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TRANSCRIPT: Los Angeles Rams HC Sean McVay, QB Jared Goff, RB Todd Gurley, WR Brandin Cooks, DL Aaron Donald, DL Ndamukong Suh, CB Aqib Talib, CB Sam Shields post-game remarks

Here’s what the Rams had to say to the media after the home opener.

Los Angeles Rams celebrate a touchdown by RB Todd Gurley against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 2, Sep. 16, 2018. Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Rams HC Sean McVay

(Opening statement)

”Great team win today. Thought the defense was outstanding to be able to hold them to five first downs, they brought it from the start. Special teams was excellent as well, guys had to step up. You know with (WR) Pharoh Cooper going down I thought (WR) JoJo Natson was excellent today. Then with (K) Greg (Zuerlein) going down, literally right before the kickoff, we found out he had strained his groin. (P) Johnny (Hekker) stepped up in a big way. Offensively we were able to capitalize on some great short fields. You can’t say enough just about the team, their ability to respond in a short week. I thought our coaches did an excellent job and that’s a tough football team right there. Anytime that you can get a win at home and in the division, we’ll take it. We’ll enjoy this one and then you got to get ready for a great LA Chargers team coming up.”

(On if this was the most dominant defensive performance he’s been a part of)

”Yeah, it is. I mean I can’t remember the time I’ve seen a defense play that complete from whistle-to-whistle from first quarter to the fourth quarter. They did an excellent job and that offense has some good players. (Offensive Coordinator) Coach (Mike) McCoy does a good job, so to be able to all those guys is a real credit to our defensive coaching staff, to our players for their execution and what a phenomenal job by them today.”

(On how the special teams had to dig pretty deep and how they responded today)

”I think it’s a credit to (Special Teams Coordinator John Fassel) ‘Bones’ and his leadership that he provides. Where you know, he kind of just handles it even keel. Even when he told me right before that Greg hurt himself he’s just like ‘Hey, Johnny will be fine. Maybe we’ll probably want to be a little bit more aggressive in some of those situations, here’s where the cut off would be with regards to where we might want to kick it from, where we would go for it.’ Real credit to him and (Assistant Special Teams) Matt (Daniels) and our players. These players did such a great job today. We’ll take this win, it’s a step in the right direction and now we got to get better this week.

(On if he knows how Zuerlein got hurt and if it was part of pregame warm ups)

”Yes, I think so. I think it happened in the pregame warm up. I was getting my headset on and right before we were going to defer kickoff, kind of like we usually do, we ended up losing the toss anyways. That changed our approach right away and that’s where you say okay, you’re going to be a little bit more inclined to go for it on some fourth-down situations. You saw a couple two-point conversions that we ended up having today. So that definitely affected the decision making.

(On going three-for-three on the two-point conversions and what that says about the team’s offense)

”I think they did a good job. I thought the one off-schedule by (QB) Jared (Goff) where he found (RB) Malcolm Brown was outstanding. (RB) Todd (Gurley II) punched it in from that one yard once we got the procedure penalty to put it on the one-yard line. The guys did a good job. You know to be able to execute – those are some tough earned yards, a lot of plays in the tight-red area where things are condensed in and jumbled down in there. The guys that made the plays, it was tough running the football but a lot of those yards were hard earned yards, especially down in that red zone.”

(On if Zeurlein’s injury will cause him to miss more time and if so will they possibly call K Sam Ficken)

”You know I’m not sure how long Greg’s going to be out. I’ll find out from (Senior Director of Sports Medicine and Performance) Reggie (Scott) and his staff as soon as we get done here, but certainly that’s an option for us. (K) Sam (Ficken) came in, did a nice job. If he does have to fill in for Greg for however long a period of time that is, but as of right now we’ll find out and then we’ll move forward accordingly.”

(On Natson not being on the team last week, but being ready to step-up and play and what that says about him)

”Well it says that he’s the type of competitor that I think he demonstrated. I want to say ‘Bones’ said he had 40 touches in the preseason in the return game. One of the things that you can’t help but notice, the explosiveness. He did a great job fielding it, but he’s fearless. You talk about the game being too big for guys. It was not too big for him today. From the jump, you felt his presence, and he affected and influenced the game in a big way today. I thought the other 10 guys blocking for him did an outstanding job as well. We avoided some penalties for the most part, he had a chance to be able to field it. You could really see they did a good job holding up on the outside, giving him a chance to field it and get some of those returns set. Really, I want to say the last thing I saw he was averaging 22 (yards) a punt return and that’s big time for us. Really happy for Jojo.”

