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Transcript: Sean McVay on His Staff, Current Player Evaluation, and Free Agency/Draft Plans

How can you not love this guy?

Los Angeles Rams Introduce Sean McVay - News Conference Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images

(Opening remarks)

“Alright, hopefully that worked out for you guys and got a chance to get to know a lot of our assistant coaches. A group that we’re really excited about. I think you can feel their energy, their enthusiasm, a lot of the same things we’re looking for and the kind of the environment and atmosphere that we want to be able to create and set that culture. It’s going to start with us and that coaching staff. Looking forward to that.”

(On why he thinks the coaching staff was able to come together so fast and coaches mentioning fundamentals and teaching)

“Yeah, that’s exactly what we’re looking for. I think it came together so quickly because, (I was) very fortunate to have the right people in place. One of the things that’s tricky about the NFL is, are guys going to be available with their contract situations and things like that. You look at a (defensive coordinator) Coach (Wade) Phillips, to get a guy of his caliber, where his contract was running up, we feel very fortunate about that. It kind of worked out where timing ended up being, really, in our favor. We were able to put together a great group of guys on offense and defense. Then, being able to come here and keep the continuity with (special teams coordinator) Coach (John) Fassel – he actually just hired an assistant today that we’ll release, we’re very excited about him. And that represents the final product of our coaching staff. It’s exactly what we’re looking for, those teachers like you mentioned.”

(On RB Todd Gurley talking to him about retaining running backs coach Skip Peete)

“It was one of those situations when you go into these interviews where you have your projected staff in place. Skip was a guy that I heard a lot of really good things about, I had never had the chance to work with him before, but he had worked with a couple of people that I’ve worked with that I hold their opinion in high regard. He was a guy I was interested to sit down with and wanted to really get a chance to talk some football, learn what he’s about. And that morning, before I was getting ready to go sit down with him, I got a call from a North Carolina area code, didn’t know what it was. I got a text saying, ‘This is Todd,’ which, I had spoken to after I got hired. In the meantime, (General Manager) Les (Snead) is beeping in, I’m thinking, ‘Oh no, I hope this isn’t the first bad call I’m getting as a head coach.’ It was one of those deals where I got a chance to talk to Todd and he kind of explained some of the reasons why he felt so strongly about Coach Peete. When you’ve got a key player like that, I think you want to be able to try to demonstrate that you’re going to listen to your players, their opinion matters. And somebody of his caliber and the type of guy that he is, very important to us. And that definitely played a factor in why we were able to retain Coach Peete. He also earned the opportunity because of what he has done as a great coach, as well.”

(On what Gurley said about why he felt so strongly about Skip Peete)

“He felt like, from a technique, fundamentals, understanding the position, allowing him to see the big picture, how does he fit with regards to protections. I know, last year, he was used a lot more in protections on some of those third-down situations where you’re responsible for blitz pickups and things of that nature. And I think that’s what allowed him to, kind of, expand his game and continue to try to be that every down back that I know he’s striving to be. It was just a lot of the things you’re looking for with your coaching staff and what they’re trying to represent. I feel like Todd saw a lot of those things and that was why he wanted to get a chance to continue to work with him.”

(On if getting each player better matters more than what defensive scheme they are playing)

“Absolutely. When you really talk about what makes a great coach, I think, ultimately, everybody has different levels of ability, and it’s our job to help them reach that highest potential. And that’s why Coach Phillips is a great coach, he’s got that perspective. I think you heard us talk about it already, where we want to fit our schemes to our player’s strengths. That’s why getting a chance to sit in there today with our defensive staff as they’re watching all the tape from last year – I’ve had a chance to do that on both offense and defense so far. That’s why you can’t wait for the offseason program to get going so you can evaluate these guys on the grass, get a chance to see how they learn, how they retain information in the meeting room. That’s going to be a big part of it. But certainly, tailoring your schemes to the players’ strengths, helping them reach that highest potential, that’s the number one priority. Then, figuring out those schemes is more game plan specific – how do we attack certain coverages on offense, how does the defense defend certain looks and personnel groupings that an offense might present. Those are things, but the first priority is let’s help develop our players with the fundamentals, the techniques that we’ll emphasize throughout the course of the offseason and continuing throughout the regular season. And that’s a big priority for us, absolutely.”

