(East Los Angeles, CA) [From The Editor’s Desk]: The Rams are staying busy in the NFL’s off-season planning and re-tooling period with more attention now circling back to the team’s readiness after a sub-par season. At present, there are still ongoing owner/management plans and decisions, agent/player/team negotiations, corporate activities, personnel changes, and other important team affairs, that it’s very hard to stay up to current speed on where Coaches and Players team matters are situated.
However, Thanks to the Rams Communication Staff, this type of extremely informative and timely Transcript taken from Coach McVay’s most recent media presence, will be much-appreciated by longtime and new Rams fans who want to learn more about their team during this particular timeframe. We will do our best to share that information with you as it becomes available.
This is a very long read but after absorbing everything that Coach McVay has to say about the new 2023 season, you will have a better idea of how things will shape up over the next few months, while leading up to the start of the team’s Summer Training Camps.
Head Coach Sean McVay – Friday, March 10, 2023
(Opening statement)…“I’m just really excited about the group that we announced as our coaching staff. A lot of time and effort has been put into trying to find the right group, and really in a lot of instances you think about it kind of like a team because guys being able to accentuate each other’s skill sets, guys being great teachers, communicators, having high character and capacity and then a lot of different experiences where we can collaborate to figure out what is the best way for us to move forward schematically and culturally for the Rams because people always make the place. (I) feel really grateful for the 10 new additions. There’s a lot of guys that are in place that have done a great job. Some will be in different roles but will still be highly instrumental in a lot of the things that we want to do moving forward. Also, so grateful for (Owner/Chairman Stan) Mr. Kroenke. I think in a lot of instances when you go through some of the things that we went through last year, you can really get lost in things becoming a burden more than a blessing. And when you really take a step back and get a chance to reflect, and sometimes that reflection is best served after the humbling experiences and the challenging experiences. And what I didn’t want to do was make a decision that it comes up every year, because I think when you reflect on particularly the last two years, whether it was after 2021 and then some of the different things that you’re pondering after this last year, you can become a story unintentionally. Or you’re really working through things and you’re open about it and it becomes more of a distraction than what it’s worth. And I think for me, the most important thing is reestablishing a purpose. Reestablishing just the way you move throughout the course of your day and those things aren’t finalized by any stretch. It’s an everyday approach, but this is a blessing to be able to do this. I love coaching. I love working with players and coaches, and I think in some instances when you lose your way, you can lose perspective on things. And for the time that I had to reflect, I’m really grateful, and without great ownership you wouldn’t have that. But this is when you say, all right, you’re really excited about coming back. I think it’s more about let’s just see how those actions align instead of the lip service, but it was something that you want to make sure that you’re making a decision that’s in alignment for years to come, not an every year type of deal because that’s really important. There’s a lot of people that you feel a great deal of responsibility to do right by them and to do a great job within the framework of your responsibilities. I’m really committed to not having this become a story every year because I know that’s probably something that people are asking or wondering, and I don’t take that lightly. That was why the reflection, because there was never a doubt whether you wanted to coach again. It’s really just, are you going to be able to have the appropriate perspective to be the best version of yourself for the players and the coaches? And I feel confident that that can exist moving forward, but it is exciting because of all the different things that we have ahead of us and working with these coaches over the last few weeks, I’ve been really excited.
You talk about the offensive group with (Offensive Coordinator) Mike LaFleur, a guy that I’ve known for a long time. Obviously close relationship with that family. He’s an excellent coach with a lot of different backgrounds, great ownership and understanding of all 22 and similar foundational philosophies, but he has some differences that will help add in a big way to our offensive approach and perspective.
(Tight Ends Coach) Nick Caley, a guy from New England, obviously they do such an excellent job. You guys know the respect that I have for (Patriots Head Coach Bill) Coach Belichick, but he’s been in a system where they’ve done it the right way. He’s got a passion for football, he’s excited. He’s a guy that you can’t help but be excited being around with the energy that he brings every single day. And again, the capacity and the different perspective.
(Offensive Line Coach) Ryan Wendell, a guy that played. Has an amazing ability to be able to communicate in a seamless way. Been with Buffalo, great organization for the last four years, and then having worked with (Bills Offensive Line Coach) Aaron Kromer, there’s a lot of familiarity in terms of that relationship that they built, but he’s been excellent. I think his perspective as a player, his overall intelligence, just the toughness that he has as a person, but also his seamless way of communicating and making things that are very complex seem easy. I think it’s going to translate really well where he’s going to be an excellent coach for us.
