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Los Angeles Rams transcripts, 11/1: Sean McVay, Wade Phillips, & Todd Gurley

Here’s what the Rams’ coaches and star running back had to say on Thursday

NFL: Los Angeles Rams Press Conference Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Rams Head Coach Sean McVay

(On if WR Cooper Kupp is on track to play this weekend)

”He is, yeah. He was feeling good yesterday. Today will really be the big day just based on the way that we’re operating as far as practice goes. Our belief is that he’s going to be good to go. Hopefully, he’ll have a good practice today, I know he’s feeling good and confident and excited to be back out there.”

(On if there’s a difference when it’s WR Robert Woods, WR Brandin Cooks and Kupp in combination)

”I thought those guys have played really well together. It’s a great group of three, but I think what’s been great if you’re going to try to spin a positive on Cooper being out, is it’s given us a chance to see what we believed in (WR) Josh Reynolds and that he’s a starting caliber receiver, certainly isn’t too big for him. I think the more depth that you can have, the better. Josh is one of those guys that, he’s got great length – you can see. Did a great job on the third down, getting vertically, good ball security, splitting two and then he had two big touchdown catches that ended up being instrumental in the outcome. So, what it does is, you have so much confidence in those top three, but then we also have a lot of confidence in Josh, whether that be (at) Seattle (Seahawks) or whether that be this past week against the (Green Bay) Packers, he’s demonstrated that he’s deserving of being on the field and he’s going to be able to continue to play and be an important part of it. But, we’re certainly glad to get Cooper back. I think those three specifically, to go back to your original question, are very good receivers that can do everything. I think their skillsets complement each other really well.”

(On if he remembers anything from QB Jared Goff’s game against the Saints in 2016)

”Oh yeah, that was one of the things that – we’ve kind of talked about it before – that really stood out in terms of just his ability to be able to make some throws, whether it’s moving, sliding in the pocket, hitting (Former Rams TE) Lance Kendricks down the left sideline on some out cuts, or he gets to a zero check and hits (Former Rams WR) Tavon Austin in a three-by-one formation where he’s running a corner (route). But, those are things that you look at. Those are things that impressed you about his ability to keep his eyes down the field, make big-time throws. It was a good back-and-forth game in the first half, where they made a lot of plays. Then, their offense did an excellent job and it ended up getting a little out of hand at the end. That was a game that, when you really watch his body of work specific to his rookie year that stood out where you see those traits and characteristics that make him a No. one overall pick, you see the toughness, you see the ability to keep your eyes downfield in the face of a rush when you’re about to get hit. That was definitely – getting a chance to come in and interview for the job when you’re looking at the quarterback specifically – that was one of the games that made you feel very confident before you even meet him, which then gives you even more of a belief of what he’s capable of.”

(On his three wide receivers being on pace to hit 1,000 receiving yards and what it says about the chemistry that they have with Goff)

”Yeah, I think it is unusual. I think it’s also unusual to have three guys that are almost playing every snap as well. Those guys are doing a great job. They complement each other really well, but they’re not limited in anything that they can do. I just think their overall understanding – they’re all very talented, but they’re so conscientious. I think it’s one of those unique things where you get a chance to observe and you see three great players positively push each other in a supportive and encouraging way where there’s a competition, but it’s healthy where it’s about them as a unit. Obviously, it’s the same with Josh and with (WR) KhaDarel (Hodge) and (WR) Nick Williams. It’s exciting to see what those guys are doing. Certainly, we want to try to get everybody involved. Jared’s done an excellent job spreading the ball around, getting those three involved specifically. You see Josh start to get a couple more touches of late. That’s something that you always strive to do. But, it is great and you feel lucky to be able to have a group like that.”

(On Goff’s comfortably and confidence on the field and one-liners that he drops that are catchy and if Goff gets coach with that and if he’s more comfortable off the field)

”Yeah, I think like anything else, you’re just more comfortable as you continue to gain that experience and whether it’s where you’re talking football or you’re talking about just gaining experience in life in general. But, he’s got a nice way about himself where he doesn’t take himself too seriously. What you love about him is, he’s so refreshingly secure in himself that he’s unaffected by good or bad kind of outside noise if you will. I think that’s a really good trait for a quarterback, especially in the NFL when things are going good, it’s great and when they’re not, then those guys often tend to get a lot more blame than they probably deserve, especially when you think about the expectations that come with where he’s drafted and things like that. It’s refreshing just to see how grounded he is and I think that’s a reflection of his family. When you see it, when you meet his parents, you meet his siblings, you just see he comes from a great family, but that’s why his teammates love him so much too because he’s just comfortable in his own skin and not trying to be anybody that he’s not. I think that’s what players feel and that’s why it resonates and he’s also pretty good at football.”

