January 3, 2018 at 7:00 AM
There is plenty to love about the coaching job Sean McVay has done this season with the Los Angeles Rams.
He helped Jared Goff become a franchise quarterback and running back Todd Gurley an MVP candidate. He took a team that hadn’t had a winning season since 2003 and instantly transformed it into an NFC powerhouse. He made the Rams matter in L.A. and around the NFL.
His team is the No. 3 seed in an NFC playoff field in which the top seed, Philadelphia, limped its way into the postseason without injured quarterback Carson Wentz, leaving the Rams and others with completely legitimate Super Bowl aspirations.
Not bad for the youngest head coach in modern NFL history.
How much does the rest of the league love the coaching job done so far by McVay?
It’s time to find out.
With six teams in search of a new head coach, it soon will become evident whether there will be a Sean McVay Effect on coaching decisions this offseason. Will those teams seek the next young, offensive-minded genius to fix their quarterback, energize their offense and play an exciting brand of football that makes winning even more enjoyable?
“You would think any reservations that you might have about hiring a young guy are right out the window now,” said a front office executive with one NFL team that is not in the head coaching market this offseason.
The beneficiaries of McVay’s success could be a pair of 39-year-old offensive assistants, Eagles quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo and Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Matt Nagy. Both are forging reputations as rising stars within the coaching ranks. Under normal circumstances, they would be at least a few years away from receiving serious consideration to be head coaches. But in this environment, perhaps that timeline has changed.
DeFilippo is scheduled to interview for the head coaching jobs of the Arizona Cardinals and Chicago Bears. Nagy is expected to interview with the Bears and Indianapolis Colts. The Bears might be looking for the next McVay to work with prized young quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, the No. 2 overall selection in last year’s draft who had his ups and downs as a rookie. The Colts need someone to help put the career of their franchise quarterback, Andrew Luck, back on course after he missed all of this season following shoulder surgery.
DeFilippo took a step backward to being a quarterbacks coach in Philadelphia after serving as an offensive coordinator in 2015 in Cleveland. He helped Wentz develop into a league MVP front-runner as a second-year pro before the quarterback suffered a season-ending knee injury.
There is room to wonder how much credit DeFilippo deserves for what has gone right this season for the Eagles on offense. They have an offensive-minded head coach, Doug Pederson. Their offensive coordinator, Frank Reich, also will be considered for head coaching jobs. But even that is reminiscent of McVay. With him, there was room to wonder how much of what he’d done right as offensive coordinator of the Washington Redskins had been attributable to working for Jay Gruden, another offensive-minded head coach.
Nagy is a former Arena League quarterback who is in his first season as the offensive coordinator in Kansas City; he was a co-coordinator with Brad Childress last season. With Nagy at the controls, the Chiefs ranked in the league’s top 10 this season in rushing offense, passing offense, total offense and scoring offense.
The next step for DeFilippo and Nagy is to take advantage of their opportunities as McVay seized upon his. Few within the league seemed to view McVay as a viable head coaching candidate when last offseason began. Many thought that he’d get a head coaching interview or two but remain in Washington as Gruden’s coordinator, primed to become a head coach further down the road. But McVay wowed the Rams with his knowledge and wise-beyond-his-years polish. When the Rams hired him last January, he was less than two weeks shy of his 31st birthday.
What teams must keep in mind is that McVay grew up in an NFL family, as the grandson of former San Francisco 49ers executive John McVay, and was a football old soul. He also was set up to succeed in L.A., in part because of his own smart move in bringing in a highly accomplished veteran defensive coordinator, Wade Phillips. He had talent on the roster, and the Rams made a few good offseason moves. Hiring a young coach with great promise is only the beginning.
But it’s good to be Sean McVay and the Rams these days. And it wouldn’t be shocking for another NFL team to try to follow that blueprint for success.
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