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Cory's Corner: The Sean McVay Effect

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Cory's Corner: The Sean McVay Effect

Remember the “If I could be like Mike” Gatorade commercial? Legions of people were humming that tune or singing the song that summer. 

If Gatorade were going to update that commercial it would be, “If I could be like McVay.” 

Sean McVay has suddenly turned into a priceless gem. Granted, he is an offensive wizard. In the 10 years before McVay took over, the Rams averaged a 27 ranking in points and a 28 ranking in yards. Last year, McVay’s first year strolling the Rams sidelines, Los Angeles was first in points and 10th in yards. This year the Rams were second in both points and yards.

The Rams will take on the Patriots in Super Bowl 53 on Sunday in what will be McVay’s first real test. At 33, McVay will become the youngest head coach in a Super Bowl. And if LA wins, NFL general managers will try to get any assistant that has studied at the feet of McVay. 

Packers president Mark Murphy and general manager Brian Gutekunst were ahead of the curve. Matt LaFleur wasn’t on many coaching lists, but he is the first former McVay assistant to land a head job. 

Does it sound trendy? Sure. McVay could obviously lose on Sunday, which would start the whispers about his playoff mettle, which would still be a reasonable 2-2. 

But there’s something different about McVay. He reminds me a lot about Clemson’s Dabo Swinney. Nobody gave Clemson a chance this year against mighty Alabama and Swinney’s crew ran the Crimson Tide off the field. And the X-factor wasn’t his knowledge of football, but his feelings as a person. Swinney hugs his players and really treats his team like a family. McVay does the same thing. When Aaron Donald was holding out, McVay didn’t lose communication with arguably the best defensive player in the league and it’s why the Rams didn’t lose Donald during the holdout. 

There has been a lot of negative chatter about LaFleur coming to Green Bay. Does he have a lot of experience as a head coach? No, but he will get an assist from Mike Pettine on those things. The things that will really matter, especially right away, are his personal skills. How relatable is he to his players? Do his players respect him? Can he praise players while also holding them accountable? 

McVay went through the same line of questions. He was the youngest head coach in the league, but there was a reason the Rams and 49ers were neck-and-neck to get him. Both organizations knew that McVay had an incredible offensive mind, but the Rams have been pleasantly surprised by how a simple smile has become infectious. 

The culture inside the Rams locker room is family that relies on each other. Ironically enough, that’s exactly the opposite of what’s happening inside the Patriots locker room. Bill Belichick would rather have Jimmy Garoppolo over 41-year-old Tom Brady but owner Robert Kraft likes Brady. And it’s why New England is nearing the end of its run. 

A loss will elicit plenty of questions about McVay, but a win will jumpstart the Rams dynasty. Not just because he understands how to manipulate the NFL in today’s rules, but he knows that players don’t want a dictator anymore. They want someone that listens to them, is smart enough to answer the “Why?” question and is witty enough to make it all interesting. 

Will Lafleur be McVay 2.0? I have no idea. But if he handles his players like McVay, the Packers will have a changed culture and be on their way to sustained success once again. 


Cory Jennerjohn is a graduate from UW-Oshkosh and has been in sports media for over 15 years. He was a co-host on "Clubhouse Live" and has also done various radio and TV work as well. He has written for newspapers, magazines and websites. He currently is a columnist for CHTV and also does various podcasts. He recently earned his Masters degree from the University of Iowa. He can be found on Twitter: @Coryjennerjohn

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (28) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Pack Fan Forever's picture

There are many ways, many paths, to success as an NFL coach. McVay and Belichick are about as different as two human beings can be. Yet both are successful. In Bellichick’s case, he has sustained success such that you cannot argue with his approach. Time will tell what McVay’s legacy will be, but Belichick’s is cemented. And let us not forget that part of the Rams ascension has to do with tremendous personnel moves. Look at the roster. The drafting has been impeccable and they have made shrewd free-agent moves that have not only brought immense talent to the team but they managed to do it in a way to achieve chemistry. McVay came into a very good situation. In my opinion, Lafleur, not so much in that regard. Time will tell how he does but I am not at all optimistic just because in some ways he resembles McVay. And here is an inconsistency: this article indicates that McVay succeeded by being basically a buddy buddy to his players, yet many Packer players have been bemoaning the fact that there was no discipline in the locker room. Which way do you want it?

Coach JV's picture

They have been bemoaning complacency and lack of accountability... not discipline. A good leader doesn't need to use "discipline" as a motivating factor. A good leader doesn't need to use "discipline" to acquire accountability from the team.
What a good leader DOES do, is motivate his team in such a way that they WANT to be on time, WANT to work hard, WANT to deliver the best performance... and WANT to sacrifice whatever it takes to make that happen.

When a good leader does that, complacency disappears and accountability takes care of itself.

dobber's picture

I keep hitting the "like" button, but it only allows me to give you one.

dobber's picture

We have to remember how long the Rams have wallowed and had a chance to draft talent...the drafting has been OK over several years. Not Browns-esque, but they've had the opportunity to pick high even if they haven't repeatedly hit the bullseye--Aaron Donald and Todd Gurley count a lot on their own. You point out that they signed and traded for a crap-ton of higher end players, some with checkered pasts (which, to their good fortune, hasn't backfired yet), and that--coupled with a quality QB on a cheap rookie deal--is giving them room to make this run.

I agree: LaFleur isn't inheriting a roster of the same type that McVay did. The Packers roster isn't devoid of talent, but it hasn't had the opportunity to benefit from years of good draft position. People seem to be thinking that McVay was a brilliant move by the Rams but it was a shot-in-the-dark flier and it's panning out so far because the right pieces are/were put around him. There are going to be a lot more McVay types (Kingsbury, Taylor, and--yes--LaFleur) that fail, and fail badly, because teams want to catch that lightning in a bottle. I just hope the Packers aren't one of them.

lucky953's picture

To state the obvious counterpoint: the Patriots have not benefited from picking high in the draft, and yet.....

dobber's picture

...and yet they are active in FA--more active than most--and they hit on those players at a remarkable rate. Their pro scouting department gets it done.

