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TRANSCRIPT: Los Angeles Rams HC Sean McVay, DC Wade Phillips, RB Todd Gurley December 27 press conference

Here’s what the trio had to say today.

Los Angeles Rams HC Sean McVay

(On if there is any update on RB Todd Gurley II)

”Yeah, it’s the same as yesterday. Those guys are still day-to-day – he and (S) Lamarcus (Joyner) both. They will not participate in practice. So, we’re kind of right where we were yesterday.”

(On if he would play Gurley if he doesn’t practice at all this week)

”If he’s feeling good, similar to last week, if he’s feeling like he’s progressing but he’s able to just take some mental reps – things like that – then that could definitely be an option. You’d prefer for him to practice, but it wouldn’t be something that if he doesn’t practice, then there’s definitely no chance he plays. I definitely wouldn’t say that.”

(On DT Aaron Donald pursuing the NFL single-season sack record)

”I think it’s great for (DT) Aaron (Donald) because his success has been a huge factor in our team’s success. To be able to see somebody that you care about, that I know his teammates feel the same way, accomplish something like that based on another productive game. Then, hopefully, that would lead to us being able to get the result that we want. That would be great. I think our defensive coaches do a great job of trying to put our players – not only Aaron specifically, but our entire defensive lineup – in spots to kind of extenuate their skillsets. Certainly, Aaron’s a guy that makes a lot of stuff happen on his own. We’d be very excited for him. But, I know that he will tell you this and really, that’s our approach too is, we want to try to do whatever we can to get this win against a very, very tough football team. If that happens to be the case where he achieves both, then that’ll be a great deal for the Rams and for Aaron, for sure.”

(On how he manages Donald as a coach going into this game and if he’s encouraging him about breaking the record in team meetings or if he just lets it be)

”It’s something that’s out there. You don’t acknowledge it in the team meetings. You talk about guys playing to the best of their ability and doing different things to hopefully make plays like that. But, that’s not something that we’re saying this is the key to the game for us to be able to win as a team. But, when you talk to guys, you’re not going to shy away from it. I know that the nice thing about that is, if he’s able to achieve that, then that means he’s playing really good football. So, those two things go hand-in-hand, which is a great thing for us.”

(On the defense being top seven in the league in points allowed in the last four weeks and what he attributes that to and if he feels like the defense is coming on at the right time)

”Yeah, I think they’ve done a really nice job. I think, really, when you start just looking at what they’ve done going from Detroit (Lions), Chicago (Bears) – (Philadelphia Eagles) ‘Philly’ – really, when you look at those points, a lot of that was a result of some of the short fields where we ended up turning it over and they got some points off of those turnovers that we had offensively. Then, last week, they played really well. So, I think they’ve had four really good weeks. I think guys have done a nice job. I certainly think having (CB) Aqib (Talib) back has been a big factor. But, guys getting more familiar with just some of the different things that were trying to do defensively – getting more comfortable. (OLB) Dante Folwer (Jr.) has made a big impact as well. But, I think guys just getting that continuity, playing as a unit and being able to do a great job all 11 (players) on the same page. So, it’s been good. They’ve done a nice job, really, in this last month and that’s something that we hope to continue on this week and moving into the playoffs.”

(On if they’re still describing Gurley’s situation as inflammation to the knee)

”Yeah, that’s what it is. It really is that. It’s inflammation of the knee. I think just like anything else, when you just look at just the overall pounding that a running back takes. I think a lot of it, too, was a result of, probably wasn’t going to come back in the ‘Philly’ game. He was such a warrior that he ended up coming back in as a result to some of the things that occurred in that game and his ability to gut through and fight through that, probably made it swell up. It was a similar situation earlier in the year after we played Oakland (Raiders) as well. So, he recovers really well. He kind of gets his body back. Takes really good care of himself. But, this is something that we want to be smart about. He had never gone through where you’re really having to gut through and fight through that type of pain throughout the game, like he did against ‘Philly’. Then, with the workout, like we said last week, just talking to Todd on Saturday morning, I was fully anticipating him going. Then, we had to make the decision. It wasn’t really Todd saying, ‘I can’t go.’ It was more of us making that decision because of how much he wanted to play, but there’s an element of, we’ve got to be mindful of protecting him as well. He makes his own decisions. He’s great about being able to communicate that to us, but he also is so considerate of, ‘Okay, if I’m not going, what does this mean for the team?’ That’s the type of guy that you want. But, if it it’s a similar outlook or if he’s not feeling totally ready to go, then we’ll take the same approach that we did last week.”