And then (Running Backs Coach) Ron Gould, as a running backs coach. Excellent experience, he’s got a great disposition and demeanor. Really excited to work with Ron. He was kind of one of the last hires that we made, so he just got here this past week, but it’s been a joy being around him in the few days. A lot of different experiences as a head coach. Being in Stanford, being in (University of) Cal, coaching and developing great players. And he’s got a plethora of wisdom and knowledge and experience that is going to be really beneficial to us.
(Assistant Head Coach) Jimmy Lake is going to be the assistant head coach, as you guys saw. I’ve known Jimmy for a while through (Defensive Coordinator) Raheem Morris. Great overall perspective, obviously as a head coach, areas on the defensive side of the ball, but some of the different things that he’ll be able to provide from a leadership perspective, from an offense to defense, defense to offense will be incredibly valuable. It’s been great having Jimmy in the building.
And then on the defensive side of the ball, getting (Defensive Backs/ Pass Game Coordinator) Aubrey Pleasant back was big. He was the guy that was here from the jump. I’ve known Aubrey for a long time. One of the most charismatic and impressive people that you’ll be around with an incredible capacity for the game. Has great knowledge of both sides of the football. He’s a great example of being really demanding but being able to develop that relationship where he can be hard on him because they know how much he loves and cares about these guys. He’s got great understanding of the techniques and the fundamentals on the back end, which I think is one of the more challenging positions to coach.
(Outside Linebackers Coach) Joe Coniglio will coach our outside linebackers. I’ve known Joe for a long time. Another Miami of Ohio guy. Great passion for the game. Great husband, great father, but he’s done a great job at the Naval Academy the last couple years working as a special teams coordinator, outside linebacker coach. But his understanding of the rush, his overall toughness and demeanor, just who he is as a human being I think he’ll provide tremendous value for that room.
And then you look at two really good young coaches in (Defensive Assistant) Mike Harris working with the defense on the back end and (Assistant Defensive Line Coach) Andrew Carter working with (Defensive Line Coach/ Run Game Coordinator) Coach (Eric) Henderson up front think will be tremendous assets for us.
AC Carter was working with Denver last year, so (Broncos Defensive Line Coach) Marcus Dixon did a great job of working with him. And you could see his understanding of what we’re trying to get done and the success that they were able to have particularly on the defensive line at Denver and his understanding of those nuances. There’s a lot of things that will translate just based on what he was doing last year.
And then (Special Teams Coordinator) Chase Blackburn is a guy that I remember coaching against when he was giving us fits as an inside linebacker for the Giants. You know, it’s two Super Bowls, been a core special teams player but also a starting Mike (linebacker). And he’s one of those guys that, he’s been in Carolina for a handful of years. He was just in Tennessee with (Titans Special Team Coach) Craig Aukerman and (Titans Head Coach) Mike Vrabel as an assistant, but you can see this guy’s a leader of men. He’s got a great way about himself. A nice humility, but I think you can tell, I mean, when he walks into a room he’s got a physical imposing presence, but there’s a humility and there’s a knowledge and an understanding of the game and he’s a great teacher. When you’re really going through those interviews, if I can follow you on a lot of these different phases and you’re keeping me engaged and things like that. He impressed a lot of people when he came in and I’m very fortunate and we know we’ve got a lot of work ahead of us, but I think similar to really when we first got here in 2017, we’re excited about rolling our sleeves up, getting to work and figuring out how we can be as competitive as possible. Let’s go! You got any questions after that? I don’t know what they are!”
