In two seasons under head coach Sean McVay, the Rams have put together a 24-8 regular-season record, winning back-to-back division titles for the first time since 1978 and 1979.
Among his many accomplishments, the 2017 AP Coach of the Year has been able to completely revitalize the Rams’ offense, putting it in the top 10 of all major statistical categories for two years in a row.
But after being bounced from the 2017 postseason with just a one-game appearance, the Rams are certainly looking for more this year. Last week, McVay sat down with therams.com to discuss the process for this season, how he continues to hold himself accountable, and what he’s looking forward to about Saturday’s Divisional round matchup.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
therams.com: If you could use one word to describe the playoffs, what would it be and why?
Sean McVay: Opportunity. You get an opportunity to compete for a World Title. There are steps to it, but being able to get into the playoffs presents that first opportunity to achieve the ultimate goal in the NFL — and that’s winning a World Championship with your teammates, with your family. And this represents a chance to take a step in the right direction, and that’s why that opportunity is so important for us to capitalize on.
therams.com: You talk a lot about focusing on the process over results. But knowing the results of last year’s playoff appearance, was there something you felt you needed to change about the process coming into this season? How did that evolve?
McVay: I wouldn’t say we had to change anything. I think it’s, every opportunity presents one to learn from — whether you win or you lose. And we want to be consistent with that approach. There’s certain things, specific to that Atlanta game, that I didn’t do nearly a good enough job for our football team to be able to achieve the win that we wanted. And you hope to learn from those and be able to use some of those things that you’ve learned in the Divisional round.
therams.com: How have you seen the team become more connected as the year has gone on?
McVay: This team has continued to embody that mental toughness. And every experience provides a chance to grow together. And we’ve seen some things happen that are very good for our football team, and then we’ve had to persevere through some adversity where guys stuck together — they looked inwardly about what they could do to be a part of the solution. That two-game losing skid that we ended up having, I think, served us really well to finish up, stay connected like they did, and finish up with two big-time division wins, finish the division 6-0, get to 13-3, get that first-round bye and ensure yourself a home playoff game on the Divisional weekend. So it’s been a great journey. Hopefully it’s far from over. But this team has continued to grow together and just be connected through everything that we’ve gone through — whether it’s good or bad.
therams.com: When the playoffs hit, is there a shift in mindset? Does there have to be because it’s one-and-done?
McVay: I think so. You just said it — it’s one and it’s done. If you win, you advance. If you don’t, then your season ends. It’s an abrupt ending if you don’t get the result that you want. But then if you win, you continue on and get yourself a chance to move closer and closer to the ultimate goal. So for us, I think there naturally is an increased level or urgency. We try to be consistent in our approach. But I think because we know what’s at stake, the things that we want to try to be able to accomplish together, there’s definitely a heightened sense of urgency.
therams.com: What do you think will be going through your mind as you walk out of the tunnel on Saturday night for your second playoff game in Los Angeles?
McVay: You know, I think just making sure that you just trust your preparation. And one of the things you always want to do is trust yourself, but also trust everyone around you. And that’s where everything that leads up to that moment throughout the course of the week is part of that process. But making sure that you enjoy it as well. So it’s about trusting everybody that you’re doing this with. But not forgetting to enjoy the moment and compete to the best of your ability.