(On if his knee is still inflamed or if he would say it’s just sore)

”Yeah, just sore. You’re right, I’m not a doctor, but my understanding is, it was just a result of the inflammation – that has gone down. We’re really just taking it one day at a time, like we’ve said, just from a rehab and just the overall pain management, just the way that your knee feels functionally. But yeah, the swelling is gone right now.”

(On his sayings and where he came up with those)

”Depends on which one you’re talking about. I would say this, a lot of this stuff is predicated on whether it’s being around other coaches that you’ve learned from. Different things like, Coach (John) Wooden has a huge influence on some of the things. I was listening to the difference between success and winning that he had on his TEDTalk a handful of years ago coming in. I think just a lot of the things that he does, a lot of things that you learn from him and his teachings and different things, are a big influence on why we have that pyramid. It’s really just about having core values and beliefs that you think are consistent with the things you want to represent. I’m always a big fan of his definition of success when you look at the competitive greatness. There’s a lot of different things. But, I would say if anybody other than the coaches I’ve been exposed to has had an influence on some of the things that we believe in here that we feel like are conducive for sustained success, it would be some of the things from Coach Wooden.”

(On if he has noticed players picking up on the sayings and use them daily)

”Yeah, I’m sure a lot of it’s making fun of me, too (laughs). But, I think it’s part of just kind of the DNA that we want to embody as a team. We talk about the character, the communication as something that’s really important to us. Demonstrating the poise and confidence and ultimately, that competitive greatness. Those are things that are important. I think, it’s not necessarily a right or wrong, but it’s something that we believe in. I think the players feel that way. Like you’ve heard us say over and over, the more that – I’m still learning every single day, that’ll never stop. But, especially when you don’t have the accumulation of experience that a lot of people do in this role. One of the things that I think has been great about the last couple years is the shared ownership between our coaches and our players. Our players have so much say in some of the things that we emphasize and then I think their ownership, with regards to how we operate – being able to communicate and provide a ‘Why’ – hopefully, helps create that continuity with everybody going in the same direction.”

DC Wade Phillips

(Opening statement)

”I think I told you guys, (DT) Aaron Donald is a good player. I’ll reiterate that. We’re looking forward to this game. It’s a game where it’s a really important game for us. It’s whether you get in the final 12 or the final eight. So, that’s a big factor. Obviously, playing at home, those kind of things, in the first playoff game. We’re preparing that way. I think defensively we’ve improved over the last three or four weeks – four weeks I think we’ve played more consistent, the way I’d like to see them play. Still trying to get better and better and that’s what we need to do pointing towards the playoffs.”

(On how much he would like to see DT Aaron Donald tie or break the single-season sack record)

”It would be obviously great. To have four sacks in one game is – not many people have done that, although Aaron (Donald) has. Yeah, it’d be great. I had (former Cowboys and Broncos defensive end) Demarcus Ware where he was real close and he actually missed about five sacks that year where he had the quarterback and he got away. You don’t find many guys that get in the twenties. (Hall of Fame defensive end) Reggie White had 21.0 (sacks) in 12 games that we had him, but it’s a tremendous accomplishment even to get to 19.5 or 20.0. But yeah, it’d be great. He’s obviously deserving of being – what he is, is the Defensive Player of the Year – the best defensive player in the league. Like I said, they don’t vote for him for MVP, but I think with a record he’d have a chance. So, that’d be good.”

(On if he has been in a situation where he’s had a player chasing the record in the last game of the season)

”No, I think Demarcus (Ware) had 20.5 (sacks), right in there. I don’t know how many he had going into the last game. Reggie at the time, I think 21.0 was the record. So, he did it in 12 games. We had some guys that made a lot of sacks, but they didn’t count sacks in the old, older days. I don’t know how many they had, but (Hall of Fame defensive end) Elvin Bethea is in the Hall of Fame who had a bunch when I was there with him. That’s a tremendous accomplishment to be where he is, but he strives for more and we do, too.”