(On if he moves to the draft and free agency after he gets done with current player evaluations)

“It’s a great question. (I’m) sitting there with Les yesterday and those are some things that we really discussed at great length. The first priority is, let’s get a chance to really evaluate our own – who do we have in the building, are these players guys that we feel like we can win a division with, compete for a conference championship and then, ultimately, compete for a Lombardi (Trophy). That’s our first priority. And then, really, you want to have a big-picture perspective on free agency and the draft. You try to kind of go in sequential order with how those things occur. But it is important to understand, where are the free agents, how does that affect our needs or, can we address those needs in free agency or the draft. It’s kind of a combination, but the first priority is going to be to evaluate our own. And then you have to take into account some of the cap casualties, things that like, that will occur. It’s an ongoing process, but certainly right now, the number one priority is evaluating the players that we have in the building right now.”

(On some of the qualities that made him think QB Coach Greg Olson was the right man for the job)

“I got a chance to work with Coach Olson my first year in Tampa. He’s a great communicator. I really had a lot of respect for him, because when I finished playing at Miami (Ohio), he was one of the coaches who kind of took me under his wing, helped kind of guide me, and really always appreciated and watching him from afar how he communicated with his guys. He was always taking times during those periods that might not have been focused on offense, but if it’s special teams, defensive periods, he was always making sure those guys were working. He’s a guy that we’ve kept in touch throughout the course of our coaching careers. He was a guy, when he became available, wanted to get him to be a part of this staff. You look at with (Offensive Coordinator) Coach (Matt) LaFleur that we’re going to be able to have as our offensive coordinator. He’s a guy that we were able to develop a really close relationship with in Washington. Detail oriented, good communicator, been around some of the most productive offenses over the last couple of years. You look at what Atlanta was able to do. A lot of the things that we do philosophically will be very similar. Because, being able to work under (49ers Head Coach) Kyle (Shanahan) for a couple of years in Washington definitely shaped some of my core beliefs, and what we want to do offensively here. Being able to have a guy that’s been in that system, looking at the production they had was very enticing to try to get him to be a part of this. I think you really look at it, it’s very important for us to all be on the same page.”

“That’s why when you get Matt here Monday, we’ll all be on the same rhythm as far as what we’re communicating to (QB) Jared (Goff), what the expectations are. I certainly don’t know, because I’ve never experienced it, but you talk to people that have been in the role that I’m getting ready to take on, and you know you want to be involved in the offense, but there’s going to be times where you’re going to be pulled in different directions. That’s why it’s very important to have Matt and Greg in place where if you’re not able to be a part of the offensive meetings, or whatever is going on, you trust that their leadership will continue to have that same messaging, so that our quarterbacks know exactly what the expectations are. I don’t think you can have enough good coaches in the building. We’re going to create an environment where it’s about all of us working together. I mentioned this the other day, Coach Phillips said to his defensive staff, ‘You guys aren’t working for me, you’re working with me,’ and I love that. That’s what we’re trying to do. We’re all working together with each other, figuring out how to help those players, and especially Jared is going to be a big part of what we’re trying to do moving forward.”

(On why he thinks RB Todd Gurley had such a subpar season)

“I think each play’s its own entity, especially in the run game. When you really look at it, it takes all 11. It takes running against the right looks. It takes the tight end setting the edge. I think each play, you kind of look at and you say, ‘Ok, could Todd have maybe read it out better, or could a guy have maybe got a combination block up to the second level better. Each play has its own reason for why it might not have worked out. But what you do see in Todd, is a special player. He’s got great gifts as far as just a talented runner with natural instincts, ability when he gets to the second level to make people miss kind of seamlessly. We’re looking to get him to be that player consistently week in and week out. From what I’ve seen so far, really excited about the opportunity to work with him. We feel confident that he’ll get going and be special back for a long time in this league.”

