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Sean McVay to remain coach of Rams after considering a break

Sean McVay has told the Rams that he will remain as coach after he considered taking a break following a 5-12 season. (Morry Gash/AP)
4 min

Sean McVay decided to remain as coach of the Los Angeles Rams, one difficult season removed from leading the team to a Super Bowl triumph, after he considered a break from coaching.

McVay, who turns 37 this month, informed the Rams of his decision, two people familiar with the situation said Friday. He had said since Sunday’s season finale that he did not know what he would do and that he would take some time to come to a decision about his coaching future. He would have been in line for broadcasting jobs if he had opted to step away.

The Rams confirmed McVay’s decision later Friday, saying that he “informed the team he is excited to return next season.” McVay had said he did not intend to retire from coaching, even if he had opted for a break. McVay has coached the Rams for six seasons and taken them to two Super Bowl appearances, including a victory over the Cincinnati Bengals in February on the franchise’s home field in Inglewood, Calif.

The Rams, after taking an all-in approach and pouring resources into their championship drive at the potential cost of future success, were beset by injuries and disappointing play this season and slumped to a 5-12 record. McVay acknowledged that the struggles took a toll on him and others.

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He previously spoke of the possibility of taking a break from the demands of coaching and seeking better balance between his personal and professional lives. Even in a coaching vocation filled with around-the-clock workaholics, McVay stood out for his unwavering commitment to the job.

McVay had declined to say following the Rams’ season-ending overtime defeat Sunday in Seattle whether he would remain the team’s coach.

“I’m not thinking about that right now,” he said. “Nothing’s changed from kind of where we left things off on Friday … that I’m right here right now, and we’ll deal with that stuff at a later time.”

This marked the second straight offseason during which McVay’s football future was uncertain. There was speculation last year, soon after the Rams’ Super Bowl win, that he might take a broadcasting job. He returned. But a trying season followed.

“It’s one of those years that it’s been so many different challenges, unique experiences,” McVay said Sunday. “But guys … kept battling. … They can hold their heads high, with the way that they battled.”

He said Monday that he would take an “appropriate time” to make his decision, adding that he had no sense that he was “done” with coaching, even if he opted to step away temporarily. He said contemplating a break “isn’t a new thing” and had “gone on … for a handful of years.” He received “unconditional support” from the Rams, he said.

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This was the second non-playoff season of his Rams coaching tenure. The team faces a significant retooling. Quarterback Matthew Stafford was in the NFL concussion protocols twice this season and ended it on injured reserve because of a spinal cord contusion, though he has said he does not intend to retire. Defensive tackle Aaron Donald, a three-time NFL defensive player of the year, contemplated retirement last offseason and previously tied his football future to that of McVay. Wide receiver Cooper Kupp also had an injury-plagued season.

Rams defensive coordinator Raheem Morris would have been a top candidate to succeed McVay. Morris, the former head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, is a candidate for other vacant NFL head coaching jobs. Offensive coordinator Liam Coen left this week for a college job at Kentucky.

McVay’s decision leaves the NFL with five head coaching vacancies: the Carolina Panthers, Indianapolis Colts, Denver Broncos, Houston Texans and Arizona Cardinals.

If McVay had left, it would have been the second straight NFL offseason in which a former Super Bowl-winning coach stepped aside. Sean Payton stepped down after last season as coach of the New Orleans Saints. Payton spent this season out of the league, doing broadcasting work for Fox. He is now a candidate for the Broncos, Cardinals and Texans, though he remains under contract to the Saints. Interested teams had to seek the Saints’ permission to interview him and would have to work out draft-pick compensation with New Orleans to hire him.