(On if he gets a sense that the record would be meaningful to Donald)

”It has to be. Just as an accomplishment. I think when he got a big contract like that he feels like that he has to accomplish a lot – and he’s done that. It goes hand-in-hand.”

(On if he feels like the defense is coming together over the past four weeks)

”Yeah, I said that earlier when I came in that I think the last four weeks we’ve improved, we’ve been more consistent. We want to get better and better. You want to be playing great going into the playoffs, so this week is an important factor in that. They have a good offense now. The quarterback, (QB Nick) Mullens, I believe is like – in seven games he’s thrown over 2,000 yards. That’s up there with (Panthers QB) Cam Newton and (Chiefs QB Patrick) Mahomes as far as – at least I read about that. I’m sure you guys are correct on your articles. But, that’s third of any rookie so he’s certainly capable and their offense is capable.”

(On if anything has allowed the defense to play more consistently)

”I don’t know. I think the guys are – we’ve just worked hard at getting better, you know? Even in the walk-thrus and things like that, I think guys have done a better job of concentrating even when we’re not going full speed, making sure we get all the details and so forth. Of course, (CB Aqib) Talib coming back helps us in the pass defense and (OLB) Dante Fowler (Jr.) has helped us in the rush so forth and playing outside backer. I think it’s just a combination of us trying to get better and accomplishing some of that.”

(On the contingency plans if S Lamarcus Joyner is unable to play on Sunday)

”Well, we’ve got (DB) Blake (Countess) and (S Marqui Christian) ‘Q,’ both can play safety if (S) Lamarcus (Joyner) isn’t able to play. They’ve been working there all year, so we have confidence in those guys. We obviously hope Lamarcus is ready.”

(On what kind of season Joyner is having)

”I think he’s been solid. He’s obviously a good tackler. He’s played a lot in the middle of the field, which you don’t see all the plays sometimes. We need to get him in – we’ve tried to get him in positions where he’s playing a little closer to the line of scrimmage some. But, I think he’s had a solid year. I think like the rest of the group, we’ve started playing more consistent, especially the last part of the year.”

(On his evaluation of DT Ndamukong Suh this season)

”Yeah, I think he’s been getting better as the year has gone along. Same thing. I think he’s improved as he’s gone along. His pass rush and his run play, the number of plays that he’s making is more the last probably four games than earlier in the year. So, I think he’s just getting used to everything. Again, part of it’s us or me trying to get those guys, like I said with (CB) Marcus Peters, to try to get those guys to see what they can really do well and let them do those things and not have to do some other things. You have to learn about what a guy can do, especially if you’ve never had him before. We’ve moved him around. Like I’ve said, he’s been a real benefit that we’ve been able to move him around a lot. Put him at defensive tackle, put him at defensive end, put him at nose guard. I think being able to do that and learn when to do that with him and what positives we get from that, we’ve learned more about what to do with him, rather than him – it’s more us trying to get him in the right position. He’s been able to make plays.”

(On if he has any favorite phrases that Head Coach Sean McVay uses)

”Wow. He just makes so much sense from the stuff he says. Just like you said, ‘The standard is the standard’ and those things. I think that’s what’s great about him is he keeps reiterating where everybody knows what he wants and what it is and what we’re all trying to accomplish. I’ve always been impressed with that with him.”

(On if he has added any McVay sayings to his vocabulary)

”I don’t have a great vocabulary as far as sayings are concerned. My dad was pretty good at that stuff. But he can take his and beat yours and you’re going to beat his. (Head Coach) Sean (McVay) is one of those guys that’ll take his group and beats yours and take your group and beat his. He’s that kind of guy.”

(On if his defenses have played better coming off of a first-round bye in the playoffs in his experience)

”Well, we’ve had it a few times. I think it just depends on your team and so forth. I always think rest helps. I do think we’ve had a couple times where you still – one year I remember in Denver. Not the last time, but the first time I was in Denver that we went to the Super Bowl. We played, I think, Pittsburgh in the first – we had a bye and then played Pittsburgh. Like the first half, they did pretty good against us. We hadn’t played in a week or so and sometimes you lose your timing a little bit, so you have to watch out for that. I think we did the same thing with the (Houston) Oilers one year when they had the run-and-shoot stuff. They scored the first two times they had the ball and then they didn’t score again. Each game is its own entity, but I do think rest and you have a better chance. I think the last five teams that have won the Super Bowl had a bye the first week. So, seems like it might be a factor.”

