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TRANSCRIPT: Los Angeles Rams HC Sean McVay, QB Jared Goff Talk Initial Prep For Week 4

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Here’s what McVay and Goff had to say after the first preparatory practice of the week.

Los Angeles Rams Head Coach Sean McVay
Los Angeles Rams Head Coach Sean McVay
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Rams HC Sean McVay

(On the injuries)

“From an injury standpoint, (WR) Sammy (Watkins) and (WR) Tavon (Austin) were both limited today. (S) Lamarcus (Joyner) is going to still be day-to-day, he missed today with his hamstring. (CB) Kayvon (Webster) was back full participation, (RB) Malcolm Brown was back full participation. (OLB) Connor Barwin and (T) Andrew Whitworth, typical that we just give them that veteran rest day and then (C) John Sullivan was off today recovering from his hip.”

(On if he has addressed the team about the president’s comments and what he thinks about the entire situation)

“It was something that we absolutely addressed right when we got back from the weekend. Really just talked about what was going on, making sure that everybody was in tune with that. One of the things that I have a lot of respect for that’s gone on here, going back to when (former Rams Head) Coach (Jeff) Fisher was here in the head coaching role – they did a great job with the way that we handle the National Anthem in terms of the organization where everybody took part where the players are all in alignment, staff was behind them, it’s always looked really sharp and crisp. It represents that respect that we have for what the National Anthem represents. One of the things that I think is so special about this game is that whatever your opinions, your backgrounds, it all brings people together and really a great demonstration of unity talking about the team. That’s something that you hear us talk about all the time. As far as we’re concerned, we’re going to continue to operate, standard operating procedures with the way that we’ll handle the anthem. I’ve got a lot of respect for our players and our leaders in this organization where we always talk about the open lines of communication. If somebody feels differently, we’ll talk about that amongst each other, but I think the important thing is, what you’ll see from us as a Rams organization is that unity and we’ll all be in it together. As far as what we’re going to do moving forward, it’ll be exactly how we’ve always handled the National Anthem.”

(On if he feels good about addressing those comments right away)

“You certainly don’t want to brush that aside, but you want to talk about what a great opportunity this is, like a lot of teams to show how united they are, how connected they are as a team and everybody doing it together. That’s something that we’ve done and certainly we’ll continue to operate the same way and I think our players feel that way. If anybody feels differently, they know that I’ve got an open door policy, we’ll discuss that. We just don’t ever want to be caught off guard with any surprises and can’t say enough about what our players have done up to this point in my interactions and our dealings with them and our entire coaching staff in terms of knowing exactly how we want to handle each situation and circumstance that comes up.”

(On if navigating the line between sports and politics is a tough one for him as a first-year head coach)

“It is. I think it all goes back to respect for everybody. Everybody has certain opinions or things that have shaped their core beliefs and we have a respect for that. But, you certainly want to make sure that as long as you’re building and developing those relationships, keeping it about the things that we can control and giving that mutual respect, I think you’ll be in good shape and that’s how we try to operate here.”

(On DE Ethan Westbrooks status and his reaction to the incident)

“The more that you gather information about it, you’re disappointed for him that you get caught up in a situation like that. Certainly, sometimes these are things that we can control and sometimes you get caught up in bad situations. As we continue to gather more information on that based on what we’ve talked about with Ethan in-house, we are supporting him. But, until we get everything finalized in terms of exactly what the ruling is, what exactly went down – I trust Ethan. When he talks to me and he looks me in the eye and tells me what happened, I trust him. That’s the way that we’re operating and until otherwise, he’s going through the week of practice with the week of preparation with the expectation to play. That’s something that is pending based on if anything changes along the way. But as of right now, supporting Ethan, trust Ethan and what we’ve heard from him you feel like this will get settled and you want to try to avoid these, but really until more information comes out with respect to the process, we kind of what to just keep it at that.”

(On what stood out to him about Ram Offensive Line Coach Aaron Kromer during the hiring process)

“Obviously, the coaching network is a small one. There’s a lot of guys that I’ve worked with that have worked closely with Coach Kromer. We both were in Tampa, so we’ve crossed paths with a lot similar people and then we also have Miami of Ohio connections. He played at Miami of Ohio as well. And I’m a fan of coaching, so just watching the lines that he’s been a part of and units, I think he’s done excellent job. You see where Aaron Kromer is, typically there’s been a lot success that follows it and guys play hard up front, they compete, they’re sound fundamentally, I think he does a nice job, he’s got a great vision for the run game and how you protect. The more that I’m around him, the more you have an appreciation for you feel great that he’s our offensive line coach and it’s been a joy working with him so far.”