(On if he’s used any one-liners on him)

”He’s gotten a lot. There’s always little things here and there. I’m sure there’s a lot of good one-liners when I’m not around too (laughs).”

(On if his ability to recall the 2016 game against the Saints was because of his natural ability or because of film study)

”That’s the one thing, those are games you go back through a lot. So, when you see some of those things – it’s like anything else, if it’s something that you revisit continuously at your job. It’s not like I haven’t seen that one since he made that play. When you see some of those types of plays, you compile it. You ask me about anything else in life and it’s going to be real ugly. Football is about all that I have room in this small brain for. So, it’s something that we’ve gone through a bunch though.”

(On the differing offensive approaches of Sean Payton and himself)

”(Saints Head Coach) Sean (Payton) is a guy that – I mean he’s been doing it for so long. He’s been at the top of the game in terms of one of the premier play callers and being able to run an offense that’s at the top of the league year in and year out, longer than I’ve been coaching. So, I’ve always had such a huge amount of respect for him and the way that they operate offensively. Really, it’s a result of just the players that you do have. Our job is to always adjust and adapt. It starts with the players – what do they do best and then let’s adjust our system accordingly. I think to Coach Payton’s credit, they’ve done an excellent job where there’s a very clear vision on guys that fit within the framework of their system and he develops roles and then he’s able to put pressure on people by changing those personnel groupings. I want to say they’ve got almost 14 different variations of personnel groupings on those early down-and-distances. The way that they get in and out of the huddle and what kind of pressure that applies to a defense in terms of how do you match, what do you want to be able to do based on what they can present out of those personnel groupings is what’s special. But for us, it’s a situation where in Washington it was a little bit different because of some of the players. Here, you get here and you have so much confidence in some of the different things that our receivers are able to do based on their versatility where we’re actually running a lot of plays that you see out of the 12 (personnel grouping), the 21 personnels, but as a result of our receivers being such special, unique, versatile players, we can do some different things that typically I hadn’t done before or our offensive staff hasn’t done before out of 11 personnel. But, it’s something that we’re learning. It’s really, it’s the Rams system that we’re continuing to adapt and adjust. It’s a collaborative effort with our coaching staff. The cool thing about it too is our players have a lot of input in terms of making sure that they understand what we’re trying to do. When you talk about somebody that’s been doing it for a long time, the Saints are the epitome of that. It’s just applying pressure to the defense in different ways, but they certainly do it with the personnel changes and the efficiency at which they operate.”

(On if not substituting players as much as Payton and the Saints prevents tells)

”Yeah, I mean it definitely makes it harder to pick up on tendencies. That’s for sure, just because when a certain guy – now we’ll still get some different players in the game, but you’re still usually doing it out of three receivers, one tight end, one back. That’s something that we try to do, we try to be mindful of. But, in the same token, if you’re switching personnel groupings out so frequently, it’s got to come down from the box, what personnel are they in and then it’s got to resonate, ‘All right, what are the tendencies out of that and then way are the priority calls we want to be able to activate from a defensive standpoint?’ So, they’re putting a lot of pressure on defenses with what they do. The more that you continue to learn, you can just see there’s a commitment to an identity. They know what they stand for and I think that’s a reason why they’ve been so successful. They’ve got a clear-cut philosophy with how they want to utilize specifically the skill players, how they want to throw the football. I think you’re seeing a really great balance of run and pass. It’s been impressive.”

