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Sean McVay Weighs In On Culture Change, The Team’s Health, And Recharging On The Bye Week

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McVay will be the first to tell you he’s got to improve on timeout utilization. He’ll also tell you he can’t claim ownership to “We Not Me.”

NFL: Los Angeles Rams at Jacksonville Jaguars Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Head Coach Sean McVay – Media Availability – October 24, 2017

(On how the trip back was)

“It was good. It made it a little bit more tolerable coming back after that performance. I thought our players did a great job and really, it was a good, complete game. We put it together in all three phases. I thought the coaches did a great job getting guys ready and really, we were just kind of talking about anytime that you go on a trip like what we did where you go play Jacksonville, then you stay in Jacksonville, then go to London, there’s a lot of people that were involved that helped that run as smoothly as it did. To come away 2-0 is a great credit to really, our organization as a whole – (Director of Operations) Bruce Warwick and the travel staff and (Head of Equipment) Jimmy Lake with the equipment. You look at (Head of Strength and Conditioning) Ted Rath, (Director of Sports Medicine/Performance) Reggie Scott, there is a lot of people that were involved to be able to make that as seamless as it was. Ultimately we wanted to come away with a 2-0 on those two games and we did that and we’re in a good place right now.”

(On how many hours of the flight did he spend watching film)

“Not too many. I watched the film, I watched both sides of it and then watched the special teams, so it was just a couple hours. But, it was good because that flight sure seems like it takes a long time because you’re just kind of ready to get back, but it made the flight go a little bit faster.”

(On how he handles being the talk of the league with how successful his team has performed so far)

“Well, I think the great thing about what our team has done and really what we’ve done with our approach is just one day at a time, one week at a time. I think what you talk about the team about is you say, ‘Who were you talking about after seven weeks in the NFL last year? What were guys’ record?’ Nobody cares. Because really it’s about what you do at the end. We are 5-2, we’ve done a good job putting ourselves in a position and certainly there is a lot of improvement that can take place in all three phases, guys know that and I think if we’re going to continue on this path, it’s got to be just one day at a time, one week at a time and when we get back, I think guys have earned the right to enjoy their bye week, get back, get away, get refreshed, get recharged and then when we come back we’ve got to get ready to go against the Giants. We’ll keep that same approach and that preparation and hopefully it will lead to good performances for the rest of the year.”

(On if there is anything specifically that he thinks he’s done well in the first seven weeks and if there is anything specifically that he thinks he needs to improve on)

“Other than the timeout usage? No, I think there’s a lot of things that you certainly want to look at yourself critically with. Anytime that we’re not getting the results in certain areas, whether it be offense, defense or special teams it starts with me. All jokes aside, some of those timeouts is inexcusable and those are things that are very important and really, when you look at the other day and we ended up using those. There was clearly a ruling that would have gone the other way if we had that available and we didn’t and it didn’t hurt us, but that’s where if we’re going to talk about process over results, I’ve got to be the same way as a coach and make sure that I’m looking at myself critically with regards to the game management just leading in the right way. Specific to some other things, there is a lot of things that you can do a lot better, but I think the things that we’re doing well is, I go back to just feeling really good about our coaching staff. I think continuing to empower those guys, lean heavily on them for their experience and then letting them do their jobs has been instrumental in why our players are in a good position and they feel confident in what they’re doing. But, the biggest thing that we’ll always strive to achieve is that continuous improvement and I think when you look at what our team has done, we do feel like we’re getting better and I think that’s a great sign of great players and great coaching and I think our guys have done a good job of that. That’s going to be the challenge moving forward.”

(On the status of C John Sullivan)

“I haven’t had a chance to sit down with Reggie, but all things, I think he’s going to be okay. I think the early results – I haven’t talked to him since we got the MRI back, but I think he’s going to be okay. I’ll talk with Reggie after this, but nothing where – when you look at that replay it certainly didn’t look good, but he’s like Gumby, so I think he’s going to be okay.”

