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Transcript: Rams Gear Up For Detroit

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Here’s what Rams HC Jeff Fisher, OC Rob Boras and QB Case Keenum had to say after practice today.

Los Angeles Rams QB Case Keenum
Los Angeles Rams QB Case Keenum
Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Rams Head Coach Jeff Fisher

(Opening Remarks)

“Good day at practice, good day at work. The health status is improving. It doesn’t mean to say that we got people back on the field, but it’s looking better than it was. We’re hoping to get a couple of guys back Friday. A couple might be game-time decisions, but things are coming along. I thought they responded well. As we talked about, we had to address the London situation, circumstances, we did that. Now our focus is entirely on the Lions. We’re playing a good opponent. In some ways, they kind of resemble us. Although, I think that they’re a better team than their record reflects, particularly because of their losses, and their wins, for that matter, have come by a few points here and there. So, they’re in every game. I think (QB Matthew Stafford) Matt is playing as well as I’ve seen him play in the last couple of years. He’s in great shape. They’re running the football. They’ve overcome some injuries on defense, but they’re still playing fast and just up-tempo, and can put pressure on the passer, and they’re well coached on special teams.”

(On if the London trip feels like a two game road trip)

“There’s a lot of administrative, and just things that come up as far as packing, those kinds of thing. All of that is under control right now. One of the things in our business is uncertainty can become a distraction. You want to deal with things ahead of time. So, we’ve done that. It’s like, ‘Okay, have your bag here between this time and that time. It’ll be there in London when you get there,’ but now, but now let’s focus on Detroit. We have all the passports locked up in the safety deposit box right now (laughter).”

(On if the team’s success on the road makes the London trip a less stressful)

“It’s a challenge. It’s a two-step challenge. First step is Detroit, second step is at London against a good football team with the Giants. We haven’t scratched the surface with the Giants right now. It’s all about Detroit. This will be our first experience traveling three time zones, and kicking the ball off at 10:00 a.m. our time (PT). That in itself is a challenge. The statistics over the last five years, they don’t reflect a great deal of success when the West Coast teams are playing the 1:00 (ET) games on the East Coast. Those are things you talk to them about. So, we adjust our schedules a little bit. Not that that can be an excuse, but hey, you know, the approach needs to be, and it is with us, is whenever they tell us show up and play, we’re going to play.”

(On what specific things the team is doing to get adjusted to the rigorous traveling schedule ahead)

“We’re into that. When the schedule came out, we got into that. So, we’ve done all of our due diligence, and research, and all those things. The players are aware of it. Again, there’s a fine line between adjusting, and then allowing it to become an excuse. We’ll push things up a little bit on Friday, and then we’ll be fine. For example, we had a 9:15 a.m. team meeting today. Sunday, they’ll be starting pregame warm-ups at 9:15 a.m.So, it’s different. When the wakeup call comes in the morning at the hotel at 5:00 a.m. and the pregame meal is at 6:00 a.m., there’s a mindset, there’s a focus, there’s a concentration. But again, you don’t want to spring it on them. You want to let them be prepared for it.”

(On if he will keep the team awake after they land at 1:00 a.m. in the morning in London)

“Yeah, we have a plan in place. We’ll land, and we’ll move them around, and all those things. We got a couple days to get them back, but we’ll adjust. The players are one thing. The coaches are going to land in the morning and start game planning for the next opponent. Their probably game planning on the airplane on the way over there, as far as that’s concerned. It’s a huge challenge. We’ll be able to look back and say, ‘Hey, we did it right, because that’s our expectation.”

(On correcting the amount of penalties)

“Yeah, they came down last week, we got to six, so they came down. We just need to keep working on it. The offensive tackle is lined up clearly behind the center, and we get called for a neutral-zone infraction on defense; things like that. There’s a few that I had disagreed with, but the numbers are coming down. I think we’re becoming a little more disciplined. There’s going to be a hold here and there. You don’t like it, but I’d rather them grab the defensive end than get a free run on our quarterback. I expect our numbers to come down. We’ve been addressing it on a daily basis.”

