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Transcript: Rams HC Jeff Fisher, OC Rob Boras, QB Case Keenum Talk Preparations For Jets

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Here’s what the Rams’ offensive trio had to say after the Rams’ second practice of the week.

Los Angeles Rams QB Case Keenum
Los Angeles Rams QB Case Keenum
Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Los Angeles Rams Head Coach Jeff Fisher

(Opening remarks)

“Wednesday practices are always fun. We padded up today and I thought we had a really good session. We’re playing a talented opponent – all three phases, especially on defense. We don’t know who to expect at quarterback, but we’re preparing for (QB) Ryan (Fitzpatrick). We have got to have a really good couple of days in preparation and go out there and make some plays and change what we’ve been doing. Find a way to run it – I think they’re top-5 in the league in rushing defense. They can run the football, offensively they’ve got big targets outside in (WR) Brandon (Marshall). We’ve got a lot of individual match-up challenges. I think it’s going to be a great game.”

(On if it would make it any more satisfying to get their running game going against a great run defense)

“That’s our focus. They know it and we know it. It’s easier said than done. But we have got to find a way, we have to finish plays and we have to find a way to hand the ball off to (RBs) Todd (Gurley) and Benny (Cunningham) late in the game, that’s how you win games at the end.”

(On how he gets the players to maintain their confidence)

“The big thing is, from an offensive standpoint, is just don’t press. You just can’t press and panic – just play. We’re making the plays on the practice field, granted, it’s different than on Sundays. Just go out and just play, relax and play, don’t hurt ourselves. Understand that if it’s third-and-one or third-and-two, get to where you need to get to, keep drives going so we can have another shot. No one’s in a panic stage right now, we’re just all focused on post-practice, and then tomorrow is a day off, then Friday practice, then travel and go out and play.”

(On if he can recall instances where he had all 22 starters on the field I the middle of the season)

“I haven’t specifically gone back to see, but I think that’s a positive. It should be a positive for this team right now. You saw, (the Jets) put (T Ryan) Clady on IR today. Teams are losing starters all over the league and we’re not. We can get things going, again, starting with this one. With a healthy football team, you get a chance to make a move.”

(On how important P Johnny Hekker is to the offense and defense)

“Yeah, he’s very, very talented, he’s been to the Pro Bowl a couple of years now. A lot of that has to do with his arm, because we see different things – last week was a great example, (Panthers LB) Luke Kuechly was on their punt return team because they kept their defense on the field because they did not want to give up a fake. When that happens, you punt the ball away and your gunners win and you get great field position. Johnny’s athletic ability, for us, has done wonders for us over the years. He’s talented, he can throw it, and in addition to that, he can punt it.”

(On if Hekker is in any offensive meetings because of his quarterback background)

“Obviously we carry two quarterbacks on the active (gameday) roster, in an emergency situation, he’s prepared. If you watch warm-ups, he does the nine-on-seven, throws pat-and-go, he does all of those things. In the scenario that you don’t ever want to encounter, he’s prepared to go in and hand the ball off.”

(On if he has to get in QB Case Keenum’s ear to make sure he is okay mentally)

“He’s fine. We’ve had several conversations this week about it and he’s fine. The Carolina defense is pretty good, the Giants defense played good – we didn’t play particularly well – but the Carolina defense is a good defense. We made some plays, we just didn’t finish them. Case is fine, mentally. He’s taken charge here in the building, taken charge of the offense, making sure everybody is doing everything they possibly can do.”

(On his impressions of Jets DL Leonard Williams)

“I don’t want to say they’re bad impressions (laughs). But he can really play, their front is really talented. He lines up all over the place and he beats one-on-ones and he does a great job with the games, he’s a good run defender. Coming out, we knew he was going to be that kind of player, that was a great pick for them.”

(On what his conversations with Keenum entail)

“Just talked to Case like I think any head coach would do with their quarterback regarding the offensive struggles and where we’re going and those kind of things – and confidence and what we need to do. He’s got a clear handle on it.”

(On his reaction to the presidential election)

“Since I’ve become a head coach, I’ve separated my personal political beliefs from my professional position, so I’ll continue to do so.”

