clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

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

Here’s what McBae, Grandpa Wade and Just Todd Gurley had to say to the media today.

Los Angeles Rams HC Sean McVay

(On if he’ll be able to go anywhere anymore without somebody asking him about a specific play and when it happened)

”You know what, (Senior Director, Communications) Artis (Twyman) just told me about that. That was like a month ago, which seems like an eternity with training camp and everything else. We did that out at (University of California) Irvine. So, it is not a joke when I say I really do not remember anything else. You’re going through things all the time. I have no life other than I love football and that’s a good thing because that’s what you do. But, it’s not like I’m just recalling it and that’s the only time you’ve ever done it from, ‘Okay, that play happened’ and you never go back. These are things that we as coaches always go back through. So, it’s kind of something that you’re always re-visiting, especially when it’s relevant plays.”

(On the growth and development of S John Johnson III since last year)

”I’ve been really impressed with him. I think even just last year when he started playing and makes a big play against Dallas in Week 4 and then really starts the rest of the year. He’s got a really good feel for the game – great instincts, great communication, great awareness and he’s an excellent tackler. He does a great job with close-quarter tackles, wrap tackles. You see him make the pick the other night where he’s in a lot of good situations against an excellent player in (Raiders TE) Jared Cook. I think he’s a complete safety and I think he’s really started to take leadership role, especially with just his command of the defense, the understanding. There’s a lot of different things that that safety position entails in terms of the understanding above the neck. He’s playing a lot of different spots for us and his versatility gives us some different things that we can present to offenses which make it really difficult. (S) John (Johnson III) is doing an excellent job. I think (Safeties) Coach Ejiro Evero has done great with him.”

(On how it doesn’t appear that Johnson is intimidated by what’s around him)

”Yeah, and I think that’s a credit to the way that that group operates. I think (CB) Aqib (Talib) being the veteran presence and one of the leaders. I think they all know that they have an important role and their communication and them all being on the same page is instrumental to our success. So, I think we talk about communication as one of the most important things we do in everything that we do and those guys embody that, especially with all the calls, the communication and the different things that are required, whether it be between the nickel and the safeties, the corners and the safeties and then working with the linebackers in unison as well. So, those guys have really done a great job and (S) John (Johnson III) especially.

(On how much it adds to the offense having three wide receivers who can run a jet sweep)

”Well, I think it’s a credit to those guys and the versatility. Being able to present a variety of looks is something that we try to do from an offensive standpoint. It’s definitely a valuable weapon. Really, that’s something that all of our receivers can do. So, that’s something that we work. It might be something that some weeks we like, some weeks we don’t, but it’s not really a specialty for us. It’s kind of a part of that running game for us and those guys enable us to be a little bit more versatile because of them being versatile as players.”

(On what he saw from the offensive line in Week 1, particularly from OL Austin Blythe)

”I thought they were excellent. I thought, starting with (C) John Sullivan’s communication and command up front, handling the noise, the different cadences, the communication in the run game. We had a lot of things where there’s a lot of plays called at the line of scrimmage and they’re adjusting and adapting based on whatever that defensive front structure is. I thought our two guards were excellent. I thought (G) Rodger (Saffold III) and both (OL) Austin (Blythe) played very well. They were productive in both phases, and (T) Rob (Havenstein) and (T) Andrew (Whitworth) alike. I thought it was a tough call on John. It looked like he has pretty good position on the one where we ended up getting that penalty, but I thought they played a clean game. Really, it’s as complete of a game as I’ve been around in terms of an offensive line just playing in unison – their communication, run game, pass game production, keeping the quarterback clean. They did a great job and let’s see if we can stack another good performance on top of each other against a great front this week.”

(On whether there is room for Blythe to be more of a contributor following G Jamon Brown’s return if he plays well)

”Yeah, I think we’re really pleased with Austin right now and those are things that we’ll discuss when the time comes. Right now, he’s done a great job. We do feel like he’s a starting-caliber player in this league. I think last week’s performance definitely indicated that and we’re hoping that he’ll play well again this week and that’s the expectation we have for him.”