(On the fact that the Lions are the only team in the NFL who have not given up a rushing touchdown this season)

“They’re defense is playing well down there; red zone defense. They’ve given up some passing touchdowns. As we talked about success in the plus territory in the red zone, if you will, it’s about carrying balance. Our emphasis this week is, like it is every week, on the run game, and stopping the run. I like our chances.”

(On what emphasis he puts on the team to perform well from the start of the game)

“I think everybody in the league has their first 12, or dirty dozen, or first 15, or first 16, or whatever it is, and that’s what you go to. So, you prepare the players to start the game. It’s about executing. It’s not about time changes, it’s just about executing.”

(On how QB Matthew Stafford has improved and what problems does he present for the team)

“When I say improved, there’s no way humanly possible to replace (WR) Calvin Johnson, but they’ve done a good job. They’ve got weapons all over the place now. They’re utilizing the run game, they’re utilizing him in the quick passing game. When we talk about Matt, Matt looks physically better than I’ve seen him in the last few years, athletically. I know he’s worked really hard this offseason. He makes all the throws. He scrambles. He’s running the ball. He’s tough. Y’all remember when he separated his shoulder, came back in, threw the touchdown pass. That’s the competitive edge that he has over a lot of quarterbacks. He’s a challenge to prepare for. He can see the field, he knows where to go with the football. You can’t trick him, you can’t surprise him. You just have to try to get pressure on him.”

(On if he has game planned around Lions newly signed RB Justin Forsett)

“Signing him is one thing; having him active and in the offense is another. If he’s active, he’d probably will have a limited role, and it would probably be involved in the run game. When we defend offenses from a run standpoint, there’s going to be a back there who’s going to get the ball. But, he’s a good player. No doubt, he’s a good player. I don’t know what happened there, but it was a good signing for them.”

Offensive Coordinator Rob Boras

(On if he agrees with Coach Fisher that the offense is improving regardless of where they’re ranked)

“I think we’re getting better. Obviously we need consistency across the board, but I think we’re seeing glimpses of it. Again, the stat that’s critical is winning football games and we have to make sure we’re doing our part so we can win. I do think – I don’t think, I know – the offense is improving.”

(On what the indicators are that he’s seen that shows improvement)

“Last week we had our most explosive game, as far as having nine explosives. I felt that the run had glimpses – again, the word I’m going to use today, probably a bunch is consistency – we just have to be more consistent with our approach, the yardage, the time of possession. But again, our goal is to get in the end zone and we’re not doing that well enough right now, and we recognize that. Again, just the consistency of it and understanding we have explosive players with explosive ability. When that stuff starts coming all together, we’ll end up putting the ball in the end zone more consistently.”

(On if he’s seeing anything that they need to do better with the offensive line to create more holes for RB Todd Gurley)

“Across the board, it’s everything. As I’ve talked about with the run game, it’s just like anything, it takes 11 guys to protect the quarterback, the quarterback is responsible to protect himself as well, and it takes 11 guys to run the football – that’s the quarterback taking the right path with the running back and the o-line and the tight ends and the wide receivers. I’ve said it before, it’s one guy here, one guy there, the other guy. Again, it’s making sure we’re all getting on the same page and trying to take advantage of what the defense is giving us. We’re going to continue to run the football, that’s what we believe in and sometimes the number games aren’t in our favor, but we’re going to continue running because that’s what will help us with our run-action pass.”

(On if the run setting up the pass is more important than the pass setting up the run or vice versa and if the opponent dictates that)

“We like to say that we have to dictate. We’re on offense, we don’t want to play reactive, we want to be proactive. I’m not sure which one came first, the chicken or the egg, but we’re going to try to be balanced and take advantage of what the defense is giving us. We’re going to continue to run, as I said, and when we all of the sudden use a run-action pass, we’ve had the ability to get the ball down the field, whether that’s been to (WR) Kenny (Britt) or to (TE) Lance (Kendricks) against Seattle and so forth. We strive for balance and so far our defense has been playing lights out and it’s allowed us to stay balanced because it’s been a ballgame where we’ve been able to continue to run in the third and fourth quarter and not be down a couple scores. Again, we recognize, right now, our deficiency with getting the ball in the end zone and that’s what our focus is right now.”