(On how he is prepared to deal with the Rams not being aggressive in free agency to help get under the cap)…“I think in a lot of instances, so much of it is okay well what can you really control? And how do you expend your energy on those things? Because we are in some situations and circumstances as it relates to the cap, as it relates to some of the different things that have occurred over the last handful of years where you say, ‘Alright, well what are our options and what’s the best way that we can figure it out?’ And a lot of times as you talk about that reflection, when you first get here in 2017, you don’t know any better other than to say, ‘What’s the best way that we can put together the most competitive roster?’ You don’t really even know some of the stuff that you have come to worry about or come to get irritated about. And so, where my focus and concentration, while you’re not being naïve to the fact that it is very different, is about, let’s not try to write the story before we’ve even opened up the first page of the book. Let’s figure out what can we do with the circumstances. While there are going to be a lot of tough decisions, I don’t expect to not try to put together the most competitive roster that we can do, or that we can be able to establish and develop, and then let’s go see what happens. We do expect to be able to have some really core pieces that you’re not asking them to be anybody but themselves, and then there will be a need to develop and go with some younger guys through the draft and through undrafted free agency and have a little bit different approach. But those were things that we kind of have known. You work through and really you try to just be intentional about, alright, what do we really have to do? And when some of these decisions have to be made just based on those parameters, you have nothing to do but be able to move forward. And it doesn’t take away the challenges and the human element where it will end up probably having to move on from some guys that you really care a lot about and you build and develop relationships with, but it is different. It’s something that got to be able to go attack and handle it the right way one day at a time.”
(On if he anticipates that DB Jalen Ramsey, LB Leonard Floyd and WR Allen Robinson will be on the roster by the end of next week)…
“I think those are all fluid situations. I think we’ve had dialogue with those guys about what the possibilities are. I think you want to keep some of those conversations in-house, but you also don’t want people getting caught off guard. There’s a lot of information that’s out there. And there’s always a lot of discussions that take place behind the scenes, but those are fluid situations that we’ll continue to monitor, but certainly wouldn’t want to pigeonhole yourself into saying, they are or aren’t here. But I do know this, if they are here, you’re going to pour everything you have into them to be the best players they can possibly be. And if they’re not, you’re going to be really grateful and appreciative for the contributions that they’ve made over the time that they’ve been here.”
(On the possibly of bringing back WR Odell Beckham Jr. and WR Robert Woods)…“Yeah, I think that when you talk about two great players like that, to say that there’s not interest that would certainly be silly. So those are situations that we will absolutely monitor. There’s a lot of layers to it relative to, what are the ways that you can set up adding them and how does that fit within the puzzle that you really have to put together with some different pieces and probably more moving pieces since I’ve been here, since we first got here in 2017? So, love both of those players. You know how I feel about them just from our conversations over the years and to say that there isn’t interest that wouldn’t be accurate, but if we can make that come to life, that’s another conversation. But those are definitely things we’re monitoring.”
(On what his purpose is now and how that’s different than what it was in the past)…“I don’t necessarily know if anything’s different, but I think in its simplest form sometimes when you first get to a place…I guess the easiest way that I can answer that is by saying, being reminded of what a blessing this is to be in this role. And what a unique platform it provides to be able to lead and elevate people on a daily basis and really live the things that you say. Because it’s one thing to know that they’re true, and then it’s another thing to truly feel those things. And I think if you’re not careful you can lose perspective and purpose about it’s all about the people. And that’s been consistent over the last six years. There’s never been perfect moments, but I think in a lot of instances the purity of when you first get here, the joy that you have, the way that you’re bouncing from drill to drill and from meeting to meeting, and being able to establish and build relationships with the players, the coaches, establishing a culture, figuring out different ways that we can push the envelope schematically and have a positive peer pressure amongst our staff to continue to learn from one another. Those are the things that give you real purpose when you’re doing it with other people. I think in some instances when the things got challenging because you don’t want to put your problems on others, you internalize, or you draw inward and that’s the worst thing you can do. Being able to lean on each other and it’s not necessarily anything new, it’s just continuing to emphasize the things that have been done at a high level and not lose sight of it. Sometimes the easiest things to get yourself back on track are looking back on the values and the principles that you want to live by, and however that journey took place where you just kind of just lose your way. And I think the most important thing for me moving forward, is not necessarily talking about it, but being about it. I think there’s been a lot of talk over the last couple years, and it gets to a point where it just kind of roll your eyes, because that’s how I would feel. And you just got to go do it and have a joy and a purpose and a perspective and being grounded in all of those things and I think you realize how much work it takes to do that. But I do believe that we’re cut out for it and I’m really excited about the people that I’m going to be around, continue to do it together.”
