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TRANSCRIPT: LA Rams HC Sean McVay, OC Matt LaFleur talk Week 16, OT Andrew Whitworth’s value to team

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Here’s what the HC and OC had to say to the media today.

Los Angeles Rams HC Sean McVay and OC Matt LaFleur
Los Angeles Rams HC Sean McVay and OC Matt LaFleur
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Rams HC Sean McVay

(Opening Remarks)

“From an injury standpoint, the only non-participant today was (OLB) Matt Longacre and he’ll be out for the game.”

(On what the injury to Longacre means for the team)

“That means that (OLB) Carlos Thompson will have to step up and fill the void. (OLB) Samson (Ebukam) will get some more opportunities to rush off the edge. Getting (OLB) Connor (Barwin) back last week, we feel like we’ve got some good depth up front. Certainly it’s tough to replace a player like Matt with the way that he’s consistently contributed and been a really productive player on our front this year, but his back is bothering him a little bit, we’re going to have him out for this game and then Carlos will have to step up in his absence.”

(On if there is any word if Longacre’s injury is a serious one)

“We’re week-to-week, day-to-day with him right now, so that’s kind of just where we’re at with that.”

(On what T Andrew Whitworth means to this team)

“He’s been a great leader. I think anytime that you’re able to get a player of his caliber, but also the type of person that he is, he makes a huge impact on the locker room. I think what says as much as anything is that he comes in here his first year, acclimates himself to the locker room, getting familiar with his teammates and is voted captain and it was almost unanimous for it. He’s influencing and affecting his teammates in the right way, he’s had a huge impact on really me as a coach as well where you know that he’s a veteran player that you can go to for perspective and advice to kind of get a feel and a pulse for the locker room in making sure that it’s always the players and coaches are on the same page and kind of in alignment with what we’re trying to get accomplished. He’s been a great player on the field, I think he’s helped really in addition to (Offensive Line) Coach (Aaron) Kromer’s guidance from that offensive line unit as a whole. You look at the way that (T) Rob Havenstein has played and I know those two spend a lot of time talking techniques, different things like that. So, Andrew’s value – you can’t really put a value on how important he’s been to us and we feel really fortunate to have gotten him this offseason.”

(On if it means anything to him with winning the division by winning on Sunday or by the Seahawks losing)

“Yeah, I think the thing that our team has done a good job of is controlling what we can control and the only thing that that is, is trying to have a good performance against a tough team on Sunday and we know that if know if we come away with a win and handle our business then that means a lot of good things for us. We haven’t won a division since ‘03 in this organization and those are great opportunities and you never know when they come back around, especially with how difficult it is to win week-in and week-out in this league. Certainly we kind of know how it can get done, but we don’t really worry about that, we’re just more worried about trying to have a good performance against a Tennessee Titans team that has a lot to play for as well.”

(On what it will mean to him if he is able to win the division in his first year as a head coach)

“What it means is that you’re so happy to see the success. That’s what’s so important and that’s what you feel like, that’s what I’ve always loved so much about coaching, is trying to help people have success and try to help players become the best player that they can possibly be, develop and build relationships with your players, your coaches and then everybody work together. I think some of the things you’re most proud of are certainly you’re happy that we’ve been able to accomplish some wins, but when you look at how connected we are as a team, getting to know these players, this coaching staff and how we can kind of find a way to work through some adversity, respond the right way and continue to try to have some success. But, being a part of something bigger than yourself is what’s so special about his game and I know that I don’t just share that feeling, I think our players and our coaches feel that way and to be able to accomplish something together is very important and something that we’re excited about the opportunity to go compete to try to win the game and what that means.”

(On the passing on Dick Enberg)

“I have a lot of respect and understand the history of what a great career he had – having called games with the Rams and his past. It’s a big loss, but what a great career and a great job he did throughout, just being a great representation of sports and the way that he broadcasted.”

OC Matt LaFleur

(On QB Jared Goff being a first alternate for Pro Bowl and if he anticipated that at the start of the year)

“I don’t think that’s necessarily something you think about going in a season. The message since the day we got here – and it really starts with (Head Coach) Sean (McVay) is you’re focused on daily excellence and daily improvement. I know our job – we were just trying to get him a little bit better each and every day and I think he’s attacked that head on. Really, for him to have this kind of season I think it kind of speaks to who he is as a guy. Because a lot of people – I don’t know if a lot of people would be able to respond to that adversity that he faced in year one. Then, to come back and have a season like this – I think that’s pretty remarkable.”

(On what’s been the difference between a quarterback’s play in the regular season versus the postseason from his experience)

“You always want to have that one play at a time mindset. Really, what we try to do is instill into these players that every game is a championship game. They’re all important – take one play at a time. I think one of the traits that (Goff) has that I think is so remarkable is he’s a pretty even keel guy. The moment is never too big for him and I think that is a key characteristic of a franchise-type quarterback.”

(On how having K Greg Zuerlein on IR has changed the game planning)

“I don’t think the game planning has necessarily changed. We do the same preparation that we’re going to do any other week and we know we have a great challenge. I mean, this is a very good defense. They’re very tough against the run. You look at them on third down – they’re extremely difficult to go against. I think they’ve got 40 sacks on the season, so we know it’s going to be a big challenge. I think where it comes into play is when you start getting into that fringe area where, shoot, we felt pretty comfortable from Greg kicking from 40 yards out. It might change your mindset in those situations. Maybe some of your calls on third down – knowing that this might be four-down territory. But as far as our preparation, it’s going to stay consistent no matter who we’re playing – no matter who’s in or who’s out.”

(On if he kept anything from last year’s Super Bowl trip when he was with Atlanta)

“I got rid of everything after last year. (laughs) No, absolutely I’ve still got some of my stuff. That was a great experience. Unfortunately, we didn’t get the result that we wanted, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything in terms of just going through the journey. I think when you go through and accomplish things as a group, more than anything else, it’s like the comradery that comes along with it with all those people that are involved. It’s a special deal. We know what we have in front of us and for us to be able to do that, I think it would bring us closer as a team.”

(On if he foresaw the potential for the team being this good earlier in the year)

“We try to stay at optimistic as possible. I think it can get overwhelming if you ever start to look ahead. So you want to stay in the moment, you want to stay one game at a time and don’t worry about who you’re playing next week. Just take care of business on a daily basis and I mean that, because otherwise it gets a little daunting. You look at the schedule. This is the NFL. This is made for an 8-8 league. The parity is unbelievable and if you ever go into a game thinking that, ‘All right, we got this – that’s usually when you get knocked off.’ So, you better come to battle each and every week and it’s really that same mindset, same mentality, the warrior mindset, because everybody’s really good.”

(On what T Andrew Whitworth has meant to the offense)”

He’s meant a lot. Again, a veteran guy that’s been through it. I don’t know, what year is he in right now? Yeah, 13th season. You can’t put a value on that experience. It’s incredible what he’s been able to do and I think he’s elevated the play of everybody around him. That doesn’t only go for ‘Big Whit,’ I think (C) John Sullivan, (G) Rodger Saffold – another experienced guy. I think that’s really helped (G) Jamon (Brown) and (T) Rob Havenstein as well. Not to mention the job, (Offensive Line) Coach (Aaron) Kromer’s done with those guys. He’s as good as any line coach I’ve ever been around.”