"I think I've been very happy," McVay said, upbeat. "Everybody says, 'Man, you just seem like you're in a better mood this offseason,' and I said, 'You're damn right I am.'"
That was in the early afternoon, during a news conference conducted by the Super Bowl host committee at SoFi Stadium, the home of Super Bowl LVI in February.
By early evening, following the Rams' final mandatory minicamp practice and after reports were published with McVay's comment, the fifth-year head coach did not appear so pleased.
"I hate that I even have to say this, but I think I made a comment that was definitely taken out of context," McVay said as he opened his post-practice news conference, seemingly surprised that reports mentioned the departure of quarterback Jared Goff in conjunction with Stafford's arrival and the shift in McVay's mood. "I am very excited. I am in a good mood because of the confidence that I have in this team. But by no means is that a slight to anybody, you know, like Jared, who has done a phenomenal job for the last four years here."
The No. 1 overall pick in 2016, Goff had spent five seasons with the Rams, including four with McVay. However, after winning back-to-back division titles and an NFC championship together, McVay and Goff's relationship began to falter following a difficult loss to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LIII that was followed by two inconsistent seasons for Goff and the Rams' offense. Ultimately Stafford's request for a trade after 12 seasons with the Lions marked the end for Goff in L.A.
But despite declaring his happiness and better mood when asked about Stafford, McVay was adamant that his attitude shift was not a byproduct of Goff's departure.
"I hated that I even have to address that, but I did think out of respect for [Goff] and all the good things that he's done, I am in a good mood, but that doesn't mean it's not because we're working together or because of just Stafford exclusively," McVay said. "There's a lot of good things going on that I feel really good about and I'm confident about, so don't twist my words when I didn't say that."
With Stafford's arrival, the Rams are hopeful to return to the Super Bowl.
The No. 1 overall pick in 2009, Stafford left Detroit as the franchise's all-time leader in every passing category. However, he has yet to win a playoff game in three appearances.
Through the offseason program, including the three-day mandatory minicamp, Stafford made a quick impression on teammates and McVay.
"It's been awesome with Matt, having a veteran quarterback that's played a lot of ball in this league," receiver DeSean Jackson said.
"This guy, he's a special guy," McVay said about Stafford. "I think one of the best ways that I can describe him when you hear people that have been around him, there's a known confidence where when he walks into a room, you feel his presence, but he's got a great humility about himself, everybody loves being around him and he's one of those guys that's a true igniter. He makes everybody around him better."
Stafford, 33, said working with McVay has been "great."
"Obviously, I've got a lot of respect for what he's been able to do and accomplish at a young age as a head coach in the NFL and gotten to play against some of his offenses at certain times, so I got a lot of respect for him," Stafford said. "It's been great working with him and just trying to get this thing rolling."