LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Rams have made Sean McVay the youngest head coach in NFL history.
The Rams on Thursday hired McVay, who turns 31 years old on Jan. 24.
McVay spent the past three seasons as the Washington Redskins’ offensive coordinator. He has been an assistant since 2010 in Washington, where he worked with head coach Jay Gruden to build a prolific offense led by quarterback Kirk Cousins.
“Really happy for Sean McVay!” Cousins tweeted.
Really happy for Sean McVay!
— Kirk Cousins (@KirkCousins8) January 12, 2017
McVay replaces Jeff Fisher, who was fired 13 games into the Rams’ homecoming season in Los Angeles, and interim head coach John Fassel. The Rams finished 4-12 in their 13th consecutive non-winning season.
The Rams made the eye-catching move on the same day that the Chargers announced their relocation to Los Angeles to share the Rams’ $2.6 billion stadium. The Chargers are still without a coach, but the Rams grabbed headlines with one of the most interesting names on the coaching market.
McVay wowed the Rams’ top brass during two recent interviews, but he is an unorthodox choice for the franchise, which hasn’t taken many extraordinary risks during owner Stan Kroenke’s tenure. While McVay is respected as an up-and-coming NFL mind, he has understandably meager experience, including none as a head coach.
But perhaps risks are in order to snap the Rams out of their 12-year playoff drought. They’ve made the playoffs just four times in the last 27 years, all during a five-year span in St. Louis from 1999-2003, and they haven’t had a winning record in Los Angeles since 1989.
Los Angeles has a young roster, but McVay is still younger than two of the Rams’ players, defensive linemen William Hayes and Eugene Sims.
“He’s brought a lot to this football team, as far as offensively, and done a good job calling plays and utilizing the people that we have,” Gruden said recently.
Lane Kiffin was 31 years old when the Oakland Raiders hired him in January 2007. That hire didn’t go well, and McVay faces plenty of difficult work in his new job.
The Rams’ offense has finished last in the NFL for two consecutive seasons. Quarterback Jared Goff was the No. 1 overall pick in last year’s draft, but he struggled in his half-season as their starter, while top running back Todd Gurley had a dismal second NFL season behind the same struggling offensive line.
McVay could be well-equipped for the job of tutoring Goff: In Cousins’ two seasons under McVay as the Redskins’ starting quarterback, he twice broke the venerable franchise’s records for yards passing and completions. Washington averaged 403 yards per game this season, while the Rams didn’t have a 400-yard offensive game all year long.
Although McVay is a coaching youngster, he comes from a football family. His grandfather, John, spent 21 seasons in the San Francisco 49ers’ front office as a top executive involved in building several outstanding teams.
McVay is widely expected to assemble a veteran staff around him. The Rams have repeatedly been linked to Wade Phillips, the respected defensive coordinator and former head coach. He is out of contract after the 69-year-old veteran led the Denver Broncos’ Super Bowl-winning unit last season.
Phillips’ son, Wes, has been McVay’s tight ends coach in Washington. McVay held that job before becoming Gruden’s offensive coordinator in 2014.
The Redskins are left looking for two new coordinators on Gruden’s staff after McVay’s departure and defensive coordinator Joe Barry’s firing a week ago.
AP Pro Football Writer Howard Fendrich in Washington contributed to this report.