(On the lack of involvement in the pass game from the tight end position in Week 1)

”Well, I think a large part of that was, fortunately with the exception of being in the red zone, we avoided a lot of those tougher third down situations. So, a lot of our first and second down passes were exclusively where you’re kind of the play action, some of the boots, different things like that, some of your screens where they’re more in the protection mindset than anything else. But, that’s definitely not something that we want to make a habit of. We always talk about using all five eligibles – spreading the field, making sure that everybody has got to be accounted for. Those are things that, I think if the flow of the game was a little bit different or if we were in some different situations, you definitely would’ve seen that occur and come up. But, just because of the way the game played out and some of the play selections. Then, when we were in those third downs, really it was just kind of where they fit in the progression. But, they’re certainly part of it. I think it was just more of a result of the way the game played out than anything else.”

(On his thought process on the sequence where he called back-to-back screen passes for RB Todd Gurley II)

”I think really, that play, they were two screens. They were a little bit different look. They pressured us on the second one and (QB) Jared (Goff) did an excellent job being able to get the ball off and then (RB) Todd (Gurley II) had a good lane down the sideline where he got 17 yards there. But, it was similar. Sometimes I can’t really explain it more than you just say, ‘Alright, let’s feel like getting another screen off’ or if kind of the rhythm and the flow of the game dictates. But, you kind of always go into it as a coaching staff having a plan of some of your priority calls within the framework of the game or the different situations. Then, as that dialogue is existing between the coaches during the game, we sometimes just get a feel and that was the case there.”

(On how he comes up with new ways to mix it up with Gurley when he’s evaluating in the offseason)

”Well, I think it’s an effort that’s done by our offensive staff as a whole. Really, it starts with, let’s look at ourselves first from a self-scout standpoint. Let’s see what did we do at a pretty decent level and then what are the things that we can improve on. How can we coach it better from the fundamentals, the techniques? Then, there’s the scheme analysis where you’re studying teams around the league. Even when you study some of these guys in the draft there’s always some, ‘That’s a pretty good idea.’ So, certainly we’ve stolen a lot of ideas or like I’ve said, we’ve got a great coaching staff that comes from a variety of different backgrounds that allow us to collaborate and figure things out. The nice thing about (RB) Todd (Gurley II) is that when you talk about a player that really has the ability to play all over the formation, in the backfield, can compete coming out of the backfield in the pass game, can run all the different types of run schemes that you want to implement, it’s our job as a coaching staff to maximize a special player like him. That’s where we’re fortunate to be able to work with him and try to use him in a variety of ways, whether that be through the run or the pass or kind of all over the formation.”

(On if it’s rare for NFL running backs to be able to do all those different things)

”Yeah, I mean he’s as complete a back as I – he’s the most complete back I’ve ever been around and it’s not even close and I’ve been around some really good backs that I feel really fortunate to have worked with. But, his versatility and the one thing too, as I continue to spend more time with him and you get around him, you realize how smart he is too. That’s one of the things that I think stands out just whether it be being exposed to special players or getting a chance to work with them as a coach, those really special players are unbelievably talented, but they’re also extremely instinctual and they’ve got an innate understanding and feel for the game that allows them to play at such a high level. I think that’s why you see Todd doing some of the things he does. His ability to articulate why he did what he did is pretty impressive. That’s where those special players just kind of have a feel and I think he’s one of those guys.”

(On the process of trying to be creative in finding ways to use the 11 personnel grouping is similar to finding new ways to involve Gurley)

”Yeah, it is. I think what allows us to be more versatile in that personnel grouping is the demeanor in what our receivers are able to do in terms of their contribution, whether it be in the run game or even in some of the protections or running routes or as a ball carrier. They can do a variety of different things and that gives us some flexibility. But, it also has a large part due to the fact that we want to get some other personnels going. (TE) Gerald (Everett) had the shoulder injury where he’s going to get himself back into a rhythm, but he was playing at a really high level this offseason program. We had big plans to be a lot more versatile in terms of some of our personnel groupings. I think you’ll see that as we go forward and some of these guys that enable us to do those different personnel groupings are available and are getting that practice time and they’re ready to go.”

(On any differences with S Lamarcus Joyner from last season to this season in terms of approach and confidence)

”Yeah, I think playing his second year, really, at the safety again, I think he’s extremely comfortable. He’s very confident. One of the things about (S) Lamarcus (Joyner) that you don’t have to know anything – you just watch him – he’s got a great play demeanor and a great energy where he kind of brings people with him. He’s got a good understanding. I think one of the things that stood out initially – and it goes back to his history playing the position at Florida State – but he’s got a great feel for being able to recognize certain things the quarterback is doing and when he’s as that post safety, taking great exit angles where he’s got great range. I think when you talk about those elite safeties, you talk about those guys that have the ability – some people say numbers to numbers and then the special ones can go red line to red line or sideline to sideline. We feel like Lamarcus is one of those players and I think that’s because of the urgency, that’s because of his concept trigger and recognition and then that’s also because he can run. When he goes, he goes. He’s done an excellent job, but I think just like anything else, conscientious, smart players that it means something to them get better and he certainly has done that.”

