(East Los Angeles, CA) [From The Editor’s Desk]: After a big road game overtime win against the Indianapolis Colts last Sunday, the Rams are now (2-2) and Head Coach Sean McVay has lots to say about his team as he sees it gradually improving with each and every game.
Here are the transcripts taken from his Monday Media session of 10/2 held at the team’s training facility at Cal Lutheran University. Read how he evaluates QB Matthew Stafford, WR Puka Nacua on the offensive side of the ball plus the status of Cooper Kupp’s return to action. There’s also much to be said of the outstanding performance of his defense led by Aaron Donald, Ernest Jones, and Jordan Fuller. Coach concludes his interview when he was asked for his evaluation of Kicker, Brett Maher, stating that he remains confident in his kicking and the expected scoring potentials he brings to the team.
He highlights many other performances that led to the big team win. And, also on his list of points to address were the reports of any new injuries that may have occurred in the game. So, now it’s time to sit down, give a good, long read and get all caught up on the Rams as they return home to SoFi Stadium for this Sunday’s highly awaited game against the undefeated (4-0), Philadelphia Eagles, currently in 1st place in their NFC East Division.
[Head Coach Sean McVay]
(On QB Matthew Stafford’s injury update)…“Yeah, had a little hip contusion. We’ll be smart with him, but it should be good to go. He is a stud and obviously we saw him gut through that yesterday, but definitely took a good shot there. We feel like he should be good to go.”
(On if he underwent any evaluations like an X-ray or MRI)…“Yeah, he got it checked out. Everything kind of checked out. He took a good shot to his hip and good deep bruise and some swelling and things like that that kind of really happened immediately. He was able to push through and I think it was good to be able to kind of get him treated and try to minimize that right afterwards. He is nice and sore today but feel like he’ll continue to make progress throughout the week.”
(On if he will be limited in practice this week)…“I don’t think so, but we’ll see. I’ll let you know on Wednesday.”
(On if WR Cooper Kupp will start practicing this week)…“Yes. He and (OLB) Ochaun Mathis will both start their clocks.”
(On if he is concerned that Stafford’s injury will be an ongoing issue)…“I think he’d be better equipped to answer that. He is such a tough competitor. Obviously, you want him to be healthy, but something about him always plays with a pretty good edge when he is got something to work through too. I thought that was pretty vintage him, like I mentioned after the game, but you don’t minimize what a tough competitor he is and what he was pushing through. He sure looked pretty good even with that hip deal the way that he played throughout the course of that game and even after he took that shot. It was a gutsy performance and I think once you get about four weeks into the season, a lot of these guys that are playing every single snap, he’s one of them, you never quite feel perfect and they kind of learn how to be able to play through it. It is certainly something that you don’t take for granted. I’ve seen him operate at a pretty high level when he’s got something that he’s working through.”
(On if he could psychoanalyze that)…“I think you probably would be better equipped to do that than me.”
(On what the game planning will look like with WR Puka Nacua and Kupp on the field together)…“Yeah, I think the first part of that is let’s see how Cooper does when he comes back and then what does it look like to be able to piece together a game plan relative to him and Puka and the rest of our receivers. What are the different personnel groupings that we want to activate? I haven’t even had a chance to get on (Philadelphia Eagles) Philly yet. There’s an element of that, but those are positive things. Anytime that you’re able to add a player like him in into the mix we’re going to be better in figuring out how to be able to utilize both of them. Those are champagne problems I guess if you would say. That’s something that we’ve kind of thought about, but I think it’s situationally specific and something that we’ll definitely start working towards after I jump off this call with you guys.”
