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Transcript: Rams COO Kevin Demoff, Interim HC John Fassel And QB Jared Goff Talk Plans After Fisher Firing

With Fisher out, here’s what the trio had to say to the media.

Los Angeles Rams COO Kevin Demoff
Los Angeles Rams COO Kevin Demoff
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Rams VP of Football Operations & COO Kevin Demoff

(Opening remarks)

“I appreciate you all coming on short notice. Obviously, a very difficult day here for the organization in relieving Jeff (Fisher) of his head coaching duties. It’s not a decision that you ever want to make and it’s a day you never want to come, as a group. I think, collectively, we all felt that this was the best chance to move forward, to finish the season with some direction and hope, and begin the process of building for 2017.

I want to thank Jeff for five years of unwavering leadership, we put him in some tough circumstances over the past few years. Never expected a day like this this to become, never wanted a day like this to happen and always wanted to make sure that we could find a way to fight through some of the difficult challenges and he was absolutely the right person when we hired him in 2012 and the right person to help bring this club back. And, for whatever reason, this year we didn’t have the kind of success over the past few weeks that I think we all expected and wanted. It’s unfortunate for him today because this is an organizational failure. I think when you stand up here, anytime you let a head coach go, we all have to take a look in the mirror. This is not just about the head coach or the coaching staff, we have to improve across the board – personnel to operations to everything - and it’s what we told the staff today. Unfortunately, today this is being discussed as Jeff Fisher, but collectively as the Rams, we need to get better moving forward – and that process really begins today.

I think one of the things that we’ll reflect on over the past few months is really how good Jeff was to the players, to his coaches, how he led them with conviction, how hard they fought for him and what it meant to him to be the Head Coach of the Rams and we’ll be forever grateful. This is a tough day for him and his family, I think we can respect that. It’s a tough day for everybody in the organization who loved coming to work for Jeff. But, hopefully, we’ll find the right path forward, I believe we will. And that challenge begins today.”

(On if the performance in Sunday’s game against Atlanta was the deciding factor in taking this action and if he agrees with RB Todd Gurley, who said certain team members had given up)

“I think the question about Todd is a better question for Todd. I think when you look at our team, having lost eight of the past nine, some of the performances the past few weeks have been a little bit more lopsided – and I think that’s what really tipped it. I think if you look at our team over the past few years, we had some close losses – even when you look at the stretch after the 49ers game, we come back, we win three in a row. We had nine games really from Week 2 through Week 11 that were decided on the final drive or in the final two minutes. The team was competitive and playing well – and some of those breaks went our way and some of those breaks didn’t go our way. But I think when you look at the past few games, for whatever reason, it got out of reach in the second half. I think that was really the deciding factor. This was solely a performance-related issue. And when you look at the team and where it is and how we get better moving forward, I think for the fans, for the players, for the coaches, for the organization, we wanted to make sure games like yesterday didn’t happen again.”

(On why they made the decision to do this now with a game in three days)

“There’s never a good time to do this. I think as we looked at it from an organizational perspective, on a short week, we have three games left against the NFC West – Seattle, San Francisco, Arizona. We’re 2-1 in the division, this is a chance to finish strong in the NFC West, have a chance to have the best record in the NFC West. You wanted to see the players come out on Thursday with energy. This is a short week and we really felt that (Interim Head Coach) John Fassel would be the right person in our organization to go lead this team for the last few weeks. I think the other thing, when you look at it with three weeks left, this is never a good decision or an easy decision to make, no matter what the time. It’s especially harder as you get into making an in-season decision. But the players have put a lot of effort over the past few years and this year into this season, and with them still in the building, you want to give them a chance to talk with them, to debrief, to understand how we move better to how we can make this a better organization. Again, this is not just about coaching, this is top-to-bottom, how we can get better. This is not a coaching staff is 4-9, we’re all 4-9. And so I think, when we look at that, with a chance to finish with energy and to make a difference over the (final) three games. I don’t think going in to a game, even because it’s a short week – you look at this week’s schedule, we have two walk-thrus and then we fly to Seattle – this is one of those where I understand the challenges of the short week. We’ve played Seattle before, they’re a division opponent, we know them, you’re not installing a whole new game plan. So, really, this gives Coach Fassel a chance to walk in, make his impression on the team in a short time, get them through two quick walk-thrus and try to get their energy back ahead of a big, prime time game against Seattle.”

(On how this impacts General Manager Les Snead’s standing)

“I think, starting today, we’ll have a complete review of the entire organization. We sat down with Les and, again, this team is not where it needs to be and we need to own up to that from a coaching perspective, from a personnel perspective, from an administration perspective. I think all of us need to get better and I think Les will be the first person to tell you that his department can get better as well. And I think we need to analyze that department, the decisions that have been made, collectively, how we improve the roster and see where it goes. I’m sure when we bring in our prospective head coaching candidates, they’ll discuss the roster and the changes that need to be made there. Today, unfortunately, Coach Fisher was the only decision that we made, but I think, collectively, we all need to figure out ways to improve. And I think as the analysis goes on as we get towards the end of the season and the beginning of the offseason, we’ll take a look, collectively, at the football operation and make sure that we make the changes to make this successful. I think it’s always a little bit easy to say that this is just the coach’s fault, I think that that’s always a mistake. I think you have to look at this and say the coach is a representation of the entire organization and we can all be better and we can all find a way forward. I would never want to scapegoat Jeff, he’s worked too hard, he’s been too loyal to all of us to do that. Unfortunately, I would never want today to come across as this, this is just a timing thing as you move forward. But, to me, this is, as you look at Les, as you look at the entire organization, we need to make sure that 4-9 doesn’t happen again in the collective wrong. We need to find a way to get over .500, to get into the playoffs and deliver a Super Bowl trophy back to Los Angeles.”

