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Transcript: Sean McVay and Matt LaFleur on dealing with the elements and preparing for the Eagles

New Orleans Saints v Los Angeles Rams Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Head Coach Sean McVay – December 8, 2017

(Opening Remarks)

“Good Friday practice to wrap up the week. (LB) Mark Barron was limited. He’ll be questionable for the game. (C) John (Sullivan) and (T) Andrew Whitworth were full. John Sullivan well, they were full today. (OLB) Connor (Barwin), (LB) Alec Olgetree, (WR) Robert Woods they were all limited today in practice. So, that was a positive. They’ll be questionable for the game. (RB) Malcolm Brown will be good to go, he was full. (S) Lamarcus Joyner was full and then (CB) Dominique Hatfield did not participate. He’ll be doubtful for the game.”

(On how he feels about Olgetree and Barron playing on Sunday)

“Feel good. We’re going to continue to evaluate these guys over the next 48 hours, but we are anticipating them ready to go and if not, then those other guys will be ready to step up.”

(On the familiarity he has facing the Eagles during his time in Washington and how much it factors into the game-plan)

“I don’t know if it gives you an advantage. They’re familiar, just from having played on a team that we went against them twice last year. I’ve got a lot of respect for them. I think it’s if you’re more familiar, you just have an appreciation for what a tough matchup this is going to be and what a great team they are coming in here. I think when you just look at it from a personnel standpoint, they’ve got great personnel on all three levels of the defense. They’ve got great guys up front on offense, great skill players. They’ve got a quarterback that’s playing as well as anybody in this league right now, so you can see why they’re a 10-2 football team. They mix it up really nicely. We’ve got a little bit different approach that we’re taking in Washington. But I think, really, the biggest difference is you make sure to go back and have a familiarity with what you’ve put on tape and kind of how they’ve defended you in the past. But every single week provides a new challenge and I know (Eagles Defensive Coordinator) Coach (Jim) Schwartz and their defense would say the same thing and same with (Eagles Offensive Coordinator) Coach (Frank) Reich and (Eagles Head) Coach (Doug) Peterson on offense.”

(On how he feels about this week of practice being limited to a walk-thru on Wednesday and the heavy winds on Thursday)

“Feel good. I think today was a good cap off. I think our players felt fresh. Certainly in an ideal world you’d like to be able to have no wind, but that is something that could happen as far as just having to deal with the elements. I thought (QB) Jared (Goff) threw the ball well, guys caught it pretty well. That’s really where you’re most affected is just being able to throw and catch. I didn’t think it affected our ability to get good reps in at practice. Guys came back today and the way that we operate on a normal Friday is exactly what we did. Had some good red zone work, then wrapped it up with some third down and just some overall move the ball first, second and third. It was a good way to wrap up the week. Now it’s really just about locking in, relaxing, getting good rest and taking care of yourself so that we can peak at 1:25 p.m. on Sunday.”

(On whether he has guys like LBs Bryce Hager and Cory Littleton preparing like they’re going to play a big role filling in for injured linebackers)

“Absolutely. I think, really, when you’re a part of the active roster, when you’re up on that gameday roster one of the 46 – you never know what could happen. Whether it’s a guy that goes down and that is available and you’ve got to be able to step in like Bryce was last week. Or if it’s something where a starter might be questionable going into the game, but you use that week of preparation to get a bunch of good work. And know that my mindset is, ‘I’m ready to go and play every single snap, if that’s the case.’ And I know Bryce and Cory have taken on that approach. They’ve gotten a lot of good work that they wouldn’t have gotten in a typical week with both of those guys, with Mark and Alec being available, so it’ll serve us well. You’d like to be able to have Alec, but if not we have a lot of confidence in those guys to step up in their absence.”

(On if he has the sense that Sunday’s game is a big game as opposed to other games, due to the matchup between division leading teams and the top two draft picks of 2016)

“I think it’s a great opportunity to play in a game like this. You treat it just like you treat every other game with that same approach and that same amount of preparation. But what it is, is I think it’s a credit to both teams to be in a game like this, where you’ve got two guys who were picked at the top of the draft and playing really well for their offense. Their job is to be able to move the football against the opposing defense. Then when you look at just the teams, both of them coming in and leading the division. The goal is to continue to stay in that spot and in order to do that you’ve got to win football games. I think our players know exactly what’s at stake. That’s what’s going to make it a fun atmosphere, where you do have a little bit more buzz and I think that’s something that our players embrace but it doesn’t make it where you feel any more pressure. It’s just an excited opportunity to go compete and be the best version of yourself for our team.”

(On if he sees this game as an opportunity to continue to improve his game management skills)

“One-hundred percent. I think every single week does. Really, that’s where you try to – whether it be situations that you’ve gone through as a team. Like some of the things we talked about last week that I’ve got to do a better job with, or just being mindful of what’s going on around the league. (Special Teams Coordinator John Fassel) ‘Bones’ does a great job kind of evaluating the situations around the league and educating ourselves to try to use those as ways of gaining information and talk through, how would we handle it? Because some of it are inexact approaches where you’re playing your percentages and it’s ultimately about during what we feel like is best to try to get that outcome that we want to win football games. We want to try to be intentional about every single thing that we do. Certainly, this week when you look at it – going into our 13th game, it’s a great opportunity for our players and our coaches to go against a great opponent and we’ll see if we can come out on top.”