(On dialogue between players and coaches being a big part of considering coaching candidates)

“Absolutely. We talk about it all the time, as a coach you’re really a teacher. But, it’s important for us to realize that you’re not only transmitting information, you want to make sure that you’re giving it back and there’s a dialogue because if you’re just giving out information and never forcing them to give it back to you, you have no idea where they’re at. So, I think that’s part of the learning process, that’s what makes him a good teacher and really, we’ve got a lot of example of that on our coaching staff. That was kind of what we sought out when we were assembling this staff.”

(On the fact that regardless of what happens on Sunday, his team will be in first place in the NFC West)

“I think it’s important that you’re putting yourself in a position. I think it’s also important to realize that it’s at the end, it’s where you wind up. I think the guys have done a great job of just taking it one day at a time right now. Our goal is to find a way to get to our third win and I think the guys have done a great job of just focusing on one day at a time and then eventually, hopefully if you do things the right way maybe we’re having this conversation later on in the season when the real final standings or things like that are to be determined. But, what our guys have done a great job with is just taking it one day at a time. We had a good day of work today, expect to come back with the same mindset and mentality tomorrow and we know that we’re going to have to be at our best to get our third win against an excellent Dallas Cowboys team. They go 13-3 last year, 7-1 at home, great road win for them this week and I’ve got a whole lot of respect for this organization and (Cowboys Head) Coach (Jason) Garrett, just from having gone against them a couple times a year, so it’s going to be a great challenge for us.”

(On if there are advantages for him going against Dallas because of his familiarity with them from his time with the Redskins)

“Advantages, I think you at least know them a little better, but when you start to look at them, just like any other great coaching staff, they’ve done a good job of tweaking some things. (Cowboys Defensive Coordinator) Coach (Rod) Marinelli, those guys play so hard up front, they’re doing some different things on the back end and then I think when you look at offensively, I think Coach Garrett and (Cowboys Offensive Coordinator) Coach (Scott) Linehan do a great job of utilizing their personnel and really maximizing their skillsets and they’ve got great players all over this team. (Cowboys Special Teams Coordinator) Rich Bisaccia is as good a special teams coach as there is. I worked with Rich in Tampa, so you know what he’s all about. I think what it does, is it just gives you more of an appreciation for what type of caliber team you’re going up against just from having been in that division for the last couple years.”

(On if he’s aware of the history between the Rams and Cowboys)

“Yeah, I’ve always been a fan of the game. You have an appreciation for what’s taken place before I was fortunate to get into this league, so you are familiar with it. I think one of the things that our guys have done a great job with and really, you go to our alumni association embracing the past and you do some different things where I think that’s what’s so special about this game, is appreciating the guys that have done it before these players and made the Rams what they are. Then you also appreciate the rivalries that existed going back to the ‘70s, like you mentioned. But, I think that embracing that history is part of it, I think it’s also important to know that this is a storied franchise on both ends and we’ve got a great challenge. Like I’ve said over and over, what Coach Garrett’s done with his team, it’s going to be a great challenge and an excellent atmosphere and I know our guys are looking forward to it.”

(On if he’s trying out more players at the punt returner position or if he is sticking with WR Tavon Austin)

“Tavon will be back that right now. I think the one thing is, you look at Tavon over the course of his career. We just keep pushing through and working through it, have confidence in Tavon, great focus and concentration when we’re fielding it and then you’ve got other guys ready in the instance if it’s not Tavon. But no, Tavon is the punt returner, a lot of confidence in Tavon. He’s done some great things over the course of his career and we don’t let a couple plays define it and change our whole approach to a dynamic player like him.”

(On if he’s had to talk to Austin about putting too much pressure on himself)

“Well, I think one of the things that you appreciate about Tavon is he’s a very conscientious player. He hasn’t been as available as you would have liked for things that he can’t control, it’s the hamstring, it’s the wrist and I know that’s been frustrating for all of us. I think you do have a tendency as a player to feel like, ‘I’ve got to press a little bit,’ when maybe the opportunities are a little bit more limited than they’ve been. But, what you talk to him about is, try to do the best you can staying in that one play at a time mindset and mentality, ‘You’re a great player, you’ve been a great player in this league and let’s not feel like we have to press.’ We still have all the confidence in the world in you and that’s how we feel.’ And that’s what we say to Tavon.”

(On how big of an impact Austin’s potential jet sweeps are in the running game)

“A lot. That’s one of the things that you mention, is when you have a player like him it might not show up on the stat sheet, but he’s contributing in a lot of ways that goes unnoticed, but it certainly doesn’t in our building. He does a lot of different things, whether it’s that, the eye candy or the threat where you look at when you give him the actual jet sweep in the tight redzone area and he gets it down to the one-yard line. Those yards are so hard to come by in the redzone, when you can give it to him on the nine and he gets it down to where they’ve got to review it to see if it’s a touchdown or not. He’s an excellent threat in that and I think when you look across the league, going back a couple years they did a great job of utilizing him in that way. That’s become a real weapon for this offense and that’s certainly something that we want to continue to utilize in a manner that fits what we’re doing and he’s done a great job. So yes, I absolutely think it has opened up the run game in a lot of ways.”