(On if part of that deficiency is penalties and what causes that)

“It’s negative plays. You look at the game the other day for example, it was a sack on the 30-yard-line, it was a false start. Again, it starts with play calls. You’re always self-evaluating as a coach, seeing if you’re putting your players in the best position. And again, it’s the negative plays that are preventing us from having the continued success. We’ve started the drives well the last couple of games, we just haven’t finished with touchdowns, we’ve finished with field goals. It’s eliminating the negative plays when we get to the red zone.”

(On they will continue to line up Gurley out wide to get him out in space)

“It’s something we want to do with all of our running backs. Obviously, anytime you want to make the defense defend the whole field and that’s part of trying to attack a defense and it’s something we’re looking to do all the time.”

(On if struggling to get the ball in the end zone changes the way he calls plays)

“No, I’m trying to call it as if we’re ahead. We just have to trust the plan, we know what plays we want to get to in specific situations and we’re just trying to take advantage of those plays and those opportunities.”

(On what he remembers from the Detroit game last season)

“It was a big one for all of us. We had lost, I don’t know how many games in a row, and Coach (Fisher) had asked me to take over on that Monday. So it was a blur, but it was a great win for the organization, just anytime you’re on a losing streak. It was exciting, it was nerve-racking for all of us, but the players found a way and responded and played really well in that game.”

(On if Detroit being towards the bottom of the league in run defense is a big part of getting Todd Gurley going)

“No, like every week, you know your opponent, but we focus on the Rams. We’re going to know what Detroit does, they’re very talented on defense, but again, it’s about us and us taking care of our business. If we do that, we think we’re going to be very consistent and very efficient and be able to produce. Again, it’s respecting them, but focusing on us and our technique, our assignments and our details to get our job done.”

(On what he’s seen from QB Jared Goff over the last four weeks that he has improved in)

“I know I always go back to the classroom every time and it’s hard to put a grade on that because you guys don’t see that, but that’s where it starts for every position. A lot of the times, you understand how a person is learning by the questions that he’s asking and he’s not asking rookie questions anymore. He’s starting to ask those more advanced, if you will, say the 301 or 401-type question. For me, it starts there. Then, obviously, just watching him going against our defense and his footwork in the pocket and eliminating the turnovers. With the reps that he does get with the first unit, those same sorts of things. Again, it starts in the classroom, the easiest way to understand if somebody knows it is when they can regurgitate it back to you. And he’s able to do that right now and, again, ask some of those questions where you have to, yourself, look up at the sky and try to think ‘Okay, that’s a good one,” and try to give him the right answer. He’s putting a lot of work in as if he is the starter, which I know is not an easy thing to do, especially for a young player. But to watch him go ahead and study Detroit and get ready for this week as if he’s playing, I think that says a lot about his maturity as a 21-year-old.”

(On if there is ever a thought of giving him a series or two in a game to see how he reacts)

“I think that would all be based with Coach Fisher and kind of how the flow of the game would be going.”

(On if he’s seen that Kenny Britt is more comfortable with Case Keenum now that they have had 10 games together)

“Yeah, every receiver is kind of taking their turn over these last couple of weeks. I’ve talked about Kenny quite a bit. To me, against it starts in the classroom and his approach out here with walk-thrus and practice. But I think the comfort that Case and Kenny have right now is real. You can start to see that come to fruition, especially on the third-downs when we need a big play.”

(On if they work on last-minute, long touchdown drives)

“Yeah, Friday when we get into the two-minute situation or four-minute is when we focus coming back Friday. As a staff, that’s the things we get to study tonight and tomorrow and put in with the team on Friday and obviously try to execute it on Sunday afternoons.”

