Fearless McVay takes on fearsome Belichick

Sean McVay is the youngest head coach in a Super Bowl while Bill Belichick wants to be the oldest winner.
Sean McVay (above) is the youngest head coach in a Super Bowl while Bill Belichick wants to be the oldest winner.
Sean McVay is the youngest head coach in a Super Bowl while Bill Belichick wants to be the oldest winner.
Sean McVay is the youngest head coach in a Super Bowl while Bill Belichick (above) wants to be the oldest winner.

ATLANTA • Two of the National Football League's (NFL) most respected minds will come head to head on the grandest of stages when the Los Angeles Rams' coaching prodigy Sean McVay meets New England Patriots counterpart Bill Belichick, a five-time Super Bowl champion widely considered to be the best NFL coach of all time.

McVay, who turned 33 last month, is the youngest head coach in the NFL and will be the youngest head coach ever in a Super Bowl.

Belichick, 66, is going for his sixth Super Bowl title with the New England Patriots since 2001. He will be trying to become the oldest head coach to win a Super Bowl.

The fresh-faced McVay has emerged as the hottest young coach in the league over the past two years, transforming the Rams from one of the worst teams in the NFL to one of the most dynamic.

While the Patriots have been installed as favourites for this morning's (Singapore time) battle in Atlanta, few would be surprised if McVay pulls off an upset.

Appointed in early 2017, he made headlines as the youngest coach in the history of the modern NFL, taking over the Rams (who moved from St Louis in 2016) just two weeks shy of his 31st birthday.

A franchise which had suffered a disastrous 4-12 campaign in their first season back in Los Angeles were badly in need of a shake-up.

McVay duly delivered, transforming the team in the 2017 season and leading them into the play-offs.

One of his first tasks was to re-establish the trust between the players and the coaching staff.

"It was really just the way he portrayed things," quarterback Jared Goff revealed. "The way he communicated. The way he made something that's so complicated seem so simple."

For McVay, the cornerstone of his coaching philosophy are human relationships.

"That's the foundation of everything we do," he said. "People want to feel like they're part of something bigger than themselves. It's not about figuring out who's right, it's figuring out what's right.

"Once you have the environment where people are comfortable feeling vulnerable, it opens up the lines of communication."

Belichick was in a relaxed mood on Saturday as the Patriots players were given a day off training to visit the venue for this morning's game with family and friends.

He said that there were no special plans for his eve-of-game team talk. "Just us circling the wagons and playing for each other," he said.

"We are playing a good team, and we are going to have to play our best game of the year."

McVay revealed in the lead-up that Belichick had regularly sent him congratulatory text messages this season following wins.

And the veteran has nothing but admiration for the Rams' coach.

"I have a ton of respect for Sean," Belichick said.

"He's done a great job in the two years he's been with the Rams.

"They're good in every area. They're going to be very hard to beat."

McVay added: "Certainly, we respect the Patriots, but we're coming here with the expectation of winning a game."

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 04, 2019, with the headline 'Fearless McVay takes on fearsome Belichick'. Print Edition | Subscribe