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TRANSCRIPT: LA Rams HC Sean McVay On What We Learned In Preseason Week 1

Here’s what coach had to say today having slept on yesterday’s 13-10 win over the Cowboys.

Los Angeles Rams HC Sean McVay
Los Angeles Rams HC Sean McVay
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Rams HC Sean McVay

(On if everybody came out of yesterday’s game healthy)

“Yeah. Everybody came out healthy, so that was a good thing for us. There’s a couple guys that just – little tweaks here and there, but nothing that’s going to be of major concern right now, so that’s good news for us.”

(On if OLB Rob Quinn, LB Mark Barron and CB Kayvon Webster’s absences were just precautionary)

“Yup. Those are guys that are part of that – we’ve been extra cautious with some of our veteran guys that we have big expectations for. Whether it be a tweak here or something like that, part of that maintenance program that we discussed, that’s where all three of those guys fit.”

(On if RB Todd Gurley’s workload will increase as the preseason goes on)

“Yeah, that’s the plan and we discuss those things as the preseason progresses with our coaches. But, the plan is right now for our starters to get progressive work through the third preseason game and (RB) Todd (Gurley’s) a very important part of what we want to do. I also think this preseason offers us a unique opportunity to get him some touches, being mindful of that we do want to allow him to be at his best by the time we play the Colts. But, especially being in a new system and just for the overall continuity of our offense, I think it’s important for him to be out there with those guys and that’s the goal and that’s the plan right now.”

(On if there was anything that stood out to him after his first game as an NFL head coach)

“I think the biggest thing is anytime, especially when you are as involved in the offense as I am, you’re always going to want a couple decisions back, you’re always going to wish you put the players in better situations and that’s something that I’m sure I’ll feel every single week. But, I thought in terms of the flow of the game, I thought it was very comfortable. I think the biggest thing too, like I mentioned yesterday is being able to trust that with (defensive coordinator) Wade (Phillips) and with (special teams coordinator) John Fassel, the game kind of operates seamlessly with the way that they run special teams and defense and I’m just going to have to figure out the rhythm in between series. That’s going to be the biggest thing that you navigate is, making sure that you’re mindful of getting ahead for that next series and have a couple thoughts in mind that you can communicate to our offensive position coaches in terms of how we want to attack the next drive, but also being involved with what’s going on, on defense, if there’s a penalty is it something that we want to accept. But, I think the collaboration and the communication overall as whole for the first time was very smooth. There’s a couple things that we’ll change going into next week, but I feel very good about it for the most part.”

(On if he constantly has a back and forth with offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur during the game)

“Yeah, it’s a good dialogue. (Offensive coordinator) Matt (LaFleur) and I have worked together in Washington and we’ve got a great rapport and a relationship, so Matt’s the guy that I would say I am communicating with the most, especially with the coaches that are up top. The nice thing is, when you have those headsets everybody’s on the line and there’s dialogue that can exist between myself and (quarterbacks) Coach (Greg) Olson, (tight ends) Coach (Shane) Waldron, (offensive line) Coach (Aaron) Kromer, (wide receivers) Coach (Eric) Yarber, so we’re all kind of in constant communication while being mindful of, ‘Here’s how we want to attack this drive.’ But, in between those series is where I’ll have to figure that out because there is a lot of communication that goes on that I might be on the defensive side of the ball with. Just kind of figuring out that dynamic is going to be something that will be really beneficial to figure out during these next three weeks of the preseason.”

(On how excited he is to have WR Sammy Watkins out on the practice field tomorrow)

“I think it will be exciting to just see him move around. We’ll start to try to meet with him and get him going and up to speed as quickly as possible with some of our offensive verbiage and the different things that we’ll ask of him. It is exciting to add a player of his caliber, like we’ve talked about, then to be able to see him out on the field with our team is something that I know our coaching staff and it seems like (WR) Sammy (Watkins) is excited about it as well.”

(On if QB Jared Goff has relayed anything to him about how he feels about the addition of Watkins)

“You know what, he really hasn’t just because of the way that everything went down and how quickly it took place and we’ve just been mindful of focusing on getting him ready for that preseason game and then the first time that Sammy was here was right before kickoff where he’s kind of getting into that mode and that mindset and then afterwards, you know how things go with the postgame. But, I know that he’s excited to add another good receiver to that room and it can only help us as an offense.”

(On if it’s his understanding that Watkins is a full-go in practice tomorrow)

“He is full-go. He checked off, he got all that stuff cleared, so he’s full-go. We want to be mindful of just the fact that he did a lot of traveling coming from the East Coast to the West Coast. He was getting everything checked out last night where we kind of got the thumbs up, so just getting him back to where his body feels recuperated and things like that. We’ll monitor his workload, but in terms of just his pace and things like that, he’s full speed, fully released and he’s healthy.”