(On why fans should get excited about a special teams coordinator becoming the interim head coach)

“You get into a three-day week, you’re not going to be able to install a new offense, whether it’s this week or in the last two weeks. Obviously, I think, the systems that we’ve put in place in OTAs and training camp or the systems that we’re going to have for the final three weeks. I think there were a couple of factors in choosing Coach Fassel. First, the players love him, they have tremendous energy, they play hard for him. I think if you look at our team, our special teams units have been among the best performing. I think for those of you who watch Hard Knocks, the energy, the excitement that the players have for Coach Fassel that he brings is evident. I also think that one of the things you look at when you make a change like this is how do you make it as least interruptive as possible. Everybody on the offensive and defensive side can go game plan this week the same way they would, they all have the same responsibilities on game day that they had. And Coach Fassel is someone who’s stood up in front of the entire team. I think when you look at the history of special teams coordinators and why they’re becoming more popular as head coaching choices or head coaching candidates is they have experience standing in front of everybody in the room – it’s not just standing in front of a position group or the offense or the defense – but they have a chance to go talk to everybody on the roster, player one through 53. I think Coach Fassel carries tremendous respect from our players, he carries tremendous respect from our coaches, he’ll bring tremendous energy. And this is about getting the most out of our group for the last few games. If there was a magical cure that would allow us to win games, to score 40 points a game or to shut people out, I think we would be searching for it today. But this is really about getting the most out of the talent we have, out of the coaches we have, and what we can do over the last three weeks to provide some excitement and then go from there. Coach Fassel is a tremendous coach, I think universally respected by peers and throughout the league and this is a great platform for him. When I chatted with him earlier, I said, ‘Take these three games as, not only an audition for us, but for everybody else in the league and coach this team to the best of your ability.’ And I think he’ll take that challenge to heart and he’ll get the best out of our players.”

(On Fisher’s reaction to the news after reports last week that he had signed a contract extension earlier in the year and his timeframe on finding a new head coach)

“Jeff was obviously disappointed. And I don’t want to speak for Jeff here, we had a good conversation this morning, I think he was obviously disappointed, he was looking forward to finishing the season strong and coming back and having the chance to get this team in a better place. I think we all shared the optimism from the beginning of this year of where we could be. I think, in terms of the extension, you have to go back in time to, really, when we look at it – which was moving this team to Los Angeles. I don’t think, (Owner/Chairman) Stan (Kroenke) or myself or anybody else in the organization thought it was fair for Jeff or Les to walk into a relocation year as a lame duck coach. And so I think our viewpoint was always that for the staff, for everybody, if you’re going to pick up your family and move, that you should have some security that went with it. I think we all wanted Jeff to have tremendous success. I think when you looked at how we finished last year, we were 3-1 to finish the end the year – we started this year 3-1 – I think we all felt good about the direction of our football team. But it was the right thing to do to give them the security to go beyond this year, to make the right decisions, to think long-term and to believe that they were going to be part of this moving forward, which is exactly what we all wanted, and what we all had hoped and I think we wanted that success. I think the one thing, as you said, this is a performance-oriented business, unfortunately the results weren’t there. And I’ve said time and time again, that you can’t just look at this year through the prism of the won-loss record, there are going to be some challenges that came with the relocation year and I think that was always our mindset going in. I think when you look at this now, this is somewhat about wins and losses, but this is more about direction and hope and where we feel we’re headed. I think had we finished the year 8-8, 7-9, in that range, I think we all would have understood some of the challenges that went with that. I think, unfortunately, just where we’ve been the past few weeks, didn’t really speak to where we were headed as a franchise and I think where we wanted to be or where we think the fans’ expectations or our expectations should be. I think the question on the coaching search moving forward – obviously today has been a tough day for everybody in the organization and I’m sure starting tomorrow, we’ll begin to gather as a group and go through all of this. But I think the most important thing, before we start our coaching search, is to identify, make sure we get our building right, make sure we get what we need right. The obvious thing people are going to say is, ‘Well, you’re going to hire an offensive coach because you’ve had a defensive or the way the offense has been.’ I think we need to find the best head for the Los Angeles Rams – whether that’s an offensive coach, a defensive coach, a special teams coach, the interim coach, a college coach – I think we have to be willing to look under every possible avenue to find the right fit to go lead this football team. I think too often, when we go through these processes, we look for the opposite of what we had as if that’s going to be the fix. I think, quite frankly, we need to make sure to find the right coach to lead these 53 players and to put together a coaching staff and to represent this organization in the best possible way. That process will start tomorrow. Obviously, we have a little bit of an advantage now with three weeks to go before the end of the season, you can’t go talk to anybody in the NFL. We’ll meet with everybody in the building from the trainers to the equipment room to the football operations staff, to the personnel side to make sure that, collectively, we all are on the same page about the qualities of what we’re looking for in a head coach. Stan will have some clear viewpoints on where we’re headed as well and set the direction and the tone. We will find the right leader for this football team moving forward. I think the worst thing you can do is set any kind of criteria or timetable for a search, you have to make sure that you go out and find the best head football coach for the Los Angeles Rams.”

(On if he can ensure that Snead will be back next season)

“It’s the same point as the head coach – I think, collectively, we need to take a look at this entire organization, and that includes personnel. I think it would be a mistake right now to say we’re satisfied with where we’re at on a personnel side and to ensure that Les would be back. I think Les would be the first person to stand up here and say the same thing – I think he told you guys that on Friday. I think the one thing, Jeff was always fantastic about standing up after games and saying, ‘I take full responsibility for the wins and losses for this organization.’ But I think we all need to do that. And I think Les will take responsibility for the won-loss record, I’ll take responsibility for the won-loss record, Jeff, obviously and hopefully Coach Fassel will moving forward. I think the most important thing for Les – our group’s in draft meetings now. They need to get that board ready, they need to carry out their duties. And we begin the organizational look, I think that’ll be the first place we’ll start. I think it would be a mistake to say that anybody in the building is guaranteed to come back next year, because now you’re starting to set criteria for where we’re at.”