(On the differences that he’s seen in Cowboys QB Dak Prescott from year one to year two)

“Well, I think the thing that you’re so impressed with about Dak is that you’re anticipating when a guy comes into the league that there’s going to be a learning curve and he came in and was balling from Week 1. He did a great job. You kept waiting and watching him last year in Washington, ‘Alright, man can he continue to play at this high level?’ And to his credit, he did and he continued to get better and better. Really impressed with his demeanor and his disposition – love the way he handles himself from afar, you can see his teammates really believe in him. He’s got a nice, authentic way about leading and I think he plays his best in crunch time. It seems like when things get tight – you look at the game the other day, a couple things and he finds a way to escape, make a play, get a 17-yard gain on a second down play, comes back and makes a handful of other plays where he’s escaping big eyes down the field, he has the touchdown run in the redzone. So, I think the guy is a great football player, think he’s a great leader and I think he’s just continued to get better and it really didn’t seem like there was a learning curve. It’s like, ‘Man, this guy’s pretty impressive.’ I respect Dak Prescott a lot and he’s done a great job for that team.”

(On how they will try to stop players like Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliot, TE Jason Witten and WR Dez Bryant)

“We’ve got to be at our best on Sunday. We’ve got a lot of players on defense that we’ve got some confidence in too. But, make no mistake about it, you look at talking about Dak and then Zeke leads the league in rushing. He’s a great runner, got great feel. They’re great up front. Jason Witten is a first ballot Hall of Famer. You look at Dez Bryant, when he gets involved, he makes the catch over the middle and how violent he is to finish and then (WR) Cole Beasley, I think, is one of the better slot receivers in this league. You look at their getting (WR Ryan) Switzer involved and (WR) Terrance Williams makes plays too. There’s a reason why they’re a top offense, they were 13-3 last year, they’ve got good players, they’re extremely well coached and they do an excellent job, really in all three phases. There’s not a weakness on this team and that’s why if we’re going to give ourselves a chance to compete, we’ve got to be ready to go.”

(On what kind of confusion the jet sweep can cause in the running game)

“Well, I think a lot of times you talk about keeping your gap integrity as a defense and it’s predicated on where guys are aligned. When you’re flying a guy fast across the field, it causes some conflicts in your run fits and guys get out of gaps or they’re looking at it or you might regulate some different things that you’re doing. So, a lot of it is predicated on what the defensive call is and how you want you want to defend it. But, it does give you some different things to look at. You don’t know if it’s coming and there’s some compliments off of that, so I think the biggest thing is, is it really stresses some of the run fits and I know defensive coaches do an excellent job of trying to keep that run-gap integrity, especially when you’re in some of your single-high structures where it’s one man for one gap and what that does to stress that.”

QB Jared Goff

(On what he anticipates the atmosphere being like in AT&T Stadium in Dallas this Sunday)

“It’s fun. It’s my first time playing there and I’m excited. I’ve heard all about it. I heard it’s awesome, heard the fans are great and we’re excited to get out there. Will be a good challenge for us, but a fun one and one we’re going to be ready for.”

(On how the conversation went with Head Coach Sean McVay and team regarding the National Anthem)

“We had a players-only meeting and discussed it and came to a conclusion. It was a good discussion and a healthy discussion. I thought we came to a good conclusion.”

(On whether it has been difficult dealing with the mix of sports and politics, as such a young player)

“I don’t think so. I think it’s been very, like I said, healthy and very enlightening for myself and a lot of people. Learning different things. I think more than anything you see how unified the league is. We may play on different teams, but at the end of the day we’re all in the NFL and all have similar goals. So I think that’s, across the league, something you see and something that I think’s been great. Something that’s been great that guys are standing together as one.”

(On whether the players-only meeting was lengthy)

“No, it was quick.”

(On potentially being in first place or tied for first place NFC West after the first quarter of the season and what that means to him considering last year)

“It doesn’t mean much. We started off 3-1 last year and saw the way that went. So, it doesn’t mean much. It’ll be good. It means we started off well, but you break the season into quarters and if we are able to finish this one with the win, it would be a good quarter for us and be ready to go for another good second quarter, is the plan. But right now we’re just focused on going out there Sunday and playing as best we can.”

