After a long trip to the east coast, a few days of hot and humid practices, and a tough loss to the Baltimore Ravens, the Rams returned to the Irvine practice field Saturday to resume team activities. While fielding questions during his media appearance, Sean McVay addressed the fatigue his team showed early during practice.
He was obviously unhappy with his team’s practice effort after coming off a pretty ragged showing on Thursday, and he placed emphasis on the importance of staying to the grind.
“Yeah you know we don’t get enough opportunities to get out here and practice and we have to maximize every single one. I think all the guys would agree that we got to have better urgency from the start. And that’s just the bottom line you know, we can say whatever we want about when we got back, but however you cut it we’ve got to be better than that.”
Fortunately, he doesn’t leave us wondering what his corrective approach is: accountability and communication.
“We kind of just talked about some different things and heard from some veteran players. We’re just all kind of communicating clearly, open, and honest about it.”
I think back to Dick Vermeil and Tom Coughlin. Both head coaches pushed their players too hard without success, then later learned to embrace the personal connection side of coaching and lead their respective teams to championships. McVay’s understanding of what role fatigue plays on individual effort is reassuring.
He spoke on his evaluation of players as they face the mental challenges of fatigue. Players being in “..different situations,” and “putting some guys through some challenging stuff. Really forcing them to think and especially when you get tired, that’s when you have to have great focus and concentration.”
My first reaction to the game in Baltimore was to just shrug it off as nothing more than exhibition, and to be careful not to read too deep into it. I did however suspect the team was tired from travelling to the east coast, working hard in harsh summer temperatures, and practicing against a different team with higher intensity. That turns out to be very accurate and it continued on Saturday.
Evidently, McVay will not tolerate any lack of effort during the entirety of practice.
“I would say I was pleased with the way that it finished up, but just from the start, we just need to be a little bit more crisp. We kind of have to find a way to push through it.”
He finished the line of questioning smiling and a little more at ease. “We hope to have some more juice coming out here tomorrow.”
My takeaway from these comments leads me to believe McVay is mostly referring to the players that participated in Thursday’s preseason game, and that his veterans and coaches are assisting him in maintaining accountability moving forward. I’m fascinated with his ability to continue to set firm expectations while still affording his players a high level of dignity. I’m also very eager to see how the younger players answer the overwhelming task of pushing through fatigue and adversity to make a 53 man NFL roster.