(On if the other ten players on special team maybe worked a little harder for Natson knowing he was new to punt returning for the team)

”I don’t know if it’s you’re working harder for him. I think it’s taking a sense of ownership and accountability that hey, we had a great player in Pharoh Cooper go down. How can we still try to maintain a certain level of production from our punt return unit, specifically with how successful we’ve been with that certain phase of special teams. I thought ‘Bones’ did a great job setting up a good game plan. The guys responded the right way. JoJo was a part of it but certainly those other 10 (players) have to be recognized for their contribution as well.”

(On it being six quarters since the defense has given up a point and how he has seen them come together outside)

”Yes, I think that’s just it. They’re playing good situationally, stopping the run on early downs, getting ourselves into some second-and-long, some third downs where now you can really dictate things offensively. (Defensive Coordinator) Wade’s (Phillips) got a variety of different things that he can present to an offense if you will and really, it’s about these guys doing a great job just executing. I think you see all 11 playing together. Anytime that you see a really good defense I think you see that you earn every single yard against them and that’s what they’ve made people do these last six quarters like you mentioned. Nothing is cheap and guys are doing a great job. You see players flying around, fundamentally sound tackles – I thought we tackled well today as well. Going back to that game against the Raiders, that was a big point of emphasis that our defensive coaches made on just tackling as a group better. Against some of the skill players that they do have, I thought we tackled well as a unit overall.”

(On if this is the type of game he would expect from WR Brandin Cooks)

”(WR) Brandin (Cooks) did a great job. I thought Jared did a great job delivering the football, Brandin made the plays. I thought he was aggressive with his hands attacking the football on a variety of ways. Made plays down the field, made plays over the middle, had a big play in the screen game. I want to say he had seven catches on nine targets, that’s big time right there. But I thought you know really, Jared did a nice job spreading it around. I want to say (WR) Cooper (Kupp) and (WR) Robert (Woods) both had six catches a piece so, we want to use all five eligibles. The tight ends got a little involved, backs in a variety of ways and that’s a credit to Jared and really the O-line did an excellent job protecting against some really tough rushers up front.”

(On it being the first 2-0 first in 17 years and if he’s taken aback by that stat)

”I didn’t know that stat. I think for us, we talk about one week at a time. I thought the guys did a great job on a short week getting ready, getting to 2-0 in what was a really important divisional game for us. Now we enjoy this and then you get ready to move on to the Chargers who present a variety of issues really in all three phases. It’s exciting, I think it’s a credit to our players. Really happy to be able to do that, but it’s a step and that’s what it is right now and we feel good about that.”

(On if it’s a more satisfying win coming off a short week and executing in all three phases)

”I think it’s a credit to the players. What we were really impressed with as a coaching staff is our players ability to say okay, we’re not going to really practice on Wednesday like you normally would. We had more of just a mental above the neck emphasis, taking some of the physical toll off their bodies and they responded the right way. When you’ve got mature players that know how to take care of themselves, but also get them ready physically and mentally you can take those types of approaches. Really for the players to be able to handle this week the way that they did says a lot about our team and hopefully we’ll continue to take steps.”

(On if he felt better this week about the play calling and the execution)

”Yes, I think most importantly the execution was there. I think there’s always a couple of things – the one I probably shouldn’t lose my cool like I did. But, on the one fourth down that they ended up having to get Jared flushed. I was mad at myself because I got the play in late and we weren’t able to make a certain call to try to pick up that blitz. It’s always an imperfect thing but it’s always about the players at the end of the day when things go well. They’re able to execute, they’re making it right. We did have a couple more opportunities, like you mentioned, just because of going forward on the fourth down, some two-point plays. Any time that you’re able to get more reps as a play caller, as an offense, you’ve got a chance to get some continuity and get into a rhythm, our players allowed us to be able to do that today. But like anything else you go back, you look at yourself, figure out where can we be better, where can I be better for team and as those are things that will be consistent all the time.”

(On if Gurley is ok)

I sure hope so. Yes, he’s good. He’s good.”

QB Jared Goff

(On if losing K Greg Zuerlein before the start of the game changed his mindset to be more aggressive)

”We didn’t find out until like literally right before kickoff. I think it may change how (Head Coach) Sean (McVay) manages third and fourth down, but for us really on offense it didn’t change much. We knew that we were going to be going for two a little bit. But yeah, hope (K) Greg (Zuerlein) gets healthy. Hopefully we have him back next week.”

