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LA Rams Transcripts, 10/31: Sean McVay, Shane Waldron, & Jared Goff

Here’s what the coaches and QB are saying leading up to the Saints in Week 9

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

Rams Head Coach Sean McVay

(On his thoughts on OLB Dante Fowler Jr.)

”We’re glad to be able to acquire (OLB) Dante (Fowler Jr.). It was a great job by (General Manager) Les (Snead) and our personnel staff getting him. We feel like he’s going to help us, specifically from a rush perspective. Got him in here and we’ll see how quickly he can get up to speed, if he’s going to be able to contribute and help us this weekend. But, we’re excited to get Dante here.”

(On what went into the decision to waive G Jamon Brown)

”It was a really tough decision because obviously there’s always some financial things involved in that. As a result of being able to acquire Dante, some other moves had to be made and unfortunately that led to (G) Jamon (Brown) being let go. But really, what a class act. Couldn’t have been more impressed with just the way that he handled, obviously, a tough, difficult discussion. There’s always the human element that I don’t think you’ll ever be okay with. That’s what’s tough for us, for me as a coach, is when you’ve got to look somebody in the eye who’s been nothing but a class act, a great teammate, instrumental in being able to win a division last year. Unfortunately, it hasn’t worked out this year, but can’t say enough good things about just the quality of the human being. He’s got a lot of good tape out there and we’re hopeful that he catches on and has a long, good career ahead of him. But, that was tough.”

(On relying on two rookies as their backup offensive linemen)

”Yeah, I think really it’s a demonstration of the confidence that we have in the progression that (T) Joe (Noteboom) and both (C) Brian (Allen) have made. (Run Game Coordinator) Coach (Aaron) Kromer’s leadership continues to be instrumental as well as those veterans in that room. I think when you’ve seen those guys get in there, they’re getting a lot of practice reps, especially just because of the way that we practice some of those older guys. It’s enabled Brian and Joe to be able to get a lot more reps than they would have otherwise throughout the course of the week. Then when they’ve played in games, they’ve done a nice job and that led to that decision. We feel confident in those guys moving forward.”

(On how much vetting the team was able to do prior to acquiring Fowler and what they heard that made them decide that he might be a good fit here)

”There’s always a very thorough vetting process that takes place any time that we bring somebody into the building, whether we’re looking to acquire them or actually acquiring them. There’s a lot of character references. A lot of coaches around the league that guys that have been in Jacksonville, that have been with him before that we’ve worked with, that spoke in a positive way about Dante. We feel like it was something that we wanted to be able to get him here. Heard nothing but good things as far as just a great kid, works hard, practices the right way, has great habits. Looking forward to getting to know him a little bit. I don’t really know him – obviously know about him and you’ve seen some of the things that he’s done from a production standpoint. But, we feel like with just the amount of resources that we were able to utilize and talk to as far as just the people that could speak on his behalf – people that we really value and take their opinion very seriously – it was good things and it was something we felt like we wanted to do.”

(On getting Fowler up to speed and if he’ll get on the practice field today or tomorrow)

”Yeah, he passed his physical and he’s going to – really, today is more of a mental, kind of that above-the-neck approach on a Wednesday for us. So, he’ll get exposed to a lot of reps. If he’s taking part in it or if he’s standing right there with (Defensive Line Coach) Billy Johnson listening to some of the calls, the communication. But, we anticipate him being able to be involved and kind of, really, we’ll see how he’s able to adjust, how he’s able to absorb that information. But, we wanted to get him in here and hopeful that he’s a contributor for us as soon as this weekend against a tough team.”