(On if ever envisions a situation where he and QB Jared Goff have the type of run that Payton and Brees have had in New Orleans)

”What I think you’re appreciative of is when you look at those guys, the consistency is unbelievable. They’re special players. They’re special coaches. There’s a great rapport that exists in terms of their relationship. Just from my standpoint, what I do feel really fortunate is when you get a chance to work with a special player who you also really enjoy being around as a person. It makes you want to work that much harder to try to continue to do a great job for this team. Usually if things go well then you get a chance to stay in those roles and continue to develop. So, for sure, you want to continue to do that. I love working with Jared and really, our coaching staff, our players. You talk about it the other day and you just feel so fortunate and blessed to be in this situation, working with the people you’re working with under a great owner. When you get with a quarterback that is as talented as he is, as conscientious, as coachable and you enjoy being around him as a person, that’s something that you don’t take for granted. Very appreciative of that and hope to be able to do this for as long as they’ll have us in this role.”

Rams Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips

(Opening statement)

“Going against another Hall of Fame quarterback, obviously. All-time leading passer. I can’t say enough good things about (Saints QB) Drew Brees. I was in San Diego and we went from 4-12 to 12-4. He’s a winner. He went to New Orleans, obviously he wins a Super Bowl. He’s done everything. And besides that, he’s a great human being. He’s a great person, he’s a great person, great dad. He’s everything we can handle certainly. And, he set an all-time record I think right now certainly for pass completions. He’s hit maybe 80 percent of his passes. I mean that’s unheard of, but if anybody can do it it’s him. And we’re playing against the Saints, I’ve been there before. So, it’s another revenge game for me (laughs). Actually, it was my first time I got to be a head coach. I was interim coach and we played the Rams. We beat them, 23-9, (former Saints LB) Jack Del Rio picked up a fumble for a touchdown. I think we scored one other touchdown on offense and (former Saints K) Morten Andersen kicked like five field goals. The Rams were a good team that year, it was ‘85 and they lost to the Bears in the playoffs. So that was a big game for us in New Orleans. But it was only one game, and then they shipped me out of there. So, I’m still mad at them (laughs).”

(On bringing in DE Dante Fowler and what he brings to the table and if he anticipated him playing this weekend)

“Yes. (DE) Dante Fowler, obviously we got him because we feel like he can help us. His expertise is in pass-rush. That’s probably one of the easiest positions to come in and play. You say, ‘Hey, you go rush the passer on this down.’ But he’s picked up everything well. Seems like a sharp guy, picked up everything so far. We may use him in our first and second down defense too. We needed an outside backer just numbers-wise, if nothing else. But now we got a guy that we feel like can help us even on first and second down. We think he’ll help us on third downs.”

(On where Fowler’s game is right now in terms of being just a pass rusher versus a three-down player or if he needs to progress a little more)

“We’ve always prided ourselves on our system that we can get guys up to speed quickly. First thing you have to do is know what to do. We don’t want our players to be hesitant, so we want them to know what to do so they can play fast. I think our system, our teaching system, helps do that. I feel comfortable that he can get in first and second down and do what he can do, knowing what to do. We’ll see how much he plays obviously, but third downs is where I’d look for him first. Because like I said, that’s the easiest to go in and say, ‘Hey, you rush the passer outside from the left or the right,’ depending on which one we tell him to be on.”

(On if it’s a great challenge when you’re going up against a Saints Head Coach Sean Payton and QB Drew Brees combination duo that’s been together for so long and if it’s harder to try to defend against them)

“Yes, I mean, we played against one last week and the same kind of combination. They’ve been together for a long time. The great ones you try to slow them down (laughs). Points is the most important thing, winning the game is the most important thing. Whether it’s 29-27 or 10-9, whatever it is, that’s what we try to learn to do is play well enough to beat the other teams’ defense, play better than the other team’s defense does. The offense is always a challenge, especially with (Saints Head Coach) Sean Payton and those guys having so much experience together. They’re real aggressive in what they do. We did a great job, our offense did a great job and our special teams getting us where we didn’t have to play any two-minute situations. Those guys are especially tough there.”

(On CB Aqib Talib being named a captain and without him being on the field, play making ability aside, is there a leadership presence that they miss without him)

“Well, we’ve won eight games, so I don’t know — I love (CB) Aqib (Talib), I think his leadership is outstanding. But he helps in the classroom and those kinds of things. He does all he can do right now. Obviously, his playing abilities will help when and if he gets back. He’s doing everything he can right now.”