(On how comfortable he felt in two-point conversion situations)

”Good. Just a play from the three (-yard line) or whatever it is, two (-yard line) – I’m not quite sure. I think it’s from the two.”

(On if his connection with WR Brandin Cooks feels as comfortable as it has looked on the field and if he expected it to happen this quickly)

”Yeah, we’ve been connecting on a lot of the stuff during practice. Today, you kind of felt that rhythm start to happen. Some of those deep things, some of the other stuff across the field where he’s able to make those plays with his speed and just how good he is with his hands. He did a great job today. I felt really comfortable with him, as well as all the other receivers though. I think all three of them, like I always say, they compliment each other so well. Sometimes one guy like (WR) Brandin (Cooks) today, went for 150 (yards) and (WR) Cooper (Kupp) went for 60 and (WR) Robert (Woods) went for 80 and then it can flip in the next game. I just think they complement each other so well.”

(On what was going through his mind when the 57-yard play to Cooks was coming together)

”Yeah, it felt good. I wish I had thrown it a little bit more out in front where he could have ran into the end zone, but it was good to get that chunk play early there in the half and keep our momentum going. It was a great play call. I think Sean (McVay) wanted to get something going down the field there and we did. Just like we drew it up. It was nice and Brandin (Cooks) made a good play.”

(On how good Cooks is at tracking deep passes)

”Good. Really good. That’s one of his best attributes, among many. Just his ability to track. It’s something that I don’t really know if you can teach it. Just some guys can do it, some can’t. We’ve got three guys who can do it and are very lucky with that. With that speed, matching with the ability to track is special and what makes him so good.”

(On how well the defense played)

”They’re impressive right now. A lot of fun to watch. A lot of fun to be a part of that right now. You want them to keep it going and want to make sure that no one’s head gets too big, which I don’t think it will. They’ve got a good group over there. Great leadership and have done such a good job, just swarming. We said it in training camp – I would hate to have to go against them. I mean it’s tough with those guys up front, the linebackers and then the DBs (defensive backs) we’ve added and (S) Lamarcus (Joyner) and (S John Johnson III) ‘JJ,’ it’s tough. It’s tough to try to scheme that. They do a great job and today that was on display.”

(On if he’s consciously trying to spread the ball around on offense and on the missed touchdown pass to WR Robert Woods)

”Honestly, no I’m not thinking about spreading the ball. It’s just kind of the way Sean (McVay) calls plays and the way that the plays work out, we tend to get the ball around pretty good. Not really thinking about it. That play at the end there – he was open wasn’t he (laughs)? We can laugh about it when we win, but you’d hate to have that happen in a close game. Yeah, I just got excited and just overthrew it. One of those, he’s so wide open. He ran a great route, made his guy miss, was wide open and I apologized to him after. We’ll get him another one.”

(On if the defense playing so well gives him confidence)

”I think it gives the whole team confidence, whole momentum, the whole stadium. When they go three-and-out like that so often and we can just sit down and kind of look at the last drive and, ‘Alright, we’re back up.’ That type of stuff gives us a lot of momentum and confidence and gives everyone, like I said, just in the stadium the feel of we’re going to make a stop here. When you’re confident in that and confident as a team it’s good.”

(On having receivers who compliment each other and what that does for him as a quarterback)

”Yeah, they’re so smart and so good together. It allows me to not have to think about anything when I’m throwing it. They can all do anything. They can all do every route, they can all do the fly sweeps we do, they can all do the deep stuff, they can all do a little bit of everything. It allows me to not have to think, ‘Okay, who’s in on this route and who’s doing this route?’ It’s just call whatever you want and they can all adjust and do everything like they’re supposed to. It’s really a luxury that we have with those three guys.”

(On the interception he threw)

”I’ve just got to be smarter there. I was mad at myself about that one. That was probably the only one of the day I was really not happy with myself. Just got to take care of the ball. A guy like (Cardinals CB) Patrick Peterson with such good ball skills, thought I could kind of get one by him there. He made a great play, as he does often. He made a great play and I’ve just got to be smarter there.”

(On if he was surprised by WR JoJo Natson being able to get the offense good field position in the return game)

”No, man. He’s been doing a great job in practice. Great player, great attitude. It was good to see him come back. We’d kind of been joking about it all day, ‘What if JoJo (Natson) breaks one today?’ and he almost did today. He broke a couple pretty long. Great player. We love having him on our team and he’s done a great job.”