(On if that is the only injury heading into the bye week)

“Yeah, that’s the only injury. Everybody else came out clean and I think he should be good to go.”

(On if it’s surprising to him that going into the bye week they only have on injury)

“Yeah, I think really you go back to it and I think when you look at what Reggie Scott and Ted Rath have implemented in terms of guys following their processes, their procedures for trying to stay as healthy and as fresh as possible, I think that’s been instrumental. Fortunately, we’ve gotten some luck too because I think you look at just some of the injuries around the league and they’re unfortunately unavoidable with the collisions and the types of things that do occur. So, I think we’ve gotten some fortunate luck with that, but then I think also a large part of it, especially with the soft tissue injuries, those things that you do feel like can be avoided by taking great care of yourself is a real credit to our training staff and really our strength staff.”

(On what he thinks the key is to getting an entire team bought into a message)

“Well, I think when you get good people that are bought in, it’s just taking it one day at a time. I think we’ve got a lot of people pushing in the same direction and I think that’s very critical for what we want to try to accomplish both as a coaching staff and with our players. Then you talk about it, I think it’s been instrumental being able to bring in some of the veteran players that we have, accompanied with some of the players that were already in this locker room. I think you look at bringing in an (T) Andrew Whitworth, a John Sullivan, a (OLB) Connor Barwin, the (CB) Kayvon Webster and then you combine them with (QB) Jared Goff, (RB) Todd Gurley, (WR) Robert Woods, bringing him in and (WR) Sammy (Watkins). Then you look at some of the other guys on the defense with (DT) Aaron (Donald), (LB) Alec (Ogletree), (DT) Michael Brockers, so I think when you combine a lot of the strong pieces they had in place with some guys outside of the organization and then you draft people that you feel like are good people, but then also good football players, I think you give yourself a chance to do things the right way. We’re only seven games into this, but I think being focused on that process and then having some of your best players and your leaders set the standard day-in and day-out is going to be key for us moving forward. Really, I’ve talked about my grandfather’s influence on me going back to just his experiences with the 49ers and I think you try to kind of mimic and emulate some of those things that you believe in and that’s what we feel like we’re trying to do here.”

(On where he feels like QB Jared Goff is at this point in the season and where he hopes he goes from here)

“I think really he’s done a good job of improving throughout this first part of the season. I think he’s gotten better and better. I think that anytime that you’re able to learn from your experiences both good and bad, you’re going to give yourself a chance to for growth. The one thing that I really have been impressed with with Jared is he takes things so well when they don’t always go our way. You look at the way that he responded after we turned the ball over the other day, he responds with a great 16 play drive, had a couple good third down conversions there where he’s throwing the football and good decisions. I think he’s really doing a great job. Really, to be able to draw a defense offsides five times I think is a great command of the offense and he’s getting better and better. I think sometimes there’s things that take place where it might just be his handling of the run game that you can’t always appreciate that might not show up on the stats, but I think he’s just continuing to take an ownership on our offense – we talk about being an extension of the coaching staff and I think he is truly starting to become that. But, he’s only going to continue to grow and get better and in terms of where we want him to be, I think we just want him to just continue to take those daily steps and he’s done that and been receptive. I can’t say enough about what (Offensive Coordinator) Matt LaFleur and (Quarterbacks Coach) Greg Olson have done for his development, in addition to what (QB) Sean Mannion and (QB) Brandon Allen are doing that really shows up on the practice field. But, we’re in a good place, by no means are we where we want to be, but I think he’s doing a great job of leading and that’s a credit to Jared.”

(On how he will spend the bye week)

“I’m not sure yet. I think really after today we’re kind of going to get things wrapped up. I think the nice thing about living in this area is that you don’t have to go too far to feel like you can still get away and enjoy the beach or whatever that might be. But, I think it will be important for me to be able to get away for a couple days and just like we talk about with the players, get refreshed and get recharged. We’ll do a little work here and there because you do enjoy doing some things, but I will try to catch up on some rest and get away, whether you go to Santa Barbara or somewhere like that – I’ll figure that out a little bit later this afternoon and those are good things when you live in such a nice area.”

