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LA Rams transcripts 10/10: Sean McVay, Aaron Kromer, & Jared Goff

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Here’s what the Rams’ head coach, starting QB, and run game coordinator had to say following their Week 5 win over the Seahawks and their impending matchup against the Denver Broncos

NFL: Los Angeles Rams-OTA Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Rams Head Coach Sean McVay

(On an update on WRs Brandin Cooks and Cooper Kupp)

”Yeah, they’re progressing along in the protocol, making positive steps in the right direction. We’ll have a little bit more of an update if they’re on track to play, but everything is good. No setbacks or anything like that. They’re progressing in the right direction.”

(On if Cooks and Kupp will practice today)

”No, just because of the way that you have to go through it. They were able to take part in the walk-thru. They won’t practice today, but they just took part in – today is a big mental day for us anyways. We kind of alleviate the physical toll on these guys. So, they were able to take part in that part just now.”

(On if he expects WRs Josh Reynolds and KhaDarel Hodge to step in if Cooks and Kupp are unable to play on Sunday)

”Yeah, it would be those guys that did a nice job stepping in last week. But, unless there’s any setbacks, as long as they continue to take steps in the right direction, we feel good about those guys being ready to go.”

(On if there’s something to be said about the defense knowing how to close games in the second half and fourth quarter)

”Yeah, for sure there is. I think (Defensive Coordinator) Wade (Phillips) said it the other day – good teams plays their best in some of those pressure situations and I think that’s what you’ve seen from our defense. It’s a real credit to those guys. Certainly, the goal is to always play those complete games, but the other guys get paid too. There’s been some really good stuff that’s been done on the other side that you definitely don’t want to take credit away from, some of the things that these offenses have done. I know the work that our guys put in week-in, week-out. I know the work that the coaches put in to put in a game plan that’s conducive for putting our players in good spots. Our goal is to start fast and finish strong. That’s something that’s going to be a great challenge against an offense that presents a variety of problems in the run game, guys that make plays in the pass game. So, it’s a great challenge for us this week.”

(On WR Josh Reynolds suffering injuries in both of the past two training camps, if that set him back both years and how he’s seen him progress since he got drafted)

”Yeah, it’s hard to say. Certainly, hurting that ankle this past year, it definitely set him back in terms of just getting the reps. But in terms of the confidence, I thought (WR) Josh (Reynolds) took a lot of really good steps in the right direction with the offseason program that he had, the comfort level. Even though he had his shoulder injury where he wasn’t totally full speed, he was able to get out there, do a lot of the reps. He was intentional about learning the system in the meetings, where he’s got some position flex where he can really play all of our receiver spots because, really, (Wide Receivers Coach Eric) Yarber teaches concepts as opposed to just single spots. When those guys have a big picture understanding, it helps them to have a little bit more versatility and flexibility with some of the positions that we’re playing them at. Really, we’ve got such confidence in those three – have played so well that his opportunities have been limited, but to his credit, when his number was called this past week he did a great job delivering. It was the same thing when last year he got a couple opportunities. So, you never want to see guys get injured, but we do – like we’ve mentioned before – we feel like Josh is a starting-caliber player. We feel like he demonstrated that the other day and continues to take steps to get better.”

(On if there’s anything he can do to prepare the team to potentially play in the snow in October)

”Not really. I think, really, they’ve got to play in that as well. You’ve got to adjust. There’s a couple different things just menu-wise with your play selection that you want to be aware of, but it’s just like anything else. They’ve got to deal with those elements as well. Out here in southern California, unless we want to go to an ice rink, I don’t think we can really mimic and emulate that.”

(On the weather concerns him at all regarding LB Mark Barron being able to play)

”Really, until you brought it up, it could potentially just because of what occurred last year in Tennessee. It’s a good point and that’s something that we do want to think about as far as just making sure that we do all the little things to try to manage and make sure that’s not an issue. But, could it come up? Maybe it could, but I think (LB) Mark (Barron) would probably give you a better answer in terms of just how that cold affects his body.”

