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Transcript: Fassel, Boras Talk Goff’s Health, Pro Bowl Selections, 49ers, and Life After Fisher

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Here’s what Rams’ interim head coach John Fassel and offensive coordinator Rob Boras had to say after practice on Tuesday.

Los Angeles Rams v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

Interim Head Coach John Fassel – Post-Practice – Dec. 20, 2016

(On if he is more optimistic about QB Jared Goff playing on Saturday)

“Yeah, he practiced full today and he has a few more things in the (concussion) protocol, but we anticipate having him, yes.”

(On the importance of Goff playing in the final two games)

“I think it’s real important. To continue getting the experience and, ideally, build something positive going into the offseason that might carry over into next season. I think it’ll be real important.”

(On how it resonates for a coach when players make the Pro Bowl)

“It’s great – (DT) Aaron (Donald) the last couple of years, (DE) Robert Quinn, (P) Johnny Hekker’s made it twice. From experience, when Johnny has made it, it’s a great thing. It’s not something that the players take lightly, take for granted, it’s something that’s really special. Should, say, Hekker be fortunate enough to make it again, the third time seems like it’s as good as the first time. It’s something that’s really important to the players and it’s really cool, as a coach, to see a player get recognized and feel like, ‘Gosh, I can’t believe I’m a Pro Bowler in the NFL.’ It’s a good feeling.”

(On if he has any sense of the rivalry between the Rams and 49ers now that the Rams are back in Los Angeles)

“You must have been in one of our team meetings a couple of days ago, you must have snuck in there. We had a little discussion about that. I thought it was important to the players, especially the young guys, to know that the Rams and the Niners have played, I think (134) times – seventh-most played game in NFL history, as far as a rivalry. The Niners have, I think, a three-game lead on us in the overall series. So there’s some things we talked about – coming back here to the Coliseum, where this game was played at for, I think, (30) games, if I remember the numbers we put up there. Yeah, rivalry game, it’s important to the players – I wanted them to respect the history of the rivalry and know the position they’re in, coming back here to L.A. That’s been discussed.”

(On the 49ers’ only win of the season coming in Week One against the Rams and what they have to do differently to avenge the loss)

“Yeah, we got our butt kicked in the first game, we got it kicked pretty bad. We need to move the chains, we punted quite a few times, we need to score. They scored four touchdowns, we need to make them either field goals or three-and-outs. And we need to find a way on (special) teams to create better field position advantages. That was discussed, too. It’s good to know that we got our butts kicked and make sure that it doesn’t happen again.”

(On who walked the team through the history of the rivalry)

“I did.”

(On if he had to brush up on his facts)

“I studied. I made sure I had my facts right, so if I’m standing there in front of the whole team – the coaches, the players, the trainers – that I’m throwing out factual information. I was surprised to know how many times the game has been played, where it’s been played – at Keyzar (Stadium), the Coliseum, Candlestick (Park) – a lot of really cool places. So it was fun for me to, kind of, study up on those facts that I wasn’t aware of.”

(On how much time he spent researching)

“Thirty minutes. I enlisted the help of our punter, snapper and kicker, too. That was one of our special teams meetings, I said, ‘You guys have to help dig up some facts for me here.’ So we kind of had fun with that.”

(On the response he got from the players)

“I think they were interested and pretty surprised. Hopefully respectful of what the history of the rivalry and, really, the NFL means. Whether or not that gives the guys a lift or not, it lets them know that this is important and it’s kind of cool and we’re fortunate to be able to participate in this.”

(On if he’s looking for anything extra to motivate the players, like researching the rivalry)

“I think if we were 10-4, I would have done the same thing. But I just thought it was an opportunity – as we were researching, some things stood out that were pretty unique. But I think, regardless of the situation we’re in, I would have presented that information. And I don’t think the guys really need a lot of motivation. I think they know that each one of our performances will dictate our future. I think they’ll be ready to go, but I think it’s always kind of fun – at least what I do in the special teams (meetings) to try to mix it up and throw something at them that they don’t anticipate and see the response.

(On if it means anything to him that his name would be on the list of coaches who have coached in the Rams-49ers rivalry)

“I didn’t even think about that when I presenting it to them. I did look at some of the players that have played in it, the winning streaks, but I hadn’t thought of that. Maybe some day I will.”