(On if he feels his shift of perspective will alleviate some of the negative emotions he might feel when coaching gets challenging)…
“Yeah, here’s what I would say, the answer is I’ll be able to truthfully answer it when you really go through those things. But I am very confident that there’s a lot of work that’s put in on a daily basis to just really be the best person that you want to be for everybody that you’re around. That’s really what it is. When you reflect on it, this is such a competitive business. This is such a great business that’s brought so many different blessings into my life. But then you start to say, ‘Alright, how do you continue to have that drive, that competitiveness, but also apply the appropriate perspective that when you really say spend your emotional and mental energy on the things that you can control, well then put it into action.’ You have that unbelievable self-talk. You have unbelievable daily recovery habits. You have unbelievable people that you can continue to lean on and know that man, it is about when you say football’s the greatest team sport, and many people are better than just individual work, like live those things. And it’s not necessarily looking for secret new approaches, but it’s really being intentional about applying those approaches and feeling it in your core. I am confident. Let’s put it this way, I would not have come back here if I didn’t think…the number one thing was, if you can’t look people in the eye and say, ‘You’re going to get my best every single day. It doesn’t mean there won’t be a bad moment, but I’m going to be so much more intentional and deliberate about trying to be the best version of myself for you guys so that we can all have a more enjoyable experience.’ And I genuinely believe if you do that, then that perspective will take place. But it’s all words right now and I’m just excited about, like I said, kind of rolling our sleeves up, getting to work with these coaches, and then when these guys get back in the building on April 17th, I don’t think it’s as much about the words we say, but the way we moved throughout the day and how that affects the way people feel about the atmosphere and the environment on a daily basis through good and some of the challenging moments as well.”
(On how much of his decision to come back was based off the previous winning seasons and not wanting to leave the team after a tough season)…“I think in a lot of instances, you’d be hypocritical. When you sit there and you talk about tough times don’t last, tough people do, let’s persevere through some different things. Like I had mentioned to you, I think there’d be a convenient narrative to say, ‘Oh, you want to go do something else?’ And that just wouldn’t have been the truth. And so it wasn’t anything about whether or not I wanted to coach. It was more about, are you going to be intentional enough about building and developing a plan that you believe in that can help you be better for these players and for these coaches? Because I do feel very fortunate that when you’re around the right people and when you do it the way that you’re capable of, some good things can happen. And that’s where you really established that purpose when it’s about that. That’s really what it was about. But to say that as a competitor that that’s something that I would’ve felt comfortable walking away with, no. I would not have felt comfortable walking away from a situation where I think I owed more to the people than that. And that’s not exclusive to just the results because there were sometimes when I look back, that you can say, ‘Man, we might not have gotten those results but the appropriate approach and perspective made it’ where you say, ‘Hey, we’re trying to win football games. Let’s not misunderstand this.’ But if we competed to the best of our ability, if we had the right approach, if we had the right decisions, and then it just didn’t go down the way we wanted, I can be at peace with that. It doesn’t mean you’re not going to come back swinging. And there were some instances where we came up short last year where I thought that was reflective. So I don’t think it’s exclusively a result of the wins and losses while I don’t want anybody to misunderstand. I think everybody knows how competitive we expect to be and we’re trying to go win football games with the appropriate approach and perspective.”
(On the mutual agreement to part ways with LB Bobby Wagner)…
“Yeah. Well, I think you have a conversation. All the things that I said about Bobby, you learned a lot more about him watching him navigate this past year than I think you would’ve had we gone and won another Super Bowl or had a great record and made a deep playoff run because he was so steady. He was so consistent. He means a lot to me. I think you’re able to have conversations with players and give them the respect that is deserved and kind of understand where we’re at, where he’s at. And it was not an easy decision, but it was one that was a collaborative decision. I learned a lot from Bobby in that year. I’ve always respected him from afar, but I think even more highly of him now. And he’s somebody that will remain in touch and shoot if he decides that wherever he ends up next, it’s probably going to be a pretty good movie because this guy’s a special player, but he is even more of a special person.”
(On if Bobby Wagner’s narrative of going to a team that can win now bothered him)…“Oh, no. I think when you take a little blurb, I think things can be construed and misunderstood one way or the other. I feel very comfortable in the conversations that we had that he felt like it was a good decision and kind of understood where we were at. The one thing that I would never do that I’m kind of excited about is there’s been a lot of stories that are written that everybody has a job before the season, and then inevitably there’s always ones that come out of nowhere that people surprise you. And we’ve been a part of those for good and in some few instances where it didn’t work out the way that we thought. But I’m excited about not writing the story before we’ve even had a chance to get this thing together with the characters and see how we’re going to move forward. And (I) got a funny feeling that whatever occurs we’re going to get the most out of this group. And I think it’s going to be a really fun experience.”