(On how much the off the field noise played into this decision)

“I think it’ll be easy to say that that played into it. I think what that overlooks is the fact that all that is generated off the won-loss record. When you look at the fans, when you look at anything that’s happened the last few weeks, everybody’s been frustrated about losing eight out of nine and having some tough losses. It all comes back down to how you’re performing on the field. There were none of these issues when we started the year 3-1 or when we were back in August hosting the Cowboys. This team has had some really high highs this year and some low lows, but this is purely from a football perspective – are we headed in the right direction, do we have the necessary hope that we need and I think the answer to that right now is we’re not sure and we thought it was time to make a change. This is solely about on-field performance, the rest of it comes and goes with wins and losses. We understand that being in a major market and we understand that that goes through a season, you’re going to have years where you start well and slide at the end and people get frustrated. You’re going to have years where you start slowly and get on a run – I think you’ve seen that with a number of teams this year. If you take a snapshot of any team through four games, eight games in a season, it looks a lot different than it does towards the end of the season.”

(On going on the record a couple weeks ago about looking beyond the wins and losses when evaluating the head coaching change)

“I think, absolutely on record, I would be the first to say we’ve always been on the record about Jeff saying there is more than win-loss here. But, I think that should never be construed as the win-loss doesn’t matter. I think we always look at it as they’re going to be ups and downs this year, and it was not just about win-loss. When I said that, we were sitting there at 4-5. (QB) Jared (Goff) goes and plays, and then we had a tough couple of weeks. I think when you look at this team, it’s not just always about win-loss, it’s about where we sit. I think there were comments the same week talking about making sure there was appropriate direction and hope and how we finished the season. I think when you look at the past few years, last year we were 4-8. We went on a great run, we won three straight games. We played very tough and in Week 17, you felt a lot different about the team at the end. But I think when you look at yesterday’s performance, the Saints’ game, the Patriots’ game, I think there’s just been a tough run. When you really look through the prism, it’s did we feel we were really headed in the right direction over the past few weeks. Those things are fluid. Had this just been a team that finished 7-9, 6-10, and had some close calls the way we did at certain points, I think we may have looked at it differently. But, I think it was the way we played the past few weeks that really changed the barometer from that point.”

(On the importance of hiring someone who can foster Goff’s development and maturation in this league)

“I don’t look at this just at Jared Goff, I look at it as the entire offense. We, obviously, traded for Jared Goff, believe in him, and have seen great flashes over the past few weeks. Todd Gurley, 2015 Rookie of the Year. We have invested significant picks in the offensive line – expect them to improve. I think we’ve invested a lot of picks in the offense, and we want to see them all get better. But, I think it goes back to the question – they’re lots of ways to improve the offense and support your investment in Jared, and in Todd, and the offensive line, and the other positions. But, that doesn’t necessarily mean hiring an offensive head coach. It can mean hiring the best head coach who brings a great offensive coordinator with them, or a great quarterbacks coach with them. I think as we look at it collectively, wherever we sit right now, we’re just not functioning on offense the way we should. But, I don’t know if that’s just a function of not supporting Jared or the coaches. I think right now, we have to collectively look and say, we’re 32nd on offense. How do we get better, how do we improve? But, you may find an unbelievable head coaching candidate who you meet with, who you believe is absolutely perfect for the Los Angeles Rams, who has a defensive background. I think what’s most important, is they have a plan for how you maximize the offense, and how you improve the offense. I think it’ll be easy when you walk to some offensive coordinator candidates, obviously, you’re going to understand there, and you have a pretty good defense, and how they may view that. I think the harder challenge when you sit down with some defensive-minded candidates, is what’s your plan, not only for the defensive side of the ball, but for improving the offense. I think one of the things you look at historically, if you look at top offenses right now, a lot of them, the head coach is not the play caller. So, I think there are great ways to build a franchise utilizing all of your coaches. I think that’s really where our focus has to be. It’s going to be the right head coach. The investment in Jared is important, but so is our investment in the defensive line, the linebackers, the defensive backs, and every member of this team.”

(On if the offense is a priority)

“I think improving our record is a priority. I think if you look at Denver last year, for better or worse, was 31st in offense and won the Super Bowl title. So, if you look at us, we were 3-1 and playing close games. What’s a priority is winning football games. What’s a priority is making sure we put our best foot forward. I think it’s easy to say, this is Los Angeles, you want to be entertaining, you want to be show time, you want to fix the offense – you want to do all of that. But, what’s most important to our fans and our organization is wins and losses, and we need to make sure we get that right and find a person whose sole job is to make sure we win more games than we lose.”

(On how much trust the team has lost with the L.A. fans, and how quickly can that be regained)

“We’ll find out. I don’t think this move is designed to appease the fans in a short moment. I think this move is looking at a period of time over five years, that we think as an organization we need to move better. Obviously, the hire we make and the direction we take as football team is going to go a long way to saying whether we got this right or not. I would say it’s easy to stand up here and say you’re going to make a change. The hard part is getting the change right. I don’t want to have this be a tough day for the organization just to say we’re trying to win the fans trust back. We obviously want to win the fans trust back. Winning games and building a great organization is what brings your fans back. I think that’s a long-term commitment and everything we’ve done – Stan’s vision for what we’re trying to build here in Los Angeles is a long-term vision. We have a terrific stadium going up, a terrific project, bold move to get here, and to be a part of this franchise. We want to be here for long-term and we want to get it right. I think if you only play this in the short-term, you’re probably making a mistake. For us, this is not about knee-jerk reactions. This is about getting this right, and having the opportunity to prove to our fans that we prioritize winning above all else. I think when you look at this decision, I think that’s the message we have to send. But, that’s the message today. But, the only way fans will believe that message is if we get it right moving forward, and that’s where we need to make sure we get it right.”