(On if Saints DE Marcus Davenport being out changes his offensive strategy)

”It doesn’t change much because he’s done a really nice job and he’s gotten involved a little bit more of late on some of their first and second-down stuff. You can see why they gave up what they did to go get him. He’s going to be a special player for a long time, but (Saints DE Alex) Okafor is a really good player as well. He’s had a lot of success in this league. (Saints DE) Cameron Jordan continues to demonstrate why he’s one of the more complete defensive linemen in the league. They’ve got great size inside. They’re number one in the league in rush defense. They’ve got some really good players on the back end, just acquired (Saints CB) Eli Apple. I think (Saints CB Marcus) Williams is one of the better safeties in the league in terms of his range. (Saints S) Vonn Bell’s played a lot of football and (CB Marshon) Lattimore is one of the best corners in this league. He’s got the ability to match-up, play star coverage on whoever they deem as some of the teams’ best receivers. It’s going to be a great challenge. (Saints CB) P.J. Williams coming off a Defensive Player of the Week where he’s got great instincts and awareness at that nickel spot. So, we’ve got to be ready to go, but Okafor has been a guy that’s played a lot. Doesn’t change much. Certainly (Saints DE Marcus) Davenport is a guy that’s going to be a really good player and has played really well of late, so you hate to see anybody get injured no matter whether you’re playing them or not.”

(On the challenge of going against Saints QB Drew Brees, especially with his ability to get the ball out so quickly)

”You’re looking at another week where a guy, first ballot Hall of Famer, all-time leading passer, completing 77 percent of his balls. I think just their offensive operation with his command, his presence is incredible. They’ve got a bunch of different personnel groupings that they can present on those early down-and-distances. They get in and out of the huddle with tempo and urgency. He’s recognizing defensive structures, enabling him to get into the proper plays. I think they’ve got a great balance of run and pass. Then obviously, (Saints QB) Drew (Brees), in terms of just the timing, the rhythm, the accuracy and the anticipation, he’s one of the best of all time at that. So, it’s going to be a great challenge. I think (Saints WR) Michael Thomas’ production speaks for itself. Big, physical receiver that they do a great job getting the ball in his hands in a lot of ways. (Saints RB Alvin) Kamara is one of the more complete backs in this league and it’s like, ‘Where’s Waldo?’ trying to find him the way they utilize him. Getting (Saints RB Mark) Ingram (II) back has added a big problem for them. They’ve got some young receivers that are making a lot of plays and maximizing and capitalizing on their (opportunists). (Saints TE) Ben Watson is still showing up. So, they’re one of the best offenses over the last handful of years, consistently. They’re always at the top and they’re continuing to get better and better, and this year is no different.”

(On if going with the no huddle offense is easier to achieve or more difficult in crowd noise)

”Certainly, any time that you take your ability to verbally communicate out of it, there are some added layers. But our players have done a great job in some of the settings – whether it’s Seattle, Denver – where you’re having to operate in the noise – Oakland in Week 1. We’ve got the ability to utilize our different tempos, whether you’re able to use your verbal or you’ve got to communicate visually. We know that the (Mercedes-Benz) Superdome is going to be rocking. It’s going to be a great atmosphere. But that definitely does affect you in some ways, but we look it as well as their defense has to communicate as well. So, when that noise is rocking, you want communication on both ends and we’ve got to do a great job playing with poise and concentration and being able to visually communicate in a variety of ways.”

(On if the team is maturing into a team that’s great when they have to be)

“I think through eight games, it’s a very small sample size, but I think what we’ve been really proud of with our team, what our players have demonstrated and our coaches as well is in some of those pressure moments, not letting the moment affect your ability to respond. However, you want to put it, great teams aren’t always great but they’re great in those pressure situations, or being your best when your best is required. You hear us say that all the times in terms of some of the competitive greatness. As a reflection of some of the things that we look up to with (late UCLA basketball Head Coach) Coach (John) Wooden. I think our players in the biggest moments have been big time and that’s really all three phases. You look at there’s a handful of games that have come down to one or two possessions at the end right there and guys have found a way to deliver. We got to take it one week at a time, half way through the season, there’s just so much football left to be played. Certainly, this is a great challenge for our football team, going to New Orleans with a team that’s won six in a row, they play really well at home. Just notoriously under (Saints Head Coach) Coach (Sean) Payton and when Drew Brees has been their quarterback. For us it’s about getting better one day at a time and hopefully peaking on Sunday at 3:25 (p.m. CST), whenever the heck we kick off in New Orleans.”

