Sean McVay Goes From Hating The Sideline Last Season To New Perspective In 2023

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Sean McVay was miserable last season. Not unhappy. Not unfulfilled.

The Los Angeles Rams coach, used to winning his first five seasons in L.A., suffered a 5-12 season in 2022. He took the team to the Super Bowl twice and won it once and then had his first losing season. And none of that losing was fun.

“No it’s not,” McVay agreed.

The outward signs of that misery were obvious on McVay’s face on game days when things were going sideways. He looked like he simply didn’t want to be there.

“Yeah,” McVay said.

Sean McVay not happy.
Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay during the NFL game between the Buffalo Bills and the Los Angeles Rams on September 8, 2022, at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, CA. (Photo by Jevone Moore/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Sean McVay Was Unhappy And It Showed

McVay even admitted to confidants this offseason he looked like he didn’t want to be there because, well, he didn’t.

And, yet, there he was at the NFL annual meeting this week, as hyped and excited about the coming season as he’s been all his previous six seasons as the Los Angeles head coach.

So how did he resist the temptation to leave that sideline, and go do something else for a while? How did he give the Rams, a team with a lot of roster uncertainty, significant certainty at their head coach position?

“I think you just have to be honest,” McVay said. “Do an honest assessment, an after-action review on the type of leader, the type of appreciation you want to be able to have. For me, a lot of it stemmed from things had gone so well before in the midst of that journey, that you lose perspective. And you forget the purpose of why you do it.

“You really start to focus more on the results more than you do the process. I guess I’m a stubborn guy, I had to learn the hard way. But I’m looking forward to appreciating the things I took for granted last year and making sure there’s a real joy in how you attack every single day and every opportunity. Let’s go compete the best way that we can.”

Rams lose talent
Jalen Ramsey #5 of the Los Angeles Rams gets set during to an NFL game against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium on October 31, 2021 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images)

Rams Have Been Bleeding Talent

The Rams may find the coming season is perhaps somewhat closer to last season’s struggles than the prior season’s championship run. That’s because the roster has been stripped of multiple big-name players. And there isn’t salary cap room or a quiver of draft picks to replace what has been lost.

Cornerback Jalen Ramsey was traded to the Dolphins. Middle linebacker Bobby Wagner was cut and re-signed by the Seahawks. Leonard Lloyd is gone. Receiver Allen Robinson is on the trade block.

Hollywood’s team looks more like a B-movie than a blockbuster in production.

But McVay, so unhappy with results during last year’s bust, seems intent on finding contentment in the coming season’s competition.

“It is different,” he said. “But you appreciate the different opportunities that have presented themselves over the previous years and there’s unique challenges that this year will present. You’re talking about Sean Payton, guys like Mike Tomlin and you realize how long they’ve done it and how many different experiences [they’ve had] and you’re just continuing to accumulate experiences.

“So, hopefully, going into Year 7 just a handful of years from now we’re talking about something that comes up new so you can use those things to be able to apply it and handle it in the right way. So while it is different, it’s also something you have to be able to handle the right way.

“And we talk about a lot of times controlling what we can control. You say, ‘alright, a lot of these decisions are made based on the circumstances that are presented before us. And so how can we have the appropriate perspective, the right approach?’ And that’s the decision you have to make every single day. But it is different for sure.”

Sean McVay understands post-coaching career has drawbacks after speaking with Sean Payton.
Head coach Sean Payton of the Denver Broncos speaks to the media during the NFL Combine at the Indiana Convention Center on February 28, 2023 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

Sean McVay Understands What Game Offers

It feels like McVay decided competing was better than not. Even if the competition isn’t promised to go his way.

That might have become clear to McVay after speaking to new Denver coach Sean Payton after the season.

“What I did speak to him about was after the season how excited he is to be able to jump back in,” McVay said. “Much as he enjoyed his experiences at FOX, I think there’s something to be said for being a part of a team and really working toward a common goal and then being able to have the ebbs and flows, both good and bad, that you inevitably navigate.”

As opposed to life as a pundit.

“…As opposed to, ‘Hey, I’m talking about this thing but there’s really no investment in the game,’ ” McVay said. “You can’t ever really replicate [being part of a team].”

Payton this week said he knew he wanted to get back into coaching about midway through last season.

How long does McVay think he would last?

“Probably about three days,” he said. “Now, I’m looking forward to [the season] and it’s a lot of things that you don’t ever want to take for granted again that I think I did.”

Follow on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero

Written by Armando Salguero

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