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TRANSCRIPT: LA Rams HC Sean McVay, QB Jared Goff talk Pro Bowl and end-of-year challenges

Here’s what the two had to say after learning of the 2018 Pro Bowl rosters.

Los Angeles Rams Head Coach Sean McVay
Los Angeles Rams Head Coach Sean McVay
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Rams HC Sean McVay

(Opening Remarks)

“From an injury standpoint, the guys that were the typical rest were (T Andrew) Whitworth, (C John) Sullivan, (LB Mark) Barron and (OLB Connor) Barwin. Then did not participate – (OLB) Matt Longacre with his back and (K) Greg Zuerlein with his back as well.”

(On what it means to have five of his players named to the Pro Bowl)

“I think that’s a real credit to our team to be able to have those five guys representing our team and I think what’s so unique about those guys is the first thing when you talk to them is they talk about being a part of the unit and that’s a real representation of what type of character we have on this football team. But, specifically to have those guys represented on the special teams – I think when you look at (KR/PR) Pharoh Cooper and some of the things that he’s been able to do, very happy for Pharoh, he has done such a great job this year. Then Greg and (P) Johnny (Hekker) have been consistent produces and performers for us all year. But, it’s all started with the leadership of (Special Teams Coordinator) John Fassel and he’s as good as there is and I think what he’s done with our special teams unit, the guidance, the leadership that he provides, you feel fortunate to have a guy like that on your staff and you just feel how authentic and genuine he is too. He gets the most out of these guys and when you’ve got talented players like that, those are the results, so we’re very pleased for those guys.”

(On the character of his team and especially WR Tavon Austin and OLB Robert Quinn who recently furnished a home for victims of the recent fires)

“Absolutely. That type of football character and really just that kind of selflessness approach that those two demonstrated is really something special and something that we don’t take for granted. We have such a great appreciation for Robert and Tavon, but for them to kind of go out of their way to do something like that – it continues to be a great representation of the type of players that we want in our locker room and I think that’s great that those guys did that and we’re very fortunate to have those guys be a part of our organization.”

(On what he has seen from DT Aaron Donald during his tenure here that is something you can’t see on film)

“I think how serious he is about football, his approach, his preparation. I’ve told this story before, Aaron is all about the right kind of stuff, just the way that he works day-in and day-out he continues to represent and kind of personify what it looks like to do things right consistently and then you see that practice preparation show up in the game reality with the way that he’s able to produce. The type of player that he is and I’ve said this before – earlier in the year, I can’t remember which week it was now, they all kind of run together, but it’s aThursday night late once you kind of have finished up most of the red zone prep just based on the way that our weekly rhythm flows and it was before we went to Jacksonville now I can remember and there was a light on in the defensive line room, probably about 10 o’clock at night and he’s in there studying sets of the guards in passing situations. That’s where I think you see the special ability match up with the special appreciation for the preparation and all those things. His production kind of speaks for itself this year and he’s a special player and sure glad that he’s on our team.”

(On if he has seen a defensive player as dominant as Donald since he has been in the NFL)

“I think that for the teams that I’ve been a part of, I’ve never seen anything like what Aaron’s done and Aaron has been a big part of the unit’s success and that’s what it always goes back to. When you talk to (Rams Defensive Coordinator) Wade (Phillips), you talk to him about some of those great players he’s been around and he says (Hall of Fame DEs) Reggie White, Bruce Smith they were pretty good – (Texans DE) J.J. Watt and (Broncos OLB) Von Miller. But, I think with what Aaron’s done specifically this year around this team, he’s made a huge impact and he also influences and affects his teammates the right way just by the way he goes about his business, so that’s as much of a part of it as anything else and he’s done a great job this year.”

(On if QB Jared Goff is ahead of where he expected him to be at this point)

“That’s a good question. I think when you look at it, it’s hard to say, ‘What is the level that you’re hoping him to be at?’ I think you want to see your quarterback take great command, great leadership, kind of have a total understanding and be that extension of the coaching staff and I think that’s definitely what he’s become. I’ve always been impressed with Jared, even before I met him just with the physical abilities he had in terms of his ability to make all the throws, he doesn’t necessarily have to have a clean platform to throw from. I thought the New Orleans game his rookie year was a great demonstration of the abilities that he had and then he demonstrated the toughness to be able to keep his eyes down the field and take a hit. What you don’t know is, how do they receive some of the information? How do they translate that? How do you interact with your teammates? And I couldn’t be more impressed with just the way that Jared consistently carries himself throughout the week and the way that he handles the games, because I think you have a tendency, especially when there’s so much pressure on that position to kind of ride the wave and inevitably there is going to be some adversity that you face. He’s just so even-keeled and I think that demeanor rubs off on his teammates. I know for me as a coach, it sure makes you feel very confident in your quarterback and he’s unfazed and I think that’s going to continue to serve him really well. What I would say is you’re very pleased and happy with the progress that he’s made, but I think you’re also confident that he can continue to improve and get better and better. With all the good things that he’s done, I think that’s a credit to both him and his teammates, the coaches, but Jared we feel very good about our future at that position with him leading the way.”