(On the first time he saw the play that they used for Gurley’s 19-yard touchdown against the Raiders)

”I think there’s college teams and different teams in the pros – (WR) Brandin Cooks had a couple touchdowns on something similar for the (New England) Patriots last year as well. So, I can’t remember specifically when I saw it for the first time, but there’s always when you’re just watching the game and you’re saying, ‘Okay, this is a certain scheme. Does it fit within the framework of our offense?’ You mentioned Kansas City (Chiefs), they do an excellent job mixing it up, but I think it’s also predicated on them having some special players like a (WR) Tyreek Hill. They use (TE Travis) Kelce in a variety of ways with some shovels, different things like that. Then, I think (WR) De’Anthony Thomas also had a touchdown on that same play. He had two touchdown passes, both from one yard out on that same type of deal. It was a cool, little play and you always enjoy and appreciate seeing good things like that around the league.”

DC Wade Phillips

(Opening remarks)

”From the game, I think I was pleased. I know everybody else was. But, (LB) Cory Littleton played a great game. People were worried whether he could play mike linebacker and so forth. He had what? Thirteen tackles and a big interception in the game – played every play. So, I thought he did a heck of a job and showed that he can play. I mean, he made some plays across the field. He can really run, tackled well – the whole thing. We were pleased with our whole group overall through the second half, but I thought he showed up as much as anybody.”

(On DT Aaron Donald being hard on himself and how he thinks Donald performed)

”I feel the way he did somewhat. But, you watch the film and he’s playing against an All-Pro guy. I thought he did well against him as far as the rush is concerned. The quarterback got rid of the ball – I think it was 2.4 (seconds) or something like that. But, I thought (DT) Aaron (Donald) was past his - whoever he was rushing against, a lot of the time. So, that’s what you look at. He had a sack, but it was too low. For the first game back, I feel like him. I want him to do better, he wants to do better, but he’s still a great football player. They had a rough time trying to keep him out of there.”

(On how Donald looked in combination with DL Michael Brockers and DT Ndamukong Suh)

”Yeah, I thought our front was good. They’ve got a really good offensive line, really big offensive line. They’ve got a power running game for a while - they’ve got a power running back. To hold him under 100 yards rushing was due to those guys. The quarterback – I think the last two years, they’ve been sacked 25 times each year. I mean one of the lowest sacked teams in the league. Part of it, the quarterback gets rid of it, but they’ve got a really good offensive line. I thought we held up well overall.”

(On LB Mark Barron not playing in the game against the Raiders and being on the injury report yesterday and if that will be a week-to-week thing)

”Yeah, I think so. There’s going to be a point when he can, I hope. We hope it’s this week. We’ll just see.”

(On if he feels like there’s progress with Barron)

”Yeah, it’s hard to tell on our end too. They’re working with him. Our athletic trainers do a great job. He’ll get better with them working with him for sure.”

(On if he thinks more teams will try to use tight ends against their defense to try to have a better match-up with the linebackers)

”Well, it wasn’t all the linebackers. We took out the wide receivers in the running game. That’s what we were trying to do in the ball game, especially (Raiders WR) Amari Cooper. We wanted to stop the running game and Cooper. We had to make some adjustments because the big tight end was obviously a force that we didn’t realize they had. We knew they had him, but we didn’t know he’d be that big of a force. We changed up some things and put cornerbacks on him later on, and we got ahead. When you get ahead, they’re going to make some yardage in the passing game because you’re playing a little softer, so you don’t lose the game. I know people say prevent defense, but you don’t want to prevent yourself from winning the game. We had the game in hand, so we played it that way.”

(On CB Marcus Peters making the interception in the fourth quarter and if that was him making an off scheduled play)

”No, that was his man. We had him on the tight end and they tried to run a crossing route and he knew – he’s a smart player – he knew on the backside they’d been running that. Even though he wasn’t on him earlier, (CB Aqib) Talib was on him in the second half some time, too. But, he knew there were three receivers on one side and the tight end was there, he was going to run a crossing route and he took it away from him. So, it’s just him being a smart player and instinctive player.”