(On if he will make changes to the front office before addressing the head coaching situation)

“I think as we take a look at the organization over the next few weeks, you’ll start to get an idea of where you think you’re headed with the personnel staff. When we had the opening in 2012, we hired the head coach before the general manager. We had a great selection of general manager candidates, and that worked. This time, if you decide to make a move at general manager, you may choose a general manager first and a head coaching candidate second. I think it all depends on, as you go through the process over the next few weeks, the head coaching candidates you identify. If you decide to make a change at general manager, the general manager candidates that you identify and what you think the right order is. You can win lots of games under either formula. I think if you look, there are great examples of coaches who have been paired with GM’s and had success, and GM’s who hired coaches who had success. Both the good parts and the bad parts of going through this process in the NFL is there is no proven way to get it done. You can hire first-time head coaches, you can hire college coaches, you can hire coaches who have been fired before. You can point to any examples of ones who have had great success, or ones who have struggled. I think what’s most important is finding the right fit for this organization. If we decide that we’re going to move forward with the personnel department, you have to make sure you have a head coach and GM pairing that can work, and they’re on the same page. I think you’ll find out, as I said, a lot about our team and the way people view our organization when you go through the head coaching search, and how people view our personnel. I think we have always felt, collectively, that we’re pretty close as a football team. We haven’t gotten over the hump the past few years. We have to find a way to do that. Maybe we’re not as close as we think we are, and that’s what this next few weeks are designed to tackle. Maybe we are close, and the candidates will reflect that. I think what’s important is, when we come back and we present our football leadership overall that people believe that we’re headed in the right direction, and we’ve made the right choices.”

(On the possibility of hiring a young-minded head coach the team can build around for years to come)

“I think that’s where it goes to what we said. We have a tendency to hire the opposite of what we have. I think we sometimes get cause and effect backwards. For whatever reason, we’re not performing as an organization. I don’t think that’s because we hired a veteran-minded, defensive head coach. I think that’s a mistake to look at it that way. I think whatever short-comings we have as an organization are because of our short-comings as an organization. Not because we hired a defensive-minded head coach. I think the knee-jerk reaction is to say, ‘We’re going to go hire a young offensive-minded head coach.’ I don’t know if that pendulum swing is necessary. I think what we need to do is find the right person for this organization. A person who believes in Stan’s vision, who has the tools and resources to help us win, and someone we can build long-term around. I think that’s where we have to get it right.”

(On what he’s looking to see from the team in these last few weeks of the season)

“I think it starts, you want to see Jared’s continued progression. Obviously, Jared had some really good flashes, and some tough moments over the past few weeks. I think you want to see Jared continue to progress. I think you want to see the players play hard and play with energy. For whatever reason, I think we were a little bit flat the past few weeks; whether that’s just a long season wearing on them. I think you can sit there and say this year has taken its toll – whether it’s the air travel miles or moving facilities or all of those things. Can you get a bounce-back step, can we go play? But, I also think it’s our chance – losing 8-of-9 is tough. But, that stretch has been out of the division. I think what you want to look at over the next three weeks, is how do we line up within our own division. We’ve faired pretty well against the Seahawks recently. Can we continue to do that? We had a tough outing against the 49ers Week 1. Have we improved since Week 1 to this point when we face them at home again. Obviously, we had a tough, hard-fought win over Arizona earlier this year. Where do we stand against them in Week 17? I think the closest path to making the playoffs is winning your division. You only have to be better than three teams. How we stack up against those teams, I think we want to see, from that perspective, if you can go evaluate, if we can play with the energy and passion I think Coach Fassel will bring, from that standpoint, we can try to evaluate our talent and see where we stack up, and get to a more honest assessment. But, I don’t think you want to say, hey – we’d obviously love to win the last three, and if not that, then 2-1, then 1-2. I think we want to see if we can evaluate this group, the young players, and really build some momentum into the offseason.”

(On if he has a list of candidates for the head coaching job)

“This is not been something we’ve been laying it, at night thinking about for the past few weeks. So obviously, we’re going to get together as an organization. Stan and I talked last night. We started talking this morning. Again, about the criteria that he wants for the next leader. Then, you meet with the building and establish that criteria. Then, I think you start to evaluate the potential candidates against that. You try to find where you’re going to go. I’m sure that we’ll get a number of inbound calls over the next few weeks about people who are interested. This is going to be a very attractive opening. When you look at an opportunity to play for a really good owner, and a great market, and what will be a world-class stadium, with a young QB, and back-to-back Defensive Rookie and Offensive Rookie of the Year in (DT) Aaron Donald and (RB) Todd Gurley. There is talent on this roster. This will be an attractive job. I think what’s most important is not coming up with just the setup criteria, but being flexible and being open-minded. For better or for worse, that’s what having the next few weeks gives you the chance to do. When you get to the end of the season and you start to submit the permission forms for the coordinator candidates or the candidates throughout the NFL, that you’re going to be prepared, and hopefully that you can have a plan for how that first week goes. We’ve studied the history of hiring dates and when people get hired. When you look at it, usually there’s a wave that goes January 10-12, and then the dominoes start to fall. You’d love to be in the January 10-12 group, so that you can start to build a staff. But, they’re going to be other considerations. You may find a candidate whose headed to the Super Bowl, and you may need to wait until later in the year. I think you have to be open-minded as you go and look into this process. We need to find the right fit to the Los Angeles Rams, and that starts with identifying our own short-comings, and who we think can fill those. Not just looking at whose had success, and then trying to apply that to our team.”

