The Los Angeles Rams are coming off a loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, and are looking to rebound against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 6 of the NFL season. If LA wants to try for something greater by season’s end, then they need to win games like this. Losing two in a row in the NFL is not typically a recipe for success. Whereas LA can lose and then rattle off eight wins in a row, is that something this team wants to count on? LA needs to win the games they can win. They already lost to the Cincinnati Bengals and that was a game that the Rams were favored in.
Sean McVay said after the Philly loss that the margin for error is small against the best teams in the NFL. I think he’d agree when I say the margin for error is small in the NFL. Last Sunday in the his presser he was emphatic that this team can get better and get to where they want go. Where exactly do they want to go? I can’t tell you that, but I know they want to win this week. Let’s start there and see what the coach had to say as the Rams prepare for their third division game of the season.
The above paragraphs are what I had written before evening listening to the press conference. Once I pressed play I quickly realized the only topic reporters wanted to talk about was the trading of Van Jefferson. It’s hilarious to me because McVay answers everything in his opening statement, but reporters gotta do what reporters gotta do. Ask questions until even they are tired of the questions and the answers. Let’s see some of what the coach had to say. Spoiler: There’s a lot of ways to say the same thing.
“Starting off just wanna wish Van Jefferson nothing but the best. You know we’ve had great communication and dialogue. He is a special person, he’s a special player. This was something that we had kinda talked about the possibility of, then felt like it was able to work out for both sides. He’s excited about the opportunity to go contribute in Atlanta. I got a ton of respect for Arthur Smith. Have a great relationship with Dave Ragone. He was somebody they had been interested in, and it worked out and Van was excited about that opportunity.”
I do find it interesting that ATL may have been interested in Van from afar. Were they interested in him during the draft process? In what ways does Atlanta think they can maximize Jefferson? I think the Falcons have plenty of skill position players and Van should make them even better. It’s exciting for the former Rams receiver and forever Super Bowl champion. People can rip up what I am about to say next: Jefferson did a lot for the Rams.
“He did a great job for us here. I love Van and I was grateful for the conversations and the clarity that we had going into that. I know he’s excited about that, you know just appreciative of him. He’s like I said, special person, special player and it was really good, a lot of good memories that we had here. Lot of things that I really appreciate about the person as much as the player.”
Has had my back through it all! Love you till the end pops https://t.co/ExdStOk4ev— Van Jefferson (@VanJefferson12) December 14, 2021
After McVay gets that much deserved goodbye out of the way he goes into the injury report. For the most part LA is dealing with the typical bumps and bruises of the NFL season.
“Joe Noteboom will not participate with his groin, Larrell Murchison got his knee in the game a little bit the other day, Ernest Jones had some knee swelling, so we’ll hold him today. Christian Rozeboom with a thigh, Kevin Dotson’s ankle was a little bit sore so we’ll hold him, and then Ben Skoronek will be limited with some Achilles soreness.”
The head coach then opens up for questions. The coach is asked about the trading of Jefferson. My concern for the trade is that it does take away some depth from LA’s WR core. This is a concern McVay does not seem to have.
“It’s also a reflection of the confidence I have in the totality of the receiver group. There’s some other guys that, you know, outside of just Tutu (Atwell) and Puka (Nacua) and getting Cooper (Kupp) back that have done a really nice job. It’s bittersweet because you know I’m really happy for Van, and I know he’s excited about it, but I love Van you know and he was a good player for us.”
McVay spoke highly of Cam Akers when that trade was finally pushed through, but I don’t recall him speaking about Akers as highly as he does Van here. Consider that Akers was deactivated before his trade. Van was still on the team, but he was not seeing too many snaps. Jefferson caught Matthew Stafford’s first touchdown as a Ram. I am sure a lot of players think fondly of Jefferson.
At the end of the day he did help bring home a Super Bowl so the team and fans should be appreciative. Hopefully he will go on to have success in Atlanta. McVay continues to get pushed by the reporters about this trade.
“End of the day, understand and respect the question, but I don’t think really it’s necessary for me to dive into anything deeper than feel good about the conversations that were had between Van and myself, Les (Snead) and his representation with Cedrick Saunders and ultimately he’s gonna be in Atlanta now.”
After this McVay gets asked again, “Why move him now?”
“There was partly a consideration for the person too. You do have to make decisions that are best for the team, but based on you know some of the things that we felt like were possible down the road and looking out for him and for us that was just what we felt like was the best decision. You know a huge part of it was trying to be considerate to a really special person.”