(On if the mottos that are posted around the building are something that he implemented)

“Yeah. I think when you talk about – everybody wants to talk about the culture and different things like that. I think those visual aids are certainly very helpful as kind of a reminder of how we want to operate. But if you don’t live those things that you’re seeing on those walls and things like that, it kind of really doesn’t mean much. I think the thing that I will continue to say is a good thing that we have going right now is our players are doing that. We always talk about our process and a standard of performance and what that can lead to, being connected as a team, the ‘We not me.’ So, all those things are things that we believe in. Those are part of our core beliefs, but I think that it really doesn’t mean much if it’s not how you do it on a daily basis and are those things that you emphasize? And then you see show up by the way that you operate day-in and day-out as a coaching staff with your players and with your team. To answer your question, those decisions are organizationally driven, but those are things that a lot of people were involved with that we feel like are going to be important for us. You try to tweak and find different ways to motivate, but also give good reminders of kind of, what are those guiding principles in terms of how we want to operate daily to try to achieve our goals as a team?”

(On how he’s felt about the performance from his rookie class)

“I think I’ve felt really good. When you set out, I think (General Manager) Les (Snead) and his staff did a great job of kind of identifying those guys. Then really, it was a collaborative effort between our coaching staff and Les and his staff. But when you find those guys like we found, we were looking for good football players, smart football players that kind of had a situational and an instinctual awareness to the game that you could see show up. We’re getting contributions from really all of those guys and I think that’s a credit to them. (FB) Sam Rogers is doing a great job on the practice squad, giving a lot of different looks. He loves football. I think you look at (WR) Cooper Kupp and (WR) Josh Reynolds are ascending receivers. (TE) Gerald Everett’s doing a lot of really good things. Then you look at the defensive side of the ball and you see guys like (DT) Tanzel Smart show up, (S) John Johnson III has been great the last couple weeks and (LB) Samson Ebukam continues to show why he’s going to be a good player for us moving forward. So we’ve gotten a lot of good contributions from our rookie class and any time you’re able to do that, you feel good about that. Those guys will continue to be big parts of what we’re doing moving forward.”

(On where the phrase, ‘We, not me’ came from and if he can claim ownership of that phrase)

“I cannot. No, it was – I can’t claim it. I probably should be careful with how I answer this because I think some other people have some patent on it. But I think the biggest thing is… it’s all about the team is really what it goes back to. I think there’s something very special about being a part of something bigger than yourself. I think football represents the greatest team sport that there is. It takes all 11 on offense, defense and special teams to be able to get things done. Usually, when you look at the best teams, those are connected teams that play for each other. They understand that it’s about being the best version of yourself within the framework of that team to ultimately help the team be the best it can be. I think we’ve got a lot of good people that are bought into that and they understand that the sum is greater than all the parts. Really, there’s a lot of different ways that we can say it, but it’s all about the team is kind of what it goes back to.”

(On where he heard the phrase from)

“When you go back and you do some research, I think it was a… we tried to see if we could put a patent on it, but there are some other things that… I want to say an Adidas/NBA deal had something like that. There’s been different things, there’s been different people that have said, ‘We not me’ in the past. But it goes back to us just being connected as a team and staying together and understanding that it’s about the sum is greater than all the parts.”

(On if the dynamic has changed as the weeks have gone on with him being more involved in the defense and special teams)