(On if the decision was made last night or this morning)

“I think we talked about it at length last night. These are never the kinds of decisions you want to make easier, and I think he really wanted to sleep on it and discuss it again this morning. So, we chatted again this morning. I think you have to look at how hard this is. Jeff Fisher has meant a lot to this organization; still does. He took us from a period in St. Louis where instability through a number of first-time head coaches and through some ups and down. While we didn’t get to where we needed to be, he provided stability and credibility to the organization. He brought in an excellent coaching staff. Players wanted to play for him. This was the team that, perpetually, was on the cusp. Jeff has been through a lot. We put him in a difficult situation. He gets hired a week before our stadium arbitration essentially begins. When you go through that process, you go through those years in St. Louis, then you come through the transition here. This was, as I’ve said, a day you never wanted to have happened. You wanted to see him succeed. It’s why you wanted to give him the security of the new contract, so he can go operate this year not feeling as if he was walking a tight-rope. These are not decisions that you can make lightly. I think you never want to be emotional after a game and make that decision. I think that’s why it was important to discuss it last night, to sleep on it, to reconvene this morning, and have the discussion. But, I think at the end of the day, we felt this was the right direction for our football team, which is why we made the ultimate decision we did this morning. I think as you move forward, this isn’t just about today. This is about starting a quest to bring a Lombardi (Trophy) to Los Angeles. If you don’t struggle with these decisions, then you don’t understand the lives that are impacted throughout the organization.”

(On owner E. Stanley Kroenke’s reaction to having a near empty stadium prior to the fourth quarter during Sunday’s game against the Falcons)

“I think you hate to see that under any circumstance. I think we all feel frustrations – we’re all fans. We all carry that and you want to see the crowd excited. When you juxtapose the fourth quarter of yesterday with what you saw against Dallas and Seattle – that was really a hard juxtaposition. I think it gets back to making sure that we maintain momentum in this market and this is a decision, I think, you have to make in any market, but especially as you get into a new market. I think Stan’s (Kroenke) is a competitor. You never want to see a game end the way yesterday did – whether the fans had stayed throughout the fourth quarter or not – didn’t change that we need to be better. Yesterday was not our organization’s best foot forward and we have to find a way to do that.”

(On whether he’s had a chance to speak with any of the players and what their reaction has been)

“I had a chance to talk to the team briefly. I think the way we looked at today – what was most important was that Jeff had the ability to address the coaches and the players before the news broke of this decision. I’m glad had the chance to do that and being able to inform them. After that I met with the players quickly. I asked them for their best efforts over the next three weeks and to support Coach Fassel in any way that they can. I had a chance to talk to a couple of players briefly – this is hard for them. They love Coach Fisher, and rightfully so. I think one of the things when you looked at this team – the hallmark – this team has always played hard for Jeff Fisher. This is a tough day for them. Some of these players, whether they’ve been with us for five years, for 2012, some who have been with Jeff dating back before the Rams, and even those who have come this year and rookies, who have come to love and appreciate everything he is. This is a hard day. I think it’s also a hard day when you are a player… I think we all look in the mirror and realize we’re culpable for today’s event. I think that that’s a part of what the players have to realize as well and it’s hard with three weeks left. But, we asked them for their best efforts I think there is an element of them that they want to go out and make sure they go out and present themselves. We have national primetime game on Thursdayagainst Seattle – that’s always been a place that gets our players up to play. Then we have two home games and I think they want to go out on the best possible foot forward and be professionals. But we’re a young team and I think as they develop, this is going to be a maturation day for them. Hopefully, this will spark an improved performance over the next three weeks.”

(On the hiring process and the time frame he has in mind)

“I think the timeline is finding the best possible coach. When you look at that – just like there is no perfect formula – I think when you look at the numbers on coaching studies that no one bucket seemingly outperforms another bucket. None of the timeline hires seemingly outperform the other. If you look at the team we played yesterday with (Falcons Head Coach) Dan Quinn, who has done a nice job in Atlanta – the Falcons waited until after he was done with the Super Bowl in Seattle to go hire him. You can find great coaches at any different time. If you want to wait for someone who is playing in the Super Bowl and you think that’s what is best for your organization, then we’ll do that. If we find someone in the first interview, who we absolutely believe is the right candidate for the Los Angeles Rams, I think we’ll do that. Again, I think the biggest mistake we can make, is narrowing our search before it even starts. The timeline, I think gives you a glimpse historically when coaches have been hired. Usually it starts right around January 10-12 you get kind of that next wave – usually there is that first domino that falls in the coaching cycle. Then from there, you typically see January 15th, 16th. Then you see some, you know, maybe the coach is in the first two rounds gets an interview process in late January. But what’s most important is being able to build a staff, being able to develop a working relationship with the personnel department. Obviously, going through the entire viewpoint of how you get this correct. But this is not about getting the coaching hire right in January, this is December 12th next year and of the following year – saying we got this coaching hire right for our organization and for the fans. That’s where our focus is going to be.”

(On whether there was any concern that the players had “quit” on Fisher in terms of the way they were playing on the field)

“No. I think one of the hallmarks of a Jeff Fisher team is the teams never quit on Coach Fisher. If you look back over the history of our teams, we’ve had some tough stretches in 2012 through this year. We’ve had some series where we have won a few in a row and lost a few in a row – our players never quit on Jeff. I do not believe that at all. I think that would be unfair. For whatever reason, we didn’t perform up to our capabilities the past few weeks. As I said, maybe it’s the long year. Maybe it’s been the travel – we had two road games back-to-back – midwest, east coast, and coming home – for whatever reason we weren’t at our best. But I think it would be very unfair to say that this team quit on Jeff fisher. These players are tremendous professionals – they play hard for our coach. The fact that we may not have played at our best may be an indication of other factors, but I don’t believe this team quit.”