(On what he was talking with Cardinals QB Josh Rosen about during pregame and if he gave him any advice)

”Yeah, we talked about a bunch of stuff. We talked a little bit about UCLA, a little bit about Cal, a little bit about what they’re doing, a little bit about what we’re doing. I’ve gotten to know (QB) Josh (Rosen) a little bit over the past year or so. Good kid. Wish him the best. Yeah, I offered him, ‘Keep going’ – a little bit of advice. He’s in a good place and he’s got a great chance in Arizona.”

(On if the team was surprised by the way P Johnny Hekker responded with having to kick fields goals)

”No. He got a game ball for it. It was good. I can’t imagine thinking you’re going to punt the whole game and then like, ‘Hey, Johnny (Hekker) you’re going to kick field goals too.’ Then, even (WR) Cooper (Kupp). Cooper was holding and he doesn’t do that really ever. So, for those two guys to go out there and make a field goal was pretty impressive. But, that’s just kind of the way our team has been built is just to respond from that type of adversity. I don’t think anyone flinched. We love (K) Greg (Zuerlein) and we need him out there and we want to have him back as soon as possible, but stuff like that may happen and no one flinched. It was good to see.”

(On how much it speaks to the team’s depth that players like WR Pharoh Cooper, K Greg Zuerlein or RB Todd Gurley II can be out and the team doesn’t miss a beat)

”Yeah, I think it speaks to how well that special teams is coached with having (WR) JoJo (Natson) step in there. JoJo is a great player, don’t get me wrong, but (WR) Phraoh was a Pro Bowler last year and JoJo steps in there today and does what he did, it speaks to how good they are, how well they’re coached, how well they block and how well they open up those gaps for everyone. The same thing with (RB) Todd (Gurley II) with (RB) Malcolm (Brown). Malcolm’s a great player and he steps in there and I feel so comfortable with Malcolm now being with him for three years, as well as Todd. When Todd needs a blow, he comes in there and it’s no drop off. We feel good with Malcolm and he did a great job today as well.”

RB Todd Gurley

(On how he feels the offense did compared to last week)

“We played good. I felt like compared to last week, we did a great job of putting the ball in the end zone, in the red zone – that’s what matters at the end of the day. Receivers did a great job. The job was to stop the run and they did a pretty good job of that and opened things up for (WR Cooper) Kupp. (WR) Brandin (Cooks) had a fantastic game. (WR Robert Woods) ‘Woody’ had a great game. (QB Jared) Goff had a great game. Even (TE) Gerald (Everett) got a chance to make some plays out there. So, it was a good game.”

(On when the Rams defense plays well and what impact it has on the Rams offense)

“It just makes our job much easier. Obviously, our objective is to score points, but at the end of the day, if the defense doesn’t give up any points, that’s all that matters.”

(On how it feels to play on a team that is balanced in all positions)

“It feels good. I guess you could say, ‘You’re expected to win.’ You’re always expected to win, but when you can just go into the game with a confidence just knowing that you just have so many talented and great players on the team – I mean everywhere. For a guy like (K) Greg (Zuerlein) to go down and for (P) Johnny (Hekker) to step up the way he did, it was amazing. So, I’m just happy to be a part of this team, honestly.”

(On if he was surprised WR JoJo Natson was able to step onto the football field and do what he did)

“No, I mean you saw what he did in the preseason. He was doing his thing in the preseason. The thing about us, like you said, it’s not just one guy, it’s 10 guys. So, we have a great special teams – always been a top special teams in the league the last couple of years. But, credit to (WR) JoJo (Natson) just for coming in and balling out the way he did.”

(On how the versatility of the players on the Rams can separate them from other teams in the league)

“A lot. That’s what (Head) Coach (Sean) McVay does - he’s just such a great coach. Just putting everybody in, in so many different positions, doing so many different schemes. Having me catching (QB) Jared’s (Goff) squibs – catching the ball or running the ball. Even got (WR) Cooper Kupp running the ball. So, it’s just so many things that everybody can do – that’s what makes this offense so dynamic.”

(On if he’s surprised that this is the first time the Rams have started out 2-0 in 17 years and how it feels to get to a start like that)

“It feels good. That just tells you how hard it is to win in this league – no matter what team you’re playing against. Obviously, the first couple of weeks, you’re still getting adjusted to the regular season tempo. But, it’s these games that you need to win, so you won’t have to catch back up in November and December. We just have to keep finishing these games and just take them week-by-week.”

WR Brandin Cooks

(On his thoughts on his performance at his first game in the Coliseum and the overall team performance)

“I’m extremely blessed, first of all, to play this game, have such an amazing team and teammates. There’s no doubt about it, I couldn’t do it without them. I was excited about today. Any time you can come out here, first home game, and do what you do as a whole squad - you’re excited about it.”

