Sean McVay is now a second-year head coach.
While the Rams won't start playing games for nearly five months, players were back in the team facility at Cal Lutheran to start the offseason program.
"It almost does feel like the first day of school," McVay said. "I think as much as you enjoy watching tape and evaluating your scheme, what you realize and you appreciate so much — and I know I speak for all of our coaches when I say this — is the interaction with the players. Being around them, getting to teach, talk through different things, and talk about how we can be better than we were last year and that's with [taking things] one day at a time."
With the exception of defensive tackle Aaron Donald, all players on the Rams roster were present for the start of Phase I. The first of three parts of the offseason program, Phase I runs for two weeks and consists of strength and conditioning on-field work, as well as meetings with coaches.
Because this is Year 2 with the current coaching staff, McVay said his goals are understandably different for this part of the calendar.
"For us the two Phase One goals that we really had are going to be about establishing our culture and starting to master our systems," McVay said. "[G]oing into Year 2 in our offense and our defense, we want to establish some continuity and take a little more ownership in terms of some of the details and things we can do at a better rate. That's coaches and players, alike.
"And then with 'Bones,'" McVay continued, referring to special teams coordinator John Fassel, "we want to see those guys on special teams continue to play at the level that they have. They've had some continuity over the last handful of years. I thought you saw them do excellent things for us, so really it's about figuring out how can we establish our culture, and really master our systems in all three phases. That's kind of what that's exclusive to right now."
And while the Rams undoubtedly created a strong, winning culture in 2017, McVay made it clear there's work to be done in order for that to continue this season.
"I think it's also figuring out what is the identity of this team and how can we start right now? Making sure that we're making progress, making strides every single day, and just taking it one day at a time is really what our focus and concentration will be on," McVay said. "Certainly, we're excited about the players that we do have on board and the guys that we're going to be doing it with. But I think they would all share in kind of that feeling where we're excited about it, we're optimistic, but we know that it's a process and that process is one day at a time."
Check out photos as players arrive for the first day of offseason workouts.
Part of that process will be integrating new players into the team's already established systems. L.A. made headlines in acquiring cornerback Marcus Peters, cornerback Aqib Talib, defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh, and wide receiver Brandin Cooks. Now they can receive playbooks and start building chemistry with coaches and teammates.
"I think we're excited to get to know these guys, the guys that we don't know. We're excited to build on the relationships we've already established," McVay said. "We're excited to get to know Ndamukong Suh, we're excited to get to know Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib and how they fit, Brandin Cooks and our offense.
"And then you end up adding a player like [cornerback] Sam Shields who had a really productive career in Green Bay and when he's been available he's been extremely good," McVay continued. "Then you look at [linebacker] Ramik Wilson, so we've added six players in this offseason that we're excited about getting to know them, seeing how they fit with our players. I know our core leaders and our veteran guys that have been in that locker room will do a great job kind of welcoming them with open arms."
And even though the Rams has a taste of success last year, McVay seems to be harping on the point that it doesn't mean much as everyone begins a new season 0-0.
"I think there's a confidence that we were able to at least lay and establish a foundation. But I think what those players will also tell you is that what we did last year, really have to wipe the slate clean. We have to earn it every single day," McVay said. "There's a confidence that exists from having some previous experience where you were able to obtain a little bit of success.
"But this league is too competitive, the players are too good. You'll get humbled very quickly if you kind of just rest on your laurels," McVay added. "I think that's the exciting thing for us is let's focus on what we can do to evolve and improve every single day and make sure we're just focusing on that one day at a time mindset and mentality to get better."