Sean McVay had been waiting three months to get all of his players in the same room for the first time since he took over the Los Angeles Rams.
As you might expect, the youngest head coach in modern NFL history doesn’t like to wait.
When McVay finally got to say his first words to his new team Monday as the Rams opened their offseason training program, he got right to work building a winner on the wreckage of the Rams’ homecoming season.
“Really right now, it’s about building relationships with these guys,” said McVay, the former Washington offensive coordinator. “It’s very early in the process. We’ve got some time right now, so we want to make sure we do a great job establishing a foundation, so that it can be conducive for that long-term success. But I think today went as well as we could have hoped.”
McVay’s early impact on the Rams includes new T-shirts with the slogan “We, Not Me” on the backs. Almost every employee in the Rams’ training complex appeared to be wearing them, but McVay cleverly said the shirts weren’t his idea: “It was OUR idea.”
When he finally stepped in front of his players, McVay had deeper thoughts than a three-word catchphrase. Linebacker Alec Ogletree described McVay’s opening address as an attempt to create “a whole different culture, just making sure we’re accountable and dependable.”
The Rams’ key players have already met McVay, but they got their first real taste of his oratorical and motivational skills at their team meeting. The 31-year-old coaching prodigy appears to be making a good early impression on the Rams, who are very open to change after last season’s collapse from a 3-1 start to a 4-12 finish.
“He is a young guy,” said Todd Gurley, the Rams’ 22-year-old running back. “But he’s got that energy about him, that swagger about him that you like in a coach, and it’s definitely great to see that.”
Gurley is among the numerous projects facing McVay as his coaching staff crafts a game plan to fix the NFL’s worst offense for the past two seasons.
Gurley rushed for 885 yards last season, but averaged a measly 3.2 yards per carry. It was a sharp decline from his rookie year, when he put up 1,106 yards and 4.8 per carry.
McVay’s Redskins split the carries among three running backs last season, but all three averaged 1 yard or more per carry than Gurley.
McVay also has work to do with quarterback Jared Goff, who went winless as a starter in his rookie
season, throwing five touchdown passes and seven interceptions.
Goff has already been in private coaching during the offseason with quarterback gurus Tom House and Adam Dedeaux, and he appeared to be noticeably bulked up. After participating in Kirk Cousins’ growth into a top-shelf NFL starter, McVay is eager to get a chance to coach Goff — and the former No. 1 overall pick seems extremely eager to learn.
“I think there’s some really good, new energy here,” Goff said. “Coach McVay and the rest of his staff have done a great job exuding that energy and really letting us feel it. I think it’s really a fresh start for a lot of people. I think it’s a really good feeling. Just freshness is the best way to describe it.”