(On playing a desperate team in the Titans that are fighting for a playoff spot)

“I think you have a lot of respect for the Tennessee Titans. They’ve done a lot of good things on tape both on offense, defense and on special teams. So, We have a lot of respect for their coaching staff, their players. They’ve got a lot to play for, but so do we. I think to be able to have two teams in a position where you’re playing relevant football late into December – it’s a credit to both teams. We know what’s at stake for us. We don’t shy away from the opportunity to go in a tough atmosphere – try to come away with our 11th win and we know that if we’re able to accomplish that – that means a division championship as well, so it’s a great opportunity. I thought the guys did a great job handling an important game last week the right way. Now, the challenge is – can we regather ourselves, have that same focus and concentration that’s going to be needed to try to come away with the goal, and that’s coming away with a win against a very tough Tennessee Titans team that’s very well-rounded. So, it’s going to be a great challenge, but we both have a lot to play for.”

(On if he was surprised that the offensive line didn’t get any Pro Bowl selections)

“Yeah. I think so. But we talk about it with the team always that those guys success, specifically when you talk about the running back and the quarterback – you don’t have any of that success without a great offensive line. I think when you look at the consistency that our five guys up front have played with, the leadership with (Offensive Line) Coach (Aaron) Kromer. Then you bring in an (T) Andrew Whitworth, you look at (G) Rodger Saffold who has had an unbelievable year. I think the production and some of the things he’s been able to do both in the run game and in protection. He’s been as consistent as anybody on the inside of the line across the league. (C) John Sullivan’s leadership, his command of kind of what we’re trying to get done. And then watching (G) Jamon (Brown) and (T) Rob (Havenstein) continue to mature has been something that’s fun. Not to mention when (C) Austin Blythe has had to step in – what a nice job he’s done. So, that offensive line as a whole has done such a great job. They’ve kept themselves together. I think we’re the only line that’s been able to have all five starters start every single game so far – which is a credit to them and really our training staff for keeping guys intact. But, Todd and Jared would tell you that they know – they certainly appreciate those guys up front. I think that if you ever ask me things like that, I’m going to be bias towards our guys because of how highly I think of them. But, they’ve done a great job and we talk about those who know, know. They know how much they are appreciated in this building and what they mean to our football team – which is what it’s all about.”

(On the challenges of going against a Titans Defensive Coordinator Dick LeBeau coached defense)

“I think you see guys that when you just specifically look at – he does a great job mixing it up. They’ve got 12 guys with a sack on this defense. They’ve got 40 sacks, they’re fifth in the league in that. (Titans S Kevin) Byard has got six picks, so opportunistic. They’ve got a bunch of different guys that can win one-on-ones rushing upfront and then they bring guys in the secondary. They’re bringing safety pressures, they’re bringing nickel pressures, so I think he mixes it up. He’s got an aggressive approach, but it’s a smart approach. That’s why he’s been as successful as he has for so long. When you’ve got a great scheme, great leadership with Coach LeBeau and then the players to kind of match it – you see why they’re top three in the league in rush defense and yards per carry as well. So, you could go on and on – even the explosives, they’re up there. I want to say that they’ve given the second least explosives in the league. Those are things that are important for us offensively and we know it’s going to be a great challenge for us.”

(On his team not shying away from the goal of winning the division)

Yeah. I think we’ve got guys that are very confident in their ability to try to accomplish our goal by respecting our process and that’s a one day at a time mindset and mentality. But when you look at it, we don’t shy away from what you can accomplish by whatever that next week involves. For us, we haven’t gotten into the playoffs, so we don’t talk about that. We know that if we’re able to win this game, then winning the division then means that. But for us right now, our soul focus and concentration is on finding a way to try to go get a win against a tough opponent who’s got a lot to play for as well. They’re well led by (Titans Head) Coach (Mike) Mularkey. It’s going to be a great challenge, but we don’t shy away from what the implications are if we’re able to obtain the result and then we kind of worry about what’s after that. I think that’s served us well and the players have done a great job with that.”

QB Jared Goff

(On being an alternate in the Pro Bowl and what that means to him given where he was last year)

“It’s a huge honor and something that I was very honored to see last night, but I don’t think anything of it’s possible….it’s very much so a team award. You look around the league at the top amount of guys teams have, and most amount of teams that have all the guys in the Pro Bowl are better teams. Most of the time it is a reflection of the team and that’s no different with my selection there.”

(On how much thought he gave to the possibility of making it to the Pro Bowl and if it was a goal of his)

“No. It wasn’t ever a thought, really. I just wanted to try and get better every day and focus on every week, trying to improve and let everything fall where it may at the end of year. It’s something I’m very honored by, but not necessarily something I’m going to hang my hat on. There’s a lot bigger things I want to do as a team and personally.”