(On if he’s seen a renewed sense of hunger from the team to get back to work after seeing another team win the Super Bowl)…“Well, I think that can be reflected in a lot of different ways. But I think the reflection, the time to be able to go back and attack and figure out what are the best ways that we can all improve, there’s no doubt about it. And I think for a lot of our guys, especially some of those guys that have been foundational pieces for us that missed a lot of time, I think there’s that hunger and that appreciation for time missed and bodies are feeling good. They’ll have a chance to approach the offseason healthy. So to answer your question, yes. I don’t necessarily know if it’s just you’re watching somebody else as much as you’re excited about being able to build on the things that you learned, and not that you’re busy looking in the rear view mirror, but hey, let’s not be naïve to the things that occurred and let’s attack it with the right eyes up moving forward mindset mentality. And that’s exactly where a lot of those players that I’ve talked to are at. I think that’ll be felt with just the start of the offseason program. Sometimes you have to be able to learn things and without those experiences, there’s no great growth that can really occur and I believe that.”
(On conversations he’s had with Matthew Stafford, Cooper Kupp, and Aaron Donald regarding what he needs from them this upcoming season)…“Yeah, what I need from them is them to be able to enjoy every day and play to the best of their ability and not feel like they have to bear any more weight than what they’re capable of. I think what it is, these are great leaders that have earned that mantle and you’re not asking them to do anything but really learn to enjoy approaching this game again with the real zest and enthusiasm and an appreciation. And I don’t ever want to speak for those three, but I do know that when you talk about Aaron, you talk about Matthew, you talk about Cooper, these are great players that have been vital parts of great things that have occurred, particularly the ‘21 season. Then obviously Aaron and Cooper have been here since… Aaron before I got here and then Cooper, his rookie year was in 2017. But it’s more about let’s figure out how we can surround them with the best players to be able to accentuate their skillsets. The great ones elevate people around them naturally. And it’s not about bearing the weight of feeling like you have to do everything as much as, hey, by your everyday approach, by your enjoyment for this game, by you playing the way that you’re capable of, by you just being who you are consistently in the meetings, on the practice field. And then when the games come about, I believe good things will happen with those guys around them. And our job is to figure out how can we surround them. I look at that as we just have to be a little bit more disciplined. We can use all these different words, but we’re still going to be able to put together a team. We’re still going to have 11 guys out there when the other team has 11 guys. And we expect to get the most out of those guys and whatever that is, we’re expecting to compete. And that’s the way that I approach things. And we’re not going to try to write the narrative beforehand, but we are going to be realistic about the approaches we have. And I think you talk to those guys about it and how it’s reflected on a daily basis is the most important thing. But all three of those guys fall under that bucket of missed time, excited to get back out there and compete and just be who they are. And I think if that’s what they do, good things will happen…I don’t think, I know good things will happen.”
(On injury updates with OT Joe Noteboom, OC Brian Allen and OT Alaric Jackson)…“Yeah, so (Alaric Jackson) AJ’s doing well. He had to just get on a medicine and he’s feeling good and to my understanding, he’s going to be clear to return and it’s a blessing that we were able to find that out and he was able to kind of get that under control. But he’s feeling good. He looks good. (I’m) excited to be able to get him back out on the field. Joe will probably be a guy that we’ll be monitoring throughout the course of the offseason, but then once training camp rolls around he’ll be ready to go. And to my understanding, Brian is feeling good. I had a lot of different little injuries here and there. But to my understanding from talking with (VP of Sports Medicine and Performance) Reggie (Scott) and those guys, his knee is feeling good. He had a calf strain, he had a thumb issue that he had dealt with, but both of those things should be feeling good around this time and when the offseason is due to kick off.”
