(East Los Angeles, CA) [From The Editor’s Desk]: The Rams survived the big scare against the New York Giants in East Rutherford, NJ on their Week #17 game that ended in quite a dramatic way. One that Coach McVay and the team will gladly take in the “Win” column as a testament that they are on a determined mission to compete against all other playoff-bound teams with their great second half of the season run.
With this huge (26-25) road game win, the 6th out of their last 7 games, they climbed up and into the 6th NFC “Wild Card” playoff slot and could wind up playing either the Detroit Lions or the Dallas Cowboys, depending on how all teams still “In the Hunt” c0nclude their regular schedules.
Here is what Coach McVay had to say during his weekly Media Monday Zoom call on Monday, January 1st, from their Team Training Facility at Cal Lutheran University. The Rams will travel to play the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, January 7th. Kick-off is slated for 1:25 and will be televised on FOX 11. The game can be heard on the following radio stations: ESPN LA 710 AM | KWKW 1330 | 93.1 JACK FM.
Rams Transcripts – Monday, 1/1/24
[Head Coach Sean McVay]
(On the decision to waive Kicker/Lucas Havrisik)…“Yeah, I think getting into the playoffs definitely changes a little bit of the dialogue in regard to what we know we have coming down the pipe so wanted to get somebody in here that had some experience. We’ll end up bringing (K) Brett Maher back. He’s a guy that has had experience. I think when you look at some of the earlier situations he was in, we asked him to attempt a lot of long field goals. He was fairly consistent when you’re talking about some of those field goals from under 50 (yards) and in. And so we’ve got to get him back in here and we’ll get him going and you never know what’s going to happen with Lucas. When I talked to him, he is a guy that you do have confidence in. He has a lot of ability. You look at some of the background of these kickers and it sometimes takes a little bit to be able to settle in and play as consistently as you want. There’s been a lot of successful guys that have navigated through some early struggles or early challenges and had great careers.”
(On the potential of LS Alex Ward returning from IR during the playoffs)…“Unfortunately, I don’t think that’s going to be the case. We’ve got to be able to continue to figure out some things for him as it relates to his neck and so that doesn’t look like that’s going to be the case.”
(On the decision to sign K Brett Maher and if the team looked at anyone else)…“Yeah, there are options out there and then there are guys that have kind of had some familiarity with it. And so there’s not a perfect scenario, but I think when you look at just the landscape, some of the options, this is what we felt like was going to be the best opportunity to move forward the way that we want to. So that was kind of how we settled on Brett.”
(On the decision to potentially rest starters against the 49ers after clinching a playoff spot)…“Yeah, we’re working through those things right now. The interesting thing is, different than in the preseason and stuff like that, you have a lot more numbers. You still have 53 guys on your active roster. You got to have 48 up on game day. You have the availability to flex some people up so that’s something that we’re working through. That could be a possibility. But we still have to be ready to go and put together a good week of preparation and try to do a good job of playing well on Sunday. But those are things we’re working through and I’ll have some more clarity for you guys on Wednesday there.”
(On OL Alaric Jackson’s status and if he’ll return this week)…“Yeah, it was a family situation. If he feels comfortable to share that with you, I’ll let him do that. I found out, spoke with him late Saturday night, and then we obviously notified you guys and the league on Sunday that he was not going to be participating in the game. But I have spoken with him, and we expect him to return tomorrow and get back into the mix for us.”
(On the reaction to clinching a playoff spot)…“It was great. We held the takeoff a little bit so the WiFi couldn’t get us. We watched the end of the game. What a great job by Pittsburgh and a really impressive win by them. We’ll have to send (Steelers HC) Mike (Tomlin) T a nice Christmas gift.”
