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TRANSCRIPT: Los Angeles Rams HC Sean McVay, DC Wade Phillips, RB Todd Gurley December 13 press conference

Here’s what the trio had to say today.

Los Angeles Rams HC Sean McVay

(On what characteristics the team has that allows them to have such great resilience to bounce back from a bad series or tough defeat)

”I think it’s what you just mentioned – mentally tough guys. We do have a resilient team that has the ability to respond. I think any time that you do have those setbacks, you want to look at what are the reasons why and be solution-oriented. I think that’s what allows our guys to just continue to respond – that’s whether it’s good or bad. We want to be consistent in our approach, but we’ve got the right types of guys in that locker room, guys that you believe in that are great people. They’re obviously extremely talented. Certainly, I think any time that you have a little bit of a setback, you get a great chance to respond and so far, we’re on track to do that.”

(On whether the report that Eagles QB Carson Wentz is suffering from a fractured vertebrae changes how he starts preparing for Philadelphia)

”They haven’t officially ruled him out, so you can’t say anything for certain. You see and hear the reports that are out there. But like we’ve said, whether it’s (Eagles QB) Carson (Wentz) or whether it’s (Eagles QB) Nick Foles, doesn’t really change our approach or our urgency for us to be able to get ready to go against the defending world champs.”

(On if there is anything tangible that he’s been able to do this season to perform better in home games at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum)

”I think the crowds have been outstanding. I know our guys feel good about playing in that atmosphere, that environment, so that’s certainly been a positive. But, I think, when you look at it, a lot can be made – it does make a difference in terms of if you travel on a Friday or you’re going from the West to the East Coast and things like that because you have to alter the schedule. But, to use that as an excuse to play good or to play bad, I don’t think – we don’t really look at it like that. I think to say that we didn’t play as well at the Coliseum last year as we did on the road, I know the record indicated that, but we played some pretty tough teams here. You go toe-to-toe with ‘Philly’ (Philadelphia Eagles) who ends up winning the Super Bowl. We had a great game with the (New Orleans) Saints here where we were able to come away with a win after, I want to say, they were on an eight-game win streak at that point. Then, we didn’t get it done on a couple instances, but I think for the most part, you want to try to be consistent with the way that you play away and at home. You love not having to travel and being in front of your home crowd is something that we always would prefer and we love that.”

(On if being hard on himself about recent gameplans is a matter of getting back to some of the things he does or if it’s a matter of advancing some of the things that he has in his repertoire)

”Sure, that’s a good question. I think, really, what it boils down to is not really having to change because you’ve got an inventory of things that you can present, but it’s activating the right types of things at the right times and then having answers for what a defense might present based on the circumstance, the situation. Then, also, the main thing that I felt like I could’ve done a much better job of was just having a feel for the flow of the game. Not exclusive to just the way our offense is playing against their defense, but the way that our defense was playing, getting some takeaways. Those are the types of things that you expect to do a better job from and you look inward and you try to make sure that you don’t make some of the same mistakes. One of the things about this league and specifically being in this role that’s humbling, but it’s such a great challenge that you love getting up and trying to get better every single day, is that you learn all the time. When you get a chance to talk to some of these great coaches that have been doing it for a lot longer than I have, that learning process is never ending, it’s ongoing. But that’s where you appreciate and value what experience does for you if you’re able to look at it the right way. That’s something that I try to take to heart and I know our whole staff feels the same way.”

(On how they got back into the flow of the game against the Eagles last season despite running significantly less offensive plays than Philadelphia)

”It was a back-and-forth where they had a lot of plays, they did a great job sustaining drives. They were really efficient on third down. Then for us, we ended up getting the blocked punt for a touchdown. We were able to get some short-field scores, got a turnover right away where (former CB) Kayvon Webster ended up getting a pick. So, there were some things where we had some short fields and guys were able to capitalize on that where it was 35-34 late into the fourth quarter. But, they did a great job. They certainly had a lot more snaps. Certain times, it’s one thing if you’re not able to get into any sort of rhythm offensively, it’s another thing if special teams scores, you’re getting a turnover and then you’re able to turn that into a touchdown, you’re getting some explosives. We were able to do that right from the jump when we get the turnover on the first series. (RB) Todd (Gurley II) ends up popping a long run on the second play and then we ended up punching it in a couple plays later. Each game kind of presents a new deal, but you certainly would prefer not to play that many snaps on defense. Then, when you’re able to sustain drives and control it, that’s always a positive thing, but ultimately, it’s about the score and finding ways from an offensive standpoint of scoring and being productive in that manner.”