The coach is asked if Rams can be involved in any trades with regard to bringing players to LA. That is an interesting question.
“Nah, we don’t really have the availability. I mean I don’t that...you kinda have to have some resources and different things like that for those to be options.”
Are you buying that answer? Sounds like they have no imminent plans but I’m sure they’ll keep an open mind.
McVay gets asked more about the Jefferson trade. He stays patient and basically just repeats what he already said in new ways. He brings up that Van was in the last year of his contract and again says that Van felt good about the trade and that really mattered to LA.
“He was nothing, but a class act, nothing but a pro’s pro. I think like anything else he probably wanted to have a bigger role and I think that’s understandable. I think he also understood the situation. One of coolest things when you sit down and talk to Van is his understanding and his genuine excitement for the development of Tutu Atwell, his respect that’s been accrued over the years for Cooper Kupp, and then his appreciation for what Puka Nacua has done in a short amount of time. He also knows there’s some other guys whether it’s a Ben Skowronek, whether it’s a Demarcus Robinson. You know you got some guys on the practice squad that have done some really good things...I can say nothing but good things about Van and what a pure class act he was.”
Some criticize the 2020 Rams draft as not being highly successful. I get the point. The team also won a Super Bowl recently. Players from the 2020 draft class were a part of that, so not all bad. However you may feel on that subject McVay is actually asked about that particular draft class. Were there any takeaways or lessons to learn going forward from the 2020 draft class?
“Hopefully we don’t have COVID again.”
The coach smiles and the room shares some laughs but to me it’s a serious point. COVID-19 disrupted the world and obviously the NFL. He then gives a somewhat more in depth answer. As much as NFL coach being asked about their draft process can. The coach specifically talks about the success of Jefferson.
“I think you look at every single lesson. I mean when I look at it I look at it as a lot of success for Van Jefferson and it just so happend that, you know with 12 games remaining in the regular season an opportunity arose for him with another team that there was something enticing about that for him...he was a huge contributor on a team that won a Super Bowl.”
Van has proven he belongs in the NFL, but I don’t think he’s ever been the focal point of the Rams offense week in and week out. Whether it was injuries or falling down the depth chart, it apparently was time for LA to move on.
“When he’s been available, you know he’s really fought. I’ve really appreciated the way that he’s really fought through some different injuries that I know were challenging...what he did throughout camp and a couple plays that he was able to make this year. Nothing but gratitude from my end.”
Aa you can see the coach is asked A LOT about Van Jefferson. To McVay’s credit he goes along with it. He keeps a great demeanor and respond appropriately. Whereas I was thinking “Can we talk about the Arizona Cardinals yet?”
My hope came true when the coach was finally asked about the upcoming matchup. Is this a different team then when McVay’s buddy Kliff Kingsbury was the head coach? I swear you can see the relief on McVay’s face when he is asked something different other than the trading of Mr. Jefferson.
“Oh! Very different. You know they still have some players that you’re familiar with, but can’t say enough about what a great job Jonathan Gannon and his staff have done. You flip on the tape you see really sound schemes, you see guys that are playing really well, guys that are getting better, over the last five weeks. They do an excellent job.”
Some thought the Cardinals would be tanking going into this season. To the team’s credit, Josh Dobbs and the team he is leading look like they are putting effort into every game.
Now that we’ve summed up the Cardinals, let’s talk about the Jefferson trade again. McVay gets asked something to effect of if this team is going to miss Jefferson, or if the team has the depth to overcome WR injuries with Van gone? Like for example if Kupp were to miss any more time. Does the coach feel confident that Super Cooper is back, so the team could move on from Van?
“Our receiver room didn’t get better by losing Van Jefferson that for certain. We got better by being able to add Cooper back into the mix that meant there was probably going to be less opportunities for him to be on the field...if we are able to stay healthy, and that’s always an if, and last year taught us that.”
That to me is the big IF. Can this team stay healthy? They have players in the right places to be competitive. They may not be ready to take on top teams in the NFL, but so far this team has looked competitive in every game. That’s more than can be said about some teams. We don’t know whether or not this team will end up with a winning record or a losing record, but we know that Van Jefferson will no longer be a part of LA’s process this season. Maybe there won’t be any more questions about Van during McVay’s next press conference either. I think he and I could both appreciate that.