(On what areas he’s gotten better at the most)

“Just gotten more comfortable. Things start to slow down a little bit more as you go through a season and into your second year. It happens at every level in high school and college and now in the pros. The first season is learning a lot and then the second season starts to settle down and it continues to go that way as time goes on.”

(On how the team’s goals have adjusted now that the team has potential to go into the postseason)

“I don’t know if they have. I think our goals, obviously weekly is to win the game. But ultimately at the beginning of the year the goal is to win the division and we put ourselves in a good spot to do that with these last two games. Starts with Tennessee this week and going there and hopefully coming out of there with a ‘W.’ I don’t think our goals have changed much since the beginning of the season. We do focus weekly like he says and like I said a second ago – I don’t think it’s changed much.”

(On if the topic of clinching the NFC West is something that they discuss)

“It is there for us to take this week and that is definitely something we know, but I don’t think it changes our approach or preparation or anything that goes about the week any differently. Going to the game and knowing that if we do win, the division is clinched. But knowing that that’s just the beginning of our journey and hopefully a lot more football after that.”

(On if he’s glad he does not have to face DT Aaron Donald during games)

“Yeah, very. I see him in practice every day and I go, ‘Man, I would not want that on the other side of the ball.’ Sometimes we’re sitting on the sidelines, I’ll watch the game from the scoreboard and sometimes I’ll zero in on him – it’s just unbelievable. Some of the stuff he does. He’s truly unblockable. I haven’t see a team block him yet. Teams will double-team him, he’ll split the double-teams and the best thing about it is if you double team him – it’s (OLB) Robert Quinn or (OLB) Connor Barwin or (DT) ‘Brock’ (Michael Brockers) or any of those guys can get through against one guy. So, it’s a tough guy to play against for sure. I’m glad he’s on our team.”

(On if there’s anything he wants to do before the end of the season like a play combination, a drive or something that he hasn’t been able to execute at this point)

”No. I want to go in and win the last two and that starts this week. I don’t think there’s any certain situation I’d like to be in. I’d like to be up a lot in both games, but you never know what happens and situations when they come up, and I’m sure the next two games that we’ll be able to hit. But, no I want to win this one first and move on.”

(On if he can make a case for RB Todd Gurley being MVP)

“I’ll leave that up to you guys. I sure could. I know how important he is to us and how important he is to everything we do daily. He’s a guy that we definitely try to get the ball in his hands as much as we can, because you guys see what happens. But, no I’ll let you guys do that and everyone else around the league.”

(On if the Seahawks game did anything to the team’s overall confidence)

“Yeah, I think that we expected to go up there and win. I don’t know if we expected to do that, but we expected to win. Sure winning in that fashion does definitely make us feel good about the day. But, I don’t think it changes anything about our team and the way we felt going into that game. We felt confident. We felt confident in ourselves and we felt like we could go up there and win and we did by a good margin, but I don’t think that changes our mentality at all.”

(On if weather conditions in Tennessee will change his preparation)

“No. We’ll be aware it. We’ve played in a few of those this year and came away with ‘W’’s and played pretty well offensively. Definitely something to be aware of and something to be cautious of, but no I don’t think it’ll change anything.”

(On playing a team looking to keep their playoff dreams alive and any problems the Titans defense presents)

“Just by seeing up to this point in the week, they just do a lot of different stuff. They show a lot of different things and are very multiple defensively. A coach like (Titans Head Coach) Dick LeBeau who’s been in the league for so long, been around so much football and is a tough guy to go against. No matter what week it is. They will be hungry and so will we.”

(On what he thinks he’s brought to the team this year)

“That might be a better question for other people. But I just try to come in every day and work as hard as I can. Be the best leader that I can be. Continue to try to lead the offense and move the ball around. Get the ball into other people’s hands, let them run and kind of sit back and watch. Let everyone do their thing. I just felt like that’s what I’ve tried to bring.”

(On how quickly he realized this season would be a better season for him personally)

“I don’t know. Like I said, I think this season’s gone well and we’re happy with where we are. But I don’t know what week or what day it felt like it clicked. We just kind of got better through the offseason and came to training camp feeling pretty good and went through the preseason and played pretty well offensively. Came into the season, that first game might be an indicator. We came out and lit it up pretty good offensively. I said, ‘Okay, we can do this.’ I don’t know if there’s an exact week.”

(On if it’s easier said than done to take the season one game at a time as Head Coach Sean McVay preaches because the NFC West division title is at stake and the franchise hasn’t won it since 2003)

“It can be, but I don’t think it will be with the guys we have. Maybe some other teams may have issues with that, but the guys we have in this room and in this building don’t let any of that stuff affect them. Move week-to-week as we’re supposed to and as Sean (McVay) preaches.”

(On if he’s thought about going against a Titans team that essentially traded him in the 2016 NFL Draft)

“No, I haven’t thought about that. That’s a good point though.”

(On what he thinks about it)