(On if he has given much thought to Greg Robinson and where he fits in)

“Yeah, you know that’s something that we’re constantly evaluating right now. And Greg is a big part of that evaluation process. Obviously, when you look at some of the things he’s able to do, you see the athleticism. In space, when he’s pulling around and using some of those parameter schemes that they did offensively last year. He’s a guy that we’re excited to get around. That’s why you’re frustrated that you have to wait so long to get these guys in the building, see them on the grass, how you’re going to evaluate their ability to kind of retain some of the things we’ll ask them to do, what Coach Kromer will do, technique, fundamental-wise, which is imperative for that group up front. And Greg is a guy that we’re constantly evaluating and he’s a big part of what we’re going to try to do moving forward right now.

(On his thoughts on competing directly with 49ers Head Coach Kyle Shanahan)

“I told him, I said, ‘I can’t tell you how happy I am for you, but I can’t believe I’ve got to see you twice a year now.’ He’s a great coach. You look at what they were able to do offensively last year, I think it’ll be hard-pressed to find a team that led the league in scoring, most touchdowns and fewest turnovers it’s incredible. So, I got a chance to see them play up front in the NFC Championship game and I was so impressed with just their overall operation, with how efficient they were, how quick they got in and out of the huddle. Kyle is a guy who’s had a tremendous influence on some of the things I believe in offensively. He’s a great coach and wish him nothing but the best for 14 games, except for those two next year.”

(On the coaching landscape in the NFC West)

“I think when you look at what (Seahawks Head) Coach (Pete) Carroll and (Cardinals Head) Coach Arians have accomplished throughout the course of their careers, their résumés speak for itself. There’s great coaches around this league, but those are two guys in particular that I have a whole lot of respect for. Great defensive leader in Coach Carroll and then what he’s able to bring to Seattle – that culture that we talk about, you know, he’s the epitome of kind of being able to bring a culture, put it in place, and you see it show up on their tape. And then, Coach Arians, great offensive mind – turning those guys into consistent winners, year in and year out. Great respect for them – it’s a very competitive division and those are the two teams that have really done a nice job over the last couple of years and that’s what we’re striving to do and striving to become moving forward.”

(On if there have been any big surprises for him in his first month on the job)

“I don’t think it’s surprises, I think you’re just surprised by the reality of, when you sit down to do something at six in the morning and then it’s 8:30 at night and here I am ready to do that thing that I was set out to do at six in the morning. You get pulled in a bunch of different directions, but that’s why it’s important to have those great people around you that you know when you’re doing those other tasks that you can trust things are being done the right way. It’s definitely been a whirlwind, haven’t had a chance to slow down, but it’s been great, I’ve really enjoyed it so far. Continuing to get to know the people all around this building just reiterates why I’m so fortunate and feel blessed to be here.”

(On what needs to be addressed at the receiver position in the offseason)

“I think any time that you look at the receiver position and really guys that handle ball in general, you can’t have enough playmakers – guys that make great things happen with the ball in their hands. And when you look at the receiver position, you look at some of the things that Tavon Austin does with the ball, both in the run-game and when he’s able to catch it as a receiver. He’s a guy that you want to move all over the formation. Just getting a chance to watch his touch tape, when he’s targeted in the pass-game last year. Again, yesterday, you see a lot of encouraging things and you see where he can take that growth and that next to become a true, complete receiver. You can’t have enough playmakers. Certainly, that’s something that we’re always looking to upgrade. That receiver position is very important, a lot of yards and offensive production goes through that room. We want to try to find a way to get the best players on the field. Whether it be through the running backs, tight ends or receivers, throwing the football is going to be a big part of what we want to do and what’s going to allow us to be successful offensively.”

(On what percentage of his offense in Washington came from Kyle Shanahan)

“It’s hard to specifically say a percentage. But it is one of those situations where you look at getting a chance to work under Coach Gruden, the influence that he had on me and then working with Mike (Shanahan) and Kyle. It was certainly a product and a factor in shaping what we became in the last couple of years in Washington. That’s why you’re excited about what our Rams offense is going to become, because you have guys like (offensive coordinator) Matt LaFleur coming in, you’ve got (quarterbacks coach) Greg Olson, (offensive line coach) Aaron Kromer, guys that have a lot of success at different stops. That’s what’s going to combine the Rams offense for us moving forward. We’re all a product of our experiences. Certainly Kyle and Coach Shanahan’s offense has had a big influence on what I believe and how I think you want to attack a defense. But it’s going to be something that’s going to be an ongoing process, figuring out our players first and then how we fit that scheme to their skillsets.”