Sean McVay’s Seat Is, and Should Be, Ice Cold:

by Max Perez
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After the Los Angeles Rams’ destructive 12-17 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, there were people calling for Sean McVay’s name to be put on the hot seat. His seat is ice cold. After the Steelers dominated both lines of scrimmage and the entire game all around, McVay’s offense and game planning came under fire and with a fanbase that is as scarred as Rams fans, you can probably expect what came next. Comparisons to Mike Martz and Jeff Fisher (!!!), calling for McVay’s firing, and forgetting the success of Sean McVay through his first two-and-a-half seasons in the league are all unforgivable shortsighted views. McVay isn’t going anywhere, and that is a good thing. 

The Los Angeles Rams are 5-4, and this is the first time in Sean McVay’s tenure that the team is one game within reach of a .500 record, that speaks volumes. McVay has a 29-12 record over his first 41 games (.707 winning %) and he has a .500 record in the playoffs, with two playoff wins and two losses in that same category. This is the first time in McVay’s tenure that the Rams lost three of five games; again, McVay doesn’t lose often. 

Taking this half-season into account, McVay has never coached a team that below top-ten in points-per-game, same with point differential, and McVay’s Rams have always been top ten in win-loss percentage. There isn’t much to harp on when talking about the entire scope of McVay’s head coaching career: until this year.

Rams fans, along with the national audience, have noticed a trend in the Rams’ 2019 season; there’s no sign of a running game. McVay, GM Les Snead, and Todd Gurley himself have all shied away from answering the question of what is going on with this Rams running game. The national media has noticed. Since the NFC Championship game against the New Orleans Saints, major media networks have harped on the Rams and Sean McVay about Todd Gurley even more than local and team media members, and he still hasn’t cracked.

According to McVay, Gurley is not on a restriction plan. This is what was the “tipping point” for most Rams fans, McVay’s inability to tell the fans the obvious truth. My question to those fans is, why does he have to? McVay doesn’t need to express his week-to-week game plan for Gurley out for the media, just like any other NFL coach has the right to withhold information from the media and their team’s fans. 

Aside from Gurley, Malcolm Brown and Darrell Henderson’s respective lack of production has been astonishing to see. From my eyes, McVay has no confidence in his offensive line. By forcing Jared Goff to throw 30-plus times, the Rams offense has taken a step back. Goff has been pressured at close to the highest rate of his career, and it is because he is playing behind the oft-injured and statistically worst offensive line in the entire league. We have seen Goff perform when asked to throw and an absurd amount of times when he’s had real protection: not the cardboard he has in front of him this year. 

The game plan can use some adjusting, yes, but to say that a successful offense can be built behind this offensive line is an ignorant take. 

The problem: the hiding of Todd Gurley’s injury plan and the lack of offensive success behind the worst line in pro football. Yes, that offensive line being ignored in the offseason is partially McVay’s fault as well. A self-inflicted wound to the best offense in football. 

The solution: offloading of certain contracts with a relatively low dead cap hit (Higbee and Havenstein etc.) can pave the way for a massive revamp of a line that desperately needs it. Gurley’s contract is almost untradeable but if the Rams can find a suitor they need to go ahead and pull the trigger. It doesn’t look like Gurley is happy whatsoever. 

As the offense has underperformed, the Los Angeles Rams’ defense has been a top-10 defense and top-5 after the acquisition of star cornerback Jalen Ramsey. Ranking top ten in all rushing defense categories and top 15 in nearly every passing defense category. Snead and McVay have built a great defense, now the offense has to follow suit. 

The best-case scenario is the Rams offense steadily gets better and can sustain average health while on their way to a 10-6 record for the year. But the worst case? The Rams could end up being under .500 for the first time in Sean McVay’s tenure, and it still wouldn’t affect his job security. He is safe. The team isn’t going to let a young coach who they just extended, who has never had a losing season, who has never had a bottom-20 offense, who has been a part of building a nearly-elite defense, get released just to satisfy the needs of the present. 

Sean McVay’s seat was never remotely warm, it was never even room temperature, it was and will be ice cold for the remainder of the season and beyond. Remember the 2017 offseason, when the Rams decided to build from the offensive line outwards? This offseason will consist of more of the same: less skill-position signings, and more big boys up from to protect the quarterback who is elite when he isn’t tackled .5 second after the snap. 

Calling for McVay to be fired was always an overreaction. His entire head coaching career he has won, adjusted, and he made a bottom-feeder offense into the best in the league. What makes Rams fans think he can’t do that again? This team has too much talent to be 5-4 after nine games, but the problem lies right in the trenches and I’d bet McVay knows that. The Rams are in good hands and they will be in the same good hands moving forward, Sean McVay is with the Rams for the long run, even if the fans want to think otherwise. 

Read about the Rams’ offensive line struggles HERE

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