(On FS Lamarcus Joyner having a quiet year and how much of that is related to what he’s being asked to do schematically)

“Well he’s in the middle most the time, in the middle of the field playing free safety. Some games there hasn’t been any business there. You don’t see them throwing it deep over the middle very much. We try to utilize him as much as we can. (SS) John Johnson is such a good run player also it’s hard to put both of them up there, then we don’t have anybody in the middle. But we’re working on trying to do as many things as we can to spotlight him because he does things well.”

(On if part of adding a player like Fowler is to try to get him in as many one-on-one opportunities as possible and if it’s easier to do that with players like DTs Ndamukong Suh, Aaron Donald and DE Michael Brockers to do that)

“If you’re playing defensive end, you have more one-on-ones naturally. The hardest thing is to play inside like (DT) Aaron (Donald) does and that’s why he’s such a tremendous player. When I had (former Eagles DE) Reggie White, he was playing defensive tackle when we first had him. We moved him to defensive end so people couldn’t double team him and he did all right. What I’m saying is, there’s more one-on-one out there. In the middle they can always bring the center every time. Last week they blocked Aaron with a back also or tried to, not successfully but they tried. So that just shows you what a tremendous player he is. It’s hard to play inside. The only advantage you have is a little bit shorter of a distance to the quarterback, but it’s a lot harder to get there.”

(On having coached for a long time)

“Long, long, long time (laughs).”

(On if he gets excited to scheme against a Hall of Famer)

“Well we played against him a lot of times, but it’s not me playing it’s what our players can do. It’s just a big, important game for our team and that’s really the extent of it for me. Even though I have a grudge against a lot of teams (laughs). No, I mean, it’s a challenge certainly to play really well or win a game against those kinds of people.”

(On if game planning against a player like QB Drew Brees is a chance to showcase the defense more so than other less decorated quarterbacks)

“No, it’s a chance for our players to try to get them in the right position to be able to make plays against whoever we’re playing and however good they are. I take it as a challenge and our players surely take it as a challenge. NFL or football, is a one week season every week. It’s what can we do to win this game and that’s what we’re trying to do.”

(On if he recalls the last rule the NFL implemented to benefit the defense)

“Help the defense? I don’t think they have any that help the defense, that I know of. You know we got them to — I was head coaching at that time, so we brought up the rule where if the guy is on the sideline catching the ball he has to have to have his feet in bounds. You can push him out of bounds as they’re catching the ball. Before that they decided whether he would of come down in bounds or not. So that’s the last one that I think we got through defensively.”

(On Donald being double-teamed 70 percent of the time)

“I’m not doing my job then.”

(On Donald being double-teamed 70 percent of the time which is almost double the next player and still having 10 sacks and what is it about him that enables him to break double-teams like that)

“I don’t know they’re calling him a goat, so I don’t know. I think he’s a pretty good player, a lot of people are saying he’s a goat. Yes, he’s awesome. I’ve had a lot of great ones and he’s another one in that top echelon. Like I said, he’s special in that it’s just so hard to do inside. People don’t — like you said, he is double-teamed a lot. Even they brought the back on him also. He’s overcome a lot of things to be as good as he is and he’s a tremendous player. I can’t say enough good things about him. And he’s a great guy, great guy to coach. They asked me when I came in here, ‘Well is he going to be able to play a 3-4?’ Yeah, I think he can.”

Rams Running Back Todd Gurley II

(On how he’s feeling physically and mentally going into the second half of the season)

”I’m feeling good. We’ve been winning, so it definitely makes everything feel better body-wise, mind-wise. Got a good one this weekend, first two-day trip going to New Orleans. For the most part, I’m feeling good.”

(On what he remembers from playing in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome last year and what he expects the atmosphere to be like)

”We got our (expletive) whooped, but (QB Jared) Goff had a good game. That was his first game. It was cool. Good atmosphere. Great town. They’ve got good fans. Obviously, I have a close relationship with a lot of those guys on that team. One great team. Superdome, it’s always rocking and it’s going to be a fun one.”

(On if a two-day trip changes anything for his weekly rhythm)

”Yeah, some guys usually get massages or do something on Friday, so definitely throws off your schedule a little bit more. You lose the extra day, you kind of look forward to that because we get done early on Friday. It’s cool. It’s whatever. It’s our first one of the season, it’s Week 9, so nothing too much to complain about.”