(On what he saw from WR Brandin Cooks when he played in New Orleans and if he’s utilizing him the same way or differently than when he was in New Orleans and if he’s evolved)

“Well, (WR) Brandin’s (Cooks) you’ve heard me say it before, he’s a guy that I’ve always been a fan of. But I’ve also been a fan of the system that they run in New Orleans. That’s a tape that you always study because I think Coach Payton does such a great job calling plays and attacking defenses and then obviously Drew’s ability to command it. Get them in and out of some of the right stuff. In a lot of ways, we’ll try to mimic some of the things that they do philosophically because that’s what be believe in here. Some of the things that Brandin has had a lot of success with throughout the course of his career at New Orleans are definitely things that we’re doing. I think like any other player that’s as conscientious as Brandin, he’s continued to evolve. He’s gotten better and better. There’s some things the way they used him in New England as well that we try to do as well. That’s something that both those offenses, both those systems — but he’s gotten better and better. Really, I don’t think there’s any way that you’re limited in how you can utility Brandin. Just because of the versatility, he’s a smaller guy but he’s strong and he’s physical at the line of scrimmage. So we are using him in a lot of the similar ways and then there’s some things that his game has evolved and we’re always trying to make sure that we do a good job of giving him a route versatility that complements his skills set.”

(On if there’s anything he’s seen from the Saints defense that will be challenging for the offense)

“Oh yeah. I think you see a whole lot. I think they got great personnel. I think (Defensive Coordinator) Coach (Dennis) Allen does an excellent job with their system where very sound in the early downs and he picks and chooses his right spots to be able to apply pressure to you. They’ve got really good players. You can see why they’re No. 1 in the league in rush defense right now. Great concept recognition, there’s a lot of communication, they’re mixing up some different coverage contours. Situationally, they’ve done a nice job. We’re still kind of in the early phases as far as our first and second down planning of it. But they’re playing really well of late. They’re getting the ball back, you can just see, very opportunistic. A couple of the turnovers that they forced specifically against Minnesota ended up being what kind of closed that game out. (Saints CB) P.J. Williams’ pick on the shallow-cross and he takes it to the house. That game pretty much was over then with about six minutes left in the third because of the way they were playing defensively and how that forced them offensively, Minnesota, to kind of change their plan. I think what’s a credit to them as a good football team more than anything is why the numbers can be misleading. They played a game to win it. They ran out the clock, they were in control of it the whole time and sometimes people just see the yards. But they played a game that was indicative of what great teams do and that’s winning football. They had a lead and they can do that. They can come from behind, they can play with a lead, they can do all types of different things in all three phases and that’s why they’re one of the best teams in this league and why they’ve won six in a row. It’s going to be a great challenge and we’re excited about it.”

(On his favorite Halloween costume as a kid growing up)

“Favorite Halloween costume as a kid. Maybe He-Man. Can you image that one? I looked pretty good.”

Rams Pass Game Coordinator Shane Waldron

(On how he handles his name being tossed around as a potential candidate for the Cleveland Browns’ coaching vacancy)

”Well, I think it’s humbling to get your name mentioned in something like that, especially with so many great coaches, assistant coaches throughout the league and on our staff. So like I said, it’s a humbling experience, but it really doesn’t affect our daily approach or what we’re getting ready to do and that’s getting ready to beat the (New Orleans) Saints and do everything in our power to try to make that happen. It’s a great football team that we’ve got to go at New Orleans to play in a noisy environment and get ready to roll there. I think with all that being said, that’s really what I’m focused at right now.”

(On if he had a conversation with Head Coach Sean McVay about his name being rumored as a potential candidate with the Browns)

”Yeah, we had a quick, good-natured conversation. I think every assistant coach in this league has aspirations to become a head coach at some point in their career and whenever that chance may come about. Like I said, it’s a great thing to have my name in those type of conversations, but again, it doesn’t really affect anything with this week. It’s a weekly business and just trying to get better against the Saints.”

