(On the Marcus Peters trade)
Where we’re at with the league year, we’ve got to be careful because until that trade becomes official on March 14, you run the risk of tampering. You’re trying to get me in trouble right now.
But I think when you look at it, some of the things that went into the decision-making process, we felt really good about what he’ll bring to our team, and I think we’ll be able to elaborate on that a little more at a later date.
(What he learned about having to coach players differently)
Everything that we do starts with building and developing relationships, and I think when you have an understanding of what makes a certain player tick, how they respond to different forms of motivation, it always starts with building that relationship and I think that opens up the avenues to be able to coach a player where they’re more receptive and they realize it’s not criticism it’s just how can we work together to collaborate and find a way to help a player and our team reach their highest potential. I think it’s about being around great examples. You look at just our coaching staff, and you talk about Wade Phillips and the way he’s able to connect to different types of players over the course of his career; John Fassel, we’ve got great leaders on our staff that enable you to listen and learn from them as well, and that can help you lead moving forward.
(What more can RB Todd Gurley do)
He’s a fun player to work with, and the thing I was so impressed with with Todd when we came in last year is the way that he went about his business, day in and day out, he worked extremely hard and you could see he took an intentional approach to get better and become a more complete back.
One of the things that doesn’t get as much recognition is the way that he was able to play in protection as well, allowing Jared [Goff] to be able to slide and move in the pocket, deliver the ball to some of our receivers and tight ends, but with Todd there is really no limitations in the way that you can utilize him and I think you always have to tell yourself to be smart, because you want to get him as involved as possible but you also want to be mindful of the 16 game season and then if you’re fortunate enough to have some work after that. He’s a special player, I think the year enabled us to continue to get more comfortable with what makes Todd unique and we’ll continue to try to accentuate his skillset and fortunately there’s not really any limitations. He’s going to come back, a guy you feel good about building around and with Todd in place at that running back spot, you’re in good hands.
(On the challenges of being a first-year coach and play-caller)
There was, and I think the unique thing about it was being able to lean on different guys; working for Jay, having worked for Jon Gruden, even when coach [Mike] Shanahan did it when he was in Denver. I think being able to learn from some of the guys you’ve been around, get their advice, their perspective, and I think what was instrumental for us is being able to have great leaders really on some of those other sides of the ball that you’re not as heavily involved in. Wade Phillips on defense, John Fassel running our special teams, Matt LaFleur did a great job as an offensive coordinator. You look at [OL Coach] Aaron Kromer and the way he was able to help our run game and Joe Barry as our assistant head coach. It’s all about surrounding yourself with great people, certainly the year provides a great opportunity to look inward and feel like there’s a lot of things that even though you might think you did a lot of things well, if you’re really being honest with yourself you can improve just being more organized, a better play caller, a better way of being consistent with the messaging for our players.
That's what you’re excited about going into year two, is looking at how you can improve specifically as a head coach. There were definitely some challenges but the great people kind of allow you to handle it in a manner that’s conducive to be able have a little bit of success.
(Advice for Matt LaFleur taking the offensive coordinator job with the Tennessee Titans)
There’s really not any advice Matt needs. Matt’s been doing this for a long time, and I think you just want to continue being a supportive friend. We always just enjoy talking ball. He’s ready for this opportunity. He’ll do a graet job leading. I think it’s great he’s able to get his coaching staff finalized to where you’re able to coach your coaches, working under a great coach like [Titans Head Coach] Mike Vrabel will be a unique opportunity, and calling some plays, now I’ll be able to call him and bust his chops like he did for me after some of those bad play calls I made.
(On if it was difficult to let LaFleur go)
It was but I think when you really look at it there were some specific aspects of it that make you feel a little more comfortable. One he’s a great person, I wouldn’t be fortunate enough to be in the role that I’m in if I didn’t have people that were willing to invest and allow you to take steps in your career, and play calling is one of those steps, if you continue to want to achieve being a head coach at some point. I think for Matt being a team that we just played their division, being in another conference, you felt good about that. I think it was an opportunity he’s ready for and then I think what you also felt good about were the people in the building that you’re going to move up to be able to take some of the roles of Matt LaFleur and [former Rams QB Coach] Greg Olson. You have so much confidence in [Tight Ends Coach & Pass Game Coordinator] Shane Waldron and [QB Coach] Zac Taylor and I think that’s why when you do have a good building you want to show you’re invested in helping people grow and move on, but it makes you feel more comfortable because of the pieces that we had in place as well.
(On who will fill LaFleur’s role moving forward)
It leaves a big void but you are confident in Shane Waldron’s ability to step up. Matt did a great job of being able to communicate with our quarterbacks, be able to organize some of the game plans. He was a great sounding board for me to bounce things off of. He had a huge influence and was instrumental in the success we had offensively. When you’ve got guys in place that you feel can take over some of those roles and responsibilities, you always have such a huge amount of respect for what Matt did but also confident in Shane’s ability to step up and do an excellent job having worked with him for the last couple years.
(On his impression of San Francisco 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo)
You saw a lot of good things. I think when you look at it, a huge amount of respect for [49ers Head Coach] Kyle [Shanahan] and the way that he’s able to put his players in good spots. And then i think with Jimmy you talk about some of the traits you’re looking for, a natural thrower of the football, he can move around, buy time with his legs, change the launch point, he showed a great feel for the play action game, you see why they’re excited about him. I always joke with Kyle, i wish you were in another division. It’ll be fun competing against those guys, and Jimmy did a great job for them.
