When Sean McVay was hired by the Los Angeles Rams, the youngest head coach in NFL history was supposed to take some time to get his team going. But McVay, thanks to several key offseason additions and an incredible offensive acumen, took the Rams to the lofty heights of a division title in his first season, as Los Angeles went 11-5.
How did he become the offensive savant? An upcoming "Real Sports" profile on HBO (Tuesday, July 24, 10 p.m. ET) from Bryant Gumbel pins part of the success on McVay's photographic memory.
Former Redskins player Chris Cooley points out in the profile that McVay can remember almost any play, so Gumbel challenges the young coach by giving him three different, extremely precise situations from games in 2017.
McVay rattles off exactly what happened -- "80-yard screen to Todd Gurley" -- on every single one of them. Here's that specific exchange (and you can watch it below):
GUMBEL: "Is it true what I read that you have a photographic memory where plays are concerned?"
MCVAY: "I think that-- probably more accurate thing is, I just don't have any balance. So all I really have (laugh), you know, the only room I have in my brain is to-- these plays"
GUMBEL: "No seriously. I mean, do you really remember?"
MCVAY: "I remember plays, but it's something that, you know, you're constantly going through it."
GUMBEL: "Well, let's see. Let's-- let-- let's see. Last year, week 16, you're playin' the Titans. Okay? You got ball 2nd, 11 at your own 20. 4:24 left in the second quarter. You remember what happened?"
MCVAY: "4:24 left in the second quarter?"
MCVAY: "Second and 11, I could probably say when we were going in we were flip the field, that was when we hit Gurley on the 80-yard screen."
Pretty, pretty good. There's been tons of talk about McVay staying in Jared Goff's ear up until the last second before the radio in his headset cuts off. The primary thought process behind that involves McVay helping to identify defenses and to bring up certain playcalls for Goff.
But it stands to reason that McVay's photographic memory is a HUGE help in that situation too. McVay can identify the coverage and defense he's seeing and, using his memory, he can help get Goff into the right audible, etc.
Even if it's not the sole reason McVay is an excellent playcaller, it almost certainly helps him in the process. And it makes for a really fun to watch profile.