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TRANSCRIPT: Los Angeles Rams HC Sean McVay, DC Wade Phillips, RB Todd Gurley September 12 press conference

Checking in with McVay, Wade and Gurley leading up to Rams-Saints in Week 2

NFL: Los Angeles Rams Press Conference Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Rams HC Sean McVay

(On DL Michael Brockers and LB Clay Matthews appearing on Wednesday’s injury report)

“They’re making good progress. Both veteran players – (LB) Clay Matthews had a little bit of back stiffness and Mike (DL Michael Brockers) had a little something with his shoulder. Those guys are making good progress, we’ll be smart with them again today, but we’re optimistic about the game.”

(On if RB Todd Gurley II will practice on Thursday)

“He (RB Todd Gurley II) will.”

(On if Gurley practiced on Wednesday)

“He (RB Todd Gurley II) did. He’s feeling good.”

(On if Gurley’s practice schedule will be based on how he feels that day or if the team will continue an every other day approach)

“I think it’s kind of by day. I think ideally, we’ve said in a situation where we’ve mapped it out over the course of the year, it’s probably two out of three days. There might be some specific things – this is the heaviest day of install, so there’s some things that maybe we want to get timed up with him (RB Todd Gurley II) and work through. If he’s feeling good, that’s something we want to be able to do.”

(On if Gurley’s practice schedule is strictly based on keeping his knee healthy)

“It’s just more about just managing how he (RB Todd Gurley II) is feeling. When you look at the pounding that running backs take – just in terms of just how their body is feeling. It’s not exclusive to any specific part of his body, it’s just really his body and he’s feeling good so that’s the approach we’ll take today.”

(On if there is a challenge regarding familiarity when playing the Saints for the third time in two seasons)

“I think, if anything, there’s a respect for what a good football team this is. There’s a lot of stuff that takes place in between an offseason where you’re looking at yourself offensively, defensively, special teams. But, there are a lot of things that foundationally remain the same with our systems and the continuity that each team’s had. I can’t speak to the Saints, but you that you’re playing a really good football team. I think you have a good appreciation for their scheme and their personnel is really, probably the best way I would articulate it. I don’t think you want to think too much into, ‘All right, we’ve done all this.’ You’re always evaluating those games and that’s a part of it. Making sure that they’re looking at that, you know that you’ve already run these certain things. It does affect a little bit the way that you put together your gameplan for the next game.”

(On the conversation before having K Greg Zuerlein kick a game-winning field goal in the NFC Championship game)

“It was really, once we had gotten in range that we felt like he (K Greg Zuerlein) could make it, there was never any second guessing. It’s to the confidence that we have in Greg, you don’t even think about the alternative solution or alternative outcome – I guess I should say – would have been there. It would have been deep, but fortunately he knocked that thing true.”

(On how the Saints’ secondary compares to other teams and if he considers them ‘elite’)

“They (the Saints’ secondary) are really good. I think their defense is really good as a whole. (CB) Marshon Latimore’s one of the better corners in this league, he’s physical, he’s got great ball skills, you see why he was a top pick. (CB) Eli Apple’s played really well since they traded for him last year. (CB) P.J. Williams is a really good, physical nickel that they can utilize in a bunch of different ways. He’s good in coverage, he’s competitive once he gets around the box. (S) Marcus Williams has as good a range as any safety in the league. You see him come over the top the other night and make a pick. (S) Vonn Bell’s a really versatile player, so they’ve got a lot of guys that they’re consistently playing with that are really good football players. I think they’re put in spots that kind of accentuate their skill-sets and it’s a great challenge. They’re definitely one of the better secondaries in the league.”

(On if he’s seen anything he could exploit in the Saints’ secondary after watching the Texans convert big plays against them in Week 1)

“It’s hard to say with just such a small sample size. I think it was a situation where (Texans WR DeAndre) Hopkins makes a great catch. They make a great throw and then they decided to bring pressure. (Texans QB) Deshaun Watson kind of just slid to his right and ended up throwing a great ball on a seam throw to (Texans WR) Kenny Stills. Those two plays, I don’t think are necessarily indicative of what a good defense this is, but I think you also have to give credit to the Texans in that situation where they made two pretty dang good plays.”