(On his philosophy on timeouts and the fine line between getting it right in a particular scenario as opposed to saving the timeouts for a scenario that might not occur)

”There’s a couple instances, specific to the other night. Really, there’s some elements, but man, however you want to cut it, it’s an excuse. But really, what you do is you decide, ‘Okay, in the situation, where we’re at on the field, if there’s points to be had, you can’t afford to take a five-yard loss if you take a delay or you don’t want to waste a play call.’ So, that was kind of where we were at with a couple of those. That’s where just continuing to do a better job dealing with some of the atmospheres, the elements when you’re on the road, maybe they can’t hear you – but it can’t happen. It’s something that I haven’t done a very good job of these first two years, but I would say that it is a balance and most importantly, if you feel like there’s a situation where there’s points to be had, you go ahead and use it because you can’t take them into the half and you can’t take them after the game either. That’s kind of our approach.”

(On three receiver sets becoming so en vogue across the league and how important the slot cornerback position is and how big is it to have a player like CB Nickell Robey-Coleman that they trust)

”It’s huge and, really, a lot of it is predicated on defensively, do you want match personnel groups or do you want to present a certain defensive structure regardless of what that offensive is presenting? In a lot of instances, most teams aren’t matching, not everybody really. But for us, (CB) Nickell’s (Robey-Coleman) been an instrumental part of our defense. I think in terms of just an aware, savvy player, great competitor. His ability to read and recognize things, play with the techniques and then you just see him, he makes a pick last week. He’s consistently a great example of what it looks like to tackle the right way in the open field. He’s got a great play energy about himself, similar to some other players on our defense. He’s done a great job just continuing to get better and you love being around guys like Nickell.”

(On if he evaluates QB Jared Goff’s performance against Detroit in a different entity than Chicago or if he will go over with Goff how he’s played collectively the last two games)

”Really, I think especially from the quarterback position, it’s stacking good decisions on top of one another. In a lot of instances, he’s got great accuracy, great anticipation, but it’s continuing to learn. Just like me from the standpoint of calling plays or him from going through the execution of the plays versus some defensive looks that may or may of been similar to what we’ve seen in the past, you use those as a learning opportunity. The defense has made some plays, but I think the best part about (QB) Jared (Goff) is how coachable he is, how receptive he is. He doesn’t let a bad play affect him and really, they are all separate entities. It’s not exclusive to, ‘Okay, the Detroit and the Chicago game.’ You look at the entirety of the game just based on the nature of we’re in a results driven business. But when you’re really looking at it, you’re looking at okay, ‘Within the framework of some of these early down plays, what led to us being productive? Or something that we can maybe do better?’ And some of these other situations, really like the other night, ‘What’s the best play right there? It’s throwing it away because it’s the only play, because they gave you a dead play.’ That’s something that we can learn from, but we definitely approach it as each play is it’s own entity, when you look at the entirety of the 13 games that we’ve played up to this point. That’s why you don’t let a few plays dictate how you determine the way he’s played. He’s done too many good things to let a few plays shape – and it could be the vise versa if you’re a guy that hasn’t had a great season – which is not what Jared’s done. And then you make a couple plays, does that totally change the dynamic the way that you evaluate somebody? So, we look at the entirety of it, but specific to that, I think there’s so many things involved in the quarterback position that these guys have to do down in and down out that to just lump one game in would not be fair to him and what he’s done a really good job of this year with.”

DC Wade Phillips

(Opening remarks)

”There’s a lot of talk about the quarterback, obviously. We’re getting ready for (Eagles QB Carson) Wentz. If he doesn’t play, it doesn’t change their offense a whole lot. Their next quarterback was the MVP of the Super Bowl, so it’s not a big drop off for them either. Their plays are basically the same. It’s the same routes, same running game – those kinds of things even when (Eagles QB Nick) Foles went in. So, they still have a lot of weapons. Receivers – (Eagles TE Zach) Ertz caught 98 passes already, so they’ve got the weapons. The running back is averaging six yards a carry. All those things, they’ve still got a really good offense and we need to get ready for them.”