(On how LB Ramik Wilson did stepping in for Barron)

”Yeah, I thought he did all right. Like I said, I thought the running game – he showed up in the running game, which we needed him to do. Then, the passing game was really their low-end personnel stuff, so he wasn’t in there on that. But, he did fine.”

(On how OLB Matt Longacre and OLB Dominique Easley did)

”Yeah, I thought both (OLB Matt) Longacre and (OLB Dominique) Easley coming back off of injuries, I thought both of them showed, similar to what they’d been previously. Both of them moved pretty well in the ball game. Easley got a holding penalty early in the game, just showed all his power. Matt made a good play from the backside one time and caught him from the backside on a running play. So, they’re still coming back from injury, but I think they played pretty well.”

(On if he’d like to settle on either Longacre or Easley to play most of those snaps or if he’s comfortable with playing both)

”Matt split time with (Former Rams Robert) Quinn last year. So, it’s something we’ve done before. They’re still two different looks as far as a player. I think it’s hard on offensive guys sometimes to play against two different players. They’re both, I think, going to be good players for us. So, that’s what you want.”

(On if the Arizona Cardinals offense presents any particular match-up problems)

”Yeah, their running back (David Johnson) has been one of the top running backs in the league and he didn’t play last year. I know they want to give him more touches this game, so we expect David Johnson to be a big part of their game plan. We know (Cardinals QB) Sam Bradford is a great, accurate quarterback. One of the most accurate quarterbacks of all-time there for a while. And they’ve got weapons with (Cardinals WR Larry) Fitzgerald – he’s the guy. He catches 10 catches his first game this year. He’s a phenomenal player. They’ve got a tight end that can run, so we’ve got to be careful of that because we did get hurt with the tight ends. They’ve got a lot of good players and it’s going to be a challenge.”

(On if he saw the viral video of Head Coach Sean McVay recalling plays from years ago)

”Let me see, I forgot whether I did or not (laughs). Oh yeah, I think I did. Yeah.”

(On if McVay does that in meetings and if it’s a common thing for football coaches)

”I think it’s a common between savants, but I don’t know that football coaches. He has got tremendous recall, but he has got great people skills too and that’s the difference in him and some real smart guy. He’s way above my head that’s for sure. I think, I forgot (laughs).”

RB Todd Gurley

(On if he came out of the first week healthy with no problems)

”Yeah, I’m feeling pretty good. I was a little sore after the game, but (Senior Director, Sports Medicine and Performance) Reggie (Scott) and (Director of Strength Training and Performance) Ted (Rath) and everybody did a good job of just having us come in the next day and doing treatment and recovery stuff. So, feeling pretty good.”

(On the shovel pass touchdown he had and the new ways Head Coach Sean McVay uses him in the offense)

”Yeah, he was talking about it and he actually said, ‘Who was going to be the first person to score a touchdown on a little sweep?’ And I kind of called it. But, it’s cool just being in his system. You have so many unique ways of just getting everyone involved. So, happy to be able to be in his system and be able to score a touchdown. Get the first Rams touchdown of the season.”

(On if he gets nervous at all when the playcall comes in for his scoring play that they practiced)

”No, that’s why we practice. We practiced it a couple times and when the game comes, it’s on. If it doesn’t work, then it doesn’t work. If not, then you live to fight another down.”

(On if he saw the viral video of Coach McVay recalling plays from past games that he’s coached)

”No, sounds about right though. He has a great memory. I haven’t seen it though.”

(On if he thinks there’s a reason why the Rams don’t win as much at home)

”We just lose. You lose some, you win some. Like I said, you live to see another game. There’s no reason. It’s not like we’re trying to go out there to lose. Stuff just happens.”

(On if he feels like the Rams have a home field advantage at the Coliseum)

”Depends what team comes in. But, it’s cool. I don’t know. We’ve got to pick it up. We’ve got to win at the house. You always got to protect your own field. There’s nothing like going on the road and playing in a hostile of environment, expecting to lose and being able to go out there and win. So, nothing like playing on the road, but always got to be able to protect your home field, for sure.”