(On if S Eric Weddle is feeling good today)

“He’s feeling good. He’s in great shape, he’s doing all the necessary steps and we’re fully anticipating him being ready to go.”

(On why he thinks it is that his receivers group seems to be lowkey in comparison to the national narrative about receivers being ‘divas’)

“It’s a credit to who they are as people. They’re great players that are great people. They’re as selfless a group as I’ve ever been around. They play hard for one another, they play hard for their teammates. They compete with and without the ball. It’s more than anything, just a reflection of the character that they have. They make each other better. I think (Wide Receivers Coach) Eric Yarber and (Assistant Wide Receivers Coach) Liam Coen do an excellent job leading that room. I’ve never been around a group that’s as special as this one is and you certainly don’t take it for granted.”

(On if character is a high priority when he looks at receivers to bring in)

“I think it is. I think it is for our team. You want guys that are accountable and coachable. It sounds cliché the, ‘We not me,’ but you want guys that want to be about the team and being a part of something bigger than yourself. Those are the kind of people that we identify, that love football. You try to create an atmosphere and an environment where there’s a mutual respect like you hear us talk about. These are special people. If you can find talented guys that are wired like those guys mentally and as human beings, that’s a win-win.”

(On where the ‘We Not Me’ phrase originally came from and how hard it is to reinforce it in today’s sports world)

“I know that we’re not the first people to say that, but I think it really just epitomizes, we think football is the greatest team sport there is and how important it is for everybody to be pushing in the same direction. More than anything that you could say, it’s really how do your actions match up with what you want to represent day-in and day-out. It’s doing things together, it’s working through the inevitable adversity, trying to look inward, be accountable first and foremost. Those things naturally and organically come up through the course of a week, through the course of a day. You just want to make sure that your actions are reflective of what you say.”

(On why it is that wide receivers seem to be the prima donna’s around the league)

The challenge, I don’t necessarily know if the prima donna, but I think in a lot of instances, so much of their production is relying on other guys doing their job. Where a guy might run a route, separate, do everything, but if the protection, if the throw, you know. There’s a lot of things that have to occur for them to be able to even produce in terms of on the stat sheets. Because of how reliant in a lot of instances that receiver position can be and the tight end position when you’re throwing the football on other things working in unison. That’s where sometimes things can come into play, but we feel fortunate that those issues haven’t come up here.”

DC Wade Phillips

(Opening Remarks)

“Obviously, their offense is a top, top offense. I looked, I think they’ve got 10 guys that are third-round or better, drafted. All of them have really outplayed their draft status. (Saints QB) Drew Brees was a second-round guy but obviously, he’s outplayed that, along with (RB Alvin) Kamara in the third round, (WR Michael) Thomas in the second round. They are all even better than that, they are all playing at a first-round level. They’ve done a great job of amassing, really good personnel. They’ve got a great young receiver that leads the league, was the highest paid receiver in the league for four days, I think. He caught 10 passes last game, he’s a real threat, obviously. Their offensive line is really strong. We know Kamara is just like the guy we played last week, like (Panthers RB Christian) McCaffrey, is a run and pass threat and he’s really good at both of those. It’s a big challenge for us and we are looking forward to it. These are big games, we all know it. Every time we’ve played them it’s been a big game, this is another one.”

(On when he goes against elite players how he determines a successful outcome)

“The scoreboard is the most important thing. Winning the ball game is the most important thing. You really want to try to shut down – we didn’t do a good enough job against McCaffrey but overall, obviously, we won the game and played well enough. It gives you a chance to look at it and say, ‘Hey, obviously we need to do better this week because they are a stronger offensive team with a Hall of Fame quarterback that’s thrown for the most yardage in the history of football. Like I said, It’s a big challenge. I was lucky enough to be with Drew Brees for a couple of years. I can’t say enough good things about him. I can’t say I knew he was going to be what he is now, but I knew he was going to be a really good player because his temperament, his smarts, his accuracy, all those things were there even in San Diego his first couple of years.’”

