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TRANSCRIPT: Los Angeles Rams HC Sean McVay, DC Wade Phillips, RB Todd Gurley January 9 press conference

Here’s what the trio had to say today with McVay and Gurley keying in on the star running back’s health.

Los Angeles Rams HC Sean McVay

(On RB Todd Gurley II)

“He’s feeling good. He’s going to practice. We’re going to follow a normal routine as when he’s been going this season. He didn’t have any soreness from yesterday and he’s going to take part in practice. He was out there for the walk-thru this morning. So, very good news on that front. He got a kick out of joking with me that he was real sore today. I didn’t think it was that funny (laughs).”

(On how S Lamarcus Joyner is feeling)

”He’s doing good. He’s made good progress. I think that bye week served him really well, especially even just getting him a chance to really recover missing the last game of the season. He’s feeling good. He’s in good spirits and we’re expecting him to be full speed and ready to roll.”

(On if he ever jokes with Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips about going against the Cowboys)

”Well, (Defensive Coordinator) Wade’s (Phillips) got a lot of experience with a lot of different places like he likes to joke about. I think you look at the experience and the success that he had as a head coach there. I know there’s a lot of people that mean a lot to him in that building. He speaks very highly of (Cowboys Head) Coach (Jason) Garrett. He talks about the relationship that he had with (Cowboys Owner/President/General Manager) Mr. (Jerry) Jones and how much he enjoyed that. So, I think he had a lot of great memories there. When we were fortunate enough to come away with the win going there last year, I know that meant something to him. Every game means a lot, but I think when you have a history with an organization, it might mean a little something more just because of the people that you’re going against. Wade’s got that with a lot of different experiences that he’s had which is why he’s such a great coach. I think you’re going to be hard-pressed to find somebody that’s come across Wade Phillips that has nothing but great things to say about him. But, I know he wants to win this one as much as any, especially with it being the divisional round. It’s a big-time one for us.”

(On how excited he is to have the duo of Gurley and RB C.J. Anderson)

”Yeah, it’s good. I think, really, what (RB) C.J. (Anderson) has been able to do coming on a few weeks ago in such a short amount of time has been really impressive. I think it’s a credit to his approach, some of the situations that he’s been in and just being a pro. He’s had great production. I think he’s got a great understanding of what we’re trying to get done. You’ve seen the production that Todd’s had over the last handful of years – really, from the start of his career since he’s gotten into this league. So, to be able to have two very productive backs that you feel really confident in is a blessing for our team. We’re certainly looking forward to getting Todd back though.”

(On if he would like to see the defense improve against the run against the Cowboys and do some things that they haven’t throughout an entire game all season)

”Well, I think we know that that’s going to be a big point of emphasis. Obviously, you always want to be able to stop the run, but there’s certain games that you go into it with maybe a different approach. What are the keys for us to be able to get it done and win the football game as a team? They do a lot of really good things, but certainly running the football is a big point of emphasis for them, especially with the running back that they do have, the (offensive) linemen. They’ve got a quarterback that can create with his legs as well. It’s a great challenge. You want to see us play very sound, but I think it’s about playing efficient football. I think a lot of times, too, the stats can be a little bit misleading based on – I’d be interested to see, ‘Alright, in those crunch-time moments or depending upon what’s the intent of the call.’ Everything is so specific, but to say that we don’t want to stop the run, that wouldn’t be accurate. We want to play gap sound. We want to be able to fit blocks up front, but there are certain intents behind different calls where we might be trying to stop something if you’re a little bit looser with the box. You might leave yourself susceptible to different things. But, it’s going to be a great challenge stopping the run and that’s definitely going to be a point of emphasis for us this week for sure.”

(On if there are any cons to having had the first-round bye week)

”I think, really, you could look at it where if you want to maintain your rhythm and your routine and being able to play. It’s been a couple weeks off, but I think the players would say that the rest is definitely the best way to go. Getting as healthy as possible for us where we’re about as healthy as you could ask to be going into the Divisional Round. So, I know we’ve certainly looked at it as a positive. It’s been a good chance for guys to kind of get refreshed, rejuvenated. There’s a good buzz in the building this week building into Saturday night.”

(On WR Brandin Cooks’ stats being down in recent weeks and how he views that)

”I think a lot of it - you look at it, he had two touchdowns against (San Francisco 49ers) San Fran – we had some short fields. So, specific to maybe some of the yardage, but two of those catches that he had were touchdowns. He had a huge third down-and-10 catch. I think the Arizona (Cardinals) game dictated where we were running it a large portion of the time. He had a couple carries that were big time for us on the jet sweeps. So, I think it’s really about finding ways to make sure we get these guys involved, but whatever the point of attack is or what are we specifically trying to get done, sometimes the receivers might not get opportunities when we’re actually not throwing it quite as much. But, you’ve seen them get involved as runners. I think (WR) Brandin (Cooks) has played really well this whole season and sometimes the numbers can be a little bit misleading, but he’s doing a great job. You certainly want to get guys like him involved as much as possible, though, absolutely.”

