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TRANSCRIPT: Los Angeles Rams HC Sean McVay and QB Jared Goff aren’t concerned about lack of playoff experience

“I don’t think it’s a concern,” McVay says. Because he’s cooler than a polar bear’s toenails.

NFL: Los Angeles Rams at Seattle Seahawks Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Rams HC Sean McVay

(Opening Remarks)

“From an injury standpoint, (WR/KR) Pharoh Cooper did not participate today with his shoulder, (WR) Mike Thomas with his ankle, (DB) Blake Countess in concussion protocol and (LB) Mark Barron was limited with his Achilles. Everybody else was good to go.”

(On the impact that G Andy Levitre going down will have on the Falcons)

“Yeah, they’ve got very capable guys ready to step up and fill that void. Levitre has played at a really high level, really these last couple years, so I know that’s a loss for them. But, just like we would feel here, they’ve got a lot of depth that they’ve established, they kind of talk about the next man up mentality and mindset and I think (Falcons Offensive Line Coach) Chris Morgan, their offensive line coach does as good a job as anybody in terms of developing that depth, having guys ready to go and it’s impressive what the Falcons have done. I know that (Falcons OL) Ben (Garland) will be ready to step in and do a nice job, but Andy has been a great player for them for the last couple years and he will be missed for them.”

(On if the lack of playoff experience on his roster worries him)

“I don’t think it’s a concern – I think that when I say that you have a whole lot of respect for experience and what that does and the value that it provides, but I do think that we have a confident group, I think we’ve got a mature group for a young football team and then those guys in that locker room, the guys that have been in playoff atmospheres, we’ve got coaches that have been there as well, can provide that leadership in terms of what to expect. But, at the same token, we know the expectations, we know what’s at stake at this game. I think the consistency in terms of our approach and our preparation is important to be mindful of. Our team has done a great job of kind of handling a lot of different things throughout the course of the year, whether it be traveling more miles than anybody in the league, kind of responding from losses the right way and I think they’re excited about the opportunity to play in front of a great home crowd on Saturday night where you’re the only game playing and those are fun opportunities that they’ve earned to be in this situation and doing it against the reigning NFC Champs provides an excellent opportunity. It’s still football, we’ll be very consistent with our approach and I think the guys will be excited about it, but you do have a respect for the experience factor and how that comes into play, but I think our guys are confident from what they’ve done this year and they’re looking forward to the chance to be able to play in an atmosphere like that.”

(On how fast everything has come together for the Rams in his first season)

“I think really when you look at it, this is a true reflection of an organization where you’ve got great coaches, great players in place just doing things right one day at a time. I think really until you take a step back for what this team has done such a nice job with, you can’t fully appreciate the journey. You try to every now and then enjoy it and not get so caught up in the moment that you can’t enjoy the experiences as you’re kind of going on that journey, if you will. But, what’s been fun about it is you’re doing it with people that you really enjoy being around – football is a game that I’ve always loved and being in that competitive atmosphere with people that you enjoy, kind of doing these challenges with week-in and week-out is what you love so much and I can’t say enough about what our players and our coaching staff has made this experience so far.”

(On the fact that his first playoff game will be against the team from the city that he grew up in)

“I think it’s exciting, really because of the respect that you have for (Falcons Head) Coach (Dan) Quinn and what the Falcons have done. It’s a little bit different where you grew up where you’ve always enjoyed watching the Falcons play, but just because of the family affiliation where my grandpa, especially early on when I was growing up was involved with the 49ers, so you’re always going to go with the family over kind of the local ties. But, it still is a unique experience. I think what is exciting about it is not necessarily that it’s the home that you grew up in, but a team with these types of players, what they’ve done over the last couple years, the amount of respect I have for Coach Quinn and the leadership that he provides, so it’s exciting for us. To be able to do it in L.A., I think that will be a long trip for some people, but they know during the week I get a little irritable, so they’ll leave me alone for the most part and people do a good job of handling some of those ticket requests.”

(On if he was ever a Falcons fan as a kid)

“There was individual players that I rooted for, but at the time that my grandfather was still involved with the 49ers they were actually in the same division, so couldn’t be rooting for the Falcons then.”