(On concerns for K Greg Zuerlein kicking in those conditions and if he’s still a possibility to play this week)

”He’s probably another week away. I thought (K) Cairo (Santos) did a nice job last week. Obviously, the thing that says as much as anything is the ability to respond. Missed the extra point, but then he makes a game-winning field goal. We always talk about the response and that was something that was instrumental obviously in getting that win the other day. But, I think the biggest thing is, talking to (Special Teams Coordinator John Fassel) ‘Bones’ and even talking to (K) Greg (Zuerlein), and as you continue to try to get more familiar – especially with the history of this injury with regards to kickers. The last thing you want to do is rush them back where they could potentially have a setback. The confidence that we do have in Cairo enables us to be a little bit more patient than maybe we would otherwise.”

(On if the offense’s ability to get ahead dictates the way their defense plays because opposing offenses are always trying to catch up and if that makes it difficult on the defense)

”Well, these five games have kind of provided a little bit different approach in each of the games. We were behind at the half against the (Oakland) Raiders. We had a lead for the entire game against the (Arizona) Cardinals and then it was kind of back and forth in those other two. Then, obviously playing from behind towards the end of the game against the (Seattle) Seahawks where you’ve got to kick a field goal with a few minutes left. So, I think the guys have done a good job. We always talk about playing complementary football. That’s one of the things as a coaching staff we try to make sure that we collaborate on is, offense, defense, special teams – what are the things that their phases do well? What do we need to do in order to be able to try to accomplish a win and put our guys in good spots? But, we always try to talk about playing complementary football. I think to the defense’s credit, when we’ve needed a stop at the most important times throughout the course this year, they’ve delivered in a big way. We always want to try to play those complete games in all three phases, but we know that that’s easier said than done. But, I think those guys have done a nice job and we always talk about playing that complementary football. I don’t know if that answers – hopefully that answers your question a little bit.”

(On if they anticipated DB Blake Countess providing a big lift as a kickoff returner and what that has provided for the team)

”He did a nice job. I thought there were some really good setups on the returns. He hit it. He had good ball security. Then (OLB Matt) Longacre got involved a little bit as well and got a couple returns. So, (DB) Blake (Countess) did a nice job. Going back to Auburn, he has some history returning kicks. You can see he hits that fearless. He’s got the speed to be able to press it and set some of those returns the right way and that’s what you want from a kick returner. He’s demonstrated that and we’ll continue to move forward with him. Obviously, he plays a valuable role on (special) teams and some other phases and on defense as well.”

(On how he felt he did with red zone play calling this past week)

”I think really, the first one, you’re disappointed because after an efficient run on first down, then you probably should’ve run it again, especially when you get a three-man rush and a loaded zone kind of look behind that, that leads to a turnover. You just want to make sure, ‘Alright, are you doing things that put our guys in good spots?’ Later on, then when we didn’t punch it in from the one (yard line) right there, that’s something that we can learn from in terms of they played a little bit different defensive structure than what they had shown. It was kind of the same look that they played later on when we ran the (quarterback) sneak. But I thought our players did a really good job after those first two, getting four conversions in a row where you end up going four for six. The goal is to always come away with points most importantly, but prefer touchdowns. I think you just want to continue to learn. One of the things that I’m not afraid to admit is that this is only the fourth year that I’ve done it. By no means do I have all the answers or the solutions. You try to look at yourself critically, and that really goes for all of us as coaches is figuring out, ‘Alright, are we making decisions’ – and it’s not so much the result as much as, ‘Alright, was this in alignment with what we think is best?’ If it works out – and sometimes there’s a lot of situations, more times than not – where I get lucky because the players end up bailing you out. So, that’s where some of those situations as far as remaining patient, are we getting good removal in the run game and if that’s the case then you want to be aware of that, but you also want to have that unpredictable element as well.”