(On if he made the decision increase RB Todd Gurley’s preseason workload and if Gurley is comfortable with it)

“I think it was a combination of both. Out of respect for (RB) Todd (Gurley) we’re always going to communicate clearly and open with our players in terms of what our expectations are and how we want to operate and the nice thing about Todd is that as special of a player as he is, he doesn’t ever put himself above anything else. To him, his expectation is, ‘Until I’m told otherwise, I’m playing and I want to go compete.’ That’s what makes Todd a great competitor. So, I think for our offense as a whole, like I was saying earlier, just getting comfortable with the first year in the system being a little bit different and what a focal point of this offense we anticipate Todd being – I think it’s important for him to get some work in the preseason, so that we’re careful about that workload. It’s a delicate balance that we do want to have with that, but also mindful of, we’re getting him ready to roll for that Indy game where he can be at his best version of himself.”

(On if Gurley made it seem like that not getting enough game reps in the preseason last year made it difficult for him to get going last season)

“I think it’s important to be able to get those game reps and I think each guy has a different approach in terms of what allows them to get ready. I think Todd, going into his third year, he’s a great competitor that he’s always going to want to play if you allow him to. It’s not like he’s ever saying, ‘Hey, don’t let me play this preseason.’ He wants to compete. You watch the way that he works day in and day out at practice. He’s one of those guys that you have to be mindful of protecting himself from himself because he works so hard. That’s a good problem to have with one of your key players and I think he’d be the first to tell you, he wants to be out there with his teammates to compete and that’s something that we anticipate doing these next couple weeks.”

(On how he felt about the run blocking in the first couple series)

“Well, I think yesterday, especially when you just talk about the runs that we got off with our first unit, it’s a great example when you go back and watch the tape of why the run game takes all 11. It’s about one single block, if we miss at the point of attack and a defensive lineman spikes inside and now there’s penetration and the back doesn’t have a chance to press his landmark where everything else is in coordination, now you’re talking about a minus three yard gain where if one person does their responsibility we could be talking about a plus 13 (yard gain) or a big, explosive type run. I think Todd will have that ability to be able to make some free hitters miss, but as long as we get guys covered up, everybody’s contributing where it’s up front, to the tight ends, to the quarterback making sure he’s making the right decisions with the runs we’re running versus defense and then our receiver’s willingness to compete on the perimeter. It’s a great example and that will be something that we’ll look at with the team and just show that, ‘Hey just like anything else that’s what’s so great about football, it’s a great team sport and it takes all 11 and when one person doesn’t do their job these are the results.’ But, if this does get taken care of and everybody else, all 10 are on the same page and that guy that maybe messed up his assignment, look at what this run result could have been as oppose to what it was. That’s kind of the mindset that we have.”

(On if anyone jumped out at him on film)

“I think one of the guys when you really look at it – I thought just from an offensive standpoint, clearly we have got to take better care of the football. This is a guy whose shown up in practice, but I thought (RB) Justin Davis showed his explosion. Clearly, you have to be able to take care of the football though if we’re going to put it in your hands. What I like the most about it is after he kind of has the two that he puts on the ground – we’ve got to get that fixed and that’s going to be a focal point for us moving forward with (running backs coach) Skip (Peete) and his whole room and really our offense as a whole. But, what impressed me the most about Justin was his ability to respond. A lot of guys, you can let that affect you, but I didn’t sense that those two plays affected him, he came out and created some explosive runs after that, did a good job competing in protection. We can continue to clean up some of the technical things, but I thought he did a nice job. And then I think (LB) Cassanova Mckinzy on defense continues to show why he’s a physical player. He’s got the ability to run and hit and he’s done a nice job throughout the course of camp and then really our guys that we’re really counting on kind of showed why they’re guys we’re really counting on, so that was encouraging for us.”

(On if there’s hope that RB Lance Dunbar will get on the field)

“That’s something that we’ve really been closely monitoring with (Director/Sports Medicine and Performance) Reggie (Scott). Obviously everyone is familiar with the history in terms of the knee injury that he sustained a couple years ago and it’s something that we’re monitoring every single day. He’s on the PUP (Physically Unable to Perform) right now. It doesn’t look like there’s any resolution to that in the near future. So, our anticipation is that you’d love to have (RB) Lance Dunbar. When that time is, we don’t really know. But that’s why it’s important for us to be able to evaluate some of these other backs because we went out and got Lance in free agency because we know what he’s capable of and what the expectations if he’s available we would have for him. But in the meantime, just like anything else he isn’t available. He’s doing what he can control in terms of the rehab and staying sharp with the mental aspect of it, but I think it offers a unique opportunity for some of those guys behind Todd to step up and get some opportunities that maybe they wouldn’t have otherwise.”