(On how those players could or could not be factored into the roster with the draft and free agency coming up)…“No question. I think one of the most beneficial things has been when you really are able to take a step back and evaluate the things on tape last year through an unemotional lens. Alright, are we able to play better? What are we seeing from some of the guys that gained some experience or some of those guys that didn’t play as much as we would’ve liked? And what does that look like to be able to develop? It was obviously a uniquely different situation in terms of the amount of injuries that we suffered at that position and how it kind of just snowballed. But in 2019, there was a similar approach relative to we had a lot of injuries, but it forced guys to be able to play more and develop and you’re really identifying, alright, what’s the best way that we can kind of piece that together, supplement that with other ways of adding players, whether that be through free agency or through the draft. But I think there’s a lot of optimism that some of the things that we saw we can do a better job of by just guys taking a step in the right direction, staying healthy, and then some of the different techniques and fundamentals that we can implement. So I think what it is you’ve got to put together a really competitive (offensive line) O-line. If there’s anything that I think was illustrated is the importance of developing your roster from the top down. I’ve been spoiled since I got here where we’ve stayed so healthy that we’ve had to rely on some guys to step up, but it hasn’t been so many at one time where your depth is really challenged and tested. I thought that exposed some things that I didn’t do a good enough job for us relative to just the top-down approach when you do have the amount of injuries that we suffered last year. So whether it be the offensive line, other spots, that depth is going to be really important. But we’re looking to add the best football players. We do have some guys that you feel good about at the tackle position. We’re not as experienced on the interior parts of the line. But there’s some guys when you talk about a (OT) Tremayne Anchrum, I’m bummed for him because I thought he was going to get a chance to really be able to play and play really well. But his time was just cut so short based on the ankle injury that he suffered against Atlanta. You saw some positive strides from (OG) Chandler Brewer. I thought he did a good job in the games that he ended up playing. You haven’t really had any bit of a chance to evaluate a (OG) Logan Bruss. And then you look at guys like (OC) Coleman Shelton, Brian Allen. Coleman obviously had the ability to void his contract and Chandler is a restricted free agent. But all of those things we’re monitoring. And then there are a lot of good players to be able to look at in the draft and possibly free agency. But we’re going to try to figure out within that puzzle, if you will, how to be able to supplement it. But I think there’s more ability from the group that we have, if we can stay healthy, if they can take a step in the right direction, while not being naïve to the fact that yeah, we want to be able to add some guys and what that looks like (I) think we’ll continue to come into clarity relative to some of the decisions that we’ll make over the next couple weeks and really leading into the draft and post-draft.”
(On going through coaching turnover and if they have changed their approach to onboarding coaches)…“I think it’s not necessarily something that’s new. I think what I would say the biggest thing you applied is a little bit more patient approach, and some of that was by necessity. You know you look at it, a great coach in (former Rams Assistant Head Coach/Tight Ends Coach) Thomas Brown going to Carolina, but when the timing of that occurred is so much later than normal. I think the patience, the understanding, the development, and then really the intentionality, not that you haven’t ever done it before, but alright, everybody that’s in here, there’s an upward mobility that you believe can exist if these guys continue to develop the way that you’re capable of. But a lot of it, even after a challenging year, was because guys got better opportunities and that’s typically been the case here. There were a little bit more changes than normal, but there was a lot of changes and then some different things that not because of anything other than I’ve got to do a better job of managing, leading, directing, communicating, and providing that clarity. So I think it’s all about just being able to kind of build it back up from ground zero and not take the things for granted. You sit up here and you say every year’s a new year, but there’s something about after a year like last year than the previous years that resonates a little bit differently and hits you a little bit differently. But without those perspectives and understandings and experiences, you know you say it, but it’s one thing to read it, it’s another thing to be able to intentionally apply it. So not necessarily it’s something totally different as much as a little bit more patience and then a little bit more of alright, when you’re getting some of these guys in some of these assistant level roles, is there an upward mobility that you believe because you expect to get on track, and you expect to continue to lose guys for the right reasons. And while those are challenging, those are some of the most rewarding things about it is seeing guys get opportunities. And then some of the worst parts are when you’re making challenging decisions that you feel like are in the best interest of the football team relative to the coaching staff moving forward.”
(On the coaching pipeline to John Carroll University and his interest in coaches from that program)…“I think it’s really not exclusive to the scheme, but just the approach. There’s been so many consistencies in terms of guys that positively push one another. The atmospheres and the environments that have been created there are very similar and really, it’s a small fraternity of guys and you hear about different things. Even (Tight Ends Coach) Nick Caley has John Carroll background. (Defensive Assistant) Mike Harris was a guy that I got to know because he participated in the Bill Walsh Minority Internship for us last training camp and did a great job. It’s such a great reflection of (Director of Football Affairs) Jacques McClendon and what an outstanding job he does of identifying potential candidates and then you can really take advantage of some of those programs where it’s not just lip service, it really comes to life and Mike Harris is an example of that. As is (Offensive Assistant) KJ Black who participated in that internship for us two years ago.”