(On if this year’s good start feels different than last year’s good start in terms of what the team has been able to do offensively)

“Yeah I think so. We feel good right now, I don’t know if you want…think any of it long term right now. We’re so focused on Dallas and what we’re doing right now that we don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves. We’ve played three games, we’ve won two of them. At the end of the day, we’re 2-1 and that’s the only stat that matters and we know that. We know that you go into the details of what happens in each game and there’s things that we do well and there’s things that we can work on. And that’s really what we’re focused on the most is how we can keep improving and keep getting better and ultimately just become the best team we can each Sunday.”

(On the time that the offensive line is giving him and his chemistry with them)

“Yeah, it’s been great. It’s been great so far. I can’t say enough about those guys. They haven’t gotten any credit and it’s been mainly them. With (RB) Todd’s (Gurley) production, I know Todd would say the same thing he’s been running well but he ain’t running anywhere without any holes. He’s not catching the ball out of the back field and (WR) Robert (Woods) and (WR) Sammy (Watkins) and (WR) Cooper (Kupp) and (WR) Tavon (Austin) and all the guys we got aren’t catching the ball – if we don’t have time. So, yeah, they’ve done a tremendous job so far. At the same time they’re an extremely competitive bunch and I think are challenging themselves every day to continue to get better as well.”

(On if he was worried for a moment when C John Sullivan went down on the field in the 49ers game last Thursday)

“Not at all, honestly. We loved John and everything he’s done and John’s extremely important to all of us – and especially myself. But I’ve worked with (C) Austin (Blythe) a bunch in the preseason and in training camp and through practices. He did a great job. I didn’t expect him not to. He came in there and we took a few snaps like alright we’ve done it before. You look back at the Oakland game and think I got like a 16-play drive with Austin. Stuff like that helps and so now I felt good and I thought he did a great job.”

(On whether the 49ers game meant more to him than a normal game, given the way he played and being in his hometown)

“Other than it being a division, no. It meant more being in the division, for sure. Anytime you can get a division win, they’re important. We needed it going into it. I think the way we won the game too was also very important for us as a team. But no, where it was, being in the Bay where I’m from, it was cool. Don’t get me wrong, it was fun to play in front of all my friends and family, but it didn’t make the win any more important or special.”

(On if there is anything specifically that he’s trying to improve upon or add to his game that he hasn’t used in the first three games)

“Yeah, there’s a bunch of things. I think continue to work on where I’m at in the pocket. You know, continue to trust those guys up front and stay in there maybe a little bit longer. I think I maybe flushed just a little quickly sometimes this year. We have had some big plays off it, but you don’t want to make that a habit. So, maybe trust them a little more, sit in there and continue to improve, continue to get better, continue to learn the game more and continue to try to give my receivers a chance to make a play and run with the ball after the catch. Just continue to get better.”

(On if he’s had the chance to get to know Cowboys QB Dak Prescott)

“Yeah. I know Dak, yeah.”

(On what he thinks about Prescott’s game watching from afar)

“Tremendous, I don’t care what you say about who he’s got around him, he’s (done) a tremendous job. Hell of a player, hell of a person, leads those guys. He’s done a great job and a guy that, being in my own class, you see him and you’re like, you tip your hat to him. What he did last year is tremendous and he’s been tremendous so far this year.”

(On the challenges Dallas’ defense presents)

“A lot. I mean, they do a lot of different things. They’re very multiple and have changed some of the stuff they’ve done. They mix up coverages, mix up fronts, mix up blitzes and do a good job of it. I think they’re talented in all three phases.”

(On if he talked to the offensive line about going up against Cowboys DL DeMarcus Lawrence)

“He’s a good player. He’s a good player, he gets paid, too, and made some good plays on Monday night. He’s definitely a guy that we’ll look for, but not somebody that we’re going to have to gameplan around. He’s a great player and something, definitely, we’re going to be aware of.”

(On if people should be surprised by his statistical numbers at this point in the season)

“Like I said before, I don’t really care what people think. We just come out here and try to get better every day in practice and try to execute and go out on Sunday. I think (Head Coach) Sean (McVay) has done a great job calling these games so far and guys have made plays after the catch. Like I said a million times, just try to get them the ball and let him make a play. I think something that’s really stood out is (RB) Todd’s (Gurley) ability out of the backfield to make some down-the-field plays and he extends plays after he catches it. So, continue to try to do that and try to win games.”

(On if some of his confidence comes from having more talent around him this year)

“Yeah, I think all things factor into that. I think whenever you have success, you are confident – whether it’s in practice, in the film room, wherever, not just on gameday. But, I think the whole team is feeling pretty good right now. We’re very grounded and understand we need to get better, but we believe in each other. I think that’s the biggest part of it. I believe in (WR) Sammy (Watkins). Sammy believes in me and vice versa with every receiver on the team and the O-line, and I think that’s the most important thing. I think you can build that confidence through, like I said, success on the practice field and success when communicating and stuff like that.”