(On what Nacua is doing and how it’s uniquely situated with what Kupp’s skillset is)…“Yeah, I think what I would say is what we’ve always had when we’ve been at our best from that receiver position are players that can do multiple things. That’s run after the catch, that’s aggressive hands through contact, that’s digging out force and competing in the run game, all of which Cooper has done for us, all of which (former WR) Robert Woods has done for us when he’s been at a really high level. I think it’s easy to say, okay, this guy’s a ‘Z’, this guy’s an ‘X’, this guy’s an ‘F’, but there’s nuanced things. There’s certain skill sets that each guy possesses. Some which are similar and some which can be reflected in some different ways, but I think you’ll see that come to life and we’ve got to figure that out ourselves too. We have a much bigger body of work with Cooper and I think all he’s done as his career has progressed is continue to add to the repertoire of things that he can present. I think one of the big things when you look at ‘21, if you said what was the biggest difference in his production? Obviously, he and Matthew were outstanding, but he got a bunch of different targets everywhere. It wasn’t exclusive to the short and intermediate. Those are things that we’re learning. As these guys evolve, we want to make sure that we’re doing a good job of giving them opportunities to express the work that they’ve put in and also their skill sets and how it can best suit our offense. What you’re seeing is two guys that that can do a lot of different things with the ball and without the ball and both stay grounded through the catch. Both are very good after the catch. Both are tough in contested situations. I think the simplest evaluation that I got of what are you looking for in receivers? Guys that can get open and catch the ball and I think both those guys can do that.”
(On if there have been discussions about signing a third quarterback)…“Yeah, we have more to minimize the workload throughout the week of practice as a possibility. That was something that (General Manager) Les (Snead) and I discussed. There are some other things that we’ve kind of talked about, but that is something that’s been brought up as far as having a third guy in the building, whether that be practice squad or even an active member. But those will be things that we’ll kind of work through. There are a couple other things that are maybe a little bit, I don’t want to say higher on the priority, but that were a little bit more pressing matters for us with our conversations earlier today before I met with the team and stuff.”
(On offseason conversations with Les and Defensive Coordinator Raheem Morris about what the defense would look like and how they would build the defensive side of the ball)…“Well, I think it was having a vision, having an understanding of what are the parameters and the discipline approach that we had to take based on where we were at and some previous things that eventually you have to be able to address. And so there’s no other way to deal with things other than clear, open and honest and direct. There were certain situations and not exclusive to the defense, but there was a handful of guys that were affected on the defensive side just based on the nuances of their contracts and kind of being able to say, well what does that look like for this year and then for years to come? But it was a team approach, it just so happened that a lot of guys that have been significant contributors and big-time players for us were on the defensive side of the ball. That was the deal, some of which was by necessity, not because it was necessarily what we felt like was best. And then you say, ‘Okay, based on this, how do we move forward via the draft? What are some potential free agents or guys that you can re-sign that are your own? What does it look like to get a couple guys back healthy from injury?’ And I think if you guys know Raheem, he is always up for a challenge. He’s got a zest for coaching and pouring into guys, and I think that’s been consistent with the whole defensive staff. And then I really like the guys and the temperament and the personality of the dynamics of this group defensively, whether that be the guys up front, guys on the edges, the guys on the inside linebacker position or on the back end. I think it’s been a really cool collaboration of coaches and players and then continuing to learn on the fly. Then some great leadership illustrated by guys like (DT) Aaron (Donald), (LB) Ernest Jones, and (DB) Jordan Fuller.”
(On if he has seen the defensive unit play with an edge through the first four weeks)…“I have, yeah, absolutely. I think there’s an edge. I think there’s a toughness, there’s a physicality. I think we’re continuing to learn how to be able to play 11 as one. I think there’s been a lot of really good examples of some really high-level stuff going on in these first four weeks and then there’s still a lot of room for growth. But these guys, they just come to work. They’re so consistent, they’re steady, they love football, they love competing. They love the challenges that every single week presents relative to the offenses that they’re going against and I love the way these coaches have poured into them and continue to help them develop. It’s a really cool collaboration and connection and they’re sure as hell a fun group to work with. I love those guys.”
