The first season of the NFL's return to Los Angeles did not go especially well. At all.
A listless Rams team pitched and lurched its way to a 4-12 record. No. 1 overall pick Jared Goff didn't see the field most of the season and struggled once he did.
And by season's end, the honeymoon was already over in La-La Land, as a half-full Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum echoed with the boos of disenchanted fans.
The Rams went into the offseason badly needing to shake things up. To find a new head coach who could not only inject some excitement into the franchise but also hopefully develop the young quarterback the team mortgaged its future to obtain.
The Rams accomplished at least one of those goals on Thursday, and they did so by bucking conventional wisdom and the same old coaching candidates.
Because there's nothing old at all about Sean McVay.
As Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reported, the Rams made McVay, the offensive coordinator for the Washington Redskins the past three seasons, their head coach on Thursday after interviewing him for a second time the day before.
As ESPN's Adam Schefter tweeted, the Rams made a bit of NFL history with the hire. Not only will McVay be the youngest coach in the league, but at just shy of 31, McVay is the youngest head coach in the modern history of the league:
Adam Schefter @AdamSchefter
Rams are now making former Washington OC Sean McVay the youngest HC in NFL history, per source. McVay turns 31 years old on Jan. 24.1/12/2017, 9:06:25 PM
Ladies and gentlemen, I present Doogie Howser, H.C.
Sorry. Couldn't be helped.
McVay may be young, but he's not inexperienced. In fact, you could say he was born for this job.
McVay is the grandson of former New York Giants head coach and San Francisco 49ers executive John McVay. As vice president/director of football operations, John McVay was part of building the Niners dynasty in the 1980s and has five Super Bowl victories on his resume.
Sean McVay has been in the NFL's coaching ranks since 2008, when he was an assistant position coach with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. After a year coaching in the UFL, McVay joined the Redskins in 2010 as an assistant tight ends coach.
It didn't take long for McVay to rise through the ranks, and when Jay Gruden took the reins in D.C. back in 2014, he named McVay his offensive coordinator. Over the past three years, McVay garnered a reputation as one of the brighter young offensive minds in the NFL, guiding an offense that was third in the NFL offensively in 2016, averaging just over 403 yards a game.
That's a number that no doubt appealed to a Rams team that's finished dead last in offense the last two seasons.
McVay has also received quite a bit of praise for his development of Kirk Cousins, who went from fourth-round draft pick to afterthought to franchise quarterback who set team records in passing yardage in successive seasons under McVay's tutelage.
If you think that didn't resonate in a big way with the Rams brass, then you didn't see Jared Goff play in 2016.
The first overall pick in last year's draft also voiced his approval:
Jared Goff @JaredGoff16
Excited for the future of this team. Let's do this thing!1/12/2017, 9:20:41 PM
It appears that McVay has already taken preliminary steps toward assembling a staff. Per Schefter, McVay intends to hire Denver Broncos defensive coordinator-in limbo Wade Phillips to fill the same role.
Adam Schefter @AdamSchefter
Sean McVay has been hoping to bring former Broncos DC Wade Phillips with him wherever he lands. Phillips a prime candidate to land in LA.1/12/2017, 9:20:34 PM
If you think that the notion of Phillips working his defensive magic with the likes of defensive tackle Aaron Donald and linebacker Alec Ogletree didn't get Rams owner Stan Kroenke's blood pumping, then you probably haven't seen much of Phillips' Broncos squads rampaging across the AFC West in recent years.
According to Gary Klein of the Los Angeles Times, the Rams were so blown away by McVay that they moved forward before so much as talking to Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, lest another team like the San Francisco 49ers (who were reportedly similarly enamored with McVay after he interviewed there) swoop in and grab him.
Is this a home run, can't-miss hire? Of course not. There's no such thing with NFL head coaches. Especially first-time head coaches with only a few years' experience as a coordinator who aren't even old enough to run for president.
Hiring McVay won't magically fix an offensive line that ranked 29th in the National Football League in 2016, per Football Outsiders. It won't suddenly fill their holes in the receiving corps. And it doesn't guarantee that Goff will instantly morph into the quarterback the Rams hope he'll be.
Never mind that while McVay certainly deserves credit for Washington's offensive prosperity of late, Gruden (a highly respected offensive coach in his own right) probably had something to do with that as well.
But McVay has enjoyed more than a little success, both in running an NFL offense and in working with a young quarterback. And his interest in bringing Phillips to L.A. demonstrates one of the most important qualities a head coach can have—knowing what you don't know.
Taking a chance on the youngest head coach ever to prowl an NFL sideline (at least in the modern era) is a bold move. It's an aggressive move. It's a move that says to a fanbase that went from excited to dejected in record speed that last season's results were not acceptable.
It says that the status quo is not acceptable.
In other words, it's the polar opposite of the last time the Rams hired a coach, master of mediocrity Jeff Fisher. The king of kinda OK.
The Rams are daring to be great, even if that means risking being terrible.
And thank heavens for that.
Gary Davenport is an NFL analyst at Bleacher Report and a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association and Pro Football Writers of America. You can follow Gary on Twitter: @IDPSharks.
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