INGLEWOOD, Calif. – No matter where a viewer or observer looked on the field on Sunday at SoFi Stadium, Rams linebacker Kenny Young was there.
Sacking Bucs quarterback Tom Brady for a 9-yard loss? Check. Leveling Bucs running back Gionvani Bernard for a 2-yard loss? Check.
It was exactly what Rams head coach McVay wanted to see.
"I thought Kenny Young was outstanding today," McVay said. "Responding from a little bit of a setback last week, he handled it perfectly. Took accountability, ownership."
Young had a team-high 10 total tackles (three for loss), plus one sack, one QB hit, and one forced fumble in the Rams' 34-24 win on Sunday, a critical performance for the Rams' defense.
The sack of Brady – which came with 6:04 remaining in the third quarter – helped stall a Buccaneers drive that eventually ended with them punting, after the Rams went up 28-14. After the punt, the Rams added a 31-yard field goal by kicker Matt Gay to extend their lead to 31-14.
"That's Kenny, you know, he's a playmaker," Rams defensive lineman Aaron Donald said postgame. "He's an important part to this defense. He knows that. That's one of the things we had to talk to him about last week and we've been talking to him this week about. It was a learning experience for him last week. I've been through that situation as well. So to see him come back out and play the way he played at a high level, flying around, making a lot of plays, that's why he's out there. That's why he's a playmaker for us."
The setback and learning experience McVay and Donald are referring to is when Young was ejected from the Rams' Week 2 game against the Colts for making contact with an official.
Young said Sunday it was an out of character moment for him, one that he learned the most about his attitude and how important each player is to the team. His reaction stemmed from getting tackled to the ground and feeling like he wasn't safe, but he admitted he needed to do a better job of controlling his emotions.
"I want to say I learned from it," Young said. "I didn't mean to bump into the referees. People that know me know that's not my character at all. I just love ball and doing it with a ton of passion. So I move forward from that, I learn from it. I think I've matured and grown from it personally, and I think that was a situation where probably won't happen again as long as I'm playing pro ball."
As soon as the Rams flew back to L.A. from Indianapolis, Young said he got back to his process and took things a day at a time.
Asked about his performance against the Bucs, said he spent this past offseason focusing on the bigger picture. He said he knows he has the talent and is part of an organization to help him get to where he envisions as a player and a leader. Ultimately, he came to the realization that "I can't negotiate with myself if I really want to be great."
Consequently, he bought into having a great training camp, and the momentum from the way they competed during that time is why he and the defense as a whole is enjoying the success they are currently having.
"I took every day in training camp and OTAs to really get better, and I think it's just paying off," Young said. "I love my coaches, they believe in me, and they just let me go do my thing. They let me go lead, and I feel confident in that."