(On WR Cooper Kupp coming back into the lineup and what that would mean for the offense)

”One of the positives that came out of (WR) Cooper (Kupp) having to be out for a little bit, is (WR) Josh (Reynolds) was really able to expand his role in the offense. Now, with Cooper coming back and with (WR) Nick Williams playing his role, you just can incorporate more and more people that we have confidence in. Obviously, getting Cooper back into the mix, that’s a big part of our system and all three of those receivers – now you can say four or five – get the tight ends in the mix and the backs with (RB) Todd (Gurley II) and (RB) Malcolm (Brown). We’re really able to spread the ball around and continue to play like we’ve been, which has been a balanced attack and really looking to spread the ball around where the defense presents those areas.”

(On if there’s anything he stressed with QB Jared Goff or anybody else in regard to communication amid the noise at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome)

”Yeah, I think it just transitions more to his verbal communication. We talk all the time in the building about our visual and verbal communication. When you go into a road environment, you want that visual communication to be at a premium and the verbal communication when it presents itself. Lucky for us, we’ve already played in some environments that have created that atmosphere, so we’ve had some stressful noise situations, when you think about Seattle (Seahawks) or some of our different road games. We prepare for it. We talk about it. Crank the music up out there as loud as we can. I’m getting older everyday because I recognize less and less of the songs every day (laughs). It’s pretty good though. We’ll be ready for it.”

(On the pass protection and how Goff has been hit more recently compared to earlier in the season)

”Any time that those things happen, there’s a couple different things that can occur each game. We were fortunate, really, to go through the beginning where he was really clean and then there’s some that maybe an edge happens here and there and he does get tackled or hit occasionally. Like we talked about, it is. As the NFL, those guys get paid, too. There’s some pretty darn good players that we faced the last few weeks. I think we’ve done such an excellent job up front with our running backs, with the quarterback, with his timing. Just something we’ll continue to emphasize and try to improve each week as far as the blitz pickups, as far as Jared getting the ball out on time, which like I said, we’ve done an excellent job. Been a few here and there and we’ll try to clean those up and move forward.”

(On what has impressed him the most with how WR Brandin Cooks has fit into the offense)

”I think, really, he hasn’t changed since the day he walked in the door. In his businesslike approach, where he picked up the offense right away, he’s a professional. He works hard every day, comes in early, stays late, asks a bunch of questions and that started, like I said, right when he got here and that’s continued. We’re right in the middle of an NFL season. It can be a grind. It can be long and his approach has stayed exactly the same. So, you can see why he’s had so much success in college, so much success on the other teams he’s been a part of, and why he’s continued to be a positive impact player for the Rams.”

Rams Quarterback Jared Goff

(On what he expects at the Superdome)

”It’ll definitely be one of the louder ones we’ll play all year. I think every game they have there at home is quite loud and especially with this being a bigger game of the year, it’ll be loud. I’m sure it will be rockin’. It’ll be fun.”

(On what he expects from the Saints defense)

”Similar to last year and then different in ways. They do some things that we saw last year on tape and they mix up things as well, so it’ll be interesting. They’ve got good edge rush and good DBs and good backers, so it’ll be a good one.”

(On how he’s doing physically)

”Yeah, I’m doing good. I think just, you play eight in a row, stuff starts to add up, you get a little sore. But no, other than that, I’m fine.”

(On him having x-rays done after the Packers game)

”Yeah, I’ve had x-rays done a few times this year. You guys only heard about it last week though. But no, I’m fine. Nothing, nothing. I’ve been practicing full. I’m good.”

(On what kind of message is sent to the team when the Rams trade for OLB Dante Fowler)

”Yeah, it’s great. Just getting him in the building today, seeing him around. I know he’s excited to be here. We’re excited to have him and get that presence on the edge there. I know everyone on defense is excited about him. Hopefully, get him on the field as soon as possible.”

(On how WR Brandin Cooks has done through the first half of the season and what he expects to happen during the second half between him and Cooks)

”He’s been great. I thought he’s been really good. The way he works, the way he practices has been awesome to see. Just having him out there and him just being a presence and continuing to make plays and big guy I can rely on. It’s been huge. Hopefully, continue to grow with him as time goes on and the rest of the season is no different in that way.”