(On OL Kevin Dotson’s first start as a Ram)…“I thought he did a really good job. I thought he played with physicality. (I) thought he got good removal. There were a couple things… I thought he did a really nice job in protection and just straining to finish. There were a couple times where, like anything there’s some snaps that you can learn from, but he had a steady demeanor. I thought he did a great job, especially when we were operating on our silent cadence in the gun. I was really pleased with him. I like his edge. I like his experience. You could feel there was a calm, but there’s a toughness to his game that I think is really good for our offense and I was really pleased with him.”
(On OL Alaric Jackson’s status)…“Anytime we’re dealing with those hamstrings or those soft tissues, we’ll take it a day at a time. He did a good job with the workout before the game. There was still possible optimism that he could go yesterday, but we erred on the side of caution and so want to see him continue to take steps. I know he is going to approach the week with the intention to try to go after it and give him every opportunity to be out there with his teammates, but we’ll take it a day at a time with him.”
(On any injuries coming out of the game)…“Yeah, you get your standard stuff. (OL) Joe Noteboom temporarily left. He kind of just strained his groin a little bit. We’ll see where he’s at when we come back Wednesday. (RB) Kyren (Williams) and Matthew both kind of had like hip contusions, but they both finished the game. ‘Higs’ got his thumb banged up a little bit, (TE) Tyler Higbee. And then everybody else, your typical bumps and bruises, but those are the guys of note, if you will.”
(On what evolution he’s seen from RB Ronnie Rivers this year)…“He did a really good job. I was pleased with Ronnie. He got a couple runs called back that were really productive, but he’s steady, man. He’s got great vision. He’s got great patience. I thought both Kyren and Ronnie did a really nice job as a whole, whether that was in the run game or in the pass game. I’ve just seen a guy that’s very similar to a lot of the guys we’ve talked about and he’s just gotten better because he’s put a consistent work ethic in every single day. He loves football. He comes into the building with the same demeanor and disposition and just has a great way about himself every single day. I think that consistency just compounds in positive ways and that’s what he’s done. I think he’s done a really nice job on the punt team as a wing for us, whether that be in protection or transition into coverage and he’s just a valuable player. I think you’ll continue to see him get a healthy dose and a healthy workload because he’s earned it. I think those guys are really good complements to one another.”
(On if there is a common language between Fresno State Head Coach Jeff Tedford and Running Backs Coach Ron Gould)…“You know what? They probably do have that good language. Those running backs, they’re a nice tight-knit group. I feel like sometimes I got to poke my head in there to just be involved in the conversation. Ron’s got a great thing going with the dynamics of that room but you have to ask Coach Gould about that. I’m not sure about the Jeff Tedford connections there.”
(On Nacua stating that run blocking will get easier for him once Kupp comes back)…“I wonder if that means because Cooper will do some of the things that we’re asking from him or because he thinks that Cooper’s presence is going to dictate a shell all the time. You have to get him to answer that part of it for you.”
(On if the kicker position is a pressing issue for him and General Manager Les Snead)…“No, that wasn’t part of the dialogue. I was pleased with (K) Brett (Maher). Obviously, there were some situations that, hey, those were some big opportunities and some misses. I think you also have to be cognizant and considerate of a lot of the attempts that he’s had, these aren’t short field goals. These are 40 plus or some 50 plus yarders and there’s a lot of layers that go into it. I think he’ll be the first to tell you, he could have struck a couple of those differently but there’s a snap, there’s a hold, there’s a protection. And so, I think everybody wants to always put it on the kicker and it’s not exclusive to that. But Brett’s produced at a high level. I think we’ve put him in some tough situations. He does give us a range that we don’t take for granted and so I think he’ll improve. I do like the fact that that was reflected and we’ve seen that even in the first and the fourth game in particular through the first month. But all those things go into consideration but I have confidence in Brett Maher and that was not part of the discussions as it relates to what I was talking about with Les this morning.” –RAMS–