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Matthew Stafford will be back with Rams with or without Sean McVay

Rams coach Sean McVay fields questions after a game against the Seahawks in Seattle.
(Stephen Brashear / Associated Press)
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Sean McVay coached the Rams to the pinnacle, winning a Super Bowl title in 2021.

He coached them to the depths, this season posting a 5-12 record that qualifies as the worst season-after performance by a Super Bowl champion in NFL history.

Now the question is whether McVay will coach at all in 2023.

On Monday, McVay said he would take time to decide whether he will return for a seventh season.

“Don’t want to rush into any sort of decision,” McVay said during an end-of-season news conference in Thousand Oaks. “There’s a lot of emotion right after the season, there’s a lot of layers to this. There’s a lot of people that it does affect that I don’t take lightly and want to be mindful of.

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How did the Rams go from Super Bowl champion to title defenders with worst record in NFL history? L.A. Times’ Rams beat writer Gary Klein explains.

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“And so, I’m going to take the next couple days to really be able to kind of reflect. Obviously, a lot of conversations with various people that will dictate and determine the decision that’s best for me, my family, the Rams and a lot of people, and that’s kind of where we’re at with that.”

McVay, who will turn 37 in two weeks, has been the Rams’ coach since 2017, when owner Stan Kroenke made the then 30-year-old McVay the youngest coach in modern NFL history.

McVay led the Rams to the playoffs in his first season and to the Super Bowl in 2018. The Rams missed the playoffs the next season, advanced to the NFC divisional round in 2020, and then went all in to win the title last season. McVay has a 60-38 record and is 7-3 in the playoffs.

McVay on Monday described his passion for coaching and the way he goes about it as “a beautiful torment.” But the demands of being an NFL coach have brought him to this point of reflection.

“This has been years,” he said. “This is not a new thing.”

This is not the first time that McVay has pondered stepping away.

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Before the Super Bowl last year, McVay said that he did not see himself coaching into his 60s, citing a desire to have and be involved in raising a family. After the season, he was wooed by broadcast networks before receiving an extension from the Rams that makes him one of the highest-paid coaches in the NFL.

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McVay said he does not have a timeline for making a decision.

“I have endless amounts of energy still,” he said. “It’s just a matter of, how do you make sure that as you move forward, you’re able to do it in the way that’s best for yourself, your wife, your family members, and then when you are in a role of this magnitude, doing it the way that you’re capable of.

“And that’s what I want to be able to answer yes to, and if you can do those things, I think a lot of clarity will come with that.”

If McVay were to step away, defensive coordinator Raheem Morris would be among the candidates to replace him. Morris has been the head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and interim coach of the Atlanta Falcons. The Denver Broncos contacted the Rams for permission to interview Morris, a person with knowledge of the situation said, and he could be in line for other opportunities.

While McVay’s status for next season is in doubt, quarterback Matthew Stafford’s is not.

Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford watches action from the sideline.
Matthew Stafford said he will be back next season no matter who is the Rams coach.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Stafford, sidelined the final seven games because of a spinal cord contusion, said he would return regardless of whether McVay is at the helm.

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“He’ll take some time to figure what is best for him and what’s best for this program, this team moving forward and we’ll support him whatever he wants to do,” said Stafford, a 14-year veteran.

Teammates echoed Stafford.

“Whatever he ends up deciding to go with, or whatever is going on, whatever he’s processing, I just wish the very best for him,” receiver Cooper Kupp said.

Baker Mayfield is going to take some time to “decompress,” but the Rams quarterback remains confident he is still a starter in the NFL.

Jan. 9, 2023

Edge rusher Leonard Floyd said McVay was more than a football coach.

“I care about McVay the person rather than the coach,” he said. “If you feel like we need to take a break, man, take a break.

“He’s still young. He can come back and coach again. But hopefully he stays, man, so we can get this thing back on the right track, so we can get back to the Super Bowl. I hope he takes his time to make the right decision.”

Etc.

Rookie safety Russ Yeast, who was hospitalized for a pulmonary contusion suffered during Sunday’s defeat by the Seattle Seahawks, is in “good condition” and returning to Los Angeles from Seattle, McVay said. … Stafford said he was feeling healthy and was looking forward to being a full participant in offseason workouts. In 2022, Stafford did not throw passes because he was trying to recover from tendinitis in his right elbow.. ... Cornerback Jalen Ramsey said he would have right-shoulder surgery during the offseason. ... Rams 2023 opponents: Home: Cardinals, 49ers, Seahawks, Browns, Saints, Eagles, Steelers, Commanders. Away: Cardinals, 49ers, Seahawks, Ravens, Bengals, Cowboys, Packers, Colts, Giants.

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