(On not wanting his job status to be a story every year and how he controls that)…“I think what you do is by your actions and when your actions align with your words. I haven’t run away from the fact that those opportunities and those possibilities have been there, but those are things that I’ve been pretty transparent about. I’d like to think that without having to talk about it, different things like that, when you’re making a commitment, you’re saying, ‘Hey, I’m committed to being the best coach that I can possibly be, not just for this next year, but for a handful.’ You don’t ever want to sit here and act like you can predict the future, but it’s not something that I’m looking at as a short-term type of decision. You live every single day in the present, but what is important is that I think a lot of the things that I’ve said or some of the narratives behind those have been where you’re not denying it. I can remember when I was asked if I’m coming back right at the Super Bowl press conference the day after and I said, ‘We’ll see.’ You almost don’t realize you might say it jokingly whatever, but let’s be what you say, say what you mean, and then be about it. So that’s what we’re going to do moving forward. I think it’s more about not living anything but in the moment, but also being excited about what an opportunity it is to be able to coach and enjoy that and be reflective of when you’re doing it the right way, how rewarding that can be, not exclusive to just the actual results that accompany that. So my actions is the answer, and then if I’m asked about it being truthful. My plan is that is something that I’m committed to for the long term and that’s what’s been communicated to the coaches because you have a responsibility to people, and that’s how you want to be able to move forward accordingly. That’s kind of where we’re at.”
(On Jimmy Lake being named assistant head coach without a position responsibility and what his role will look like)…“He will be involved in both sides of the football with his background, his expertise. There’s a lot of guys that you lean on, but I think it’s more of a reflection of the confidence I have to lean on him in a leadership role. I wouldn’t say it’s exclusively as a right-hand man because you’ll lean on Raheem (Morris), you’ll lean on Mike (LaFleur), really you lean on the staff in total, but Jimmy will serve in a variety of different roles because of his experience and his background. And I think some of the leadership experiences that he’s had will serve well. There’s a bunch of different roles, but the assistant head coach is a reflection of the respect I have for Jimmy, but then also his involvement on both sides of the football and then some of the things that he’ll get opportunities to do as it relates to just being in front of the team and kind of communicating certain messages or different presentations that we have throughout the course of the year.”
(On how the background of Ryan Wendell, Nick Caley, and Mike LaFleur influence the identity for the offensive line and the run game) …“Tremendously, it’s a great question. That’s what we’re working through right now. It always starts with the players, but I do think you want to be able to have an identity and some versatility in regard to how you’re able to dictate the terms and still be philosophically and foundationally in alignment with a lot of the things that have served us well over the last handful of years but continue to adapt and evolve based on the league. That’s been a consistent theme so their perspectives and experiences are going to be tremendously valuable. What that exactly looks like is what we’re working through on a daily basis right now. I think it’ll continue to come into clarity where you’ll have certain schemes, but then as you get to know your players and you get familiar with it, alright, how does that identity shape itself and how is that something that is fluid but also consistent? So those guys, in addition to really the total staff, will have a heavy involvement in that.”
(On Chris Shula being named pass rush coordinator, what led into that decision, and why he felt it important to create that role…“Here’s what I think is important is Chris has had experience on all three levels of our defense, coaching outside (line)backers, inside (line)backers, and the back end. So that perspective and that vantage point, you get a chance to be able to bring Aubrey (Pleasant) back into the fold who Chris and Aubrey have worked really well together from the very jump of when we got here in 2017. We know what a strength (Defensive Line Coach) Eric Henderson is on our front and what a great job he’s done developing, building, and providing guidance and leadership for that group. So when Chris is coaching the inside linebackers, he’ll continue to work in coordination with Eric Henderson, with (Outside Linebackers Coach) Joe Coniglio, with (Assistant Defensive Line Coach Andrew) AC Carter, and really help be able to supplement alright how do we want to make sure that we got the rush coordinated with the coverages? It’s something that as an inside linebackers coach, it frees him up to be able to work in unison with both Aubrey, those guys on the front, and ultimately Raheem puts it all together. But it’s more of a respect and appreciation for what he brings to the table. Eric Henderson will still have a heavy influence as will Joe Coniglio, and those guys will always work to put it together. It’s a reflection of the respect and appreciation and all the different things that he can provide from that inside part of the defense now.”