(On if facing McCaffrey last week and Kamara this week, and if he likes having challenges like that in back-to-back weeks)

“No, I rather have guys that can’t play and play against them (laughs). Yeah, it’s another challenge for you. Like I said, we need to do better in that challenge. Kamara caught 11 (passes) on us last year in the championship game. We know what they can do.”

(On the approach of facing a double threat running back)

“I basically tell them to point them out every time. Wherever they are lined up, point them out. At least let them know that ‘Hey, we are aware of where they are.’ That helps our players to say ‘Hey, he’s right here, he’s over here.’ Just a little more attention for them. Now, you’ve got to double cover players at different times, but you’ve got to meet the challenge sometimes. You’ve got to play 1-on-1 with them, or you’ve got to stop them from running the football, those kinds of things.”

(On if there is a familiarity between the Rams and the Saints considering they last played in the NFC Championship and if so, if that means they need to disguise what they are doing)

“With Brees, he’s going to audible plays when he sees something. He’s great at that, one of the best. If he can tell what you’re in, he’s going to audible the best play and he’s going to be able to execute it. He’s a yard-a-second quarterback. That last drive he went 35 yards in 35 seconds with one timeout. He can do it.”

(On if he remembers the no call in last year’s NFC Championship game)

“I remember we won. That’s all I remember.”

(On holding the Saints to 290-yards last year)

“Obviously we had a good defensive game against them. They’ve got all their starters back that they had last year and they are playing at a high level already. Like I said, it’s a challenge to play against Drew Brees now. You saw it the other night. It looked like they (Houston Texans) were beating them, then all of the sudden, he wins the game for them. They won it as a team, but he moves the team any time. No matter how much they are behind or what, he’s going to make plays.”

(On how acquiring OLB Dante Fowler and his progression)

“That’s why we got him last year. We felt like we needed a threat on the outside. He helped our run defense and our pass defense last year. I don’t think people give him credit for the run defense. From the time we got him, we’ve played better and better against the run. Even against New Orleans, we had a really good game. He’s a heck of a player.”

(On Fowler’s move in the NFC championship to hit Drew Brees that lead to the game-winning play)

“He’s hard to block. If you have to hold the ball, again, Drew Brees gets rid of it most of the time, but that was a tremendous play and game-winning play. Anytime you’re in overtime no matter what happened before, if you’re in overtime and you cause a turnover, hit him, and cause a turnover and it wins the game, that’s a big play, you’re a big-time player.”

(On if it’s rare for a rookie like S Taylor Rapp to be composed in a situation when he had to help and fill in when S Eric Weddle went down)

“That’s what we thought he was going to do. Until they get in the game you don’t know. He came in and played well. That’s why we played him in the game in the first place.”

(On LB Clay Matthews and S Eric Weddle’s first game)

“Again, the first half, (S) Eric (Weddle) was in most of the first half. I thought the communication was really great with him in there. He not only helps everybody with what we are all doing, but he says, ‘Alert this, alert that, 41 is going to run.’ He’s alert to what they might run. Again, we don’t guess, but we do anticipate things and he’s tremendous at that. (LB) Clay (Matthews) is a really good outside linebacker. I saw he’s up for the Hall of Fame, that’s his dad (laughs). It said Clay Matthews, that’s all I care.”

(On Eric Weddle describing himself as half man, half machine)

“That’s pretty accurate. Like I said before, he’s a really sharp guy, he understands concepts. He understands defensive football and concepts. It’s happened several times with him, he’s gone up and done something that he’s said ‘Hey, why aren’t we doing that way? After a while, we say, ‘Hey, let’s do it we do it that way next time.’ He’s going to be a real asset for us this year and we’ve seen it already in the first half.”

