Sean McVay is still the youngest head coach in the NFL at 35, but his growing influence is already being felt in the football world.
The driver is in his fifth season at the helm of the Rams. His 49-22 record gives him a .690 success rate.
The sample is not yet big, but to date its winning percentage is higher than that of Bill Belichick, Andy Reid and Sean Payton. Obviously he still has crusts to eat to be in the same discussion, but still!
What is surprising in McVay’s case, beyond his success at the helm of the Rams, is that his former disciples are already enjoying success elsewhere. In football jargon, we speak of a « coaching tree » to designate the former assistants of a head coach who establish themselves in the same functions within another team.
Several organizations are trying to emulate the successes of the Rams, to the point where, by the end of the last season, no less than seven members of the coaching staff of McVay have found takers elsewhere.
After McVay’s early early successes, it was almost humorous to see other bands rushing to his staff in the hope of unearthing a rare gem in his style. Today, the trend is very real and seems justified.
Three success stories
At 38, Zac Taylor is in his third season with the Bengals and after a lame start the tide seems to be turning. The one who was a receivers assistant coach and quarterback coach under McVay in Los Angeles sees the Bengals close with a 5-2 record and it just seems the beginning.
Current Packers driver Matt LaFleur is off to an amazing start to his career with a 33-7 record in his third season at Green Bay. The 41-year-old was McVay’s offensive coordinator in 2017.
Brandon Staley is the latest branch of the McVay tree to land a head coaching job. Defensive coordinator of the Rams’ last season, he got off to a good start with the Chargers (4-2). At 38, he is another proud representative of the McVay youth wave.
Other former McVay staff shine elsewhere in coordinating roles and could eventually rise in rank.
Coordinators who push
Shane Waldron, offensive coordinator of the Seahawks, seemed in perfect symbiosis with Russell Wilson before the latter’s injury.
Joe Berry has spent the past four seasons as McVay’s assistant head coach and he’s in charge of the Packers’ defense, which is playing very well this season.
Another ex-McVay assistant, Liam Coen, became the offensive coordinator for the University of Kentucky Wildcats, ranked 12e at home in the NCAA.
A great start
Obviously, McVay’s coaching tree is nothing like that of great coaches like Paul Brown, Bill Walsh, Bill Parcells and Andy Reid, who have helped launch the careers of many great coaches.
The mere fact that the roots of McVay’s tree are starting to spread left and right at such an early stage in his career is no small feat.
5 points to watch out for
1. Duel of carriers
The game between the Colts and the Titans will pit the two most productive running backs this season. Derrick Henry is the leader with 869 yards, while Jonathan Taylor follows, far behind, with 579 yards. Henry will be looking to become the third player in history to break the 1,000 yard, 10 touchdown mark after just eight games. The only ones who had such a start were Jim Brown in 1958 and Terrell Davis in 1998.
2. Big deviations
Since the start of the season, fans have been blessed with close matches. The suspense that was at the rendezvous almost vanished last week. Indeed, no less than six games were decided by gaps of at least 20 points. The NFL hadn’t seen a week with so many games involving such a margin in the past six years, according to NFL Research.
3. Pitts takes flight
Close end Kyle Pitts, after a shy start to the season with the Falcons, is emerging. Whoever broke everything with the University of Florida only needs 164 yards to land in the top 10 best harvests in history for a rookie tight end. He has 10 games left to amass 604 yards, which would eclipse Mike Ditka’s rookie mark, which has held up for 60 years.
4. A hot duel
In the match between Saints and Buccaneers, there is an unmissable duel between two players. Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore will likely face wide receiver Mike Evans for much of the game. Last year, Lattimore had played in Evans’ head repeatedly and a few sparks had arisen. The two proud competitors should still be amazed.
5. The Diggs sequence
Cowboys cornerback Trevon Diggs claims an interception in each of the Cowboys’ first six games. It’s a brand he shares with Tom Landry and Brian Russell. The record for consecutive games with at least one interception, regardless of the time of the season, is eight and has been owned by Tommy Morrow, since 1963.
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