(On how he thought Fisher took the news and if he got the impression Fisher was surprised)

“Again, I think Jeff’s the best person to describe his emotions and going through how he took the news. He was professional. He handled it well. I don’t think any coach ever wants to hear this news. Our goal was always that Jeff would be our coach here for a very long time. I can’t tell you whether he took it by surprise or not – I don’t want to speculate on how he took it. We had a good conversation, it was short. I don’t think he was certainly expecting it. But what’s most important is that we had a conversation that will stay between us and we will move forward from there.”

(On whether Kroenke has voiced concern about the way the team has been performing and if Kroenke thinks it will affect the development of the new stadium)

“No. I think we look at this, again, through the prism of wins and losses. The project at Hollywood Park is going to be an unbelievable project and people are excited about it. The football team needs to improve. Collectively, as an organization, our discussions were about how that happens. I know Stan’s background and his expertise will make Hollywood Park and the stadium an unbelievable project. It’s the reason the other owners put faith in him to move forward and do that. Our fans don’t want to sit here and talk just about the project – they want to see the progress on the field. When you’re in the heat of the game, you’re looking at making sure that we play better. I think that’s where our focus has to be, right now, is making sure we improve. I have no doubt that the project will be a success. But I think the one thing you never want to take for granted, that the expertise in a great project can overcome people’s disappointment in the football team. Right now, it’s easy to conflate the two, but we have to attack with them separately. We have to make sure that we deliver the best possible project for Los Angeles, the city, and for the NFL at Hollywood Park. We have to make sure that we deliver the best possible football team for our fans and the organization. Ultimately they’ll come together. We want this team to be playing well – not just in 2019, not just as we go sell the building – we want to make sure we go play well against Seattle, San Francisco, and Arizona – this is the first step towards that.”

(On whether the decision to part ways with Fisher was impacted by the desire to market the new stadium)

“I think it always comes down to the point is, the best marketing is winning. We can all say that and you’re naïve to think that that doesn’t play a factor in this. Again, there has been tremendous warmth in the reception back from the community. When you look at 82,000 tickets sold yesterday – people are going to put up with ups and downs. What they want to make sure is that we’re committed to winning and we’re committed to getting it right. I think they’ll handle the good days with the bad days, as long as they see the passion from ownership that wins and losses elicit. I think you see that and feel that and see that form Stan today.”

(On why the organization never publically acknowledged the contract extensions of Fisher and General Manager Les Snead)

“Both Jeff and Les understood all that went into moving this franchise this year – from January into March, into April, into the summer. Both were selfless enough that they wanted to put others first – they wanted to get the team setup in Oxnard, they wanted to get us setup at training camp, and they wanted to make sure this building was up and running. I think they were patient and they didn’t want to push their issues. We were able to flush out some of the remaining issues and get it done towards the summer, but these things take a while to get papered and detailed, and get approved by the league office. When you go through that and then it got into the season – we didn’t want the contracts to be a distraction. Maybe that was a mistake on my part and I can certainly sit here and say that. But the goal was always that they understood that they had our full support. When you get into the season, I don’t think organizations typically should be announcing contract extensions in season – I think it’s just a distraction. If unfortunately, it became a distraction the other way, then the organization has to accept that for where it became. But I think what was most important, I think Jeff always said this, and Les as well – they always knew that Stan had the confidence in both of them. The sentiment was we wanted them to know how much we supported them in this move and we wanted to make sure we took care of them and we wanted to get it right. They knew that. Unfortunately, it dragged on longer than it did. I don’t think that ever played into the decision of where we sit today. But it was an understanding that they always knew that they would have Stan’s support throughout this year and throughout the challenges of the season.”

(On whether Fisher tried to convince him to postpone the decision until the end of the season)

“I said I’d leave our conversation to ourselves. His concern was not about him, it was about his coaches and his players and we really moved forward on that. I think that’s where we should leave the conversation.”

Interim Head Coach John Fassel

(Opening remarks)

“It’s been a long night, it’s been a long day. A lot has happened in a little amount of time – emotional, and we’ve got a couple of days before our next game. It’ll be an interesting couple of days. I love Coach Fisher, I respect the heck out of Coach Fisher. He gave me a great opportunity to come coach on his staff, and I’m going to try to do my best to make him proud over the next three weeks. I had a great chance to talk with him, spent about an hour with him. He told me, ‘I’m going to help you with whatever you need so you guys can have the opportunity to win these next three games. Go out and do it.’ It happened fast. I found out just about an hour before my special teams meeting. I talked to (Chief Operating Officer) Mr. (Kevin) Demoff, Coach Fisher, and they let me know that this was going to happen. I talked to Coach Fisher and basically asked what he thought, asked for his blessing. (I said), ‘Coach me up, Coach Fish on what the next couple of hours are going to be like.’ He told me everything that I needed to know. But, I know there’s a lot more that is going to be in to it than I’m prepared for. I’ll do my best to be great.”

(On if he’s in awe of all that has happened to him in a matter of hours)

“I wouldn’t say I’m in awe of it. I grew up a coach’s son, so I understand hiring and firing, and the emotions of it. But, the awe part may be that it happened so fast, and it was something that you weren’t necessarily prepared for – we didn’t go to sleep last night, so I can’t say when I woke up this morning – but, it did happen fast. I guess football, you’ve got to be able to adapt and react, and that’s kind of one of these situations that you can’t really ever prepare for it. But, I have a great staff, (Assistant Head) Coach ‘Mac,’ (Dave McGinnis) and (Defensive Coordinator) Coach (Gregg) Williams have been head coaches before, so they’ll be a great support staff to help me make good decisions.”

(On if he is surprised that they came to him)


(On why he is surprised they came to him)

“I’m in the dungeon working on special teams day and night, that’s all I do. I don’t make the decisions that Coach Fisher or even sometimes the (offensive and defensive) coordinators have to make. My special teams, I got a great group of young, scrappy, tough guys that play hard. Whether they play well or not, that’s for people to determine, but they work their butt off. They gave me the opportunity, I was surprised, grateful for it – although the situation isn’t something that you want to be in, but they asked me to do it. Coach Fisher gave me his blessing, and I’ll do it.”