(On if there is anything that has surprised him about Cooks)

”Yeah, he’ll be the first one to say. He’s almost been exclusively used as a deep ball guy early on his career and we’ve used him in a bunch of different ways and intermediate and short. That’s been really awesome to see that he’s very, very much so a complete receiver and can do all those little things.”

(On if they’re learning to become a championship team)

”I think like you said, yeah, every game’s different and we’ve learned teams sometimes know how to lose and some teams know how to win and we’re starting to learn how to win and how to win in different ways. Whether it’s on the ground, through the air, defense having a shutout, (P) Johnny (Hekker) punting one down to the one (yard line) like he did, (LB) Ramik (Wilson) making a play on special teams – different things like that is awesome to see. It really brings the whole team together when we can rely on each other like that in every phase of the game, like you were saying, and be that complete team, is really what you strive to be.”

(On if he was relieved on a personal level that WR Cooper Kupp’s injuries weren’t worse than they turned out to be)

”Yeah, no doubt. I think the knee one was definitely scary to see it. You see those happen all the time and usually they’re not very good. Whenever someone gets carted off like that, usually it doesn’t end up very good. I think he’s recovered really quickly. He’s progressed and we’ll see what happens this week. I think he’s progressing well and I’ll be excited to hopefully get him back out there.”

(On the loudest stadium he’s ever played in and the communication challenges that presents for a quarterback

”Last year in Minnesota was the loudest. Then, yeah, there’s just challenges like every other road game though. I think once it gets to a certain point, you can’t verbally communicate anymore and you have to use hand signals and try to run over and talk to guys and be tight in the huddle. All that stuff can definitely cause issues at times, but we’ve been through that for a year or two now with this communication and have a pretty good process about it.”

(On if helps to have had a couple games where other receivers have had to step up and his confidence that they can go out and perform)

”No doubt. Yeah, no doubt. You love getting your starters back and getting (WR) Cooper (Kupp) back is huge, but just guys like (WR) Josh (Reynolds) that can step back in and even (WR) KhaDarel (Hodge) and everyone, really, that can step in and be that guy that you can rely on. Guys that I’ve now had reps with and now can really be comfortable and confident with.”

(On how much more comfortable and mature he is as a quarterback at this point in his career since the last time he played in the Superdome)

”Much more comfortable. As time goes on, you become more comfortable in your role and I think that’s no different with this one. Just being able to be the leader I want to be, the teammate I want to be, the person I want to be and just continue to mature and grow and be the best I can be every day.”

(On what he remembers from his first game in the Superdome and whether it was a big game in his development as a player)

”Yeah, I remember in the first half we hung with them a little bit. They were able to pull away and beat us pretty good there in the second half the last time we played there. I don’t know, I think it maybe gave me some confidence knowing that being in a hostile environment like that and being able to make plays was something that I saw myself do and was able to kind of grow from that experience. I feel – kind of going off of what (ESPN reporter) Lindsey (Thiry) was asking – just completely different from then and just so much more mature. Just have grown a lot since then.”

(On what he picked up from being around Saints Head Coach Sean Payton and QB Drew Brees at the 2017 Pro Bowl)

”You see (Saints QB) Drew’s (Brees) work ethic, first of all. Just every day in practice see him go through his process and his routine. You admire that. I think just really being able to kind of see him work with those coaches you see how comfortable he is in that. It’s essentially his system at this point. He’s so comfortable in it and knows – it’s telepathic almost between them and you can see that. I know you’ve heard about that for years, but you can definitely see it when you’re in that room with them. I’ve got a lot of admiration for Drew and everything he does. I’m a big fan of his and it’ll be fun to compete.”

(On if the dynamic between Payton and Brees is something that he sees and would want to emulate between himself and Head Coach Sean McVay)

”Yeah, I mean those guys are two of the best ever to do it together. Of course. You always want to strive to be the best. I think that’s no different. Me and (Head Coach) Sean (McVay) have a great relationship and hopefully it’ll continue to grow.”