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TRANSCRIPT: LA Rams HC Sean McVay discusses Week 17, postseason plans

Here’s what McBae had to say to the media today.

Los Angeles Rams HC Sean McVay talks to QB Jared Goff
Los Angeles Rams HC Sean McVay talks to QB Jared Goff
Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

Los Angeles Rams HC Sean McVay

(On if there are any updates on the injured players)

“Yeah, with (G Rodger) Saffold it was just an oblique with him, so he’s good to go and checked out okay. Then with (LB) Mark Barron, the Achilles kind of came out of nowhere, where he woke up, he was sore and then we went and worked him out before the game and it was just one of those deals where he wasn’t able to go. With him it’s going to be kind of day-to-day. I think when you just look at this week with our overall approach, haven’t finalized it yet, but I do think that when you talk to a lot of different people, you talk to our coaching staff, you talk to (Director/Sports Medicine and Performance) Reggie (Scott) and (Head of Strength and Conditioning) Ted (Rath) who we’ve relied on all year – being locked into that third or fourth seed, every single game is important, but I think it will provide an opportunity for us to potentially get some guys healthier, rest them, give some other guys a chance to step up. How that affects the guys that are healthy that we want to be smart with is going to be determined as the week progresses. But, it is one of those deals where I think you might see us rest some guys and use this week where, you don’t ever take anything for granted, but knowing that you do have a home playoff game regardless of how things play out, this might provide an opportunity for us to get some guys healthy unless it’s one of those games where you had to go play to win the division this week. So, that’s a luxury that we want to try to take advantage of and everything that we did is what we think is best for our football team and while we do want to give ourselves a chance to compete to go win this football game against a tough 49ers team that’s rolling, we also know that we have a chance to play for a championship and get into the playoffs and that’s something that we’re also very mindful of as well.”

(On if T Andrew Whitworth playing will affect the decision to start QB Jared Goff or RB Todd Gurley II)

“Yeah, that would be the approach, potentially that we would take. That’s something that we definitely discussed. The thing that is unique about it though, different than the preseason – you still have 53 guys on your active roster – how do you get to those 46? Now, fortunately for us we are fairly healthy, but how we determine as far as getting to that 46 and then if you do go with a Whitworth and a (C John) Sullivan then how does that affect Jared or Todd? Those things are all definitely connected and those will be things that we’re going to continue to discuss as the week progresses, but the most important thing is for those guys that are banged up right now – the (LB) Alec Ogletree’s, Mark Barron’s, that’s where you feel pretty good about maybe saying, ‘Alright, these are guys that are definite candidates to rest them and get them as healthy as possible for that first playoff game.”

(On if there is any update on OLB Matt Longacre)

“Matt’s a guy that – he is so tough, very similar to (K) Greg (Zuerlein) where he’s fighting through a back injury and unfortunately, Matt’s going to be a guy that we are going to end up placing on IR (injured reserve) and he’s going to have to have surgery on that back as well. Can’t say enough about just the contributions that Matt has made for us. You look at the production, you look at the way that he competes down-in and down-out, both from a run-game standpoint and just what he’s been able to provide as a rusher and his toughness, just what he’s worked through. You watch the way that he was trying to gut that out at the end, the way he’s walking around the locker room and he wants to do everything in his power to continue to compete. It’s almost one of those deals where you have to make the decision for him, but he’s such a tough competitor and unfortunate that we’re not going to have him because of what he’s meant for our team.”

(On if anything jumped out to him about K Sam Ficken’s confidence)

“Yeah, I think there were some conditions where you’re talking about a couple inches one way or the other and that field goal is going to be good. Those things do happen in the NFL, but I think what we talked about right after the game is really the response, which was encouraging. I think when you have such a small sample size, there was a reason why we signed him – because he had a great workout, his résumé’ kind of going back to what he’s done in college is something that we felt good about and we’re going to continue to give him an opportunity and we believe in Sam. Like we said, we loved the way that he responded and I think this week will provide a great chance for him to continue to do some things for our team and we’re going to move forward with confidence with him.”

(On if there is little difference between the No. 3 seed and the No. 4 seed in his mind)

“I think really what we’ve discussed is when you really take into consideration that there’s four potential teams that we can play. All of them are very, very good football teams and however it plays out you’re going to be on the road the following week. When you look at getting guys healthy, knowing that you are going to be able to play a home playoff game and then you think about kind of the risk-reward, we feel like that’s probably going to be the best decision, is to rest some of those guys for our team. Make no mistake about it, the guys that we are going to go forward with, we’re going to do everything in our power to compete to go win a football game. But everything we do, like we’ve said, is intentional. I think that’s served us well up to this point. You don’t take anything away for what this game means to us this coming week, but when you say, knowing that you do have the opportunity to play that home playoff game the following week and is it a three (seed), is it a four (seed)? How does that really alter and affect compared to some of thigs that could potentially occur, that’s more than likely the approach that we’re going to take.”

(On what his initial impressions are of 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo)

“Yeah, really impressed. We’ve had a chance to crossover, even just looking at when you’re getting ready for the Titans last week, what he was able to do. There’s a lot of different things schematically that I have a whole lot of respect for (49ers Head Coach) Kyle (Shanahan) and the way that he puts his quarterbacks in good situations, but you talk about a natural thrower of the football, keeping his eyes downfield, he’s able to create off-schedule. He’s got a really twitchy release where he can kind of speed it up at the top and change his arm angle – you look at the way that he’s able to get the screens off, you look at the way even just in that Jacksonville game where he’s got some rush and keeps his eyes down the field and delivers some throws. I’ve been extremely impressed. You look at the movement game that they use where you’re kind of changing the launch point and he’s a very athletic quarterback that I think you see demonstrated since he’s really been playing for them. I think Kyle’s done such a great job over the course of his career of putting quarterbacks in good spots. I think that’s why you see guys have such good production, but the talent that this guy has can‘t be denied I think he’s raising the level of play with his teammates around him, guys believe in him, they have a lot of confidence and I think that’s displayed by their results, but also the way you see things show up on the tape that this is a very good offense.”