(On the rebirth of the Rams-Niners rivalry)
I think it’s fun to go against guys like that, but then you also realize you look at the consistency of coach [Seattle Seahawks Head Coach Pete] Carroll and what Russell Wilson’s done in leading them.
I think a lot of people forget that with two games left we were really playing them for the division. Seattle’s still a force to be reckoned with, they’re an excellent team, well coached by Coach Carroll. i’m really impressed by [Arizona Cardinals Head] Coach [Steve] Wilks and what he’ll bring to that org. So I think for our division as a whole, you’re excited about the competitiveness. i don’t know if I can say I’m excited, but it’s going to be a great challenge for us going against those three teams again next year.
(On re-signing S Lamarcus Joyner)
A huge priority for us. I think you look at what Lamarcus was able to do just moving from being exclusively a nickel over the last couple years transitioning to playing the post safety. obviously he can come down in the box and cover, I think some of the things he can do in Wade’s system makes us a huge priority. He’s a great person as well, kind of represents a lot of the things that are right about your locker room and what you want guys to embody from a football character standpoint, the way they attack every single day. Lamarcus is very important and we’d like to get him re-signed for sure.
(What QB Jared Goff needs to do to make Year 2 jump)
Each player you deal with provides a unique perspective, and that’s part of the experiences you have. But specific to Jared, what I think what you were so impressed with was when you come in and get to know him, even though the rookie year didn’t go the way you wanted, I never sensed a guy that was ever fazed by that and didn’t have a sense of belief and expectation internally where he felt like he was going to do well. I think that confidence, that quiet confidence, that he carries himself, that disposition, his demeanor, it rubs off on his teammates. He went to work, didn’t make excuses for why things didn’t work out in year one, he took full accountability went and worked with [3DQB] Coach [Tom] House, and [3DQB Motion Performance Expert] Adam [Dedeaux] and those guys, and I think he came back ready to go. He was very coachable, receptive to some of the things that Matt and Greg Olson were teaching him on a daily basis, and i thought you saw him get better, and that’s what smart, conscientious players do.
That’s what you can expect from those guys that are wired the right way like Jared.
(On how Goff grew in his offensive system)
I don’t know if it’s necessarily about Jared growing in our system. I think what’s unique is it’s really the Rams’ system, and our system is highly predicated on what he felt comfortable with, and that kind of evolved as we got a comfort level with what he felt comfortable with. I think his ability to be able to communicate that to us was paramount to be able to adjust and alter the game plans. He’s one of those guys, he doesn’t have many limitations so it’s about finding what he consistently does well, putting our players in good positions, and that’s what we’ll strive to do moving forward into next year.
(On mid-round rookie WRs outplaying high picks in 2017, like WR Cooper Kupp)
I don’t know. specifically with cooper, one of the things you don’t want to lose sight of when you do come to the combine,and it’s such a great event and opportunity to evaluate these guys, it’s still about playing football, and whether a guy runs a certain 40, can he separate, can he catch the ball, can he create, does he have the mental capacity to do a bit more than most rookies are capable of handling , and I think when you look at cooper specific situation, to play with Robert [Woods], with Sammy [Watkins], some of the tight ends and Todd at running back, he was a perfect fit. you talk about an impressive rookie, where he really sees the game through the eyes of a quarterback. It’s a credit to him as an individual, and we’re fortunate to have cooper and glad we got him when we did.
(On when his scouting process starts)
The most important thing for us is first let’s evaluate our own roster and then that affects how we move forward with free agency and the draft and any potential trades you want to look into if there are certain players you can acquire. For us it’s about evaluating our players and then as far as getting familiar, that’s where it’s so important to be in alignment with our personnel staff, where General Manager Les [Snead] and his guys have gotten a chance to get a jump on knowing the nuances of what this draft entails. You always try to have a good pulse for the free agency, a good feel for the league.
It’s a bit different because week in week out you cross over with a lot of teams and get a feel for what the free agency market looks like. It’s a process for us, and we’re kind of diving into that right now as a coaching staff, getting more familiar with how we want to supplement our own roster with some of these guys from the draft.
(On the difference between this offseason and last year’s)
It’s instrumental to us being able to move forward and at least having a better idea of what do we have now, and then how that alters the way that we want to get some of those pieces in place, provide some depth, specifically to the receiver position last year. you look at tight end position, we feel pretty good about the depth that we have there on the offensive side of the ball. It’s looking at the depth up front, you feel good about your quarterback room, and then you can never have enough guys that can rush and cover on defense. Being able to know what our own roster looks like, having had year of seeing how these guys fit in our system, but also how we adjust our system to them, gives us a good opportunity to try to continue to build on what last year was.
(Editorial note: A huge thanks to USA Today National NFL Report Lindsay Jones and all the media members who take the time to transcribe the interviews for fans. At a time when NFL ratings and interest in the sport are declining, providing this kind of information to fans is absolutely vital. I honestly don’t know why the league itself isn’t committing more effort to things like this. But that there are media members like Linsday and others who make the effort to fill in the gaps that the league doesn’t deserves our thanks.