(On if he got a head start on game planning last week)

“Yeah, that’s a good question. When you really project that you could have played any one of the four teams, you never knew exactly how it would play out just because of how competitive this league was. Some of our coaches did a good job with the advance where really they did work on all four teams and we had played some of them already, so that advance was kind of already in place. But, I think it’s always difficult – just my personal experiences as far as just working ahead. We started on them on Sunday night just because of having to operate on a short week, but this is a great defense, great offense, special teams that present a lot of challenges – (KR/PR) Andre Roberts is a very good returner. In terms of getting that advance, some of our coaches did a great job with that, but as far as (Defensive Coordinator) Wade (Phillips), myself, you look at ‘Bones’ (Special Teams Coordinator John Fassel) – I’m not so sure that we were able to really get ahead as you were kind of trying to wrap up the regular season.”

(On if he has any concern about QB Jared Goff playing in his first career playoff game)

“The one thing that you guys have heard me say before, you just come away so impressed with his even-keeled demeanor, the poise that he plays with. Jared is fearless and I think he looks at it as a great opportunity and we trust that he’s going to make good decisions, he’ll have an ownership on the game plan and what we’re trying to get accomplished and I think if the way that he’s played this season is any indicator of what we expect against a very good Atlanta Falcons defense – he’s made good decisions, he’s taking care of the ball, so I think it’s a great opportunity for him to play in an atmosphere like that that he certainly has earned with his teammates. But, in terms of worrying about, is the moment too big or the playoffs? That is the least of your concerns, just from having experienced what we have with Jared and kind of the way that he’s wired and that’s why we feel like he’s special.”

(On what he means by ownership the game plan)

“Really just kind of understanding the intent of the play calls – where he can almost kind of predict some of the calls that are coming in based on the situation that he’s got so much ownership on, here’s our priority third down calls in this area, red zone, some of our priority first and second down calls, that’s kind of what I mean. In a lot of instances, he’d probably be able to tell you guys that before the play has come in, he’s able to kind of predict that because we are so much on the same page and I think that’s only going to continue to grow as we get more experienced together with our coaches and with Jared.”

(On if there has been any feedback that he has heard from the community about how long it has been since there was a playoff game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum)

“I think as you continue to just get familiar with the L.A. community and different things like that, I think people are excited and that was our goal, is when we came back here to be able to provide a good football product that our fans can be proud of and they want to come out and support you. I think when you look at being able to play in a great place with all the tradition and the history like the Coliseum, what a unique opportunity that presents. Then there is also an excitement about the stadium and that project and the entirety of that. But, our players have done a great job. I think it’s helped being in year two a lot for a lot of the guys being able to get settled in and a little bit more familiar with the community where they can kind of be out there, be visual and it certainly helps that we’re getting some good results that we want. I can’t say enough about the response and I think as the season progressed you saw the atmospheres improve, people came out and supported us and we’re certainly excited about what that Saturday night atmosphere will look like for the playoffs.”

(On if WR Pharoh Cooper hurt his shoulder in the game on Sunday)

“He did. Yeah, he got it nicked up a little bit. You guys know Pharoh, he’s pretty tough, so I think it’s going to take a lot to keep him out of this game with what he’s meant to our football team and the type of competitor he is. We anticipate him being able to go unless there are some setbacks throughout the course of the week.”

(On if it’s the same shoulder that he dealt with last year)

“That’s a good question. I’m not sure about that.”

(On what has been the reason for the Falcons improved play on defense this season)

“I think when you look at it, they’ve got a clear cut philosophy and identity where they’re playing some regulated coverages and structures, but they do little nuances within the framework of those where guys have an ownership and they’ve got concepts matched up the right way. When they mix in some of their man, they’ve got the right guys to be able to do it and then they’ll strategically mix in some of their fire zones and some of their man pressures, so they keep you off balanced enough. But, I think anytime that you look at some of these really good defenses in the league, a lot of times or really often times, not all the time, you see kind of the consistency in some of those early down calls and they’re very comfortable and familiar. I think especially because defense is so much predicated on responding to whatever the offense presents and then how that affects what your coverage responsibility is, where your run fit is and things like that. I think that certainty and that clarity that they can play with because they know the system, they kind of have a good feel for some of the different things that teams try to consistently try to attack them with allows them to play fast. I think in some instances, even though it is a different approach, that’s what you kind of feel like with Wade and our system that I think our players would tell you is they’re playing some regulated looks, but they feel comfortable and confident as they get more looks and different things that offenses are presenting and how that affects their response.”