(On if there are any parallels that he can see between what the Rams have gone through this season and what the 49ers have gone through the last few weeks)

“I think when you just look at what they’ve been able to do – they’ve had had some injuries and some different things where you find out a lot about people when you go through some adversity and their ability to respond. Something that we’re proud of is the mental toughness that we feel like our team has displayed when we have faced a little bit of adversity, and I certainly think that (49ers Head Coach) Kyle (Shanahan) probably feels the same. Didn’t start out the way that you’d like. They’re playing a lot of games that one play here or there – you look at when we played them earlier in the year – a couple plays make the difference in winning and losing that. They were like that for a handful of weeks that unfortunately the ball just didn’t really bounce their way. But to see them play the way that they are of late where you’re looking at winning as many games as they have and in the fashion – very impressive. I think it says a lot about their team. They’ve got a lot of momentum right now and they’re playing as well as anybody.”

(On if he will approach this game like a preseason game in terms of having the starters play a couple of drives in the beginning of the game)

“Because of the numbers – there’s a couple guys that you’d probably say you won’t play at all. But just because you’ve got to have special teams, you’ve got to be able to get through the game with 46, there’s always going to be a strategic approach. So guys – if you’re up, they’re going to anticipate being ready to play and do some different things, but they’ll be clearly communicated with. I think it’s important in this league to make sure that they have the mindset and mentality that they’re getting ready to play a game and then however we decide to substitute and get guys out whenever we feel necessary, is something that we’ll do. I think the players have done such a great job of knowing exactly what our approach and what our preparation and what our plan going into games is. We talk about that communication and we’ll definitely make sure that our players are very clear on what that approach is and how that will affect them individually, but most importantly the team.”

(On if he is concerned at all with the players losing their rhythm by not playing them as much in this final game)

“That’s a good question. It’s something that you always want to be mindful of. I think when you just look at – for our team specifically, the bye probably provides the closest thing and I love the way that our team came off the bye. I thought it was probably, just when you talk about the timing and rhythm from an offensive standpoint, I thought it was one of our more productive games where we’re hitting deep balls, we’re able to run the football, have a nice little bit of balance, guys are making plays. I think we’ve got the right types of guys that can handle that the right way and understand how we need to practice and what we need to do in the meantime if it is a situation where they’re not going to play this coming week. But it is something that you think about, but really at the end of the day, you make the decision – do you feel like that’s what’s best for our football team? If one of those guys were to get hurt in a game that you already know that you’re already locked into that third or fourth seed, is that something that you’re comfortable with? Because you can’t go out there afraid to get hurt when you look at what a physical game this is. I think any time that you try to temper yourself, you almost leave yourself more susceptible to being injured. So we’ve got to do a good job of being smart with those decisions and they’re always going to be about what we think is best. Sometimes, there’s a lot of different ways you can approach it, but what we do is we use all the resources in our building to make decisions that we think are best. That’s included when you discuss it with the players as well.”

(On what making the playoffs means to him)

“I think it’s a great testament to our players and to our coaching staff, to give yourself a chance to go compete for a championship. To start out the year, the first way that you know you can ensure yourself a home playoff spot and a chance to compete for a world championship, is by winning your division. We have a lot of respect for the other three teams in our division and the success that they’ve had. But I think our players and our coaches have done a great job of just that one game at a time mindset and mentality. Then you really look at these last two weeks when we had to have some tough road wins against great opponents that are competing to try to stay alive and determined as well. It’s really given us an opportunity to see a lot good things from different people on our team. You watch the way that they’ve been able to kind of rise to the challenge and I think it’s been a great testament to our team. Especially when you look at it the other day some of the adversity that we faced, whether it be them scoring a defensive touchdown, missing a fake punt, missing an extra point, a field goal – there were a lot of different things that occurred that mentally tough teams don’t find a way to respond from that. I think when you look at how good of a team the Tennessee Titans are for us to be able to come away with a tough road win in spite of some of those things that occurred, says a lot about the character of our football team. We’re excited about that, but we know that there’s a long way to go. This week will entail trying to take steps to make sure that we put ourselves in a position to have a good performance against the 49ers. But also, you do have a vision on making sure that we’re as ready as possible for that Wild Card playoff game.”

(On how RB Todd Gurley’s performance looked when he watched it on film)

“I checked the film, it looked pretty good on the film too. (laughs). He’s a special back. He’s been playing as best these last couple weeks. He’s got such a great energy. And an ability to contribute in an variety of ways. When you specifically look at the screen I thought that was such a big play, because that’s after they take the lead on the defensive touchdown. We come back, we have a negative one-yard run on the first play of the drive and you’re thinking, ‘Man this is really important for us to respond.’ And then (QB) Jared (Goff) does a nice job kind of drifting away on the screen and Todd sets it up perfectly. (C) John Sullivan gets two people at the point of attack. Then you just look at the speed for a player of his size and ability to finish. You look at (Titans CB) Adoree Jackson – this is a track star chasing him. So, he’s a special player. Then you just look at what he’s done in the screen game, he’s making catches behind him – 150 plus receiving yards, over 100 (yards) against the third best rushing defense in the league, that’s both yards per carry and yards per game. He was as advertised. It felt like it was a big time performance and then the tape definitely showed the same thing. He’s been great these last couple weeks, what he’s meant to our football team and to our offense specifically with that production. Being your best when your best is required, we said it after the game and that’s exactly what Todd’s been”