(On the players criticizing teammates’ lack of effort following the games yesterday and how he gets the message to the entire to the entire team to pick up the energy and the effort)

“I think after a game, everybody probably, based on emotions, said some things that maybe they regret or that aren’t necessarily the truth. But I told the guys, just real quick after practice I said, ‘If you love ball, if you love Coach Fisher, that’s got to be enough to get us through these next three weeks. We’ve got a job, all of our jobs are on the line. If you love ball and you love Coach Fisher, that’s got to get us through. If that’s not good enough, then you shouldn’t be out here.’”

(On if he addressed the team in the team meeting)

“That’s a good question. Coach Fisher addressed the team, then Kevin Demoff came in and addressed the team, and then he told the team that I would be the interim. I just told them before I make any speeches or have anything to say, I’d like to talk to Coach Fisher, because at that point, I hadn’t really had a chance to talk to Coach Fisher. I have so much respect and love for that man and that coach, that I wanted to talk to him and get his advice, get his blessing. So, that’s kind of how it went down.”

(On if he feels like he is up for the interim head coach position)


(On the ways in which he is up for the position)

“I don’t know if this matters, but I’ve been fortunate, like I said earlier, to be on the sidelines since I was five-years old, and witnessed the elations of the greatest games, and be on the sideline when the Giants are kicking a game-winning field goal in the playoffs and the snapper drops it, and then holder drops it, and you throw an incomplete pass, and it ends just like that. And then, the next year you get fired and you have got to move. So, I kind of grew up knowing that that’s part of the game even though it’s probably the worst part of the game. Special teams, every time that ball gets punted or kicked, you’re there by yourself and you’re saying, ‘Let’s go boys, go get it,’ and you’re always kind of on the front lines. Whether I’m ready for it or not, I’m going to kick ass, and do what I have to do to help the team.”

(On if he has talked to the offensive coordinator and will open the offense up and the attitude going forward on offense)

“Good question, and I haven’t really had a lot of time to speak with (Offensive Coordinator) Rob (Boras) yet, or Coach Williams. We had a good discussion about some players right now, but I haven’t had a chance to even talk to them about that. We went from the team meeting where we announced it, to the special teams meeting, to offensive and defensive breakdowns, to the practice field. So, like I said, everything is happening fast.”

(On how confident he is that he can save the team)

“To save the team – I don’t think the team needs to be saved. The team needs to just rise up, take some responsibility for what happened, because none of us think that it’s Coach Fisher’s fault, we all just take some responsibility. We got to do better, we got to win. That’s what happened, is we just didn’t win enough games – and I’m part of that, so I have a responsibility to be better.”

(On he gets QB Jared Goff ready to play in a tough environment in Seattle on Thursday)

“It’s a great question. It’s a great place to play. I think the biggest thing for a young quarterback is going to be the crowd noise. It’s awesome how loud that place can get. I think where we’re at now is as many opportunities as we can put our young guys in position to deal with playoff atmosphere, the better it’ll be down the road. I haven’t been in one quarterback meeting all season, I probably won’t be the rest of the next three weeks. But, I always talk to Jared about, ‘Come on, come to some special teams meetings.’ I think it’ll be great for him, for everybody. We won in Seattle last year as a team, kind of as underdogs. It was raining, it was cold – probably about the same time of the year. It’s an opportunity to prepare for the playoffs, even though, obviously, we’re not in it – but we look at it kind of as that type of atmosphere and that type of opportunity.”

(On if he had aspirations of being an NFL Head Coach prior to today)

“I can’t say, honestly, that the last five, six, eight years as a special teams coordinator, I was coordinating special teams to become the head coach. So I can’t say that that was an aspiration. I wanted to be a great special teams coach and if that’s all I did for the rest of my career, I’d be super happy doing that.”

(On if, after talking to management, he feels like there is anything he can show over the last three games that would put him in consideration for the permanent position)

“You know, no. Kevin Demoff just mentioned, just go kick ass, bring some energy, be yourself. But as far as after these next three games, no.”

(On the key to keeping emotions in check and uniting everyone in time for the game on Thursday)

“That’s a good question, too. I think the emotions are good. Sometimes maybe you say something you regret or it gets a little bit combative, but I always thought, just from a special teams perspective, that emotions are great and you have to find a way to corral them. And I think, in this situation, every player on the team has the utmost respect for Coach Fisher and it has to be a little bit of a rallying cry. Obviously we’re not going to go to the playoffs, so what are we playing for – we’re playing because we love ball and we’re playing because we love Coach Fisher. To me, the emotions are a great thing. As long as we have that, we’ll find a way to use them to our advantage.”

(On what his father has told him once he accepted the position)

“I actually haven’t talked to him. I know, it’s horrible – I’ll call you in a little bit, dad, I promise. I called my wife real quick. Again, like you said, it happened so fast and I’ve been trying to get caught up with Kevin and (General Manager) Les (Snead) and our trainer and everybody that, unfortunately, I’ve neglected to call the people most important to me. But that’ll happen tonight, I’m sure that they’ve heard and they know I have business to take care of.”

