THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. -- The theme of Sean McVay's postgame availability on Sunday was guilt. The Los Angeles Rams' rookie head coach spent the moments following a 27-20 loss to the Washington Redskins blaming himself, for everything from Todd Gurley's early struggles to Jared Goff's late interception to the offensive inconsistencies as a whole.
The following phrases filled the transcript from McVay's press conference:
"It starts with me."
"I know that we'll look at ourselves critically in the mirror, coaches included, starting with me."
"I've got to do a better job."
"I probably could have given us a better play."
"I've got to do a better job for our team as a whole."
As he was preparing to become the youngest head coach in modern NFL history, McVay sought guidance. And one of the core pieces of advice came from Jon and Jay Gruden, who told him to take responsibility when needed. The Rams entered the season with the NFL's second-youngest roster, but their head coach is exceedingly young too. They're all growing together.
"We always talk about coachability," McVay, 31, said Monday. "Certainly if I’m not being coachable or being critical of myself when I’m not doing the things that I need to do to try to be helpful in trying to achieve wins, and putting players in good spots, then that’s something that you have to be aware of. You can’t be afraid to admit that."
McVay pointing the finger at himself wasn't an act; he legitimately believes he let the offense down.
McVay never felt he "allowed our players to get into a rhythm." The Redskins' highly effective running game chewed up so much clock that the Rams' offense ran only nine plays in the first quarter. On their next play from scrimmage, Gurley fumbled. And when they got the ball again, they trailed 13-0 with just more than 12 minutes left before halftime.
"So you've got 10 plays," McVay said. "And I thought then that I let those circumstances affect the way that you go about your normal rhythm, as opposed to just staying one play at a time, like you talk about, to try to keep your run-pass balance, knowing that you still have a whole game to get back in it."
In other words, McVay panicked.
Gurley ultimately was effective on the ground, picking up 88 yards on 16 carries and running for a touchdown (he had a touchdown catch too). But the Rams were too reliant on their passing game. They threw the ball on seven of their first nine plays, and when the fourth quarter began, Gurley had only nine carries. The Rams went into their Week 2 game hoping to establish the run early, but McVay scrapped those plans when they fell behind.
After it was over, McVay lamented his own "uncharacteristic decisions" and "indecisiveness."
"We always talk about letting our approach and our preparation lead to good performance, and the process over results always," McVay said. "I thought, regardless of the way that some things played out, when you go into a game, you always envision kind of how you want to try to put your players in good spots. I didn’t necessarily follow through with that plan, based on the way things played out. I think there are times when you have to do that, but I thought there was a handful of situations where I didn’t need to do that, and I did. And it made it tougher on our players than it should’ve been."