(On if WR Tavon Austin is expected to be back during training camp)

“You know, that’s something with his hamstring. We’re really trying to figure out exactly when that is that he’ll be back. I think ideally, you’d like to say he’ll get some preseason work, but you also want to be mindful of, if you’re ever pressing it to the point where he might re-aggravate it and then it puts him back another six weeks, those are things where you got to really rely on (Director/Sports Medicine and Performance) Reggie (Scott) and (Head Strength and Conditioning Coach) Ted (Rath) in terms of their suggestions on how we handle a player like (WR) Tavon (Austin). The hamstrings are always very difficult injuries for those skilled players to evaluate, because the grade-one the grade-two, the difference ends up being a couple of weeks. So, ideally I’d like to say Tavon will get a chance to play in the preseason, but the goal and the main thing that we have in mind is making sure he’s ready for that Colts game.”

(On if Austin is scheduled to practice this week)

“Not right now. No, the expectation is that he’ll probably at least be out another week. Again, it’s a day-to-day update, but kind of the word and the feeling that I get is that it won’t be least for another week until he’ll be available.”

(On the challenge that it presents Austin has been unavailable for offseason workouts)

“It is. It’s a big challenge. The one thing that I’ve been pleased with Tavon is whether it’s the wrist or the hamstring, he hasn’t really allowed it to effect his demeanor and the way that he goes about every single day. Is this something that we want to deal with in an ideal world? No, absolutely not. But you got to make the most of this situation. He’s doing what he can control in terms of the mental approach and the rehab. It does make it a little bit more difficult, because you certainly have plans for a player like him and he’s still a part of our plans, but to be able to see those things come to fruition on the practice field has been a little bit more difficult for us to envision just based on him not being available. But, like anything else, as coaches, you’ve got to always have contingency plans in place. This isn’t something where we know he’s going to be out for an extended period of time, so while you’d like to have Tavon available when he is he’s certainly a part of what we want to do and an important part of our offense.”

(On if he sees Austin being an option out of the backfield when he returns)

“I think he’s done a lot of things like that in his past and I think that’s one of the skills that he does have. Whether that’s something that we explore, will be predicated on when he’s available, what the (RB) Lance Dunbar situation is, but I think the biggest thing that I would say is that you want to be mindful of getting your playmakers touches. Tavon is one of our good playmakers. When the ball is in his hands, good things happen. We’ve got to do a good job as a coaching staff of finding creative ways, whether that be through the pass game with him as him as a receiver, the jet sweeps, the screens, the runs - just getting him those touches. There’s a reason why he’s had such good production throughout the course of his career and I know a lot of it is predicated on when the ball is on his hands, he’s able to create afterwards.”

(On holding some veteran players out on defense in yesterday’s game and if he was pleased with the defensive play)

“I thought they did a good job. Clearly, when you’re looking at some of the guys that have been a staple for this defense over the last handful of years, you notice (OLB) Robert Quinn’s not out here, you notice (DT) Aaron Donald, you notice (LB) Mark Barron. Those are three key members of what we anticipate being our starting seven-man front, when we’re in our base defense. The Cowboys are a great offense. They didn’t play a lot of their key guys, but you still see some great linemen in there when you look at it. Really, you look at (Cowboys G) Zack Martin, you look at (Cowboys C Travis) Fredrick, you see (Cowboys T) La’el Collins who’s an up and coming player. They didn’t have (Cowboys T) Tyron Smith, but there’s still a lot of quality players that played in that game. I’ve always had a lot of respect for (Cowboys RB) Darren McFadden and what he brings to the table. Any time that those guys we’re counting on, we’re able to have them go two three-and-outs, and then we’re able to get the (CB) Trumaine’s (Johnson) and those guys out of the game, the (Alec) Ogletree’s. I think that was the goal of what we wanted to see those guys accomplish and I think they did that.”