(On how he plans to turnaround the somber energy that’s in the facility)

“It was quiet today. It was. It was quiet today. I don’t think I can manufacture energy for the team. It’s going to be something that will probably have to be built here over the next couple days, as we get back to gameday. I don’t ever try to manufacture energy. I’ve had some advice from some people so far, like (Assistant Head Coach Dave McGinnis) Coach ‘Mac’, you know, just be yourself – if myself helps create some energy, that’s great – but I can’t fake it. There’s so much that I got to learn. It’s already a couple hours – I got a lot of studying to do. Hopefully, all of the emotions create some positive energy, so we can go out on Thursday night and perform. We got the cool old school Rams helmets. I think kickoff is actually, in exactly 72 hours. It’s going to happen fast and I’ll be ready. I’ll make some mistakes. I’ll lean on Coach ‘Fish’, Coach ‘Mac’, my dad (Jim Fassel), and some people in this building that I think are fantastic coaches, and kick some ass – I don’t know if I’m allowed to say that (laughs) – I say it in the meetings. I don’t curse, but I think that’s one I can probably get away with.”

(On how he communicates and motivates as a coach and how that’s different from what Coach Fisher does)

“That would probably be a great question for some of the players. I try to be the same every day. I try to be consistent with my presentations. I don’t make one day more important than the other and I don’t one opponent more important than the other. Every day is kind of the same and I try to be myself every day, be the same energy – if people think I have energy every day. That’s what I have to do, I got to be myself. You know, I’m a special teams coach – I’m in there with a couple guys, just grinding every day, trying to figure out how to cover some punts and all of a sudden there is a hundred cameras here – it’s kind of tripping me out. But it’ll be fun to have the opportunity to be in front of a group of men who are emotionally low and figure out a way to bring them emotionally high so they can perform because we have to, it’s pro football, it’s tough. We have to perform and we can’t let our emotions diminish our production, because we have to win.”

QB Jared Goff

(On his reaction to an emotional day)

“I think you hit it on the head, it’s pretty emotional. He’s a guy that, I think I speak for the whole team when I say, was very well liked, very giving, and he treated us the right way – he treated us the way we’re supposed to be treated and in return we didn’t do enough for him. That’s really what it comes down to – is we didn’t get it done and unfortunately it falls on him – us in the locker room blame ourselves and we need to be better.”

(On what Fisher said when he addressed the team this morning following the decision)

“Yeah, he came into the meeting and addressed the whole team, let us know the deal. Again, it’s very emotional. It sucks, it’s not fun. I think we let him down. I think it was our job to play better and be better and we let him down. That’s the bottom line. I’d like to say I’m extremely thankful for the opportunity that he gave me and them doing what they did to get up to (No.) one (overall in the 2016 NFL Draft) and draft me. I’m sure I speak for a lot of guys on the team when I say I’m thankful for the opportunity that he gave them. Again, would have loved to do more with it, and would have loved for him to still be here, but unfortunately it’s above our paygrade. Unfortunately it happened the way it did.”

(On if this will stunt his growth at all as a rookie quarterback)

“I don’t think so, no. I think I’m a pretty confident guy and confident in my abilities. Whoever the coach may be, I think I’ll be alright.”

(On if there is anything that he’s looking for in a new coach)

“Yeah, I’m going to let them make that decision.”

(On the difficulty of preparing for Seattle on a short week with the news today)

“This is just a little bit of a distraction, of course, that we’re going to have to deal with. It’s going to be hard on a short week already, and now this is another thing that we’re going to have to deal with. Like I said, today was hard, it wasn’t easy. It was a tough day – it was weird – it was a tough feeling around the facility. But, we know that we have to play Seattle in a couple of days. We have to be ready to play them – they’re a tough team, obviously. We’ve got to go up there and come away with a W, do what we can. I think (Interim Head) Coach (John) Fassel, said it best at the end of practice, he said, ‘If you love football and you love Coach Fisher, you’ll find a way to get it done the next three weeks,’ and that’s what we need to do.”

(On if he talked to Fisher personally and what he told him)

“I told him that I’m very appreciative and thankful, that I wouldn’t be here without him.”

(On what Fisher told him)

“A lot of stuff, it’s between us.”

(On how working with various position groups as the special teams coordinator will benefit Fassel as the interim head coach)

“It’ll be good. I think, more than anything, is his attitude and his approach to everything. He’s going to be really helpful. He understands what we’re going through right now is not easy and he understands that we do need some support and we do need him to be there for us during this time.”

(On if he would say that some of the players in the locker room feel responsibility for the coaching change)

“Yeah, I think that’s the first feeling you feel, especially with how Coach Fish is, and how much he loves each and every one of us. He really had a personal relationship with everybody on the team, so everybody has the same type of feeling towards him. In the short time I’ve experienced here, I haven’t had a coach like that where it’s just so personal with everybody. So, yeah, there is a little bit of a guilt and a little bit of, ‘it’s on us.’ From top to bottom, honestly, from everybody – every position group, 1 thru (53), every coach, we all feel responsible and understand that we need to be better.”

(On RB Todd Gurley’s comments on the offense following the loss to the Falcons and if that was the straw that broke the camel’s back with regards to Fisher’s fate)

“I don’t think that had anything to do with Coach Fisher. I think Todd was emotional. We all are. We’re all frustrated. He just made some comments. I don’t have a comment on that.”

(On if the coaching change adds to his frustration with the team’s performance)

“It’s completely different. I think when you’re frustrated about football, and this is completely different. This is somebody who has cared for us and who has given every one of us in this building an opportunity that’s now gone, mainly because of us. So, it’s a completely different feeling and, again, I can’t stress enough how much it hurts, but we need to find a way to move on and find a way to beat Seattle. I know there will be no one rooting for us more than Coach Fish.”

(On how he can move forward from this situation)

“Come out every day and try to get better and continue to improve. That’s all we can do. Every day, just continue to work on the game plan, continue to work in practice, work hard and come out on Thursday and put a good win together. We need to. It’s about time and there would be no better time to do it than this week.”

(On what life lesson he’s learned as a result of this experience)

“I think the No. 1 thing is, in this league, things can go away really quickly. One day you’re here and one day you’re not. We learned that today, unfortunately, the hard way, but I think it’ll allow some guys to kind of see that and me being one of them.”