(On if there are places where he has seen WR Josh Reynolds step forward after being more invovled lately)

”I just think the level of detail that he’s playing with. I think he’s got an innate understanding of what we’re trying to get done. You always hear us talk about the ownership of, what we’re trying to get done, the intent of the play. I think the more experience that you’re able to gain, especially when you’re a smart, conscientious player like (WR) Josh (Reynolds), I think you’re going to get better. He’s certainly done that. He’s made some big time plays, too. You just look at – he’s got great length. I think he’s got great body control for a player of his size and then you see him compete in the run game. He’s digging out safeties and run support, allowing our backs to be able to bounce it on crack-replaced corners in the run game when some people are in some single-high structures. So, Josh has really gotten better. I think (Wide Receivers Coach) Eric Yarber’s done a great job helping him develop. He’s done an excellent job learning from some of the veterans that we have. I think he’s demonstrated why we feel so strongly about him and why we believe he’s a starting receiver in this league without a doubt.”

(On QB Jared Goff being a good deep ball thrower, but when he struggles if it’s because of defenses’ taking away those long plays and how crucial that is for him to get into a rhythm)

”Yeah, I think it is. I think it starts with, a lot of times, the play selection. Making sure that you’re getting some of those opportunity-type throws versus the right looks. There’s been a lot of instances where I put him in some bad situations, where you’re playing some deep structures where they’re topping down things and there’s really not a whole lot of answers. That’s more kind of on the play selection than anything else. But, I think we want to be smart down-in and down-out - take what defense gives us. I think that’s what he’s done a nice job of the last handful of weeks - just playing the quarterback position at an efficient level. We talk about it all the time, those consistent decisions down-in and down-out and that might be specific to how we’re running the football. He had a zone read touchdown a couple weeks ago against the Cardinals. I don’t know if you guys noticed that from about six inches out. He predetermined that pull all the way. But, no, I think he’s done a good job and I think a lot of that is a result of not putting him in bad situations, like I think I have on some of those instances that you’re referring to.”

(On Goff not being even-keeled on the golf course and if he’s ever witnessed that)

”You know what, I have not witnessed this. That’s the first time I’ve heard that. You know what though, the thing about Jared is he’s got a great even-keeled demeanor. But, there’s a fiery competitor in there that I don’t think a lot of people maybe realize. He’s got a way about it where he goes about it in a way that’s just communicating with his teammates. But, make no mistake about it, there’s an urgency that he has when he’s out there competing and I think people feel that. He picks and chooses the right spots because it’s just real. It’s authentic and genuine when it does come out and when he gets like that, it kind of makes everybody say, ‘All right, here we go,’ because when he’s doing it, it’s for the right reasons as opposed to maybe I might do it a little too often.”

(On if there is any notable spot that he remembers Goff showing urgency)

”I think it’s stuff that, really, I wouldn’t have gotten exposed to it unless you see some of the NFL mic’d up stuff, where you almost forget about when you’re mic’d and you get a little bit of an inside look on some of the communication that occurs within the framework of the huddle. Those are things that are pretty unique because we don’t ever see that as coaches. It gives you a greater appreciation and that’s why it’s so important for the players to have that ownership because the amount of communication, the amount of things that take place within the framework of that huddle on the field when the coaches are on the sideline, it’s so valuable, it’s so important. I think it gives you a glimpse of why his teammates love him so much. I think the guys here feel that way and then you go back to even when he was drafted No. 1 overall, watching the response of his college teammates, you can’t fake that. The guys that you’re playing with, they know if it’s real or not and I think that says as much about Jared as anything else.”

DC Wade Phillips

(Opening statement)

”All right, Dallas Cowboys. I have somewhat of a past of Dallas. (Cowboys Head Coach) Jason Garrett has done a tremendous job there. He’s a better head coach than I was and done better. They’ve got a really good football team, so we know that. He’s done better than I have and he would’ve done better. So, I understand that. As far as (Cowboys Owner/President/General Manager) Jerry Jones, if you work for Jerry Jones, you’re part of the family. I keep telling him not to send us Christmas gifts, but he does. Seriously. I owe a debt to him that I’ll never repay. When my dad passed away, he flew Wes (Phillips), my son, and his family down to the funeral, paid for the meals and so forth. I’ll never repay him for that. I’ll always appreciate that. I worked as hard as I could there. Did the best I could and then I’ve moved on since then. It’s not about me, it’s about this game and our football team. They are a big challenge. They’ve got, obviously, a great running back – the leading rusher in the league. The quarterback is a really good quarterback and they’ve added a receiver who is the top receiver probably the last – since he’s been there. Their offense has a lot of weapons.”