(On if special teams issues are fixable late in the season or if the offseason is needed to address them)…“I think you’ve got to look at it. I do think there are plays that we’re not making that we are capable of. There’s been a lot of moving parts as it relates to our field goal operation. When you have a totally new snap, new holder, new kicker, and we’ve had multiple kickers, we’ve had multiple snappers so that does play into it. You try to do the best you can and I’m confident that Brett will help with the overall efficiency. I thought (LS) Carson (Tinker) had a better day yesterday than he did in the previous week. I also think some of the coverage things, we got to tackle better. We need to play better. We’re capable of doing that. I’ve seen moments that it can be better but we’ve got to play better, especially in those crunch time moments. That’s going to be a huge point of emphasis. And I think as you look at it, when you continue to build teams and there’s different things, you feel some of those things where guys can play better and I think it shows in that phase a little bit. But we’re going to continue to pour into these guys. I do have confidence in a handful of those guys that are out there. And some of the plays that we didn’t make yesterday are ones that we have to be able to make if we want to be able to move forward in these playoff games. We can’t make those mistakes. I know that we have the right kind of mindset and mentality as it relates to, all right, how coachable, how accountable can we be? And this is coaches and players in this thing together to be able to perform better for a football team. And fortunately, it didn’t cost us the game yesterday.”
(On an injury update for NT Bobby Brown III)…“Yeah, I’ll just go ahead because I know probably the next question will be about the injuries. Bobby, we’re fortunate that he just hyperextended his knee but he should be okay. We were fearful that it might’ve been something worse. He might be limited in practice but we expect him to be good to go this week. The guys, (OL) Joe Noteboom, he ended up getting his right heel but he pushed through it. This guy has pushed through so many different things this year. He started at multiple spots and he really battled. It’ll be Joe Noteboom with his foot. So he ended up hurting his right heel. It’s kind of a plantar fascia but he’s a tough guy, man. He ended up aggravating that thing really early in the game and continued to push through. We’ll see what that looks like. I would imagine that will leave him out for practice this week. (TE) (Tyler) Higbee actually got his shoulder. He got a posterior sublux of his left shoulder. We’ll continue to see how that affects his game status for this week. (DB) Jordan Fuller had an ankle sprain. He’ll be day to day and then (DE) Desjuan Johnson came in with a little turf toe. He’ll be day-to-day as well.”
(On when the decision is made to rest players for the game and how that affects game planning)…“We can make that decision as late…I think the thing that’s important ideally when we get our players back on Wednesday, that’s when we’ll have that clarity, we’ve still got to take steps in the right direction regardless of if we play everybody, if we have the luxury of a couple people. But there’s never a perfect answer because you just don’t have the numbers. We had some similar situations like this before but you still have to stay sharp, you still have to stay crisp. But if there are some guys that could use the time or that actually need it based on their injury situation and that kind of makes those decisions for you. But when I talk to you guys on Wednesday, I’ll have some clarity. I started thinking about this on the flight home last night and there certainly isn’t a perfect answer, but what we will come to is what we think is best as it relates to not just this week, but more importantly the Wild Card weekend.”
(On if the decision to release K Lucas Havrisik was because of slimmer margins for victory in the playoffs)…“I think it was what we thought was going to be for us to be at our best and so there were some opportunities when you want to have some patience, you don’t want to rush to judgment. I think there were some good things that Lucas did but I think the overall consistency, especially when you’re talking about some of those shorter range kicks that we expect to be at a higher percentage, we just weren’t coming through enough and we felt like the move was going to be in the best interest of our group. So yes in a way, but that was kind of the totality of the decision.”
(On what it’s been like to watch rookies OLB Byron Young and NT Kobie Turner grow from when they first came in to now)…“I think this rookie class as a whole, but those two in particular have made significant impacts on our defensive line. I’ve just loved the way that Byron Young has just continued to ascend. (Outside Linebackers Coach) Joe Coniglio does such a good job with that group and he’s so coachable and he’s got so much ability in his body, but he’s got a great football character. And then Kobie Turner, mature beyond his years, came in, really good production in both phases. I mean, this guy’s got nine sacks now and he’s making good music every single week out there. And so it’s been fun to watch those two. We’re really excited about the growth that they’ve shown, the football character, the makeup that these guys have as human beings and then also as football players. (Defensive Line Coach/Run Game Coordinator) Eric Henderson and (Assistant Defensive Line Coach) AC Carter have done a great job with Kobie and it’s been really fun to watch and I could go on and on about a couple guys on offense as well. That rookie class as a whole is something that we’re really excited about and I think these guys can be really big-time players for years to come.”
