WASHINGTON — Sean McVay was there to introduce himself to Los Angeles, but he kept referring to the Redskins.
In his introductory press conference as the Rams new head coach on Friday, McVay often went back to his seven years in Washington as he quickly rose from a low-level assistant to the offensive coordinator to now the youngest head coach in the modern NFL at age 30.
“These opportunities never present themselves unless you’re fortunate enough to be around great coaches and mentors to help guide you along the way,” McVay told reporters in Los Angeles.
He thanked the Redskins front office for giving him that chance. McVay mentioned owner Dan Snyder, team president Bruce Allen, general manager Scot McCloughan and coach Jay Gruden by name.
Rams general manager Les Snead said during a meeting McVay’s phone rang and it was Redskins wide receiver DeSean Jackson calling to congratulate McVay on his new job. He was far from the only one. DeAngelo Hall and Josh Norman called, too. Those aren’t even offensive players.
“Not gonna say whether he answered those calls because we debated whether that was tampering or not,” Snead joked. “We’ll keep that in house.”
But it told the Los Angeles front office that McVay had the respect of his players. And that went a long way toward easing concerns that McVay’s youth would pose a problem as he adjusts to being a head coach. Jackson, of course, is a free agent and from Los Angeles.
Rams team president Kevin Demoff used the same words that were heard often around the NFL Combine in Indianapolis last winter about McVay from industry insiders: “Brilliant. Genius. Star.”
McVay might blanch at such over-the-top rhetoric. But when it comes from people inside the game those words carry weight. Demoff recalled being at dinner with McVay and former Rams running back Marshall Faulk on Tuesday. When they were done Faulk turned to Demoff and said “that person can absolutely be your head coach.”
McVay again credited the people he worked with in Washington for even having the opportunity to make history.
On team president Bruce Allen:
“Bruce Allen is a guy that helped both with the opportunities that I got in Tampa and in Washington. He is the epitome of class. Much like my grandfather, John McVay, who had a bunch of success with that team in San Francisco where they were able to win five world championships, Bruce is that kind of guy. Class. Knows how to deal with people. And he’s been a great mentor and influence for me that I knew I could always go to for guidance and direction.”
On what he learned from former Redskins coach Mike Shanahan:
“Mike Shanahan. Hired me in Washington. Gave me the first opportunity to be a position coach in this league. One of the things I learned from Coach Shanahan was being committed to a process and setting a standard of performance. And that commitment, that consistent messaging that he had had to our players, to our coaching staff day in and day out, always resonated with me. I think it’s a big reason why you see a coach like that achieve two world championships.”
On Washington coach Jay Gruden:
“Those three years being [offensive coordinator] – what a great experience it’s been for me. Jay helped guide and lead me along the way. And one of the things that really stood out about Jay that I thought was extremely special is watching the way that he empowered his assistants. The way that he was able to delegate, let his coaches coach. It really demonstrated a confidence and a security that he had in himself as a leader. And watching how that created a sense of loyalty and accountability to both him as our leader and our organization is something that we hope to mimic and emulate here in L.A.”
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