Sean McVay explains the importance of becoming more than just an offensive-minded coach


The overwhelming sentiment when the Los Angeles Rams hired Sean McVay as their head coach in 2017 was that he would immediately improve the offense, being a former offensive coordinator.

And after he pegged Wade Phillips as his defensive coordinator, it seemed even more obvious that McVay would focus primarily on Jared Goff and the offense. However, he hasn’t ignored the defense and special teams group.

In the last four years, he’s become even more involved in those phases, especially after letting Phillips go and bringing in Brandon Staley as the new defensive coordinator. That’s been a concerted effort from McVay, ensuring he can talk to his defensive players and specialists as if he was their coordinator.

On a “Chalk Talk” conference call with over 150 high school coaches, McVay was asked how he stays involved on defense and special teams. His answer was very insightful and gives a glimpse into his mindset as a head coach.

“This was something I thought a whole lot about when I first got the job because the one thing I didn’t want is our defensive players or our guys that are specialists or the core special teams players saying, ‘Aw, he’s just the offensive coordinator that’s the head coach,’” McVay said. “So the first thing I did was I made sure I’m involved in all three phases, but I know the language and I can speak to them as if I’m one of their coaches on that side of the ball. It shows that you’re invested, it shows that you’re important and I think it also gives you credibility as a coach if you know all three phases of what’s going on. You’re gonna take and allocate more time to the offensive side of the ball, especially if you’re a play caller. And I don’t think you ever want to lose sight of that identity. But the way you can make sure the players know that, hey, this is very important on defense and in the kicking game is by knowing it – you invest in being able to communicate. I thought it was really important for me to be able to communicate to Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey the same that Raheem Morris is or the same way that Brandon Staley did last year. And when you do that, that demonstrates that you do care enough because you can communicate to them in their language and I think it also gives you some more credibility that you have a big-picture knowledge and perspective, while also letting guys lead and do their jobs.

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“I think it’s really powerful to be able to coach all 22, if you will.”

Raheem Morris has taken over as McVay’s defensive coordinator and the two have a strong connection that goes back years. McVay has had his fingers on the defense more in the last two years than he did with Phillips, and the result last season was L.A. having the No. 1 defense in football.

McVay is still only 35 years old and entering his fifth season at the helm, so he hasn’t stopped learning on the job.



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