When you inherit a team that won four games and finished last in the NFL in offense, there is plenty of work to be done.
Sean McVay did it quickly as the new head coach of the Los Angeles Rams.
The Rams made McVay the youngest head coach in NFL history when they hired him at the age of 30 in the offseason. Nine games into his head coaching career, McVay has the Rams in first place of the NFC West with a 7-2 record on the strength of the highest scoring offense in the league.
That turnaround has earned McVay mid-season Coach of the Year honors based on last week’s Talk of Fame Network poll. McVay won in a landslide with 89 percent of the vote. Doug Pederson of the Eagles was next with nine percent, followed by Mike Zimmer of the Minnesota Vikings and Sean Payton of the New Orleans Saints at three percent apiece.
The three Talk of Fame Network hosts Ron Borges, Rick Gosselin and Clark Judge aso cast their ballots for McVay, the grandson of John McVay, the San Francisco 49ers director of football operations during the Bill Walsh era.
“McVay did the improbable,” Judge said. “He made the downtrodden Rams successful and entertaining at the same time. And he did it in his first year as a head coach. That deserves something ... something like this award.”
Borges wanted to vote for Patriots coach Bill Belichick but he wasn’t on the slate of eight candidates, so he sided with McVay.
“Let's make it unanimous,” Borges said. “Anybody who can win with the Rams has my vote, especially since he resurrected their franchise quarterback in less than one year of working with him.”
This was more than a one-year rebuilding project for McVay. The Rams haven’t won a division title since 2003 and haven’t been to the playoffs since 2004. That was four head coaches and one city ago. More recently the Rams had suffered 10 consecutive losing seasons and were reeling from that 4-12 finish in 2016.
McVay inherited quarterback Jared Goff, the first overall pick of the 2016 draft who struggled mightily as a rookie. But McVay, a quarterback whisperer who came over to the Rams from the Redskins, has him playing at a Pro Bowl level this season. Goff has passed for 2,385 yards with 16 touchdowns and only four interceptions. The Rams averaged 14 points per game last season. They are averaging 32.8 points per game this fall.
McVay also has energized the career of running back Todd Gurley and given Los Angeles an NFL franchise the fans can actually get excited about. Gurley ranks fourth in the NFL in rushing with 754 yards and seven touchdowns. The Rams also have one of the NFL’s stingiest defenses under new coordinator Wade Phillips, having allowed the third fewest points in the NFL (155). The Rams allowed almost 400 points last season.
Payton, Pederson and Zimmer all coached non-playoff teams a year ago and now have all sitting atop division races.