WASHINGTON — A funny occurrence took place when Sean McVay was hired to coach the LA Rams.
Beyond just becoming the youngest head coach in the Super Bowl era, the 31-year-old leapfrogged his predecessor, Kyle Shanahan, in line to become a head coach. Now, as it turns out, the 37-year-old Shanahan, too, is expected to land a head coaching gig, but it still remains somewhat remarkable nevertheless, and begs the question: How?
Former NFL offensive lineman Will Montgomery — whose time in Washington overlapped with McVay, then a tight ends coach, and Shanahan, Redskins offensive coordinator from 2010 to 2013 — has a theory.
“He definitely is cocky, and as a player you kind of like that cockiness,” Montgomery told Chad Dukes on 106.7 The Fan. “Maybe a little bit of that cockiness rubbed off on some owners the wrong way and maybe that’s why he hasn’t become a head coach earlier. But I think that he will do a really good job, he’s very well prepared. He leaves no stone unturned and I’m a big fan of Kyle Shanahan.”
Montgomery cited one specific example of Shanahan’s brash behavior from the Redskins’ 2012 division championship season. Between a pair of rookies named Robert Griffin III, who would win Offensive Rookie of the Year, and Alfred Morris, who would break the franchise record with 1,613 rushing yards, the Redskins led the NFL in total rushing yards (2,709) that season.
“I remember after the ’12 season, you know when Alfred Morris was the second leading rusher, and obviously everybody else was having really good years that year as well, [Kyle Shanahan] was just saying, ‘Who are the Hogs? We’re the Hogs! We have the most rushing yards of any Redskins offensive line in team history. We’re the Hogs!'” Montgomery recalled.
“Which, that was interesting that he came out and said that to us in that meeting room,” he said.
“He just looked at the rushing yardage totals for the whole season and we shattered all the rushing yards records that year, in 2012, and everybody likes to compare every offensive line to the Hogs,” Montgomery elaborated. “I mean they obviously won the Super Bowls. And I grew up watching the Hogs play myself, so I’m a big fan of the original Hogs — Joe Jacoby and Russ Grimm and all those other guys I think are excellent players.”
“Just, obviously Kyle, in the heat of the moment, was like, ‘We’re the Hogs. The Hogs didn’t have as many rushing yards as we have right now,'” he said. “Which at the time, obviously boosts your ego and makes you think you are somebody.”
Montgomery described McVay as possessing a more “cool, calm” presence: “I think he’ll probably deal with the media a little bit better.”
Coincidentally enough, Montgomery followed another up-and-coming coordinator from Denver to Chicago in his final two NFL seasons.
“Even the last couple years, when I was with Denver and with the Bears, the offensive coordinator at the time was Adam Gase,” he said. “And he had a little friendly competition going with Kyle Shanahan, kind of who was going to be the next up-and-coming head coach.
“And he’s like, ‘Monty, whose offense do you like better, mine or Kyle Shanahan’s?’
“And I was like, ‘Well, I’m here now, so I like your offense better.’ He’s like, ‘Good answer. Good answer.'”
Gase won that friendly rivalry. He just wrapped up his debut season as a head coach, leading the Dolphins to the playoffs for the first time in eight years with a 10-6 record.
Montgomery had a tough go of predicting who, between McVay or Shanahan, will be the more successful head coach.
“I do like Kyle Shanahan a lot,” he said. “McVay learned under Kyle Shanahan as well, so McVay is really a protege of the Shanahans, and so it’s like kind of ironic that he got the head coaching gig first, although it looks like he’s just gonna beat Kyle by about a couple weeks.”
“I think they’ll both be successful, really,” he said. “I mean, you even look at this year with Sean McVay, the Redskins offense put up crazy numbers; you look at this year with the Atlanta Falcons, they put up crazy numbers. So offense is very sexy in the NFL these days.”