy? Well when your Wikipedia page is only a paragraph or so long without much info it’s clear this is a new face, for us anyway, in pro football. Sean McVay, a 30 year old has very limited coaching experience, is now in charge of not only righting the Rams but righting Jared Goff. After his impressive work with Redskin QB Kirk Cousins he definitely has the coaching chops to help Goff become an NFL starter but head coach? That seems a reach. Or is it? McVay definitely has the DNA of a winner. His grandfather, Jon McVay, was a brilliant personnel man who worked with Bill Walsh to build the San Francisco 49ers into a powerhouse in the 1980’s. Sean, while having no playing experience, has been in coaching since 2008 and was Washington’s Offensive Coordinator since the 2014 season. Online reaction to McVay leaving the Redskins indicates he was well liked by the Redskin fan base. All signs point to this being a possibly smart hire by Stan Kroenke.
Caveat Emptor (Buyer Beware)
There are times in pro football where an unproven or unknown coach is given a chance and it pays off handsomely like it did with Mike Tomlin of the Steelers (one year as a Defensive Coordinator), Jon Harbaugh of the Ravens (never a Defensive or Offensive Coordinator) and legendary coach and commentator John Madden of the Raiders (31 years old with no coordinator experience). An owner, especially one of Kroenke’s intelligence in business related matters, must be bold and make moves to make his team the best it can be as that translates to not only money but pride for the owner, the fans and the NFL itself. However there is a cautionary undertone to this hire. Deceased longtime Raiders owner Al Davis went bold in 2007 hiring USC Offensive Coordinator Lane Kiffin to be the Raiders head coach. Kiffin was seen as a whiz kid (much like McVay is) at USC overseeing an offense that seemed impossible to stop and is the son of longtime NFL Defensive Guru Monty Kiffin. Davis believed Kiffin could inject energy and new life into the lowly Raiders with his offensive acumen and USC pedigree. What ensued was likely the most bizarre marriage ever seen in pro football. Within 20 months Kiffin was fired over the phone by Al Davis in what ensured to be a huge story of name calling, accusations and eventually grievances filed with the NFL.
How will McVay fare in Los Angeles? Only time will tell.
Juan Roque is a former American college and professional football player who was an offensive tackle in the National Football League