(On if the players realize that a win against the 49ers will mean a lot to Rams fans)

“Yeah, and for the Rams fans out there, we’re aware of that – that this would help, not only our morale, but the morale of the true Rams fans that will be showing up to the Coliseum. Hopefully everybody believes us that we understand, even though the season hasn’t gone how we wanted it, no doubt about it, that this game is important and it is impactful to us and a lot of people. We’re looking forward to it.”

(On if there is any discussion to using the final two games to get a look at some of the players who haven’t played much this season)

“We’ve talked about that, we have. We’ve talked about tinkering with the lineup to see if we can get a spark, or giving a guy that hasn’t played a lot an opportunity to see what he can do – such as (QB) Sean (Mannion), should Jared not have been able to go, or not be able to go, throw Sean in there and see what he could do, a couple young receivers, a couple new DBs.”

(On if he has made a decision on the backup quarterback for Saturday’s game)

“Yeah, we gave Sean most of the work today as the backup. That’s looking like what we’ll do going into the game. We’ll still wait and see, but it looks like he’ll have the opportunity to dress as the backup.”

(On if he has spoken to Case Keenum about the possibility of him not dressing for the final two games)

“I talked to him about the potential of it two days ago. Case is a true pro, he said, ‘I don’t love it, but I understand that if that happens, I get it.’ Really, that was it. I just told him this is what we were possibly thinking, he said, ‘I understand,’ and that was really the extent of it.”

(On if he and the coaching staff will have free reign to continue with an aggressive game plan against the 49ers)

“Yeah. With those situations in Seattle, we had discussed those as possibilities before the game even started. We knew when we got into some of the situations, that we were going to go for it, we were going to fake it. We’ll talk about that in the next couple of days leading up to the game. But, I would anticipate us being as aggressive, if not more aggressive – because, why not. We have to go for it, we have to make seven instead of three when we’re on offense, we have to have our time of possession be over 30 (minutes), at least. Those are opportunities – converting short-yardage, especially fourth downs – to keep the ball in our hands, to tack on minutes to our time of possession, and try to get touchdowns.”

Offensive Coordinator Rob Boras – Post Practice – Dec. 20, 2016

(On his reaction to the Rams parting ways with Jeff Fisher)

“Disappointed, sad. I understand it’s a business, but this is also a people business. Again, I feel real strongly about Coach. I think we all feel that we let him down. I think we all need to take ownership with that. Obviously, as the man in charge and accountable, he was the one that walked out of the building. But, we understand that there could’ve been a lot of us. Again, I can’t speak for anybody else. That’s wrong of me to say, ‘we all.’ I feel disappointed. Obviously, the ownership of things that we needed to do better and more to take care of a really good man, and a good friend, and a really good football coach.”

(On how he and the rest of the coaches stay motivated through the last few weeks knowing that no one’s job is guaranteed next season)

“That’s our job. This is what we signed up to do. We’re going to go out and win these next two games, and that’s what we’ve got to believe. Unfortunately in this business, you get put in these positions – I don’t want to say quite often – but, enough times where it’s never easy to accept the fact that you’re out of the playoff contention, and obviously with our head coach being dismissed. But, we’re all men and we all have to come back to work with the responsibility of putting together a plan and executing the plan to go win these next two games because that’s what we’re about, and that’s what our job is to do. Obviously, it wasn’t an easy week last week. I think everybody knows how strongly we all feel for coach. But, everybody has to put their best foot forward and that’s what we’re going to continue to do. Nobody is leaving the office any later or any earlier. Nobody is showing up any later. We’re committed to win these next two games, and do whatever we can do.”

(On what hasn’t translated from the practice field to the games)

“Unfortunately, too many things; and there’s been enough breakdowns in a lot of different areas at different times. Again, the few times when you do find us clicking on all or most cylinders, there’s a little bit of rhythm, and a little bit of execution. But, it’s been few and far between. It’s just the consistency. Again, I know it sounds like a broken record, but at the end of the day, it’s the consistency of doing our job, not their job – doing our job play in and play out. It’s been a struggle, obviously to say the least, with finding that consistency, and it’s been a number of reasons. Again, I always say it starts with us as coaches, but then it’s catching the football, it’s not jumping offsides, it’s not committing the penalty. It’s a variety of reasons. Again, the buzz words I’ve said is consistency and resiliency. These guys, again, I love them. They keep showing up. They want to get better. They’re a prideful group. I think as coaches, we’re prideful as well, and you see the desire to get better. When we’re putting the game plans in, and we’re telling them what to expect from San Francisco, their pens are moving just as much as they were when we were getting ready for Week 1. It’s a prideful group and they’re going to do whatever they can in the classroom and on the field, and hopefully we can find some rhythm and carry over to a game where we’re not making excuses all the time.”