(On if Cowboys QB Dak Prescott presents any particular problems that are different from other dual-threat quarterbacks)

”Well, I mean he can run and throw. A lot of the teams that are in the playoffs certainly have quarterbacks that can scramble too, and he’s one of them. He can hurt you making first downs. They’re a really good third-down team and part of it is, obviously, because he throws the ball well. They’ve got good receivers, good timing and so forth, but he also makes first downs by running it also. Then, in the red zone, he scored or been responsible for a lot of scores down there. He’s a real versatile quarterback and just been coming along better and better every year.”

(On if he has seen something different that the Cowboys are doing with WR Amari Cooper than what he saw while studying him with the Oakland Raiders prior to Week 1)

”Well, the certainly featured (WR) Amari (Cooper) which they should. The guy is a great receiver. They’ve obviously utilized his talents since they’ve had him. He’s had a lot of targets and he’s made the most of them. He had 100 yards last game. He’s a top receiver. We’re going to have to get two or three guys on him.”

(On the key for slowing down Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliot)

”I know everybody says, ‘Well, he’s a great back and you’ve got a bad run defense,’ but there’s a lot of games we played this year that they were supposed to have a good running game and we shut them down. It’s a big challenge to stop their running game, especially him. But, all our guys know that, so that’s a challenge. We’ve challenged our guys with, ‘Hey, we can’t let him run the ball or certainly run wild on us.’”

(On his most cherished moments from him time in Dallas and him coaching a lot of teams and if it’s any more special going against the Cowboys)

”Most cherished moment was when I got the job. Least cherished, when I got fired (laughs). As any head coaching job in the league, it’s special. I think Dallas is that way because of the owner. Again, he makes you part of his family. (Wife of Jerry Jones) Gene Jones is one of the great people in the world. Their whole family is special to me, so that made it special there because we were close to them. It’s still a revenge game for me, just like the other 10 teams that I have coached for. Although, I can’t get any revenge against the Houston Oilers, because there is no Houston Oilers anymore. But, all the rest of the 10 teams I want to beat because I’m not there anymore...or 11 – I don’t know how many there are.”

(On him talking about the run defense and if there are any stats he looks at in particular)

”Take a look at what we do in turnovers. The last two years, we’re No. 1 in the league in (creating) turnovers and I think that’s the key to – we want to be an aggressive defense that takes the ball away and we’ve been able to do that. I think that’s the key with us – and how many games you win. It’s still a team game. Like I said all along, I think our defense has played really well in key situations, pressure situations – those kind of things – enough to win games and that’s the most important thing. If it’s fourth down-and-one on the goal line, it really doesn’t matter how many yards they’ve made; if you stop them on that fourth-and-one and win the game, that’s the most important thing. I think that’s the way this defense plays.”

(On what the Christmas gift was that Jones gave him)

”It wasn’t money (laughs). The same gift I’m sure they give a lot of people, through different years, different things. I don’t know. My wife can tell you about it. I know they gave us a ball to hang on the tree with a picture of Jerry – not really (laughs). A hand-painted – one of those things that I’m sure is very expensive. Not as expensive as that boat he just bought, which I’m hoping to get a ride on some time. But, usually their Christmas gift they give to their family and friends. For the last I don’t know four or five years, we say, ‘Please don’t do that,’ but they did anyways. Like I said, the guy, I’ll never repay him for what he did.”

(On how he puts a gameplan together when the Cowboys still have members that were there when he was a coach there.”

”Yeah, we played them last year and we know the good players they have and what their strengths are and we try to take those away. We know what our strengths and weaknesses are and we try to emphasize our strengths. It’s a gameplan like any team you play, except this is a divisional playoff game, which is awfully big.”

(On the status of S Lamarcus Joyner)

”(S) Lamarcus is practicing today, so we’ll see. We’ll go full-speed in practice, so we’ll see how he does.”

RB Todd Gurley

(On how his knee is feeling)

”It’s good. Got on the field today, so it felt good being out there getting some reps, trying to get full-speed and just work on accelerating and decelerating.”

(On if it’s going to be a process on how much stress he puts on his knee before the game)

”Yeah, I’ll communicate with (Head) Coach (Sean McVay) and then communicate with (Senior Director, Sports Medicine and Performance) Reggie (Scott). We’ll see. Got on the ground for the first time since the (Philadelphia) Eagles game. Well, other than the (Arizona) Cardinals game. But, just communicating, see how I wake up and feel tomorrow. But, everything went pretty good today, so just super excited about that, honestly.”