(On how it is being a receiver and having a big lead and the coaches are still calling long pass plays)

“I think that goes to show, always in attack mode. (Head) Coach (Sean) McVay having that mindset, having that confidence in us to be able to execute those plays, keep the drive going in situations like that, gives you confidence as a player.”

(On trading jerseys with Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald and his thoughts on him)

“You talk about a guy that’s been doing it year-in and year-out, game-in and game-out. He’s special. All that he’s been doing, playing at a high level still – I’ve got so much respect for him and what he’s done for the receiving game. It’s just one of those things that’s a special moment to be able to get that.”

(On winning the game 34-0 and having so many players doing so well)

“I think it’s, we have that mindset, ‘We Not Me’. When you’ve got guys that can make plays all over the board, it doesn’t matter if you’re the guy or not. As long as we’ve got the weapons out there and continue to show that, I think it makes it a dangerous offense to stop.”

(On how it feels having a defense that hasn’t given up a point in six quarters)

“The confidence that gives you as an offense, to know that your defense is going to go out there and play at a high level, let’s you be a little more aggressive, I guess, at offense. It’s one of those things that they just play great football.”

(On what he thought of the home atmosphere)

“Yeah, it was amazing. We’ve got great fans, they came up – came alive today. As a player, you’ve got to just be thankful for that and then continue to do that.”

DT Aaron Donald

(On if this is what we can expect this defense to do when it has a plan in place)

“I feel like we can even get better. That’s the scary thing. We just have to keep working, watch the film, break down the film and build off it.”

(On why this defense is clicking even with so many ‘alphas’)

“Everybody is clicking. Everybody gets along well. We have a lot of people getting along well, having a good time and flying around playing the game we love. Good things come out of that so like I said, we just keep working and we can play better than we did today.”

(On where the defense can get better)

“Hopefully they stop being so scared of our corners and getting the ball out so fast. It’s going to come, we’ve just got to keep working and like I said, just watch the film and fix some things here and there.”

(On if playing with such talent on defense makes his job easier)

“Yeah definitely, we were talking. All I have to do is hold my b-gap and I know (DT Ndamukong) Suh is going to be there and they aren’t going to cut it to him so it going to come right to me. I was just saying it’s a lot more comfortable out there playing with guys like that.”

DT Ndamukong Suh

(On where he evaluates this defense amongst other NFL teams)

“It’s tough to say. It’s only two games, we’ve only played against two teams. Even though they’re great teams, we still have a lot of work to do. It’s a good test. I still stick to us being very elite on paper but we have to continue to play week in and week out. We’re going to have different tests, especially as people understand how we play. We’re going to continue to find things that we have to work on and try and improve.”

(On his thoughts about the Cardinals putting up too many yards and if he expected zeros across the board)

“That’s the goal if we can. If we can play elite defense like that and put up zeroes across the board and let our offense just run up and down the field, so be it, that’s the way we want to be. But the ultimate goal is to win a championship and that’s what we’re going to try and do.”

(On the defense not giving up a point in 115 minutes of game action)

“It’s a good start. We have a lot more football to play, like I said before, it’s only two games. As I said before, (Defensive Coordinator) Coach Wade (Phillips) is happy, he loves doughnuts (shutouts). When he’s happy we’re all happy.”

CB Aqib Talib

(On the team’s mindset after their second win)

“We all have one goal. As long as we all keep that one goal in mind, we’ll be great.”

(On if anybody has more fun than him and Marcus Peters)

“It’s a good time. We get paid for this right here. Put the clothes on, come to work, couple chains on, go play football and get paid for it. It’s the best job in the world.”

(On if he anticipates trash talk with Phillip Rivers next week)

“I’m just going to enjoy this win tonight. We’ll get to Phillip on Tuesday morning.”

(On how much it means for guys like WR/Returner JoJo Natson and P Johnny Hekker to fill in roles when needed)

“That’s super special. It says a lot about our scouting department. They have the right guys here. (WR/Returner) JoJo (Natson) was with us all through camp and we’ve seen what he can do. I’m surprised no team picked him up. I’m glad nobody did pick him up, so we had a chance to get him. We knew what he could do in the preseason and in training camp, so it wasn’t that surprising to us.”

CB Sam Shields

(On how it felt to haul in the interception)

“It felt good. Those are the things that we need. We need turnovers for our defense. Like I said, it’s a long season, things like that can happen. Guys go down so guys behind them have got to pick it up and go make plays too. That was the definition, that’s how it’s supposed to go.”