The first team meeting of the Rams’ offseason program on Monday included jokes and laughter, though coach Sean McVay acknowledged that his initial attempts at humor were met with silence.
McVay blamed himself.
With NFL facilities closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, teams are conducting virtual offseason programs. McVay said he “provided some good comic relief” and “got a dose of humble pie” after he botched a technology setting that resulted in players not hearing him.
“You throw out a couple jokes and everybody’s muted and you feel really stupid,” he said, chuckling, during a videoconference with reporters.
Receiver Josh Reynolds said the meeting “started off crazy” but the team settled into an interesting first day.
“Good to see everybody’s face,” he said, “and kind of get back into the swing of things.”
The Rams’ nine-week program will include online meetings and classroom instruction. Players are working out at their homes. No on-field workouts are permitted until — or unless — all team facilities are allowed to reopen.
With three new coordinators — Kevin O’Connell (offense), Brandon Staley (defense) and John Bonamego (special teams) — and a remade roster, the Rams have a lot of ground to cover as they attempt to rebound from missing the playoffs last season.
The Rams have provided players with iPad tablet computers for playbook and video study. During the four-days-a-week program, coaches and players will meet in large and small groups several times a day for a total of about 90 minutes, McVay said.
McVay spent Monday hopping virtually into several meetings. Other than the team meeting, the offensive line was the largest group with 13 players and three coaches.
The virtual format lends itself to small groups, McVay said.
“The smaller the setting, I think, the better the dialogue and communication can be in these situations,” he said.
The Rams drafted nine players in eight position groups, but rookies cannot participate in offseason programs until May 11.
Clippers coach Doc Rivers provided McVay with advice about how to navigate virtual meetings, and McVay said Monday that Rivers would be a guest speaker during a team meeting this week. McVay also intimated that he would like to call upon Dodgers manager Dave Roberts for a guest appearance.
“This is a pretty unique time that’s enabled you to reconnect with people and be able to learn from,” McVay said.