Offensive Coordinator Rob Boras

(On if finds himself being more creative than ever before, in terms of improving the offense)

“Well I think as a staff, and even as an offense, scoring points, and part of scoring points is trying to create explosives. It’s hard to go down the field two or three yards at a time. I don’t know who you are, or at any level of football. So, part of that trying to create explosives is trying to be as creative as you can. We’ve lined up with (RB) Todd (Gurley) in the backfield last week a couple of times, and just trying to do some different things that way, to take advantage of our talent and maybe give the defense some un-scouted looks, and try to put our guys in the best position as possible. As a staff, I don’t want to say it’s been more stress on it lately, but you’re always trying to gain an advantage in being as creative as we can. Hopefully, we can just keep finding ways to try to generate some of those.”

(On if the lack of touches for RB Todd Gurley is hurting his ability to get into a rhythm)

“You know, that’s a good question. Part of it is, we’ve got to do better on first and second down, and stay on the field, and sustain some drives. Coach [Fisher] and I have had conversations. I know what the numbers are. At the end of the first half last week on first and second down, we had nine runs and 10 passes, and we had seven third downs, and then four plays in two-minute. Then when we got behind two scores in the second half, we had 20 plays of two-minute there at the end. So, yeah, for any runner, and especially a guy like Todd and/or (RB) Benny (Cunningham), it’s the more carries they’re going to get, that the more that they’re going to settle in. Not only as a runner, but as the blockers – the O-line, the tight ends, and the fullback if that be the case. Part of that again is staying on the field, and sustaining some drives, and eliminating three-and-outs, and that’s obviously a stress what we’re trying to get done.”

(On if he’s ever concerned about the mental state of QB Case Keenum)

“Yes, he, as well as everyone else on the offense, what you don’t want to do – we all understand where we are. But, at the same time, what we see is when guys are stressing, and all of a sudden they’re dropping balls or missing blocks, or doing some things because they think they’re so wound-tight that they’ve got to trust their technique, and we’ve got to trust the design and the scheme, and go out there and go. Case is as guilty as that as anybody else that’s in the huddle that time. They’ve got to do their job on that play. Good or bad, what we always talk about is you only have one play to play. If something good or bad happened the previous play, you get about 12 to 13 seconds between the end of the play and the huddle to let it go and then get on to the next play. That’s a part of the mental toughness that we’re always challenging the guys to play with.”

(On how he reacts to the fans booing offensive possessions)

“Fortunately, I got a headset on, so I don’t hear it (laughter). My wife and kids will tell me, ‘No, of course, it’s frustrating.’ I get it, we get it, and I’m not trying to make light of it, and I know it’s not something to make light of. It’s our job to score points. It’s frustrating for all of us. We believe in what we’re doing. We believe in one another. I’ve said before, what this team has gone through since leaving St. Louis, and as much time as we’ve spent together, these guys genuinely like, and I use the word love each other, and I know as men, that’s not a word you use very often. They’ve got to look each other in the eye, and we’re all frustrated, but they all understand that the guys in the room can get it done. That’s the challenge, again, that we have, and these guys are willing accept that challenge – and I say ‘they’ meaning the coaches, myself, all of us. We’re not pointing fingers saying it’s them, or it’s us. We’re all in this thing together to try to get better.”

(On if the crowd chanting ‘We Want Goff’ has an effect on him)

“No, just like I talked about the players, all you can do focus on is what you can control. That’s our job, is focus on what we can control, and what we can control, or what my job is to control the next play call, and get it in on time, and put those guys in the best position. Those are things that are beyond our control. Again, when (QB) Jared (Goff) gets asked to play, he’s ready to go, and they guys will get behind him. It’s going to be exciting to see.”

(On the importance of P Johnny Hekker)

“Well, you saw on that 75-yard punt. I think our second and our third drive, we were backed up. I think we started on the three yard-line, and then the next series on the nine (yard-line), and our job is to get first downs and flip the field, and we didn’t get it done. Then the first time, I think they ended up getting a touchdown off of it when we didn’t flip it. The next time, we didn’t get a first down, but Johnny kicked a 75-yard punt. That’s huge; it’s huge for us, it’s huge for the defense, and it’s huge, ultimately, for the Los Angeles Rams when a punter can come in and flip the field like that.”

(On if he senses frustration from RB Todd Gurley)

“I’ve said it before, I’ve been impressed with Todd as much success he had last year, and how well he handled the success last year as a 22 year old, or whatever he was last year. I think he’s handling what’s happened this year just as well. Again, that’s a sign of his character and what he’s all about. I’m not saying that he’s not frustrated, but he’s not showing it. He’s a team guy. He’s willing to do protection-wise, route running – whatever it’s going to take for us to get first downs and ultimately score touchdowns.”