QB Case Keenum

(On how he feels he’s played the first five weeks)

“It’s not really a time right now to look back overall. I haven’t self-scouted over all our games. I take each week and try to build on it. Obviously, last week we didn’t do enough to win the ballgame. There’s key situations that I’d like back. I think we’re doing good things on offense, but we obviously didn’t take care of the football and I think that’s a really big deal in this league. You have to take care of the football, you can’t give other offenses extra possessions – obviously possessions that lead directly to points there with the pick-six. Those are big plays in the game and you want some of those back, but that’s why we push out here in practice, for perfection every day because you never know what rep, what play is going to be the deciding factor in a game.”

(On how the team is able to compartmentalize everything coming up over the next two weeks)

“Trying not to look at the big picture. Coach Fisher does a good job of letting us know what’s going on, when we’re going, where, what we have to do. So, really, I take it a day at a time, I open my phone, look at the schedule for that day – what do I have today, what do I need to do today. This afternoon, we have meetings, we have to review the gameplan, watch a little film, come in tomorrow, we have to bring a bag for London, check that off the list and then we’ll be ready for Detroit when we fly out of here Friday.”

(On how to adjust with Sunday being the first trip to the eastern time zone with a 10 AM PT kickoff)

“I think for me and I think for our guys, we’re of the mindset that no matter where we’re at, we’re going to show up and play – it doesn’t matter what time, what place, if there’s an hour rain delay, if it’s an early game, if it’s a late game, if it’s a night game, if it’s on grass, turf, if it’s indoors, outdoors, we’re going to show up and play. No matter what defense is out there, we’re going to move the football and that’s our mindset. As far as the early game, I get up early every day, I’m up here early and we’ll be ready to go. When the whistle blows, I don’t think anybody will be thinking about how early it is, it’ll be football. It’ll be 100 yards and green grass – or I guess turf, up there.”

(On if, as a quarterback, the run setting up the pass is more important than the pass setting up the run or vice versa)

“Whichever play is called at the time. Whatever play is called, we have to execute it. If it’s not the right look, check to the other. It’s whatever wins games. Different games are different. One week can lead to the next week, it just depends on the week, too.”

(On the key to doing things better in the red zone)

“Negative plays. Whether it’s penalties, negative runs, sacks, yards are precious down there. Whether it’s just taking completions, check downs, touchdown, check down, touchdown, check downs – I think we just have to keep moving forward. We’re doing a good job moving the football, just keep moving forward when we get down there.”

(On how RB Todd Gurley is handling not having a breakout game yet and if he feels the need to pick him up)

“I don’t want to speak for Todd. It’s a tough game and it’s a tough league, everybody is really good. With that being said, I think we’re all out here trying to do our best and that’s what we do every day. I don’t want to speak for Todd as far as his mindset or anything, but I can guarantee you he’s working his tail off. You guys see him out here early, in late no matter what it is, protection, pass game, run game. It’ll come for him, he’s a heck of a player, he’s really, really, really talented. One of the top players in this league of really, really good players. I’m not worried about him, his mindset, he’s ready to go every Sunday and he’s giving it his all.”

(On what stands out to him with the Lions defense)

“They have a good defense. Obviously they’ve had a few injuries up front with some guys – just across the league, everybody’s got injuries. But the guys who have played for them have filled in well. They have a good back end, (CB Darius) Slay obviously had a good game last week. I think they feel like they’ve got a good secondary, I’ve known (S) Glover Quin for a long time, solid players back there. And up front, (DT) Haloti Ngata, guys that have played a long time in this league have had really good success. We have our work cut out for us, a good defense, on the road, good test. I think we’re going to have to play really well to win this game.”

(On if the game against Detroit in Week 14 last season brings back good memories)

“Any time you watch film like that, it’s hard not to remember some of those good feelings. So I think it’s a good thing to watch some of those good plays and see what we did well, learn from the things we didn’t do well. There’s two sides to that coin – there’s good plays and bad plays – but we had a lot of good plays in that game, so we’re going to look at that, learn from that. Two different teams, though – it’s another tough thing. We’re growing and we’re learning and I like our chances this week.”