Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Coach McVay Is Rams' New Kid on the Block

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Coach McVay Is Rams' New Kid on the Block

Article excerpt

PHOENIX * Sean McVay isn't bothered by the age jokes. They have come from all directions, even from people he has hired on his Los Angeles Rams coaching staff.

Such as grizzled defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, who sent out this zinger via Twitter in early February: "Rams have the only staff with DC on Medicare and HC in Daycare."

Phillips will be 70 before the Rams start training camp. McVay was 30 when the Rams hired him to replace Jeff Fisher, making him the youngest head coach in modern NFL history. He since has turned 31.

Age alone makes McVay more contemporary than authority figure to his players. Free-agent pickup Andrew Whitworth, the offensive tackle signed from the Cincinnati Bengals, is four years his elder.

It has led to some interesting dialogue, such as when McVay met with Western Kentucky offensive lineman Forrest Lamp at the NFL Scouting Combine this offseason.

McVay to Lamp: "Do you have some gel in that hair?"

Lamp to McVay: "No, it stands up like that."

Lamp, again to McVay: "I can tell you've got some gel in your hair."

Hard to imagine Dick Vermeil having that conversation, with say, Adam Timmerman, isn't it?

McVay tries to play along.

About a week before the combine, he spoke to a group of about three dozen people that included the board of directors at California Lutheran University. (That is where the Rams have their year-round practice facility.)

"As surprised as you might be, I am not a student at 'Cal Lu,' " McVay told them.

McVay is less than 10 years removed from attending Miami (Ohio) University.

He was in high school the last time the Rams finished a season with a winning record.

And now, he's being asked to lead the franchise out of its long funk, one that has included 13 consecutive non-winning seasons and a 4-12 record in 2016 that got Fisher fired before the end of the year.

When NFL head coaches gathered Monday for their "team" photo, an annual tradition at the league's March owners meetings, no one told him to go sit at the kids' table. As the saying goes in the NFL coaching fraternity, he's one of the 32.

As he gathered with the 31 other coaches for the photo, McVay conceded to a bit of a "fanboy" attack.

"This experience, being around these guys, is probably the first time it's set in," McVay said. "Where you realize what a unique deal and what a humbling and really cool experience it is to be around these other 31 coaches. It's definitely something that you'll cherish.

"You don't want to be kind of a fan. But in a lot of ways, you have so much respect for this game that I'm a fan of a lot of these coaches."

McVay also has been a sponge. Every chance he's had at these meetings, McVay has tried to connect with his fellow head coaches, picking their brains for any advice on what lies ahead.

"What's been cool is sitting down with Dan Quinn, and talking to Mike Tomlin and Sean Payton (Tuesday)," McVay said Wednesday at the NFL coaches breakfast. …

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