(EDITOR’S NOTE: To access the Kevin Demoff interview, click on the following attachment: Ep 73: Rams COO Kevin Demoff Joins The Show | Spreaker)
At 35, the Rams’ Sean McVay is more than the NFL’s youngest head coach. He’s one of its most successful, too.
In his fifth season with L.A., McVay is 45-21, with three playoff appearances, including a berth in Super Bowl LIII, and a regular-season winning percentage of .682 that is higher than Bill Belichick (.672), higher than Andy Reid (.629) and higher than Sean Payton (.637). He’s also the youngest NFL head coach to reach a Super Bowl and the youngest to win the Associated Press Coach-of-the-Year award.
So what makes someone so young so special? We asked Rams’ Chief Operating Officer and executive VP in charge of football operations Kevin Demoff on the latest “Eye Test for Two” podcast (fullpressradio.com), and he should know. Demoff has been with the Rams since 2009 and serves as the club’s chief front-office executive.
Moreover, he’s the son of Marvin Demoff, a respected and influential agent who represented a cadre of high-profile NFL players and executives.
“What jumps out to me with Sean,” said Demoff, “is that he’s the best communicator I’ve ever been around from a head-coaching perspective … and, really, from a life perspective. Whatever Sean wanted to do in life he’d be successful because he has a natural gift of connecting with people, sharing his viewpoints and getting you to believe not only in what he’s teaching you but to believe in yourself.
“I was really fortunate to get this job with the Rams at a young age and I couldn’t have difficult conversations … still have a hard time having difficult conversations. Sean tackles problems right away. He’s up front. He knows how to push people’s buttons in a positive, uplifting way and, look, the results show.”
He’s right about that. In four seasons with the Rams, McVay never had a losing year. In three of them he reached the playoffs. In two of them he won the NFC West. And in one of them – 2018 – he reached a Super Bowl.
But his impact extends beyond the Rams. Because of his success, teams looking for coaches started looking for the next Sean McVay – and, predictably, they went straight to the source. Green Bay’s Matt LaFleur, six years older than McVay, was the Rams’ offensive coordinator. Cincinnati’s Zac Taylor, three years older than McVay, was the team’s quarterbacks coach. And the Chargers’ Brandon Staley, three years older than McVay, was the Rams’ defensive coordinator.
Moreover, when former Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford put together an offseason wish list, his first choice was the Rams. Reason: McVay. Tired of losing, Stafford wanted to go somewhere he could succeed and somewhere a quarterback-friendly system was in place. Fortunately for him, the interest was mutual – with the Rams so keen on acquiring Stafford that they sent quarterback Jared Goff, two first-round draft picks and a third-rounder to the Lions to acquire him.
A gamble? Perhaps. But the Rams are 2-0, Stafford is completing 70 percent of his passes and he and McVay seem ideally suited to each other, with Demoff describing the relationship more like “a partnership” than a director and his actors.
“There's an experience factor," Demoff said. "Sean will always talk about the quarterback being an extension of the coaching staff; that you can put your players in the best possible positions, but the players have to go out there and be that extension of the coaching staff and see what the coaching staff can’t see.
“You watch the Eli (Manning) and Peyton broadcast on Monday night. They talked about (how) the quarterback sees it differently and from a better perspective than anybody else on the bench or from the press box. And I think that’s what you have in Matthew Stafford: Someone who sees the game, can share that with Sean, can put what Matthew has seen (into words) and he can say it very clearly to Sean.
“And Sean can understand it. They can translate it, and they can make adjustments. They see it the same way. They look at football the same way. I think they have this partnership that’s based off of Matthew’s experience.”
Stafford is in his 13th season, has a 76-90-1 record, went to the playoffs three times but never won a playoff game. The Rams think all that is about to change, with this weekend’s showdown with defending Super Bowl-champion Tampa Bay and Tom Brady the first litmus test. Granted, it’s early. But it’s not too soon to see how Stafford responds to a playoff-like environment involving two NFC titans.
We already know about McVay.
“He is a special talent,” said Demoff. “He has great football lineage. He has unbelievable charisma and leadership, and we’re just fortunate here at the Rams to benefit from both.”