(On clarifying his postgame comments regarding OL Rob Havenstein being a starter at right tackle and evaluating G Jamon Brown at right guard)

“No, you know what I think that kind of came off…because what I wanted to do is be mindful of…I’ve talked to those guys and told them that this is more likely than not the way that we’ll go with Jamon being our right guard and Rob being our right tackle but until you fully get a chance to communicate in a clear way with those guys, I’m just mindful of how that’s delivered. But I didn’t mean for that to come off in a manner where Jamon isn’t a starter. He’s definitely going to be one of those five guys right now. That’s for anybody all five of those guys those are our five starters. That’s always subject to change because we always kind of preach the theme of competition. But, I didn’t mean it as a slight to Jamon in any sense. It was more of a, ‘Rob’s playing good at right tackle’ I think Jamon’s doing a nice job at the guard position. I think when you look at those guys’ skillsets, it’s probably conducive for them being at their best and really for our line long term when you’re projecting some of these younger guys as starters this year and what they’re going to be able to do for you for years to come.”

(On a lot of Cowboys getting around the edge with the second unit offensive line in last night’s game and if he has any concerns with back-up tackles at this point with Andrew Donnal being cut)

“It’s tough because Andrew’s done a lot for this organization and he’s played in a lot different spots and offers you that versatility you’d love for him to be able to be available. Clearly, we’ve going to do a better job you know really as a whole – offensively. Any one play you can point to a specific position, but there were a couple times on our edges that we did get loose and those are things that we’ll clean up with (Offensive Line) Coach (Aaron) Kromer and myself and (Offensive Coordinator) Coach (Matt) LaFleur and we’ll do a good job addressing that. But, I think they expectations that our players have for themselves, that we have for them – has got to be higher than what we performed at down in and down out last night and that’s the way we’ll approach this week for sure.”

(On any updates regarding DT Aaron Donald)

“No, because if I did, you’d see a lot of smiles on my face right now and hopefully it’d be good news. No its kind of a lot of the same. We’re hoping that we can figure this out because Aaron’s a very important part of what we want to do and respectful of the negotiations and the things that are going on, but I know that (General Manager) Les (Snead) and his staff are tirelessly working to figure it out and I’m sure he’s tired of me asking him about it as well.”

(On what the hardest part was for him in his first game as head coach with regards to handling all head coach responsibilities and the dynamic of also calling the offensive plays)

“The hardest part of what kind of like that part I talked about the transition in between series where you’re typically accustom to ‘ok let’s gather our thoughts, let’s quickly look at the pictures in terms of what the defense was presenting and if maybe you didn’t see something as clear as you’d like, but just being mindful of being able to do that, because you don’t ever want to make it…because you have such a good staff you can rely on (defensive coordinator) Wade (Philips) and (special teams coordinator) John (Fassel) like I was saying which is great, but I also want to be mindful of being involved in the game figuring out whether we want to take a timeout here or accept a certain penalty. Those are things that present the biggest challenges. I think what’ll allow it to be a great opportunity is learning through the preseason and then also having a great coaching staff that you can lean, on where guys are doing a great job within their role and that frees you up to be able to kind of be more mindful of trying to focus on the head coaching thing as well.”

(On DB John Johnson performance during training camp)

“I think John is a guy that continues to emerge. You know really over the last week, I think he’s done a really good job on special teams and defense. There was a situation where he had a little tweak in the rookie mini-camp and then it forced him to miss the whole offseason program. John’s clearly a talented athlete that had that versatility at Boston College, which is what we like so much about him. And, I think now that you’re seeing him getting into a rhythm in training camp where he’s practicing. He’s getting a feel for the tempo of practices and how they’re ramped up a little bit. Guys have challenged him, because you know how talented of a player he is. I think he’s conscientious enough to take things in the right way and I think you’ve seen him make some plays both as a gunner. He’s shown some really good things as a safety where he’s getting more comfortable with the communication – the calls, because, we do have a lot of different adjustments based on certain things that an offense presents to a defense. He’s a guy that I know our defensive staff and really our…(special teams coordinator John Fassel) ’Bones’ and (assistant special teams coach) Tyrone McKenzie are special teams coaches have been pleased with the emergence of John over this last week, so he’s been a bright spot.”

(On CB Nickell Roby-Coleman being a real option as an outside corner, now that CB E.J. Gaines is gone)

“Yeah, you know I think the way that he’s played throughout the course of camp…(cornerbacks) Coach (Aubrey) Pleasant has done a good job of giving him some opportunities that maybe he hasn’t had in his career. What I think you see a good football player. He’s tough, he consistently finds ways to get his hands on the ball. From an offensive perspective you certainly feel him as a defensive player and he’s gotten a chance to play at that nickel spot, but he’s also had a chance to play outside a lot. Last night offered that opportunity, as well. I think the more experience he’s able to gain and show that ‘Hey I’m not exclusively a nickel’ – the more confidence that our coaching staff will have in him. Up to this point he hasn’t done anything to make us feel otherwise.”