(On what he’s noticed from the Cardinals defense under their new coaching staff)

”They have some great players. Obviously, they have one of the best corners in this football league that’s been to a Pro Bowl and All-Pro player almost every year. Got some young guys in (Cardinals S) Budda Baker, who was a Pro Bowler last year, makes a lot of plays. (Cardinals LB Deone) Bucannon – small linebacker, but very gritty – gets the job done. (Cardinals DT Robert) Nkemdiche – lot of those guys. It’s going to be a very tough game. You know everyone and you know your divisional opponents more than anybody. They definitely don’t want to start the season off 0-2, but that’s what we’re fighting at – to try to go get that first divisional win and go in there. But, they have a lot of great players overall. I looked at the game and kind of seen the stats or whatever Washington (Redskins) did and kind of started looking at the game and I’m like, ‘They did a pretty good job.’ Obviously, Washington had (Redskins RB) Adrian (Peterson) and one of the best play-making running backs period in (Redskins RB) Chris Thompson. But, I felt like the Cardinals still played hard and went out there and tried their best.”

(On if he has much discussion with Sean McVay when he’s thinking about different ways to utilize him)

”Yeah, I mean that’s why he’s the coach. I just follow his lead.”

(On if McVay specifically asks for his feedback)

”Yeah, I mean he always asks for our feedback and wonder what we feel comfortable (with), but I try not to think of too much. If he wants it this way then, ‘Hey, let’s do it this way’. I don’t really think too much of stuff and try not to overthink things. Just try to study the playbook and obviously the good thing about learning new stuff and messing up – that’s one thing I love about messing up because if you mess up again you’re an idiot – not an idiot, but you just shouldn’t do that. That’s the good thing about messing up: you probably won’t do it again. He’s very responsive and always wants our feedback of how we feel because we’re the ones out there playing at the end of the day. So, he does a great job of communicating with us. He’s always thinking of new ideas of ways to get us the ball. There were plays last year we practiced all year that we didn’t use, but we just know we always have them. So, that’s what makes him such a great coach. He’s always thinking of new ideas. I’m pretty sure when we come in tomorrow and he’s going to have five more plays. So, that’s why you love playing with the guy.”

(On if he keeps tabs on Arizona Cardinals RB David Johnson, Pittsburgh Steelers RB Le’Veon Bell or other players around the league)

”I watch everybody in the league. I’m a fan of everyone, whether it’s running back, tight end, receiver. I watch all those guys. When you’re putting up numbers like (Cardinals RB) David (Johnson) did two years ago before the injury, I mean you can’t help but to see that. When you’ve got a guy like Le’Veon who’s doing it year in and year out – basically every year – you can’t hide from that, the spotlight. Those guys are great running backs. There’s a lot of great running backs. There’s a lot of great players. I mean (Bengals WR) A.J. Green, I know he’s a (University of Georgia Bulldog) ‘dog’ but he just scored three touchdowns in the first half. I just love watching the game. It gives you motivation. It gives you happiness and you just love to see other guys go out there and just put in the hard work during the offseason and ball out during the game.”

(On if having wide receivers on the team who can take carries helps them give opposing defenses more things to think about and also helps open running lanes for him)

”Yeah, that’s the thing about this offense, just being in this system with Coach McVay. Like I said, he’s just such a great coach, such a smart coach. When you have a guy as in (WR) Cooper Kupp getting a sweep, (WR) Brandin Cooks getting a sweep, I’m getting a sweep, (WR) Robert Woods – everyone’s getting a sweep. So, it’s nothing that’s predictable. You might think you know the play, but one week it can be this, the next week it can be something else. It doesn’t matter if you know it or not. At the end of the day, you still have to stop it. We have great athletes. The O-line does a great job and credit to all those receivers. I mean those guys are just like the O-line. Those guys are blocking for me and blocking for each other. So, they’re definitely one of the reasons I have the season that I’m having or I’ve had and the success. We all kind of work with each other and feed off each other and just try to make plays for this offense.”

(On if he’ll give David Johnson any acknowledgment of his new contract when they see each other on the field before the game this week)

”Yeah, for sure. I’ve known David since...we trained together coming out for the draft. I texted him congratulations on his deal. Like I said, I’m always happy to see someone, whether it’s five million, two million, three million it doesn’t matter, when a guy gets his pay day in the league. As long as he’s happy and he can be able to provide for his family and for his team in the situation, there’s no better feeling. Yeah, I’ll definitely say, ‘What’s up?’ to him during pregame or after the game because he’s a great back. He does a lot for his team and I have a lot of respect for him.”