(On his first year as an offensive coordinator)

“I think we’re all tired. It’s been a long go since leaving St. Louis. A lot of us sleep here. A lot of us are away from our families. But again, that’s no excuse. We signed up for this and we’re here to do it. Talking to you guys once a week is always fun. Not quite sure what angle. Obviously, it’d be great – the one time we played well on offense, you guys didn’t talk to me in London (laughter). So the other 13 weeks, I’ve had to stand here every week, which is not a strong-suit of mind. Again, we did OK at Detroit and you guys ignored me for a week. I kind of took that personally (laughter).There’s a lot things. I love the leadership part of it. I love the planning, putting the organization, the teaching part of it. I love working with the staff and the players. Obviously, as a coordinator it’s a little different when you’re not actually coaching a position on the field. I felt lost early…I feel like I just gain calories out here instead of burn them when I used to be able to run around a little bit and coach. It’s little different, but it’s been an experience. There’s been good times and there’s been a lot of down. But, it’s an experience I’ll never forget.”

(On if it’s harder to motivate the team with the uncertainty of the future looming ahead)

“We all know – no. Because, again, whether we were 14-0 or where we are right now, I say the same thing about our players. They’re showing up to work all the time, and that’s what makes it easy to do what we do. I’ve been in different locker rooms with different types of characters, and it’d be a lot harder. Again, I keep repeating myself, but since leaving St. Louis, and the time we spent in Oxnard, and then the time in Irvine, and just in this facility here – this is a really close-knit group. With all the opportunities there have been to be divisive, this group has stayed together. Nobody is pointing fingers. That’s a testament to their character. We need to win, I get it. But as men, these guys have handled this situation extremely well.”

(On G Jamon Brown playing fullback against Seattle and whether it was effective)

“Again, like a lot of teams – there are 32 teams in the National Football League right now that are dealing with injuries, and just like the defense is, and just like we are, you’re always trying to find healthy guys to get suited up. With (TE) Cory Harkey having been put on IR (Injured/Reserve) and just with some of our situations at tight end, that was kind of a natural progression to put (G Jamon Brown) ‘JB’ back there as the fullback. It was something we’ve always had success with that personnel group – not necessarily with an O-lineman in the backfield – but with that personnel group running against Seattle, we didn’t want to lose that. So, it was just trying to find a way to run those kinds of plays against Seattle. Then, as far as getting (RB) Todd (Gurley) going, it’s the same thing. Again, we’ve got to make our blocks, we can’t jump offside, we can’t hold on the big runs. I thought Todd was running really strong in the first half – the one draw and then the one inside zone that he bounced for 22 (yards) down the left sideline. Again, we need to find that rhythm and more consistency with it that way. We’ve tried to get the ball inside, we’ve tried to get the ball in the perimeter, tried to get him a little bit more in space, and tried to get him involved in the pass game…If he’s getting carries in the second half – he was really strong last year in the second half because we were playing in close games, that’s when he popped a lot of those. Hopefully we can keep handing him the ball where he can find one of those explosive runs.”

(On the offensive circumstances this season and whether they will influence the way he plans to handle QB Jared Goff over the next couple games in terms of play calling and personnel on offense)

“We’ve been trying to put him in the best position since he’s been out there and we’re going to continue to do that over the next two weeks. Obviously, we all understand we need to protect him. He’s taken too many hits – some of those are himself. When he’s running down the sideline, he’s got to understand he’s go to get out of bounds. The ones in the pocket, we need to protect him better. But obviously, for as good a player as Jared’s (Goff) going to be, we got to keep him healthy and that starts with us protecting and, again, he needs to protect himself, as well. Part of protection is knowing where you’re vulnerable. He needs to understand as well. He’s grown leaps and bounds that way. Again, if we can keep him clean, create some separation, and make the catches. Again, we want him to play well see him play at his best and really go into the offseason with the arrow pointing up, where he’s got some confidence. I think that’s what he deserves, this franchise deserves. I think then everybody will be excited moving forward with Jared moving off in a positive direction.”