By HCR Staff | July 17, 2018
When he was named head coach of the Los Angeles Rams 11 days before his 31st birthday, Sean McVay became the youngest head coach in modern NFL history. And as the Rams became one of the biggest surprise stories of the 2017 season, McVay’s youth was a hot topic. But not here.
Age is not one of the factors we use to determine Head Coach Ranking. The thing is, McVay was earning high marks in all five factors that we do take into account: play calling, game planning, personnel, in-game adjustments and clock management. By the end of the season, McVay was tied for third overall with an HCR of 7.7, just a hair below the New England Patriots’ Bill Belichick (7.9) and the New Orleans Saints’ Sean Payton (7.8).
If you look back at game posts from early in the season, you can spot the trend that helped McVay establish himself so quick;y.
• In Week 1, we praised McVay’s use of his offensive playmakers, as well as the defensive strategy to neutralize the Colts’ best playmakers and put the game in the hands of backup QB Scott Tolzien.
• In Week 3, we noted the trend that McVay was continuing to make good use of RB Todd Gurley. We also saw that McVay’s plan to get his offense out of the huddle early and talk to QB Jared Goff while he’s under center was working very smoothly. Generally speaking, it was already becoming clear that the Rams had a winner in McVay. As we wrote in the game post:
“McVay, in HCR’s view, has done an excellent job from Week 1. Even though the opponent quality has been in the lower half of the league, one can see the Rams now play with a plan and are more disciplined, reflecting their new head coach’s game management style.”
• Just one week later, the Rams were down 17-6 at halftime in Dallas. And as we wrote in the game post, “Los Angeles completely won the adjustment battle by scoring on five straight possessions in the second half and completely neutralizing Dallas’ rush offense.”
McVay never abandoned his running game, which allowed the Rams to use play-action passes with great success.
• The Rams won another tough road game in Week 6, a 27-17 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Rams played well in all phases, so McVay’s coordinators share the credit. McVay got high marks across the board in our game post. One reason was his call of a shovel pass to rookie TE Gerald Everett near the goal line, a play that resulted in a touchdown. We hadn’t seen that call from the Rams up to that point in the season. Also, while McVay had already established that his offense was capable of quick-strike scoring, he recognized the need to run the ball and burn clock late in the game. Nursing a 24-17 lead, he went into ball control mode and the Rams kicked a short field goal to go up 10 with five minutes left.
By the time we made McVay HCR’s Top Dog for Week 12, the trend had already been well established. The Rams had graduated from young up-and-coming team to Super Bowl contender; McVay had gone from smart young coach to one of the best in the business. As we wrote: “He’s simply a very good coach, and on the way to showing he’s a great coach.”