Sean McVay reacts to having a defensive coordinator more than twice his age

Posted by: Chris Vannini on Wednesday February 15, 2017

Sean McVay is the youngest head coach in NFL history, at 31 years old, so he naturally put some veteran coaches around him with the Rams. New defensive coordinator Wade Phillips brings experience — and then some.

Phillips is 69 years old. He’s more than double the age of McVay. When McVay was born, Phillips had been in coaching for more than 15 years.

Naturally, Phillips tweeted earlier this month, “Rams have the only staff with DC on Medicare and HC in Daycare.”

“I’ve gotten a chance to know him better over the last couple years working with Wes Phillips, the tight ends coach in Washington, who’s a close friend of mine,” McVay said this week on The Jim Rome Show. “I’ve always had a whole lot of respect for Coach Phillips. His résumé speaks for itself. When you look at what he’s been able to do with the defenses he’s been a part of over the last handful of years. It’s extremely impressive.”

Phillips' contract with the Broncos expired after the season, and he wasn't retained by the new staff. McVay jumped on it. He knew what Phillips would bring as a coach on the field and off it. McVay saw the tweet and loved it.

“When he tweeted that, he’s got a great personality, a great way about himself,” McVay said. “I said, ‘You can tweet whatever you want if you get this defense playing like the one’s you’ve been a part of.’ We feel very fortunate to have him on board. He’ll be a great resource for me to lean on, especially with things that will inevitably come up that you can’t anticipate until you’re truly in this chair. We’re lucky to have him here.”

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McVay has only been a coach since 2008. He worked under Jon Gruden in 2008 as a coaching assistant with the Buccaneers. He joined the Redskins as assistant tight ends in 2010. When Jon Embree took the Colorado head coaching job in December, McVay took over the tight ends as a 24-year-old coach.

He did well enough to get promoted to the full-time job in 2011. Former Redskins tight end Chris Cooley has spoken highly of McVay, and McVay said he knew the challenge of the job. That prepared him.

“Players like Chris have such a good above-the-neck understanding of the game, you want to make sure you have answers for them,” McVay said. “When they have questions, you want to be able to answer it. If it’s not specific to your position, you want to have an overall understanding of the offense, what we’re trying to get done. If you can explain to the players why, especially guys like Chris, it’s helpful for them.

“It was a unique situation, where Jon Embree got a chance to be the head coach at Colorado, and Mike Shanahan allowed me, as a quality control, to really interview for the job for the last month of the season. You wanted to take advantage, show you’re able to help guide guys and do what Kyle (Shanahan) and Mike wanted to do offensively. It was a great experience. Players like Chris keep you accountable when they want answers.”

McVay was retained by Jay Gruden and became offensive coordinator in 2014. Three years later, he’s an NFL head coach. He knows there will be a big learning curve, and Phillips will be there to help.

Chris Vannini is in his fifth year with and serves as its managing editor. He has previously written for the Detroit Free Press, The Oakland Press, The State News,, 247Sports and SB Nation.  A graduate of Michigan State University, Chris now lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  Be sure to follow @coachingsearch and send emails to