(On rookies making an impact and how that impacts roster building in the future)…“It makes a big difference and a lot of it… what’s interesting about this year is it was by necessity. You don’t even really have a choice because of some of the situations that we were in. These guys got to go. They’ve got to mature and they’re going to get opportunities that maybe some of the other rookie classes weren’t afforded because of the depth that we previously have had. So I think it was great and I think these guys handled it really well. When you look at what they’ve done through 16 games and then you start to mention (OL) Steve Avila and (WR) Puka Nacua, you’re talking about four guys that have started every single game for us on offense and on defense that are four pillars for years to come. And there’s a lot of other really good guys that we’re excited about, not exclusive to those four that I just mentioned.”
(On if he had to change his approach in terms of coaching and teaching this roster versus the roster that won Super Bowl LVI)…“I think coaching is coaching and I think it’s about connecting and collaborating with these guys. I think you’ve heard me mention just getting back to some of our values and principles, really recommitting to the culture that these guys have established for themselves and amongst each other and in the building. And so, I think you want to be cognizant of identifying the way that each guy learns and how do you really reach them? How do you help them reach and realize their highest potential? How do you help them navigate through the inevitable things that occur both on the field and off the field? And so, in some instances yes, but I would say that the consistent things that are in alignment with coaching well and connecting well and being a good team that brings energy every day and has the ability to navigate the inevitable ebbs and flows of a season are very much in alignment, it just might be some different faces year in and year out. But I think it’s been really a job well done by our coaches and then I can’t say enough about the leadership from our players, the veteran leaders where they’ve modeled the way and I think it’s so easy to be able to say, hey, look at what that guy does and if you mimic and emulate that in your own way, good stuff is on the horizon for you.”
(On if his patience has been tested more this season than in previous seasons as a coach who usually likes to play more veterans)…“I think patience is a thing I’m trying to work on as a person in general here. It’s gotten better. I don’t know that I would say it’s a strength yet. But yes, it’s been a lot of fun. I think because of the resilience and because of the way these guys come in with the same approach, same mindset and mentality, whether we were 3-6 or whether we’ve been 6-1 since the bye, there’s been a consistency that’s I think compounded and paid off and there’s been a grit that’s been established with this group that I love and they inspire me and they’ve really helped me realize why I love doing this so much and so I’m forever grateful for that. Patience though, I don’t know about that!”
(On if he thought the Giants were more aggressive yesterday down the field with QB Tyrod Taylor than they were in other games and if aggressiveness down the field relates to the quarterback)…“I think it’s all encompassing. I thought Tyrod…I thought they had some really good designs. I thought Coach (Offensive Coordinator Mike) Kafka and (Head Coach Brian)) Daboll did a really good job and then I thought there was some really good examples of Tyrod being able to buy some time, escape the rush, and give chances for things to develop off-schedule where you’re enabling some chances for some explosives. So I think it’s all encompassing to that. They did do a good job. They were able to be explosive and efficient. There’s a lot of good learning things that we can have, but I was really impressed with just the playmaking and the ability to extend and then when things were there in rhythm, I thought Tyrod did a good job and they were able to create some explosives in the pass game where you felt that. So yes to kind of everything and I thought it was a combination of coaching scheme and then obviously the players bringing it to life, which is what always is the case.”
(On if fatherhood has helped with his patience)…“Oh, that’s a good one. It’s been great. I think more than anything, fatherhood has helped with perspective. You get home and you look at that little guy and when he smiles at you or looks you in the eye and you just realize, as upset as I might get about certain things, everything’s going to be okay. I was starting to wonder if I was a shittier coach when I became a dad. We were 0-2 off the jump and had some tough losses against Dallas and Green Bay and now I’m starting to think he’s a good luck charm. It’s been awesome though and the perspective more than anything, the patience is definitely something that is tested when he gets ‘hangry’ at night.”