(On what he’s seen from WR Pharoh Cooper and TE Tyler Higbee that shows their ready for a bigger role in the receiving game)

“They’re running routes, whether the ball goes to them is dictated by, obviously, the coverage and the protection of the quarterback. They’ve been making plays out here (the practice field). Tyler made that big play down the sideline early in the game on that 31-yard reception. He had some other balls thrown to him. So, its’ really just seeing them out in practice, and trusting what you see on Sundays when they’re running routes, whether the ball goes to them or not. You can run a good route and not get the ball thrown to you. I know not everybody might recognize him. We see a guy creating separation, but the play design, or the progression, or the shell of the coverage might not have dictated the ball will go that direction.”

QB Case Keenum

(On Sunday’s comments regarding his post-game “shower rule” and how he is feeling now after Sunday’s loss to the Panthers)

“I never thought people would be asking me about my shower techniques (laughs). I was the one that mentioned it – I guess its fair game.”

“I’m over it. Obviously, there is still a little bit of a bad taste in my mouth, but winning cures that – winning cures a lot of things. We expect to go out and win this week.”

(On whether he is feeling a sense of urgency)

“There’s always a sense of urgency in this league. Every week is so important. Then you go back at the end of the season and you look at these games and think: well this, this, this and this – It’s one or two games that make a lot of difference, its one or two plays in those games. There is a sense of urgency, but it’s the same every week. We take every rep importantly, we take every game importantly, every play, every series – this one is very important because it’s this week. ”

(On what he’s seen of his performance on film and how he thinks he can be more efficient when pressured)

“Being smart with the football, having better mechanics, and stepping up in the pocket. I think my pocket presence was not where it needed to be. I think I could’ve prevented a few sacks, a few batted balls – just trusting my protection and stepping up when I need to. Sometimes I make it tough on my tackles. I’ve definitely worked on that this week and I will continue to work on that – with the O-line, with the pass-rush, and with the receivers. It’s a lot of stuff going on, but we’re getting better at it.”

(On whether it’s hard to simulate game speed on the practice field)

“Yeah. It’s a little bit hard. You do as best you can, and every situation is different. Game-time experience is priceless – you look at the film, you watch the film, you learn from it, and you grow from it.”

(On his conversations this week with Coach Fisher regarding where he’s at and where the team is at and whether the subject matter of those conversations stays the same or does it change over the course the season)

“Yeah. It always changes. I guess there’s similar type topics in certain areas, but we don’t have to be anything other than who we are. We all have got enough talent, we all have got enough drive, enough will, and enough intelligence to get the job done – it’s just a matter of executing and getting it done. We have to flip the switch, execute, move the ball, get first downs, be smart with the football, and score touchdowns.”

(On the amount of targets WR Tavon Austin has had this season and whether there is a balance in terms of getting him the ball)

“It always changes from week-to-week, depending on the game plan, the scheme, the plays and then who’s open. We like getting the ball in the hands of our playmakers, and he’s one of them. Anytime we can get the ball in his hands, in space, we’re going to try.”

(On whether he sees defenses paying closer attention to Austin)

“Like I said, it’s week-to-week. Some teams we’ve seen have matched him with certain guys, some teams have not – some teams are zone teams, some teams are man teams. We’ll see how the Jets do this weekend. ”

(On the defense playing well the last couple weeks and how he thinks the offense can be the difference in a win or a loss – finishing off more drives with touchdowns rather than field goals)

“Yeah. We’re always working to get in the end zone. It’s very important – you have to score touchdowns in this league. Especially when you have the chance to go down there, get close. Decision making on my part, where to go with the football – getting the ball in the right place, so I can make better throws when it gets down there – the combination of all of that.”

(On the problems the Jets defense will present on Sunday)

“They have a great front. Their D-line, again, is one of the best in this league. We have our work cut out for us up front. (CB Darrelle) Revis has been doing it a long time – he sees a lot of stuff – knowing where he’s at. Their defense is good, they disguise pressures, they do well. We’re kind of getting into the game plan, getting here in the next few days and we’ll see the depths of how we’re going to try to attack it. But we have our work cut out for us up front.”

(On the tipped passes at the line of scrimmage and whether that is frustrating for him)

“You look around the league and guys are getting tipped balls. Like I said, I think some of that was my fault, as far as mechanically where I need to be in the pocket – sliding away, making it tough on tackles. It happens, but that’s part of the game and I pride myself on getting the ball out quick and being able to find throwing lanes and throws. I need to do better at that.”

(On his thoughts regarding the Presidential Election)

“All I’m going to say is our goal is to make this offense great again.”