(On Cory Littleton’s communication during the Panthers win)

“Yeah, (LB) Cory (Littleton) did it for us last year. Cory is playing a different position than he played last year. Obviously, he played really well. I think he didn’t quite get the NFC Defensive Player of the Week, but he made 15 tackles, an interception, caused a fumble and recovered a fumble. What a game he had. Seems to be suiting him well and he’s playing well.”

(On the difference Cory Littleton’s position this season compared to last)

“He’s playing the weak-side inside backer instead of the strong-side inside backer. We call it MIKE and MO. He’s playing MO this year rather than Mike. It just shows he’s a good football player, he can play anywhere. It’s a good position, it’s a good run and hit position, gives you a chance to make a lot of plays and obviously he did.”

(On the Saints ranking higher in yards on the ground than through the air last season)

“They’ve got a good offensive line. Like I said, they’re all first and second, one third round pick. They’re all really good players up front. I think (Pro Football Focus) PFF, whoever they are, said they were the best offensive line the first week of the season, they rated them the best in the league. They played awfully well. They’ve got a strong front. He’s always run the ball though. (Saints Head Coach) Sean Payton will run the ball more than you think he does. He’s not a pass happy guy, he’s a win game guy and if he can get the running game going, he will.”

RB Todd Gurley

(On if he is looking forward to playing the Saints again)

“It’ll be a cool game. Home opener, so I’m excited about that.”

(On how he felt following Week 1 against Carolina)

“I’m fine. Soreness after the game, nothing too crazy.”

(On if he attended a soccer match earlier this week)

“You know I went to a soccer game.”

(On his motivation for attending the game)

“No reason. I like soccer. Just thought I’d go check it out.”

(On if he was drawn to either of the two teams playing)

“Nothing, just a big fan of (Brazilian soccer player) Neymar. Got to meet him a couple years ago and just went to the game the other day, really.”

(On if it is difficult to approach the game against the Saints as ‘just another game’)

“It is just another game. I didn’t know it was the ‘Game of the Week.’”

(On if he thinks his number of carries against Carolina will be standard for the entire season and if he felt fresher in the fourth quarter against Carolina after splitting carries with RB Malcolm Brown)

“I felt good in the fourth quarter. I don’t control such decisions. It’s out of my control.”

(On his relationship with the offensive line)

“Those are my guys. I came in with (T) Rob (Havenstein), love ‘Whit’ (T Andrew Whitworth), love ‘B-Allen’ (C Brian Allen), (T Joe) Noteboom – he doesn’t really talk too much – (OL Austin) Blythe, they’re all cool. (Run Game Coordinator) Coach (Aaron) Kromer, his son (Offensive Quality Control Coach Zak Kromer), (Assistant Offensive Line Coach) Andy (Dickerson), everybody’s cool. I’ve been with the same group for quite a while. That’s all of our jobs, is to make each other right. When I’m doing wrong, they’re helping me out. It goes both ways.”

(On if he and the coaches have a definite plan regarding his practice schedule)

“It’s been the exact same thing the last couple of years. It’s nothing new. I don’t know if you’ve been paying attention the last couple of years, but my schedule as far as practice has been the exact same way.”

(On Head Coach Sean McVay saying he will be practicing two to three days a week)

“We’ll find out.”

(On reflecting on how he played in the NFC Championship game)

“It’s another game. I’m not going to have a good game every game. I’ve had 50-plus good games, but I’m pretty sure I’ve had five or six bad games. That’s just football. Each week and then you just get ready for the next week. Then obviously during that time, it’s either you’re going to play or go home. It’s still the beginning of the season. It’s Week 2. It’s an NFC game, so you definitely want to win against an NFC opponent. These are kind of the games you want to win now so you won’t really have to catch up later. Just like last year, we happened to lose two games back-to-back and we really didn’t have to play catch up because we were so far ahead of everybody else.”

(On the intent of the video he posted on social media before the season opener)

“Just a video. You can take it however you want to take it. Whoever. Just a video.”