RB Todd Gurley

(On the balance between wanting to play and having an injury)

“You just be a realist about everything. That’s basically it. Know what you’re dealing with and just take it day-by-day, honestly. You’ve got to control what you can control, whether on the field, off the field – you know how it goes.”

(On how he felt during the pregame workout prior to the Cardinals game)

“Yeah, I felt good not knowing that I didn’t do anything all week, but it wasn’t good enough to play a game. I could’ve played, but who knows how long I would’ve been able to play.”

(On how he feels now and if he thinks he will be able to play on Sunday against the 49ers)

“Well, just based off going last week’s assessment and thinking I was going to be able to play, that’s when you kind of be realistic with yourself. Honestly, it’s really been one of those day-by-day things. Some days you wake up feeling pain. Some days you wake up feeling much better. So, it’s just one of those day-by-day things. I’m just going to have to see when Sunday gets here.”

(On if he’s concerned that if he plays against the 49ers that it may linger into the playoffs)

”No, because I’m not going to go out there if I know I can’t play, too. Like coach said, I’m going to be smart with it. They’re going to be smart with it. But, yeah, I’m not going to ever put myself in a situation where I could possibly go out there and hurt myself again. If I felt good and went out there and got hurt, then hey, that’s just part of the game. Yeah, I wouldn’t force myself.”

(On if there was anything in particular that caused his knee injury)

“Yeah, I probably would say that. It wasn’t like a specific play, like play three or something like that where I felt like a pop. It was just – came back on the sidelines and just you can tell when something doesn’t feel right, you know your body. Just kind of communicated that with (Senior Director, Sport Medicine and Performance) Reggie (Scott). Obviously, kind of went back in the game and played. Did what I could do and then just kind of dealt with the consequences the next day.”

(On if the doctors have said when they season is over they think they should go in and take a look)

“Just more based on how I’m feeling because at the end of the day, I know how I feel. I can tell Reggie that I feel good all day, but if I don’t actually feel good and just go out there and test it out, then I would never know. But, not really worried about after the season, just trying to focus and maintain and try to keep it right for this season. Just positive with everything. Things could be a lot worse, so just looking at things on a positive end.”

(On if he would be concerned at all if he doesn’t play, the Rams clinch a first-round bye and he doesn’t play for three consecutive weeks)

”I don’t know. Take it as the same thing as doing camp and not playing in the preseason game and then going to play in the first game. There’s so many different ways you can look at it. Obviously, if I come back in and don’t do good it’s going to be, ‘I had two, three weeks off.’ If I go back in and do good, ‘Oh, the coaches did a great job of giving him rest.’ So, it goes both ways.”

(On the season-opener in Oakland)

”Felt like (expletive). It was bad. I was contemplating on giving the Rams back their money and everything (laughs). It was bad. It was real bad.”

(On if he his knee felt similarly following the Oakland game)

”Yeah, it was kind of one of those, but it was different because I had felt that. I came back in on Wednesday like Oakland game and was like, ‘Oh, I’m back right.’ But, unlike this one, it was more like I got better on Wednesday, but then it was just like slowly like progressing. It was different, but the pain was like kind of the same type.”

(On if he knew a lot about RB C.J. Anderson coming in and what he thought about his game)

”Oh yeah. I watched him when he was in – he was the starting running back for the (Denver) Broncos. Good, Super Bowl run, seen his runs. Knew he was a good runner. Just one of those unfortunate situations, got let go and now he’s here. He’s ballin’ out, he’s been doing what he’s been doing his whole career.”

(On if he thinks DT Aaron Donald will get the all-time single-season sack record this week)

”Last game he had what, 4.5 sacks on San Fran? So, I hope he gets it. I really hope he gets it. I don’t know what to say about that dude, man. It’s incredible. It’s an honor to be able to just witness greatness and play alongside him. I haven’t seen nothing like it. I say it every time, I really don’t even know what to say about him, man. He’s a great person, great leader and even better football player. He’s the best football player I’ve ever been around.”