ATLANTA — Sean McVay speaks without a space bar between sentences, his clauses crammed together like vehicles on a Los Angeles interstate. The quick cadence creates bumper-to-bumper thought traffic. His words speed at 75 mph, somehow still reaching their destination without collision.
It is here, in his energetic but elegant linguistic commute, the Los Angeles Rams coach seems so inviting.
Keep up. Follow his active mind.
Come see where it goes.
McVay is the first Los Angeles coach to lead his franchise to a Super Bowl appearance since the Raiders’ Tom Flores was victorious to conclude the 1983 season. At 33, he is the youngest head coach in the title game’s 53-year history. McVay moves quickly in both career accomplishment and verbal presentation, the latter serving as part of what distinguishes him from his Sunday counterpart.
That and experience.
On Tuesday, McVay acknowledged the latter.
He referenced the concept of “chasing ghosts” in regard to his team’s preparation to face the New England Patriots. Both clubs have two weeks to plan. While the Patriots may have this schedule down to a science, given this is their fourth Super Bowl in five years and ninth in 18, the concept is fairly new to McVay.
And there is much to study.
Under coach Bill Belichick, the Patriots are the contortion artists of the NFL, bending their scheme and personnel usage to seize what they consider to be advantageous matchups, often surprising opponents along the way. McVay and his staff must be ready for whatever version of their opponent they will see.
As he speaks rapidly, McVay seems to understand and revel in the task.
Belichick, he is often reminded, is twice his age at 66.
“There’s a lot of instances, especially when you have two weeks, where you have those contingency plans, but you also don’t want to chase ghosts,” McVay said of overpreparing. “It’s something that we’re figuring out right now. But you can’t have enough respect for what they’ve done in that identity shift, specifically when you just look at these last couple games when you look at what they’ve been able to do against two of the best offenses, without a doubt, in the playoffs. That’s why it’s a great challenge for us. That’s why they’re here consistently.”
McVay is part of Raiders coach Jon Gruden’s tree.
His first NFL job came under Gruden as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ assistant wide receivers coach in 2008.
Like Gruden, McVay seems comfortable when standing in front of cameras on center stage. He has a rapid-fire style, however, that distinguishes him from others and certainly Belichick.
Belichick speaks from the far-right traffic lane. He sees the speed limit sign and minds it. This week, McVay was asked a question about whether the Rams would celebrate a Super Bowl on Sunday with an eventual visit to the White House, the sort of question that might elicit a pause, frown and eight-word response from Belichick.
McVay jumped on the question once completed.
What followed was 118 words in 28 seconds.
“Yeah, I think the biggest this is, if we’re fortunate enough to win this game, then we talk about what’s next with regard to those steps, and that’s exactly how we’ll approach it,” McVay said. “The first thing is we’ve got to win this game, and that’s going to be a great challenge for us. So, that’s really kind of where we’re at, solely focused on trying to win the game against an excellent football team that’s been doing it as well as anybody over the last 10 full years, and the luxuries or some of the opportunities that are presented as a result of winning that are things that we’ll have to filter through as an organization after this.”
McVay moves fast.
On Sunday, he looks to cross the finish line.