Jonathan Spader's picture

Dilly dilly

stockholder's picture

It's a little more than McVay: Defense- Brockers #1 @14, Donald #[email protected] Suh #[email protected] - Barron #[email protected] Peters#1 @18 Johnson #[email protected] Joyner #2 @41 Goff #[email protected] 2016 Gurley #[email protected] Cooks #1 @20 Woods #[email protected] OLHaverstein,Whitworth,Staffold, ALL #2s. Compare that to the Packers!

Oppy's picture

You have a typo in Sentence 2, 9th word.

Normally I wouldn't point out a typo, but it happens to be on the lead-in that is visible from the main page.

dobber's picture

Maybe it was at a benefit for deaf kids?

Cory Jennerjohn's picture

Thanks Oppy. Fixed.

Packer Fan's picture

This is what happens when you become successful in the NFL. People emulate you and use what they can to help their team. Good for him. As for MM, he just got stuck in the mud and didn't ask or look for help. Good for him, he got what he deserved.

dobber's picture

"A loss will elicit plenty of questions about McVay, but a win will jumpstart the Rams dynasty."

How long will their cap support what they've got? Not long...

This was also what they said about the Packers in 2010.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

It should be good for 2019, probably 2020 (have to find an LT since Whitworth will be both a UFA and 39). After that, LAR becomes just...

a highly successful NFL team.

dobber's picture

They have some personalities who might force some hard choices, too.

The TKstinator's picture

Yes! As soon as they have to pay Goff, they can’t keep everyone. And picking at 31/32 will be interesting to watch as well.
NE has done it, but Brady takes below market $.
And there’s only one Belichick.
Wasn’t Doug Pederson last year’s genius? Did he suddenly forget how to coach?
If it weren’t for NE, I think we’d all have a better understanding of/appreciation for how hard it is to get to and stay on the top of the mountain.

dobber's picture

At least Pederson didn't forget how to coach until after Philly beat the Bears.

Lare's picture

McCarthy was HC in Green Bay since 2006. It would be interesting to see how many of us are driving the same vehicle, using the same kitchen appliances and have the same furniture we had 13 years ago. The point is, sometimes you need a change and with new ideas and technology an upgrade can be good.

I expect the Packers to be a better team under LaFleur than they've been under McCarthy the last few years, not only the rookies who can better relate to a younger coach but the veterans who need new coaching and new updated schemes.

In time, McVay & LaFleur's schemes will grow stale if they don't change with the times. The reason Bill Belichick has experienced continued success is that he adapts his schemes & game plans (sometimes weekly) to fit his personnel and that of his opponent.

You're either going backward, standing still or going forward. After standing still for a few years, the Packers are now going forward again.

Coach JV's picture


Cory Jennerjohn's picture

Great point Lare. You're either adapting to new changes or you're being left behind.

carlos's picture

The Sunday of the AFC conference championship game Beiichick put in 8 new plays. That morning. Ran them by the team and in the game used 5 of them. Now that’s some smart players.

Tarynfor12's picture

NE is a Dynasty because of what they achieved and how they have achieved it, which is a system that no team has been able to recreate.

The Rams haven't achieved anything as yet and it's a system that can be more easily replicated by others and hence likely able to prohibit them from becoming a dynasty.

Be careful of designating the word Dynasty to a team that hasn't become a Dynasty. Packer fans should know of this wrong as the Packers were being called the next Dynasty after their SB win and then ....splat!

Johnblood27's picture

As Ron Wolf so aptly put it...

Like a fart in the wind...

PETER MAIZ's picture

I like "the flower" with essentially new ideas to the offense. He's worked with McVay. He has an updated new look to the offense and McCarthy didn't upgrade to the new strategies. I like the Rams tomorrow even if Brady is a legend and may be able to read defenses better than anyone. LaFleur may work the locker room, certainly better than McCarthy. You either adapt or go by the wayside. So let's see how well Rodger adapts to the new schemes and strategies. It takes a lot of players to dance the tango.

Ferrari Driver's picture

I've been a Packers fan my entire life and have remained so even though I have now spent most of my life in California. Belichick simply amazes me with the way he continues to win. IMO, his team lacks the overall talent of the Chiefs, Rams, Saints, and yes the Chargers too, yet he finds a way to win games in which I feel he should be losing. Two years ago the comeback against the Falcons was nothing short of miraculous. While I feel the Rams should win the game tomorrow by 15 points, I doubt it will happen. Belichick is simply the best pro football coach I have ever watched, including great one like Paul Brown (the greatest innovator), Lombardi (great motivator), Halas, and Shula.

Skip greenBayless's picture

Well we officially know what the Sean McVay effect is. Teams reaching for unqualified assistants to be head coaches hoping they can score 3 points in a super bowl. Wow, this great offensive "genius" was embarrassed by an average Patriots defense with the best coaching staff in NFL history. The Packers should have plucked from the Patriots tree not the Rams tree. They even interviewed Josh McDaniels who has what? 6 super bowl rings as an assistant coach? We were THIS close to hiring the next young Bill Billichek. How stupid can an organization be?


Daren726's picture

He got his team to the big game in his second year. Just couldn’t overcome the belichek effect. Didn’t have a plan to beat him. Let belichek shut his plan down. Just like every other playoff team that faced the patriots.

matus's picture

How stupid can an organization be?
Ask the Colts

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