The Los Angeles Rams believe they've hired the next Jon Gruden.
While introducing Sean McVay on Friday, Rams COO Kevin Demoff gushed about his new coach's excitement, intelligence and maturity.
"... There are times when I close my eyes you hear Jon Gruden -- whether it's the cadence, whether it's the hand movement..." Demoff said.
McVay began his NFL career under Gruden in Tampa Bay in 2008 before moving to Washington in 2010. He then worked under Jay Gruden as offensive coordinator the past three years. The new Rams coach noted his roots with the Gruden family run deep -- to Jim Gruden Sr. recruiting his father.
The 30-year-old McVay became the youngest coach in NFL history on Thursday in a league that is rough on green coaches. Lane Kiffin (31 years old) Raheem Morris (32), David Shula (32), and Josh McDaniels (32) were all young first-time head coaches. None came close to earning a .500 record.
The Rams don't fear handing over the reins to a youthful McVay.
"You saw (his) maturity," Demoff said of the interview process. "There is a difference between youth and maturity, Sean is very mature. All of these coaches are going to go through experiences for the first time as head coaches that will challenge them. It's their mental makeup and their fortitude that will determine their success."
Demoff pointed to several factors that showed McVay was ready to make a leap even at a young age: His ability to call plays for a potent offense in Washington; the ability to relate to the youthful players on his roster (the Rams own the youngest team in the NFL); and the respect he earned from previous players he coached -- Demoff noted many of them called to congratulate McVay on getting the new job.
"We knew Sean could be special. But I would say the final check point for me was when Sean came back on Tuesday night and he had dinner with myself and Marshall Faulk," Demoff said. "It was listening to him and Marshall banter back and forth about football and what they had to say, look at each other, watching them walk away and Marshall saying, 'That person can absolutely be your next head coach.' That it was not just about the age of the players he was with, it was about earning the respect of people who are very smart people in the NFL. Marshall is one of the brightest players we have ever come across, certainly in our team's history and in the NFL when you look at what he was able to accomplish. And for us that was the final check mark. Age is not a factor here. This is really about Sean's talents and his ability to lead and communicate and what we think that would do for the Los Angeles Rams."
McVay brushed aside multiple questions about his age, saying there is only one thing NFL players want from a head coach: To help them win.
"We're dealing with men here," McVay said. "What we're trying to do is help them become the best players they can be and we're all collectively trying to win games. So what I always tell people is that the way you earn these players respect is 'do you make them a better football player?'"
In a league that values ability over age from its players, the Rams are betting their future that a bright, energetic 30-year-old coach can spark life into a listless franchise stuck in the dredges of 7-9 mediocrity for years.
In short: They're betting McVay can be their Gruden.
Here are some other nuggets we learned from the Rams' presser:
» McVay said he will call plays for the Rams instead of delegating that responsibility.
» The 30-year-old coach said he already started cultivating his relationship with quarterback Jared Goff. McVay said he sees a "lot of similarities" between Goff and Kirk Cousins, noting intangibles of work ethic and trust in the process.
» McVay noted that he would build his philosophy around what best suits his players, including Goff. It will be interesting to see if we get a more hybrid-style offense from the Rams in 2017 as opposed to the traditional peg they tried to force the Cal product into last season.
» Former Rams interim coach John Fassel told NFL Network's Omar Ruiz that he's staying on board as the team's special teams coordinator.