(On if he thinks the Eagles will try to run or pass more or if they’ll try to keep it even)

”It’s hard to say. Each game’s its own entity. As far as pass and run, we’ve been trying to get more consistent throughout the year. I think we’ve played some great games pass defense-wise, but then not as good against the run and vice-versa. So, we’re still working. It’s about us working on what we need to get done. We know they’ve got a challenge in the running game. They’ve got a really good offensive line. I think three of their offensive linemen are rated in the top-22 in the league. They’ve got a really good running game and they’re good pass protectors, so their offensive line is a challenge.”

(On if the issues the Rams defense has are more mental or physical)

”Coaching number one, I think we’ve been working to try to get our players who do things well, being able to be in position to make those plays. We’ve come along some in a lot of areas. Hopefully, the arrows pointing up as far as our defense is concerned because we need to play more consistent. We won 11 games and like I said before, this defense, I think, in pressure situations has played really well. This is another pressure situation game, so I expect us to go out and play well.”

(On how he feels the Rams defense played last week against the Bears)

”Well, we lost. That’s the number one thing. If it’s 54-51 or 15-6, the most important thing is win or lose. You’ve got to play good enough to win and we didn’t do that. We’ve always approached defense, we’ve got to play better than the other team’s defense plays against us. So, if they stop us for six, we’ve got to stop them for three and we had the opportunity to. We could play better and help win the game. That’s what our goal is and that’s what we try to do every week.”

(On having 10 takeaways in the last three games and what has been working in that area)

”Yeah, I think we’ve got an aggressive group and I think it’s coming out in that. I think takeaways overall throughout the year is pretty good overall. Yeah, it’s picked up in the last couple games, which is a good sign.”

(On if there is anything that stands out from the last three games when they have a lot of takeaways and games when they don’t)

”I think our pass defense, everybody knows, or I’ve told everybody I guess – I shouldn’t have, but we’ve been playing a little more zone and guys are seeing the ball better. If you play a lot of man-to-man, you don’t get as many interceptions, but they don’t get as many completions. The other side of it, if you play more zone, they’re probably going to get more completions, but hopefully you get the tips and overthrows and interceptions. Now, you can do good in both, but overall, that’s the way it works. Both of them are good in certain ways.”

(On CB Nickell Robey-Coleman getting a contract extension in the offseason and having an interception last game and what ways been impressive)

”Really smart, number one. If you’ll notice, a lot of the quick-screen game out to the wide receivers, he’s right in the middle of it. He anticipates those things really well. Smart player. He knows how they lineup or what motion they’re in when they’re going to run certain things and certain routes. Then, he plays what he’s supposed to play. On that play, he was supposed to zip out to the wide receiver and the quarterback, obviously, wasn’t expecting him to do that and he made the play. He does what he’s supposed to do really well. He’s got great quickness and that’s why he’s a really good nickel player because he plays the slot receiver who can go either way any time. So, it takes a guy with really good change of direction, really good quickness, to be able to play that position. He plays it really well. I think he’s one of the best.”

(On how much more important it is to have a good nickel corner and what makes a good slot corner)

”Well, just what I talked about as far as being able to change the direction and quickness and so forth. But, the reason now is because a lot of people are playing a lot more three wide receivers. Now, you have to have a guy in the slot. Somebody’s got to play in the slot, whereas with only two wide receivers, you didn’t need a nickel cornerback. He’s got the right name, (CB) Nickell (Robey-Coleman) playing nickel. It’s a natural (laughs).”

(On what he recalls from evaluating S John Johnson III when he was coming out of college before the draft)

”We obviously like him. The scouting department did a good job. (General Manager) Les (Snead) and (Head Coach) Sean (McVay) ended up picking him. But, he was a favorite of ours on defense, too. We give our opinions and I think, especially, (Safeties Coach) Ejiro (Evero) really liked him coming out. We concurred with that as a defensive staff. They ask you to put a list of who you like. Obviously, he was up there pretty high for us and he’s come through really well.”

(On how he has evolved since moving into the starting lineup last year)

”Yeah, he’s a tremendous tackler in open-space tackling. I think he does a really good job of that, but he doesn’t miss many tackles. If you see him around the ball, he’s going to make the tackle. He does that really well and he’s gotten a better and better feel for playing pro football and being a safety and we play him at linebacker some. He’s a smart guy that can play a lot of different positions for us. We played him in our sub-packages at linebacker some. He played strong safety. He played free safety. He handles all that real well. But, he’s got a knack for the football. He’s made some big plays interception-wise. We’re glad we have him.”