(On if play calling is something that you get better at with experience or if it’s something where you can really study it)

”Yeah, I think experience is so valuable. If there’s one thing that I’ve learned is if you try to learn from your mistakes and make sure that you put those things in the memory bank, that’s really valuable. I think that’s one of the things that’s been as humbling and as eye opening as anything else. You always sit back and you hope to be able to get a chance to call plays and, ‘Oh yeah, you can do it,’ or whatever and then when you actually get into that role, it’s a little bit more humbling than what you thought. You’ve got to make sure that you’re adjusting, you’re able to adapt. You’re making sure that, ‘Alright, are you playing the game within the game beforehand so that you’ve got those decisions already made before, but then you’re also ready to adjust if they do something that’s different than what the film had said and kind of what you were planning on with regards to your game plan.’ I thought our coaches did an excellent job, in the second half especially, when you lose two key players like (WR) Brandin (Cooks) and (WR) Cooper (Kupp), to have their guys ready. Then, for the players to be able to adjust and adapt and still have a productive second half says a lot about the coaches and then obviously the players’ ability, most importantly, to handle that.”

Rams Run Game Coordinator Aaron Kromer

(Opening statement)

”Hey guys, I would like to start by just saying this first. We’ve had a good start but I feel like on our offense, especially the offensive line, that we have a lot of things that we can work on and that we can get better at. We left some plays out there, blocking scheme – wise. I think we blocked the right guys, we did the right thing, but it just didn’t quite finish out all the run plays like we wanted to in the last game. Had a couple pressures on the quarterback that I think we can get back. But, that’s where I think we are right now as an offensive line.”

(On the offensive line being graded as one of, if not the best offensive line this season and if there’s anything they’re doing different this year or if the players are just clicking more in their second year together)

”I think it’s clicking in the second year. I believe that it’s a case where these guys understand what we’re trying to get done. I said this two weeks ago, that they have a better understanding of what’s happening, and where the quarterback is in pass-protection downs and what the runner’s intent is in the running game. I think when everybody does that then you have a chance to, whoever’s grading, grade out better than you think. Like I said, I still think we can get a lot better and keep improving as the year goes on. That’s always the goal, by the end of the year to be better.”

(On playing a team that didn’t have the greatest run-game defense last week and how they approach that)

”I think in general, in last week’s game the Jets made some big plays that I think some guys were just out of position and didn’t make the tackle. I think they’ll get that fixed. I think it’s more than just a normal, they just rushed for 300 yards. They broke out some really big plays, where you get one guy slightly out of position and that’s how it works. That’s professional football league defense. So, I’m sure they’ll get that fixed and it’ll be a tough road for us. They have two talented players on the edge, they’ve been good in the middle. I think that was just a blimp on the radar for them.”

(On the final possession of the Seattle game where the punt team came out and then they decided to go for it on offense and if he was on the phone with Head Coach Sean McVay saying they should go for it)

”That’s a good question. I had nothing to do with it (laughs). Honestly, what was happening was a decision was being made by the head coach, the players came off just as (Head Coach) Sean (McVay) has said. The players came off with full confidence that they could get that yard to gain and I believe at that point it convinced the coach. There was no need to ask anyone else. When the guys doing it think they can, there’s a great chance that they’ll get it done.”

Rams Quarterback Jared Goff

(On how he felt he played against Seattle and what he thinks he can improve on moving forward)

”I felt like we did a lot of good things offensively and moved the ball pretty good. Again, I say it almost every week, you always want to finish in the red zone and that’s a lot to do with me there with that turnover there. Just finishing with touchdowns as much as we can and continue to take care of the ball.”

(On how irreplaceable players like WRs Brandin Cooks and Cooper Kupp are)

”They’re great players. They’re tremendous players and guys that I think would start on any team in the league, which makes them so special. I think more than anything, you miss their intellect and how smart they are. That’s not taking away from what they can do physically obviously, but they’re just so smart and get everyone lined up and are always on top of everything, understand the whole play. It’s hard to replace, but like you said, I think (WR) Josh (Reynolds) and (WR) KhaDarel (Hodge) did such a great job filling in. Hopefully, I’d like to get those two guys back this week.”

