When Sean McVay was hired as head coach in January, he set out a vision for what he wanted the Rams to look like.
"We're going to be committed to our process and we're going to be committed to a standard of performance," McVay said on January 12. "And those things are going to be focused on daily improvement and daily excellence."
That message has been consistent throughout the season, reinforced every day from the start of the offseason program to now — where the Rams find themselves 5-2 heading into their Week 8 bye.
There's been plenty of changes for the franchise over the last 10 months since McVay's hiring, and the entire organization — from the coaches, to the players, to the front office — has clearly bought into what the head head coach is preaching.
"I think when you get good people that are bought in, it's just taking it one day at a time," McVay said this week. "I think we've got a lot of people pushing in the same direction and I think that's very critical for what we want to try to accomplish both as a coaching staff and with our players."
Any time a new head coach is brought in, there are questions about how he changes the culture. Those have been consistently asked about the Rams since the offseason program, but midway through the season, there are tangible results.
Players have talked a lot about how McVay has raised the team's accountability. And according to right guard Jamon Brown, that has to do with a lot of the little things.
"When guys are doing the right things, then he rewards us. And when we're doing the wrong things, like being late somewhere or maybe not making weight range or different things like that, [we're] being fined," Brown said. "Just keeping guys and making sure we're sticking to that accountability level. He's really raised that and his expectations of us all across the board."
That includes on the practice field, too. Defensive lineman Aaron Donald said, "One little mistake they are going to do the whole practice over again. It's something that you want to see. You want them to be perfect because you practice the way you play."
That accountability extends to the head coach, too. McVay often says that if he wants the players to continuously look at themselves critically, then he has to do the same. Lately, that's been displayed in McVay's press conferences when he discusses his use of timeouts.
"All jokes aside, some of those timeouts is inexcusable and those are things that are very important and really, when you look at the other day and we ended up using those, there was clearly a ruling that would have gone the other way if we had that available and we didn't," McVay said. "And it didn't hurt us, but that's where if we're going to talk about process over results, I've got to be the same way as a coach and make sure that I'm looking at myself critically with regards to the game management just leading in the right way."
McVay's messages have also been consistently reinforced through slogans and sayings players see on the walls throughout the club's facility at Cal Lutheran. Many of them have to do with the team being more important than the individual, the standard of performance, daily excellence, daily improvement, and trusting the method of development.
"I think those visual aids are certainly very helpful as kind of a reminder of how we want to operate. But if you don't live those things that you're seeing on those walls and things like that, it kind of really doesn't mean much," McVay said. "We always talk about our process and a standard of performance and what that can lead to, being connected as a team, the 'We not me.' So, all those things are things that we believe in."
According to left tackle Andrew Whitworth, McVay set the Rams on the right path with those kinds of messages from the start of the offseason program.
"I think Sean really put us in the right direction in those ways," Whitworth said. "We talk all the time about 'The Standard,' and, really, what we expect from every guy every day, and the daily improvement, and the daily things that we want guys to do."
And about halfway through the season, McVay's going to keep harping on the same themes to push the Rams toward a successful finish.
"We're only seven games into this," McVay said, "but I think being focused on that process and then having some of your best players and your leaders set the standard day-in and day-out is going to be key for us moving forward."
Check out the best shots from the Rams' Week 7 win over the Cardinals in London.