(On Defensive Coordinator Raheem Morris interviewing for head coaching positions and if there was a plan if he was hired as a head coach and how that affected his own planning for the season)…“Yeah, we did. Really what it was, number one, you guys know the relationship that Raheem and I have so if that was something that he wanted to have happen, I would’ve been excited for him and (his wife) Nicki (Morris) and their kids, but I would’ve been bummed because you’re losing a great leader and somebody that provides tremendous value more importantly as a friend, but also as just another leader and a guy that does a great job leading our defense and being a consistent leader for this organization. We had great dialogue. Initially because things kind of went on so long, you’re thinking we won’t move with anything on the defensive side of the ball until there’s clarity for him. And then it got to a point where he and I were having dialogue and saying, ‘Okay let’s make sure that if you were hired there, these are guys that you’d want, and he feels good about.’ And when you start looking at the Aubrey’s, the Mike Harris’, the AC Carter’s, the Joe Coniglio’s, all those guys would’ve been here even if Raheem went, and oh, by the way, it just so happened that Raheem was able to be a part of those things and really excited about adding those guys on. It kind of just forced a little bit of a pivot, but it was something that we were at least able to kind of do some stuff in the background where initially I thought it was going to kind of wait and move forward because if you did lose your defensive coordinator, what that looks like. But some of the different possibilities and directions, whether it’s in-house or guys that we onboarded were all a part of that thought process.”
(On if it’s exciting to see Thomas Brown become the offensive coordinator for the Carolina Panthers even though he left the Rams)
“Yeah, it is. Like anything else, it’s tough because in three short years he did such a great job of really being a huge part of what we were doing and the influence that he had, not only on our running backs and our tight ends when he was working with them last year, but the offense as a whole, the team as a whole. That assistant head coach title that he had, that was an earned role and he was running leadership meetings and communicating with different guys. He had such a great pulse and ability to communicate in a very matter of fact way and never minced his words and wasn’t afraid to say what he thought even if it was against the grain, but then also have enough flexibility to come around if decisions go a different direction. He’ll do a great job. I spoke a lot with (Panthers Head Coach) Frank Reich about Thomas throughout that process and it was awesome to hear how phenomenal he came off in the interview settings and the different things that he was able to present. While it’s a bummer for the Rams, it’s cool for Thomas and (his wife) Jessica (Brown) and their boys to be able to go to Carolina and I know they’re really excited about it.”
(On what it’s like knowing that Raheem Morris is staying with the Rams)…“It’s big. Similar to the sentiments that you heard me talk about with (LB) Bobby Wagner in terms of his steadiness and his consistency, Raheem reflected that as well and he’s got a tremendous amount of experience to be able to reflect on. He’s got great perspective and he is a great person. That to me is a huge part of it. Those are things that, I know people roll your eyes, but you know you really say if you can apply the lessons learned the right way, those aren’t fun experiences to go through, but until you go through them, you don’t know what it’s like. You just don’t. And now you can talk about it and you can apply the appropriate perspective, and sometimes if things happen too soon too fast, you don’t apply the right perspective when things do go a certain way. But when you have people like Raheem or other coaches or other players that you can kind of rely on, you’re battle tested if you will. There’s no doubt that it’s a great feeling to have Raheem leading alongside me and with our coaching staff and I know he’s jacked up about the opportunity to just go compete and swing and shoot our shot and see what the hell happens for the 2023 season.”
(On the health on WR Cooper Kupp, QB Matthew Stafford and DT Aaron Donald)…“Those guys are feeling good. Matthew’s feeling good. Aaron is feeling good. Those guys have been at the facility recently. Cooper is doing a great job of continuing to attack his rehab. All three of those guys are, as we all know, so intrinsically motivated, such great people, but they’re in a good head space. I think they’re, in a lot of instances, a similar feeling to me…exciting about enjoying football and not becoming burdened with the own expectations that you have for what we can or can’t be and just going out and playing and trying to figure out how we climb back up that mountain and how we just continue to build one day at a time. I do believe those guys have that approach, that mindset and mentality, and very similar to a lot of the things that you’ve heard from me and from our group.”