(On if he feels like he has a lot of versatility in terms of safeties)

”Yeah, everybody has a system or whatever. I’ve always wanted two free safeties – two guys that can play man-to-man if you need them to play man-to-man on a tight end. So, that’s what we have. Now that and being able to be a player in the box too, is a plus and both of those guys can do that. We’ve gained a lot there by having those two guys.”

RB Todd Gurley

(On if anything stands out to him from last year’s game against the Philadelphia Eagles)

”No. It was just two good football teams playing and the better team won – they won. Just remember (Eagles WR) Alshon (Jeffery) making a pretty great catch.”

(On what he took away from last week against the Bears)

”That’s just being a part of the NFL. Take the ‘Ls’. Sometimes they’re clean ass whoopings and then there’s just those close games and last week was just one of those games. It’s in the past. You learn from it and just try to come back and bounce back the next week.”

(On never having consecutive losses under Head Coach Sean McVay and why he thinks that is)

”I don’t know. We just want to win. Just want to win because it can go real good in this league and then it can go real bad. You can be on five, six game winning streak and lose one game and you lose two, it’s like all hell broke loose. You just try to bounce back and then try to respond from losing and just try to get that winning streak started back going.”

(On if there’s an ideal amount of times he wants to touch the ball in a game)

”Nah, not really. Running backs, they always want the ball, but not really like an ideal situation.”

(On if he feels like he’s one of those backs that the more they get the ball, the better they get)

”Nah, it just all depends on the game flow and how the game is going. You have some of those games, you run the ball and it’s just like, maybe the running game is just not going today. Then, it’s just getting a feel for it. Just each carry, getting a feel for it, getting a feel for it. But, I feel like, me and the offensive line and (TE Tyler) Higbee, feel like we do a pretty good job of just, first couple of runs we start off a little slow and then we feel like, definitely third and fourth quarter when stuff gets going, we’re able to wear people down and just keep attacking.”

(On if it’s similar to a basketball player having the hot hand as a shooter)

”What do you mean? You’re talking about like, as far as us like running the ball? Yeah, for sure. I’m not a coach, but yeah, for sure. It’s like if (QB Jared) Goff is doing his thing, then hell yeah. Forget me, let Goff do his thing. It’s whatever, but I feel like we have a good offense of just being able to like balance stuff out. Obviously, last week nothing worked out, but I feel like what we’ve been able to accomplish this whole year has been able to be good, whether if it’s the run game or the pass game or both. I feel like we’ve got a pretty good balance.”

(On if he came away from last week more impressed by the Chicago defense or more frustrated by how they weren’t able to do what they wanted to)

”A little of both. I tell guys, I said, ‘Those guys were out there looking like the ‘85 Bears defense.’ But, they’ve got a great defense. Everybody knows that. I think, I don’t know what they’re ranked in defense, but like I said, they’ve got (Bears OLB) Khalil Mack – that speaks for itself. A lot of good guys – (Bears LB Leonard) Floyd, (Bears LB Roquan) Smith, (Bears LB Danny) Trevathan, all those guys. I ain’t trying to worry about – I ain’t trying to talk about them no more. I’m trying to focus on the Eagles.”

(On if he’s familiar with the Eagles defenders he will be facing)

”Yeah. I’m playing against – it’s like every time we go against a team it’s like – I was talking with (T) Rob (Havenstein) about this. Every time we play a team it’s like they have a great defensive lineman, at least one great defensive lineman. Last week it was Mack, this week it’s (Eagles DE) Fletcher Cox. They’ve still got a lot of playmakers. They’ve definitely been beat up in the back end in the secondary, but they’re Super Bowl champs for a reason. They have that mental toughness. They have a great system, great coaches, great players all around that make plays. (Eagles S) Malcolm Jenkins is one of those – a great playmaker for them. (Eagles DE) Chris Long still comes in and makes plays for those guys. (Eagles DE Brandon) Graham, all those guys make plays. They’re the defending Super Bowl champions for a reason and they’re still fighting to be in the playoffs so it’s going to be a critical game. We can’t just come in here and think we’re going to win.”

(On why he selected his My Cause, My Cleats initiative)

”Obviously, just partnering up with Pizza Hut and I have a close buddy (former NFL wide receiver) Malcolm Mitchell who does book literacy. He wrote a children’s book, so just to support his cause and support the Book It! Foundation.”

(On if he’ll keep his cleats or donate them)

”I’m going to donate them to Malcolm Mitchell’s foundation (Read With Malcolm).”