(On what the biggest challenge is in coming into an organization that has not had much success)

“Really when you just look at the challenge here, I think what you look at is the first thing that we did when we got here was you want to make sure that you surround yourself with a bunch of great coaches that can kind of help on the journey of trying to get these players to play at their highest potential and so we did that. We’ve got a handful of great coaches on this staff that I feel so fortunate to work with and then you’re evaluating the personnel and you see what are the key pieces in place that you can build around – philosophically how do you want to operate offensively, defensively and then you get with (General Manager) Les (Snead) and his staff and you formulate a plan for free agency and for the draft. I think when you look at some of the core players that were here, you feel really good about some of those guys that have played at a high level for a long time and then you kind of supplement them with some of the free agent acquisitions, their leadership that they’ve been able to provide, some of the experiences and them going about their business the right way. Then you get some mature rookies in that have a high football intelligence, also love the game and then certainly are very talented players as well and I think it’s worked out pretty well for us. It’s a great challenge, but I think kind of from a foundational standpoint, being on the same page with Les and his staff and our coaching staff I think has been instrumental in being able to have things go well and then the players have gotten it done.”

(On how much his grandfather helped him during his transition into becoming a head coach)

“Yeah, he’s been great. You don’t realize until you get into a role like this, how much you kind of subconsciously have picked up from him and the perspective and the advice that is never pushed on you, he just kind of always had a nice way about being able to answer questions if I had anything that you’re wondering about and his perspective and some of the things that he believed in and that allowed him to have a lot of success are things that we try to implement here. Then I think it’s also about being able to rely on some of those other guys that have a lot more experience than you do. You look at Wade Phillips, you look at John Fassel who had a great pulse on the team. You get guys on offense in here like (Offensive Line Coach) Aaron Kromer, (Quarterbacks Coach) Greg Olson. You look at what (Running Backs Coach) Skip Peete has done for our running back room. We’ve got so many different great coaches. (Assistant Head Coach/Linebackers) Joe Barry and the experiences that I had with him and how you can rely on him from working together in Washington and knowing that you can trust your assistant head coach to give you great advice. These are the things that you feel really good about, where you can lean on people to make good decisions, you can have a good pulse of the team when you’ve got great leaders like we do that you can kind of delegate and empower them and I think that’s important. Especially when you’ve got players that can represent the maturity to be able to handle it the right way and that’s all these guys have done so far.”

(On if there is anyone that he has sought out for advice on structuring his week’s schedule)

“Yeah, I think you draw on your previous experiences. Certainly like we just mentioned, you rely on a lot of your assistants. Wade has had so many different experiences. We’ve got a lot of coaches on our staff that have been an intricate part of Super Bowl championship teams, so those guys have seen it done the right way. You have your experiences that you learned from (Washington Head) Coach (Jay) Gruden when we were in the playoffs in Washington and from (former Washington Head) Coach (Mike) Shanahan when I was working from him. We’re all a product of those experiences, but I think you also really try to keep a consistent approach like we mentioned. All we’ve really done is I think being able to have a good work week towards the end of the season to try to keep guys fresh and we’ve really just been able to bump everything up a day and I think being able to approach last week’s game the way that we did enabled our players to feel fresh, I think they’ve got their legs underneath them and we certainly know that we’re going to have to be at full speed when you look at what the Atlanta Falcons present and provide in terms of a great overall team speed and we’ll hope to match that on Saturday.”

QB Jared Goff

(On what he remembers from watching Falcons QB Matt Ryan’s film when he found out that Offensive Coordinator Matt LaFleur was joining the Rams and if it’ll help him heading into Saturday’s game)

“That was a long time ago. I don’t really remember. I’ve got a lot of respect for what (Falcons QB) Matt (Ryan) does and big fan of his. I did learn a little bit about I guess what they did offensively there, but no just get to see some of those mechanical stuff was good.”

(On his preparation for a playoff game and if he’s nervous)

“It’s exactly the same, aside it being a day earlier. The way we set up our schedule, today was a Wednesday for us and operated the way we would on a regular Wednesday. It’s the exact same. We’re going to take the exact same approach we took the first 16 games and hopefully go in there and play well.”