(On if he knows what the NFL record is for touchdowns in a season)

”Yeah, Deion (Sanders) reminded me the last two times he called me. It’s 28 rushing and three receiving, 31 overall.”

(On if he thinks the record is in reach to him having 15 in the season)

”Anything is possible. Let’s just say that. Yeah, it’s possible.”

(On former RB Ladainian Tomlinson setting the record and earning MVP and if he thinks he is a legitimate candidate for MVP)

”I just leave it up to whoever the votes go to and the fans. No, it’s cool. I don’t really play for the MVP. Obviously, when you’re doing as good as we’re doing and having the success, obviously, Goff, me and (WR Robert) Woods. Even got guys like (DT) Aaron Donald who was Defensive Player of the Year. I just look at it as a team accomplishment. Obviously last year, with me, ‘AD’ and (Head) Coach (Sean McVay) winning awards it was cool. But, the bigger picture is you just play to get the wins and the rest is going to take care of itself.”

(On if he has noticed anything about Goff’s confidence off the field as their quarterback and leader)

”I keep saying the same thing, Jared is Jared. I don’t really know how to describe him. He’s funny. He’s a funny person. Cool guy. Like I said, he’s not too high, not too low. He’s just Jared.”

(On if he can describe how he’s funny)

”He’s just silly. He’s funny. He’s a funny dude though, always joking. He says little jokes. But, cool, cool guy. Love that guy. Love playing with him. He’s just a funny guy.”

(On if Goff gives any one-liners once in a while)

”Nah, I just kind of just look at him and just start laughing, honestly.”

(On how much the receivers have been a part of the success of the running game this year)

”A lot. Like I said in the past, you can focus on stopping the run or you can focus on stopping the pass, but knock on wood, you can’t do both.”

(On their performance as blockers in the run game)

”(WR Robert) Woods is my fullback, technically. (WR Brandin) Cooks is out there blocking. I mean it’s just a whole team effort and that’s what gets those runs – those 10, 15, 20-yard runs is from those receivers and those guys blocking on the second level. They’ve been fantastic opening up holes. (TE Tyler) Higbee, the whole offense been doing their thing. So, definitely credit all my success to those guys.”

(On how much it helps having WR Cooper Kupp back on the field)

”Yeah, definitely big. (WR) Josh (Reynolds) came in and stepped up big, but (WR) Cooper Kupp is – he’s great, man. Great guy on the field, can’t be guarded one-on-one. Makes guys look silly and he just keeps getting better and just keeps improving. Such a smart player, understands the game. We all know our roles on the team.”

(On what he sees as the biggest challenge for himself going against the Saints defense)

”(Saints DE) Cameron Jordan. He’s a beast. Obviously, we know that, know what type of player he is and seeing that they have the No. 1 rush defense. They’ve got good linebackers, (Saints LB) Manti Te’o. They’re very sound on the second level. They’ve got (Saints CB Marshon) Lattimore, (Saints CB) P.J. (Williams), who’s just coming off NFC Player of the Week, (Saints DT Sheldon) Rankins. They’ve got a new rookie. He’s hurt, but they’ve been playing some great ball. They’ve been playing together. Obviously, they haven’t lost since the first game of the year. They’re just all out there making plays, but it’s definitely going to start with (No.) 94.”

(On if the offense takes it as a challenge going up against the team with the number one rush defense)

”Yeah, I mean you definitely want to do good, for sure. If a team hasn’t gotten scored on or a rushing touchdown, it’s definitely a statement you want to make. But, we don’t really think too much about it. Like (Head) Coach (Sean McVay) say, we go out there, do what we need to do and the rest going to take care of itself.”

(On if he pays attention to what Saints RB Alvin Kamara has done)

”Yeah, he’s a great player. He’s only in his second year. Obviously, last year he had an amazing year. He’s just always making plays. Doesn’t seem like he’s out there doing too much or even trying. He’s just making it look easy, slippery guy. Then, when you’ve got a guy in (Saints RB) Mark Ingram who’s playing – he’s been doing his thing. He’s been a two, three-time Pro Bowler in this league. You got two Pro Bowl running backs. I don’t know when the last time that’s happened. They’ve got a great combo. Great players over there.”