(On the offensive line)

”They’ve been tremendous. They’ve been really, really good all five weeks. They’ve kept me clean, they’ve kept the holes big for (RB) Todd (Gurley II) and they’re probably the number one reason we’ve been able to be so successful up to this point is their work up front. There hasn’t been a better group in the league I don’t think.”

(On what he has seen from Broncos QB Case Keenum since he was last with the Rams)

”Well last year, obviously the run he made with the (Minnesota) Vikings. That was so cool to see with him coming into the season, I don’t think expecting to play, and then all the circumstances that happened there. Then he finishes out the season with such a great year. Everything he did there was so great to see. You just seem him continue to get comfortable. I think from the year I was with him until now, I think – just like I have – we’ve both grown and gotten so much better. You see him more comfortable and just continuing to get better and it’s rare that that happens. But, I think that’s such a testament to the guy he is that this late in his career that he’s able to continue to get better and continue to improve. It’s awesome to see.”

(On if there’s anything he can do mentally or physically to prepare for playing in the snow and the cold in Denver)

”No. Just try to stay warm. If it is going to be cold, try to stay warm and do your best. I know that equipment will get us ready with a lot of stuff. Can’t really replicate that weather out here too well. Right now, it’s pretty nice. So if it is cold, we’ll play in it and if it’s not we’ll play in it and adjust accordingly. Yeah, I don’t know.”

(On if he always has to know where Broncos OLB Von Miller is on the field)

”Yes and no. I think on certain plays ‘no’ and some plays ‘yes.’ If it’s a known passing situation, knowing where a guy like that is that’s had so much success in those situations is, is important. But, I trust (T) Rob (Havenstein) and (T Andrew Whitworth) ‘Whit’ – whichever side he decides to play this week. I trust both those guys tremendously and what they’re done this year and through their whole careers has earned that trust and we feel good about both matchups. Not taking away from (Broncos OLB) Von (Miller) though. He’s a tremendous player.”

(On RB Todd Gurley II’s ability to block for him and how much does that help what they’re able to do as an offense)

“I think the ability to keep him in on third downs is huge. It’s just rare a back can run the way he does and then be so good in protection, so smart and understand the protection fully and then catch out of the backfield as well. All those things put together, he’s a three-down back. He’s a guy that we can leave him in there on third downs and be comfortable with him picking up linebackers and picking up corner blitzes and everything.”

(On if he thinks Coach McVay has improved as a red zone play caller)

“I think he’s a great play caller in any situation. We’re all trying to improve in every situation. Like I just said a minute ago, I’ve thrown three interceptions in the red zone and that’s definitely not helping us out. We’re all trying to improve and I think that’s really great when you can see a coach take ownership in things, especially if it’s not his fault. It’s awesome to see and I think it trickles down through the team.”

(On if he thinks McVay is overly critical of himself)

“Yes. Yeah, I do. He’s been great. We can be great, we can do a lot better as well.”

(On what he’s seen from WR Josh Reynolds and his growth since last year and what he’s seen from WR KhaDarel Hodge)

“(WR) KhaDarel’s (Hodge) a guy who’s — I don’t think he was on a team before we got him in camp, and that’s crazy to me because he was so good in the preseason and has been great with us so far. He’s good on special teams and is smart and strong and fast and all that. He’s been great. And then (WR) Josh (Reynolds), yeah, seeing him grow over the last year has been awesome. He came in learning a lot of things last year, just seeing him become more of a pro and a guy that I can trust down in and down out. Last year, he had to play a few games last year when (WR) ‘Rob’ (Woods) got hurt. Had some big plays against the Saints, probably could of had a couple touchdowns if I threw a better ball on a couple of things. He’s been great, he’s a guy that we trust. If he’s the one that has to go at any time, at any game we feel totally comfortable with it.”