(On what makes S Lamarcus Joyner such a great open field tackler)

“I think when you watch the way that he plays – first of all he’s a great athlete, but then he’s also fearless. He’s got a great feel for space. When he closes, he closes. Then, he’s got a great feel for kind of long stride, short stride. He gets a base, shuffles, shoots and he’s able to make contact when he comes downhill. You feel him. One of the things that I think is rare is when he’s coming down as a middle safety where you’re kind of the last line of defense. Usually, it’s kind of one of those wrap tackles where you get a guy down – he’s making clean contact and actually finishing guys and stopping their momentum. He’s a great football player and I think he brings an energy to our defense, really our football team. One of those guys that you love and can’t say enough positive things about Lamarcus. I think it’s just a credit to his overall athleticism, understanding a feel for angles and then the strength to be able to finish.”

(On how quickly he came to the conclusion that Joyner needed to be on the field all the time)

“Our job, first and foremost when we got here as a new staff, was to evaluate the current players that were here. One of the things that showed up consistently was Lamarcus kept showing up and he was really only playing in those nickel situations. (Defensive Coordinator) Wade (Phillips) did a great job kind of identifying that right away and saying, ‘This guys a great football player. We’ve got to find a way to get him on the field if we are in some of those base defenses.’ It shouldn’t be exclusive to just when we are in our sub-packages. We’ve got to get No. 20 on the field. As soon as you get out there and you get a chance to see Lamarcus live, move around, the way he competes, the way he communicates with his teammates, makes plays. It’s definitely been a great decision and I think it’s a credit to Wade and his staff for recognizing that. Certainly, he’s made them right on that decision to get him on the field as much as possible.”

Offensive Coordinator Matt LaFleur – December 8, 2017

(Opening Remarks)

“I just want to say that our thoughts and prayers are with everybody affected by these wildfires. It’s something else – really puts in perspective what we do and how lucky we are, so just wanted to put that out there for everybody that this has affected.”

(On if his house is okay)

“Yeah, I think so. I live right by the facility, so if something were to happen to my house, it’s probably going to happen here as well.”

(On how he feels about his offense and preparation going into this game based on the changes to the schedule this week)

“I think that’s a great question. We feel really good about it. We had a really good mental preparation dayon Wednesday, allowed us to kind of slow it down for our guys and really get detailed up with a plan. I thought we had a great Wednesday. Obviously, yesterday it was a little more challenging really in your passing game, but I thought our guys had the right mindset and I thought they handled the situation and what they can control to the best of their ability. Obviously today was a beautiful day out there and we got really good work today and that’s so important, especially when you’re talking about your red zone and the timing and rhythm within the red zone where things get a little bit tight down there.

(On WR Sammy Watkins role in the offense)

“I think there is always a transition period because first of all he’s got to the learn the offense and then it takes some time for the coaches to kind of learn the player as well and what is he best at. So, I think there’s always a transition period, but I think Sammy has done a great job coming to work every day with a great attitude and really all those guys they bust their butt on a daily basis. We feel like he is an integral part of our receiving corps and you can really feel him when he gets the ball in his hands – he’s a powerful guy. So, we definitely would like to get him going early and often, really in every game.”

(On where Eagles DT Fletcher Cox stacks up against the defensive tackles he has faced and how he compares to DT Aaron Donald)

“Yeah, I think they’re both two game wreckers. He’s an elite D-lineman in this league and somebody that you better take notice of on every play and have a plan for and I think we do have a plan for that. But, again, it’s about us going out and executing our plan and it will be a great challenge. You look at that – it’s not just Fletcher Cox, they roll about six, seven guys that can really come off the ball, I think they’ve got a great scheme and the one thing that you notice when you watch Philly play is they play extremely hard and they’re physical, so it will be a great challenge for us on Sunday.”

(On teams stacking the box against RB Todd Gurley II)

“Well, when you look at Philadelphia, they do play an eight-man front. They’re primarily a single-safety defense and that’s why I think that’s why they’ve been one of the tops in the league in run defense. I think they’re No. 1 in run defense, so that’s always a challenge and then when you look at the back end they’re going to contest you and play a lot of man coverage, so it is harder to get guys open versus man coverage. It really comes down to No. 1, we’ve got to block well up front, whether it’s in the run game or the pass game and when it is in the pass game, we’ve got to be great route runners and then our quarterback – the windows might be a little bit smaller. Obviously when you’re playing against a man coverage team, accuracy is at premium.

(On if there is anything he’s learned from QB Jared Goff that he will play well in the big games)

“Yeah, I think every week you see the same guy – in terms of his mindset, his mentality and really when you look at these games they’re all big games – it just so happens that this is an elite defense and so it is going to be a great challenge. But, I don’t think our mindset changes – every week is a championship game mindset, so they’re all equally important. Again, it’s just going to be a challenge because they are a great defense and then you look at the other side of the ball and they have a pretty good offense as well, so we’re going to have to play our best on Sunday.”