“It’s the same. I think what’s important for us is to make sure that we have a smooth gameday operation. I don’t think it necessarily has to be where I’m standing at the forefront, trying to show that you have to make all the decisions. I think it’s important to make sure that within our game day responsibilities that we’re all doing our job to the best of our ability and making sure that it’s about you talk about the ‘we not me’ well we feel that way as a coaching staff too. And when you’ve got great assistants that you can lean on especially when you’re involved in the offense the way that I am as far as calling the plays, that takes all of our coaching staff. But, in order to be on the same page and to make sure that our players understand what’s to come in the next series and what we’re getting. I think it’s important to take some time, go over that series, kind of preview what to come and then that’s where you do lean on (Defensive Coordinator) Wade (Phillips) and (Special Teams Coordinator) John (Fassel) to be able to make those decisions and lead the way that they’ve shown they’re capable of and then once you get done with that then you come back and you’re there if necessary. But, I think that’s part of feeling fortunate to have such a great coaching staff is that if you are in process of going through a drive and kind of previewing the upcoming next drive that you’re going to have offensively, if there’s decisions that need to be made on defense or calls things like that I think Wade’s shown throughout the course of his career why he’s fully capable, because he’s done things at a high level. I think it would be silly of me to try to not rely heavily on him as you’re getting adjusted to this role and getting comfortable with your rhythm I guess during the games. I think we’ve got a comfortable rhythm right now and really I think the things that you really want to look at in terms of game day management, I think we’ve done a lot of things pretty well, but certainly the timeouts all jokes aside – they stand out. I’ve got to do a better job. That’s my responsibility as a head coach is to understand the importance of saving those for the end of the half in those two-minute situation when they’re necessary. And then there are going to be some time when you look back at it and you say, ‘Okay even if it wasn’t in that area we felt like based on that situation that is was appropriate to use it.’ But again, we’re not going to make any excuses in that scenario that I have to get better at for our team as a head coach.”

(On if any other coaches or personnel around the league have reached out to him about their travel plans staying on the East Coast before the London trip)

“I think it’s because it’s so recent – haven’t had a chance to do that, but we certainly relied on a lot of different opinions whether it be people in-house or outside of it. But I think what it did offer was a unique opportunity and kind of a flipped role – I know Matt LaFleur our offensive coordinator they had a similar setup, where they were flying from the East Coast to the West Coast playing I want to say Seattle and Denver last year and they kind of took it the same way. We felt like it was good opportunity to connect and to really have another camp within the framework of the season and I think looking back on it, it went about a smoothly as it could’ve gone for our team and that’s not just exclusive to the results, because I think it’s certainly about trying to go win football games, but I think just the way that everything flowed and the way that our players felt – which is the most important thing. It was the right way to handle it and if we have something similar next year then I think we’ll do it the same.”

(On how much he it helps having a guy like C Austin Blythe who is able to step into a starting role with such ease)

“It does and I think it’s a credit to being able to have him ready to go in a situation where if John goes down, you never want that to happen. But I think for John to be able to handle the week that he does is a credit to his understanding and him being a pro, being smart about getting him to the games as fresh as possible, whether it be with some of the injuries or just looking at the overall career just to get him through a 16-game season. But, I think it’s been very helpful, he’s able to get through some of looks that we anticipate. Some of those looks came up and I think it helps Austin continue to gain a command on all the communication that’s involved from that center spot. I think it’s a big reason why he’s handled the playing time that he’s had this year pretty seamlessly and he’s done a great job filling in when John’s had to step out.”

(On how he goes about making sure that guys that aren’t starters, but are big contributors stay focused)

“I think for one, it’s communicating that to them, letting them know that they are very important parts of what we want to try to do and you look at the production and it’s shown up. Any time that we have those team meetings, whether it’s after a loss or a win, you want to make it a point of giving guys their praise and their credit when it’s due and I think you look at what (OLB) Matt (Longacre) and what (RB) Malcolm (Brown) and some of those other guys that might not be headline names have done. You know, Malcolm Brown has a handful of third-down conversation that keeps our defense off the field, keeps the clock moving in that game the other day. He’s just been so steady and done a great job delivering when his opportunities come up. Matt Longacre continues to show up week-in and week-out and I think it’s been a reason why he’s been so productive recently and then I think it’s helped (OLB) Robert (Quinn) be able to have a player of his caliber. I think we’ve got a lot of good contributors that understand their importance and their role and you try to just make a habit of pointing them out and letting them know by that communication that we talk about all the time. That lets them feel appreciated, because it is recognized and that credit is well deserved.”