Whichever way the game goes the winning head coach will make NFL history. Either the Patriots’ Bill Belichick will become the oldest head coach to win a Super Bowl, or the Rams’ Sean McVay will become the youngest. Whilst Belichick is somewhat of a household name in the NFL, what’s the story behind the NFL’s up and coming star coach Sean McVay?
At 33 years old, Sean McVay is officially the youngest head coach in modern NFL history, hired by the Rams in 2017 at the age of 30. To put McVay’s age in perspective, he is so young that he actually played a college game against current Patriots star receiver Julian Edelman.
Despite never playing in the NFL, McVay sports a strong football heritage in his family. His father, Tim McVay, played defensive back at Indiana University. His grandfather John McVay is a previous head coach of the University of Daytona and New York Giants as well as former general manager of the San Francisco 49ers involved in orchestrating five consecutive Super Bowl winning seasons.
McVay’s playing career started off at Mairst High School, Atlanta, where he played four years as a starter at quarterback for the War Eagles football team, leading the team to a state championship in his senior year, reportedly playing the majority of the championship game with a broken foot.
During his high school career, he led the War Eagles to a 26-3 record, totalling 2,600 rushing yards, 2,500 passing yards and 58 total Touchdowns. He also became the first player in school history to 1,000 passing yards and 1,000 rushing yards in consecutive seasons. Despite his impressive high school accolades, he was not highly sought after by college recruiters, only being rated as a two-star recruit. McVay attended Miami University, Ohio where he transitioned to wide receiver putting up modest numbers, 39 receptions for 312 yards, whilst also being involved on special teams as a kick returner, graduating in 2008.
Following a mediocre college career hindered by an ankle injury, McVay never entered the NFL draft, opting instead to pursue a career in coaching. He took his first coaching job with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, under head coach John Gruden, as an assistant wide receiver coach in 2008.
The following season he coached under Jay Gruden in the short-lived United Football League (UFL) as quality control/wide receivers’ coach for the Florida Tuskers. McVay’s rise to coaching fame in the NFL was kickstarted in 2010 when he was hired by head coach Mike Shanahan of the Washington Redskins as an assistant tight ends coach and was promoted to tight ends coach the following season, a position he held until the end of the 2013 season.
In January 2014, McVay was promoted to offensive coordinator of the Redskins, giving him his chance to prove his coaching ability, working with third year quarterback Kirk Cousins. Together they managed to turn the Redskins offence from the 25th ranked to the 3rd ranked overall between 2014 and 2016.
The 2016 season was one of the worst for the Rams, beginning the season 3-1, then losing 7 of their next 8 games, leading to the eventual firing of head coach Jeff Fisher following a 42-14 loss to the Atlanta Falcons. The Rams promoted special team’s coordinator John Fassel to the role of interim head coach, and lost the remainder of their games, finishing the season with a 4-12 record. In January 2017, the Rams hired Sean McVay as head coach, who immediately started changing things around for the franchise, acquiring wide receivers Sammy Watkins and Robert Woods, as well as draft pick Cooper Kupp.
He also began utilising young quarterback Jared Goff and running back Todd Gurley much more. McVay undertook the offensive play calling duties for the season, leading the Rams to their first NFC west title since 2003. Unfortunately, despite the incredible season the Rams came up short in the first round of the playoffs where they were defeated by the Atlanta Falcons 26-13. This season would end in McVay being named Coach of the Year by Pro Football Writers of America.
In the offseason, McVay and the Rams began building for a championship run, acquiring big names such as Marcus Peters, Aqib Talib, Brandin Cooks and Ndamukong Suh. This led to many analysts and experts tipping the Rams to be serious Super Bowl contenders.
McVay continued to call the offensive plays for the 2018 season and led the Rams in a stellar season finishing 13-3 before going on to defeat the Dallas Cowboys and narrowly beating the New Orleans Saints in the playoffs to progress to Super Bowl LIII.
McVay goes into the Super Bowl with a 26-9 record as head coach, the only thing that stands between him and Super Bowl history is the New England Patriots.