(On if that keeps him grounded by taking the same approach)

“Yeah, I think so. I think we’ve been successful up to this point doing what we do weekly, so why change it. This week’s no different.”

(On his relationship with Vikings QB Case Keenum last season and how he’s had an impact on his performance)

“I learned a lot from Case. Just about how to work, how to handle yourself daily. Different daily things throughout the building. Different ways to watch film, different little intricacies like that, that you don’t really know as a rookie that he knew as a veteran guy. We’re able to kind of gain some of that information from him. He’s been a great friend to me and a great mentor through that last year. A guy that I root for and a guy that, yeah, I learned a little bit from for sure.”

(On if he stays in contact with him)


(On how often he stays in contact with Keenum)

“I don’t know.”

(On if the lack of playoff experience on this team is overstated)

“I think more than anything it’s a big game. I think that’s what it boils down to and I think we do have experience that stuff. We played a big game in Seattle a couple weeks ago. We played a big game two weeks ago against Tennessee. We played a big game against the Eagles. We played a big game against Minnesota, against New Orleans. We had a bunch of big games against top teams this year and so I think that experience will translate mostly to this game.”

(On what he’s gained from playing several tough games in row)

“I think just experience in some of those atmospheres I know we won’t have to deal with the crowd noise at home this week, but just the experience in some of those, when everything’s a little bit more heightened. Every play has a little bit more meaning to it. Just having that experience and understanding it’s still the same game, it’s still the same as every week throughout the season, but there is a little bit more of a heightened meaning to each play.”

(On any playoff games growing up that stand out in his mind that he remembers)

“One of my favorites of all time is San Francisco vs. New Orleans when (Former 49ers TE) Vernon Davis had that catch. I was probably 17 (years old), maybe. That’s probably the one I remember the most. When (Former 49ers QB) Alex Smith had, I think, the naked left and he scored from about 20 (yards) out – you guys remember that one. That’s probably the one when I was growing up a 49ers fan, sticks in my memory.”

(On what he sees from the Falcons defense)

“Really good upfront. Really, really good pass rush as they have been the last couple years and adding (Falcons DE) ‘Takk’ (Takkarist) McKinley only heightens that as well. At the linebacker spot, I think they’re very athletic. Very athletic with (Falcons LB) Deion Jones and (No.) 59 (LB De’Vondre Campbell) there. Extremely athletic, can cover, can tackle well and in the back half they’re really good as well – all four of them. (Falcons S) Keanu (Neal) does a good job playing down in the box, making a lot of run-play stops. Does a good job in coverage, all of them do. Really good job.”

(On if he looks at film from last year when he played the Falcons and see where things happened and apply them)


(On the game being a lot bigger and how this team’s confidence has grown)

“I think it comes from the top down. I think way that (Head Coach) Sean (McVay) handles himself weekly and the way that he is the same every week. He operates the same every week in the same rhythm and routine and that trickles down throughout the whole team. I think we feel the same way and try to operate the same way and have confidence in each other like he has confidence in us. I think it starts with him and ultimately spreads throughout the team.”

(On Falcons Head Coach Dan Quinn’s defensive scheme being similar to Seattle’s defensive scheme and if that helps him at all preparing for Sunday’s game)

“Yeah, I think so. If you count the Chargers preseason game, it’s seven times we’ve played a similar scheme to this. With that being said, they’re all different. Similar principles, but they all are different. The Falcons are much different than previous teams we’ve played in the scheme and do their own little wrinkles to it. So yeah it does help, but at the same time you’re prepping for a completely different team, as well.”

(On if he’s ever been nervous for a game and if he’ll be nervous for Saturday’s game)

“Oh, I’ll be nervous. Of course, yeah, you always get nervous. But I think it’s more excitement and more anxiety and you want to get out there than true nervousness. You may have that little pit in your stomach at the beginning of the game, but it’s no different than any other game for me, honestly. I feel the same way every week and going to approach this one the same way.”

(On it being the first time in 40 years a playoff game will be hosted at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and if he has been approached by anyone in the community)

“No, not really. It’s definitely a cool thing after football’s been gone from here for so long and we come back in year two and are able to bring a playoff game to the Coliseum is very cool. But no, we want to go out there and operate the same way we would weekly. It makes no difference that we’re in the playoffs now. Like I said it is a little bit more meaning to it, but we want to treat it the same.”