Rams coach Sean McVay basking in afterglow of Super Bowl title

Credit: D. Orlando Ledbetter/AJC

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Rams coach Sean McVay meets with the media Monday, February 14, 2022 - the day after the Rams' 23-20 victory over the Bengals in Super Bowl 56.

Credit: D. Orlando Ledbetter/AJC

LOS ANGELES — Sean McVay, at 36 years and 20 days old, became the youngest coach to win the Super Bowl when his Rams prevailed over the Bengals 23-20 Sunday in Super Bowl 56 at SoFi Stadium.

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“The biggest thing that I’ve realized about this group is that you’re reminded of your real purpose,” said McVay, who was raised in Atlanta and played high school football at Marist. “There’s a difference between passion and purpose. The purpose is when you’re doing it because you want to see the other people that you love and care so much about succeed more than yourself.”

» Watch a replay of Rams coach Sean McVay’s news conference

Several family members from Atlanta were on hand to help McVay celebrate after the game.

“Yeah, they were all here,” McVay said. “They all got a chance to come out. So, it was great to be able to spend a lot of time with McVay family members and just so many people that you love and care about, being able to spend some time with them afterward yesterday was pretty special.”

By winning on their home field - the $5.5 billion SoFi Stadium which opened in 2020, the Rams became the second straight team to win the Super Bowl on their home field. Tampa Bay defeated Kansas City in Super Bowl 55 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa.

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“They earn that on the backs of some pretty epic comebacks,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said. “Particularly the last two, in the championship game and in the Super Bowl. Of course, coach deserves a tremendous amount credit for his leadership and innovation and the way that he has tirelessly worked to make the Rams better.”

McVay began his coaching career in 2008 as a quality control assistant with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers – the year after he played his final college game at Miami of Ohio. He rose quickly through the NFL coaching ranks and held three different positions (including three seasons as offensive coordinator) during seven years in Washington.

The Rams named him the head coach on Jan. 12, 2017, and at the age of 30 years and 354 days – the youngest head coach in the NFL’s modern era. Lane Kiffin was named the Raiders coach at 31 years, 259 days in 2007.

McVay took the Rams to the playoffs in his first season and reached Super Bowl 53 in Atlanta during his second season. The Rams were defeated 13-3 by the New England Patriots at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

The Rams went 9-7 and missed the playoffs in 2019. The Rams went 10-6 and lost in the divisional round of the playoffs in 2020.

McVay and general manager Les Snead, a former longtime Atlanta Falcons executive, decided the franchise needed to make some dynamic player transactions to amass enough talent to pull off the Super Bowl victory.

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The first move was the blockbuster trade for quarterback Matthew Stafford, the former UGA quarterback who spent 12 seasons in Detroit. They also traded for Sony Michel and Von Miller. They also signed wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. when he became a free agent.

They needed help at safety and coaxed former Pro Bowler Eric Weddle out of retirement in January at age 37. The Rams amassed an all-star team and don’t have a first-round pick until the 2024 draft.

“Everybody’s got some innately selfish things, but I am so proud to be associated with this group,” McVay said. “Whether it’s Aaron Donald, (Andrew) Whitworth, Stafford, Eric Weddle, Von Miller, Odell or Robert Woods, I love this group so much.”

Before the 2021 season, McVay lost his defensive coordinator Brandon Staley, who was named the head coach of the Los Angeles Chargers. He added former Falcons assistant and interim head coach Raheem Morris as the defensive coordinator.

It was Morris’ unit that helped to tilt Super Bowl 56 in the Rams’ favor with a record seven sacks and big stop by Donald on fourth down in the final minute of the game.

“The pressure that we were able to get defensively was a huge credit to Raheem Morris and those guys up front,” McVay said. “I thought our coverage on the back end was tight, made (Cincinnati quarterback) Joe (Burrow) hold it a little bit longer. You’ve got to give those guys a lot of credit. To be able to get seven sacks was instrumental for us winning that game.”

Traditionally, Super Bowl teams have been built through the draft. But some believe the Rams cut corners by mortgaging their future to win the Super Bowl.

“I’m just really pleased to be associated with a group that is not afraid to shoot their shot and take chances on things we feel like is in the best interest of the football team,” McVay said. “There are a lot of rolled eyes at us, but we believe in those things and we’re going to do things that we think are in the best interest of the Rams.”

McVay credited his players with helping to get the new talented players woven into their team concepts.

“The players being able to onboard the guys in the right way, it’s sweet and I’m really happy for these guys,” McVay said.

After the game, McVay spoke with his grandfather John McVay, a former coach of the New York Giants and general manager of the San Francisco 49ers when they won five Super Bowl titles in the 1980s and 1990s.

“He means so much to me,” McVay said. “I wouldn’t be in this position if it wasn’t for the legacy that he set for our family. You talk about a class man who treated people the right way. Earned every single thing that he got.

“I’m just so grateful for him. I want to be able to give him a ring. He’s got five, but he gave three of those away to his three sons. Knowing that he’s been so instrumental in me being able to even get a position, a chance to coach in the NFL. Be a coach, is pretty special.”

McVay doesn’t see himself coaching until he’s 60, but he’ll worry about the future later.

“There’s something really powerful about being a part of something bigger than yourself, and you can see that in the way these guys competed,” McVay said. “Love these players. Love these coaches. They are world champs.”

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