(On if his knee feels good now)

”Yeah, yeah, thank God. Just got to keep it going.”

(On if he can describe his knee and if he wakes up some mornings and it still doesn’t feel right)

”It’s been a process like over the couple weeks. But, like the last week has been really good for me. Just me and (Director, Rehabilitation/Assistant Athletic Trainer) Byron (Cunningham) have been attacking the rehab and it’s just been getting better. Like I said, it’s just all about me communicating and them having a plan and then we just kind of figure it out from there. But, everything’s been going pretty good right now, so hopefully, we can keep it that way.”

(On facing Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott)

”Oh yeah. Great, great game. Obviously, two top running backs. But, it’s not really about us. (It’s) just a team game. Obviously, we’ve got to hype it up (Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott) ‘Zeke’ versus (RB Todd) Gurley (II). It’ll be a good game. He’s a great back. I guess, I’m not too bad myself.”

(On if he knew Elliott personally)

”Yeah. I mean we’re not like best friends.”

(On how he knows Elliott)

”Play the same position, playing in the NFL, top running backs. You know, we all do the same stuff – everybody goes to the Super Bowl, everybody goes to All-Star weekend. We all do the same stuff in the league. So, that’s kind of how you communicate with people. Real people link up, so I’ll just leave it at that.”

(On what he admires about the way Elliott runs the ball)

”He’s a great running back. He’s won the rushing title two out of the last three years. He’s a big back, like myself. Basically, fast, strong, catches the ball, teams rely on him a lot. He goes out there and proves it every week. He gets it done. That’s what makes him one of the top backs in this league – the stuff that he’s been able to do since he’s entered the league.”

(On watching film of them after the Cowboys defeated the Seattle Seahawks and if he saw anything that he could take advantage of)

”It’s the way this league goes. It’s different. Teams give up 200 yards one game and the next game, hold a guy to 30 yards. But, (Run Game Coordinator) Coach (Aaron Kromer) ‘Krom,’ Coach McVay got a great gameplan. Got the five best linemen in the world, so I have confidence in them and myself. We’re just going to go out there and give it our all.”

(On if he’s eager to have the media stop asking questions about his knee)

”Nah, that’s what y’all going to ask about. I haven’t been on the field in the last two weeks. So, it’s like ‘Why is Todd not on the field? It’s his knee, so we want to know how his knee is doing and get an update.’ Then, I don’t have to keep getting tweets and Instagrams all day, they could just watch this video, see how my knee is doing. They’re either going to believe it or think I’m lying. It’s cool. It’s cool. I’m really just eager to get back on the field and then just see how it responds. Then, hopefully we have some new questions next week and not about the knee.”

(On T Andrew Whitworth remarking how fresh he looked at practice today and if the time off can work in his favor as the team gets ready for a playoff run late in the season)

”That’s the plan. They was just hyping me up today because – like I was trying to focus on hitting full speed and trying to finish my runs. They was just being some nice, good teammates and trying to hype me up. We’ve been doing stuff with Reggie (Scott) and (Director of Strength Training and Performance) Ted (Rath). I think I’ll be pretty fine. Like I said, we’ve got (RB) C.J. (Anderson), (RB) ‘J.K.’ (John Kelly) and (RB) ‘J.D.’ (Justin Davis). Whenever I’m not able to go in there, those guys can go in there and do the exact same thing I’m doing. There’s really no stress there.”

(On the Cowboys’ large national fan base and if he has any personal history regarding Dallas)

”No, not really. Basically, everybody I know hates the Cowboys. They’ve just been hitting me up all week. So, I’ve got to try to take care of business for those guys, but no personal history. Everyone in the world knows that’s ‘America’s Team.’ It’s a primetime game, playoffs. So, what better game that you’d want? Playoff game in L.A. versus ‘America’s Team.’ Definitely looking forward to it. It’s going to be a great matchup.”

(On if last year’s playoff experience is going to help him this time around)

”I hope so. Just seeing how the team has been reacting this week. I don’t really even remember last year, like how we did that week. You can just tell everyone’s just doing their job, got an urgency. We know it’s do or die. We either keep going and playing for the next week or have three more days left, then you guys won’t get to ask me no more questions. I don’t know. We’re just super excited. Ready to get this thing going. Playoff game in L.A. (on) Saturday night. Just looking forward to it.”

(On if he feels that running backs are held to a similar standard in terms of being judged by playoff success)

”Nah, nah, nah, nah. Quarterback is a different story. They get paid the big bucks to get criticized. So, we’re not going to put the blame on the running backs (laughs).”