For the first time since trading for quarterback Matthew Stafford, Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay spoke to the media. McVay wasn’t allowed to speak on Stafford specifically. However, the Rams head coach did address quite a few things that have happened this offseason.
McVay talked about the new additions to the coaching staff. He also addressed some of the issues on offense and what transpired with Jared Goff. Cam Akers and Austin Blythe also received some praise from their head coach. We’ll break down McVay’s press conference below.
McVay Excited About The Coaching Staff
The Los Angeles Rams made a lot of new additions to the coaching staff this offseason. Seven coaches left for new positions and that doesn’t even include Aaron Kromer mutually agreeing to leave the team as the offensive line coach. McVay did confirm that it was a metal agreement between the two, but also talked up his new staff.
“First of all, very excited about the coaching staff. I feel really great about just the quality of men, the character that these guys have. The way that they communicate, the way they develop and build relationships with the players, with the coaches. I think our staff comradery is something that’s going to be instrumental in how we progress and how we continue to evolve and improve in all three phases. I feel great about the leadership on this staff. Guys that I’m excited to learn from. Some guys that have been here, some guys that haven’t been here, some guys have worked with some guys that I haven’t worked with.”
A lot of coaches left this offseason, leaving fans frustrated. Despite only making the divisional round of the playoffs, the Rams lost more coaches than any other team. While obviously frustrating, McVay did speak on how important that development and growth is. Having opportunities for growth is something that makes the Rams an attractive place to be.
“I think that’s as important as anything, is being in a place where guys can develop, but there’s also opportunities for growth, whether it’s in-house or out of house and that’s something that’s been consistent for the last four years.”
Creating Explosive Plays
The Los Angeles Rams offense averaged just 8.0 air yards in the passing game last season. That number ranked dead last in the NFL. However, the Rams actually ranked 14th in creating passing plays of 20 yards or more. McVay spoke on the ability to create offensive plays.
“I think it’s guys that can make things happen with the ball in their hands. Certainly, I know we talked a lot about it throughout the season, plays down the field, I think there’s different ways of creating explosives … When you have to go 12, 15-play drives consistently, your margin for error is so small … Any good offense, anyone that’s at the upper echelon of the league, that’s usually something that you can probably check the box on. That’s something that we’ve definitely got to do a better job of starting with me this next season.”
It wouldn’t be a shock to see the Rams offense take more deep shots this season. Having a quarterback like Matthew Stafford should certainly help. If he had been allowed to talk about Stafford, that is something that McVay certainly would have mentioned.
McVay is always going to create yards after catch when scheming plays. Taking shots down the field will be something that the Rams attempt to address this offseason.
Cam Akers in a larger Role?
Cam Akers finished the season very well with the Los Angeles Rams. After breaking franchise rookie rushing numbers against the New England Patriots, Akers helped lead the Rams to victory over the Seahawks in the playoffs. McVay said that he thinks Akers is an every down back. That’s good news for Akers who the Rams selected in the second round last year.
“Cam hit his stride at the right moments. You could see he’s always had a real and authentic confidence, but then as he’s getting more and more comfortable for the different ways that we were able to utilize him, I think he can come alive in the pass game. I think he can continue to play at a high level. Really, I think he’s an every-down back. I think he’s a special player.”
McVay also talked about how Darrell Henderson stepped up in Akers’ place earlier in the year. Those two will most likely still share snaps next season. However, it wouldn’t be shocking to see Akers take the next step and become more of the featured back.
McVay Addresses Jared Goff
While he wasn’t allowed to talk about Stafford, McVay did address the elephant in the room. He declined to say what changed in his assessment of Goff and instead focused on the positives. McVay isn’t going to throw a former player under the bus and handled this very well.
“What I’d rather focus on are the things that I think he did a great job of to establish himself in this league. The way he handled himself consistently day in and day out and all I can do is just be appreciative of that. That’s kind of what I would say on (QB) Jared (Goff) … I think what I would say that I’ve learned over the last handful of years is things change by the day.”
McVay said that he has spoken to Goff and that he is going to keep those conversations private. He also took some responsibility over what happened and mentioned. McVay handled the situation perfectly. It was clear that he didn’t want to talk about it. However, he remained focused on the positives of what Goff accomplished and how he’ll learn from the situation.
“Jared and I had a lot of conversations. We had one that I want to keep that between myself and Jared … I would say there’s a lot of things that, you know, when I self-reflect, I certainly wish I was better for him in some instances. And those are things that think you have to acknowledge, move forward and make sure that, that you learn from every mistake that you make. And certainly, I’m not going to run away from the things that I could have been better for him as a leader and as a coach.
There was a lot of really good things that occurred from 2017 and on that I think we can eventually really have a much better appreciation for. We have had good conversations that were healthy. And I think we were able to both communicate open and honestly with one another, but those details were to keep between us.”
The last part to highlight is that McVay said that he has to be able to self-reflect. McVay took shouldered some of that, as he should. Jared Goff took a lot of blame last year. But there were certainly things that McVay as the head coach and play-caller could have done better.
“The unfair narrative has been that some of our decrease in production is exclusively on the quarterback, that’s not true at all. I think certainly, I have a big hand in that. I have to be able to look myself in the mirror and acknowledge and be able to evolve, improve and take ownership in that. The head coach and the quarterback are the ones that always, sometimes you get too much credit or too much blame, but I’m not going to run away from the blame that’s deserved on my end.”
McVay praises Austin Blythe
The last part of the press conference that is worth highlighting is that McVay praised Austin Blythe. To some Rams fans’ displeasures, it would be very surprising to see Blythe go elsewhere this offseason. The Rams are going to do their best to keep him in Los Angeles.
“He really has done a nice job. It’s funny that you mentioned that, because we were talking amongst coaches and with (General Manager) Les (Snead) and his group over the last couple of weeks. We’ve talked about the importance of that center position, having the command and the capacity that you’re looking for because of the amount of responsibility that you put on that specific individual with where the communication starts, he and the quarterback working in unison. Looking at what (C) John Sullivan was able to establish his first couple years. Then seeing (OL) Austin (Blythe) start to play in the latter half of 2019, then watching where he took it and ran with it last season was really impressive. He did a great job and he’s definitely somebody that we appreciate, we value.
The Rams made the mistake two years ago by letting John Sullivan and Rodger Saffold leave. It created problems at center and guard that took a whole season to figure out. McVay isn’t going to throw Blythe under the bus in a presser. But to say that the team values him and to call his play last season impressive is certainly worth noting. The Rams are going to have to do a lot to get under the cap. Blythe will be just as much, if not more, of a priority than John Johnson III and Leonard Floyd.