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Monday, January 20, 2014
Q&A: Sean McVay

By John Keim

New Washington Redskins offensive coordinator Sean McVay, who also will coach the quarterbacks, was entrusted with a big responsibility a couple weeks shy of his 28th birthday. But there's a reason Jay Gruden wanted to not only keep him around, but promote him from the role of tight ends coach.

"He knows what we did in Tampa and what I did in Cincinnati from a terminology standpoint," Gruden said. "No matter what people say two years ago Washington's offense was at the top. They were pretty damn good. I want to keep some of the same schematic plays in place; run the outside zone, some good naked [bootlegs] off of that. I want to have someone who knows what they did successfully in the past and who also knows what I do. He's the best of both worlds. He knows Robert [Griffin III] and tight ends and he knows what I like to do. I couldn't think of a better fit."

Here's a Q&A with McVay:

Does your age matter?

Sean McVay: At the professional level I think it helps because there’s a relatability you can have with these guys. You can relate to guys in a similar age bracket. These guys are pros. As long as there’s mutual repsect for each other and you can give them the info they need and they execute and listen to what you’re saying. It works hand in hand. As they succeed, we succeed.

How about when it comes to being an offensive coordinator? You’re young for that position.

McVay: It does seem weird because you’re able to achieve things a lot faster than the typical path. But what’s given me a chance to do this is being surrounded by great people that have invested in me. That’s one thing that made me feel confident with each step I take. Jon Gruden taught me to look at the game from an 11-man standpoint. You want to make sure you understand what goes on in the big picture as opposed to locking in on one position. Then you go work in the UFL under a good coach like [Jim] Haslett and you get to learn from Jay Gruden and come here and work under Kyle and Mike Shanahan. They were excellent to me. They’re both great coaches and anytime you’re around great people willing to share and help you get better. It gives you that confidence if you’re absorbing that material. I was really fortunate as far as the timing is concerned. I do feel confident to take the challenge because of the coaches who invested in me.

It must feel like you’ve been training for this for a while?

McVay: It goes back to what I was saying, the way you look at the game and I got that from Coach Gruden. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to be a head coach at some point. When you’re a position coach your next goal is to be a coordinator. While trying to be the best tight ends coach you can be, I always wanted to be an offensive coordinator at some point. When the opportunity presents itself you want to make sure you capitalize on that.

What will your role be throughout the week?

McVay: It’ll be one of those deals where I help Jay wherever I need to fill in. I’ll coach quarterbacks this year too. Jay will be the offensive coordinator and call the plays. But my job is to help as much as I can to implement the game plan. How involved I’ll be as far as install, we haven’t decided that yet. I want to give a bunch of ideas as if I’m putting the game plan together.

What were you responsible for before?

McVay: My areas of expertise were 12 or Tiger personnel (two tight ends, one back set) or U personnel (two backs, two tight ends), trey personnel (one back, three tight ends) and I did the red zone.

How much does it help that you can ease into being a coordinator rather than have all the responsibility right away?

McVay: I don’t think it could be a better situation for me. It allows me to ease into the situation. It is a big jump. I’m excited about coaching the quarterback position. I have a lot of familiarity with it and you always study and try to prepare yourself. I understand the drill work and the details. I’m excited about that and with Jay calling the plays it will be a very smooth transition where I’m not totally immersed in it. If you’re calling plays it’s 100 percent your show. But you do have the head coach’s confidence to put you in this situation.

Did you realize the education you were receiving being around the game when you were growing up?

McVay: A lot of stuff you subconsciously pick up. One thing that helps me is being around the game my whole life, with my grandpa being around. You have a certain comfort level in that environment relating to players. The No. 1 job is to help a player reach their highest potential and that’s not possible without being able to relate with them. That’s been helpful and as far as my knowledge base is concerned, that stems from being around great coaches willing to share. I always had an interest in it. Anytime you enjoy something you subconsciously pick things up without trying to or studying it. Then when you’re involved as an adult it makes it easier to work at it. The main thing is being around great coaches willing to share. I’ve been around great veteran coaches and they want to help you grow as a coach if you’re willing to learn.