The yearly awards handed out by the Associated Press will be unveiled during the NFL Honors show at 9 p.m. ET Saturday on NBC. Several members of the Los Angeles Rams stand as legitimate candidates, perhaps even favorites. That's what happens when you finish with an 11-5 record and a plus-149 point differential. This week, while waiting for the Philadelphia Eagles and the New England Patriots to face off in Super Bowl LII, we'll take a closer look at those Rams candidates. Next is Sean McVay, the presumed favorite for AP Coach of the Year.
Numbers: McVay was hired at 30, becoming the youngest head coach in modern NFL history. He inherited a Rams team coming off a 4-12 season and led them to an 11-5 record, which made them division champions for the first time since 2003. The Rams scored the fewest points in 2016 and then scored the most points in 2017, becoming the first team in the Super Bowl era to make a turnaround like that. And it was McVay who called the offensive plays.
Defining moment: There is no singular defining moment for McVay, which is his greatest tribute. Throughout the year, he preached the importance of focusing on the process rather than the outcome; of trusting that the results would be there if the habits were sound. McVay's success with the Rams was a gradual climb predicated on thriving each day without looking any further. It's boring, but it's a proven path to success. And it culminated on Christmas Eve, when the Rams beat the Tennessee Titans and won the NFC West.
Why he should win: It's hard to come up with reasons why he shouldn't. McVay turned an entire franchise around. He made the Rams relevant in a major market and steered them on a path toward long-term success in his first year as head coach. The Rams were coming off 10 consecutive losing seasons heading into 2017. There were concerns surrounding whether Jared Goff was a franchise quarterback, whether Todd Gurley was an elite running back, and whether defensive tackle Aaron Donald even wanted to be there. All those concerns were alleviated under McVay (though Donald and the Rams still haven't agreed on an extension). McVay changed the culture and quickly showed that he is a star in the making.
Why he wouldn't: McVay wasn't the only coach to lead a seven-win turnaround. The other was Doug Marrone, who guided the Jacksonville Jaguars from 3-13 to 10-6 in his first full season as head coach. Marrone's Jaguars advanced further in the playoffs than McVay's Rams, and Marrone did it with more limitations at the quarterback position. Mike Zimmer of the Minnesota Vikings, Doug Pederson of the Eagles and, naturally, Bill Belichick of the Patriots are also in the discussion. But McVay already won Coach of the Year from the Pro Football Writers of America, and that organization has named the same Coach of the Year as the AP in 16 of the past 17 seasons.
Quotable: “He came into this whole process with a plan. It wasn’t like, 'I’m going to figure it out as we go along and kind of learn along the way.' He really came in with a plan for what he wanted in personnel; he came in with a plan for how he wanted to build the culture. He had his own vision for how he wanted to build the culture of this team, and then of course for how he wanted to build the offense. And I think right from the get-go it was all planned by him, which is cool because you'd think somebody who was the first time doing it, they might not have a plan because they might just not know. But he had a vision and he had a plan, and he’s been consistent from day one with it. And I think that really resonated with the players really, really well, because there’s been clear and consistent messages from the very first day.” -- John Fassel, special-teams coordinator and former interim coach, on McVay.