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After Three Awards, Rams Know Expectations are Raised

Posted Feb 4, 2018

HC Sean McVay, RB Todd Gurley, and DT Aaron Donald all seemed to embrace that the bar is now higher for L.A. in 2018 after the club's showing at NFL Honors.

MINNEAPOLIS — As defensive tackle Aaron Donald, running back Todd Gurley, and head coach Sean McVay each addressed the media after winning their awards at NFL Honors on Saturday, a common theme emerged.

Sure, the Rams were proud of what they accomplished — particularly as the 2017 team became the first in league history to have the Associated Press’ Offensive Player of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, and Coach of the Year. But that’s not where Los Angeles wants this story to end.

“It was a good season, but you always want to do more,” said Donald, the AP Defensive Player of the Year. “That’s the best thing about the game — you can’t get comfortable. Once you get comfortable that’s when you are no longer good. Just staying hungry. Having the mindset that I ain’t arrived yet, I ain’t done enough yet. So, just gotta keep working. We are just getting started.”

“What I think it means is that we had a good season that we can build on,” said McVay, the AP Coach of the Year. “But everything is earned in this league and just because we won the division last year doesn’t mean anything next year. You feel really good about the players you have in place, but we have to earn it every single day. It’s a very humbling league.”

The Rams finished the season 11-5, winning their first NFC West title since 2003. But McVay called being at NFL Honors in some ways “bittersweet.”

“It does feel a little bittersweet only because you remember the Falcons game and those are thing that I know I want to do a better job for our team,” McVay said. “The way that I can look at myself critically and figure out how we can get better.”

But with that, the Rams know there will likely be added expectations for 2018, especially after how the team fared at the award show.

“It’s a lot of expectations after we made the playoffs for the first time,” Gurley said. “You don’t want to go backwards so we just have to keep working hard, just come everyday in the offseason, training camp, or whatever that is and keep supporting each other — just get better every day and have that one goal in mind that everybody has and that’s to be playing instead of talking to you guys.”

“We’re excited. I know that there will be some raised expectations, but we love that. We won’t shy away from it,” McVay said. “What it’s going to be about for us is staying with our process and developing a standard of performance. And that’s one day at a time, one practice at a time. We’ll relax a little bit but when we come back we’re going to attack this offseason program the right way and we’re very excited about that.”

And given the team’s young, talented core of players — and coaches, for that matter — there is plenty of reason to feel optimistic about Los Angeles’ future heading into the offseason.

“We’ve definitely got a lot to build off. So, that’s the main thing,” Donald said. “We have a coach with a lot of young players that aren’t satisfied — that know we should still be playing right now. When you have guys like that on the team with great coaches like Wade [Phillips] that’s putting us in situations to have success to help this team to win — sky’s the limit.”