Rams Head Coach Sean McVay – Media Availability – December 13, 2021

Rams Head Coach Sean McVay


Opening statement:

“Unbelievable job by our team. So many guys stepped up. There was a lot of whether you want to call it adversity or late changes that we had to make, but can’t say enough about the leadership of this group. You look at the way that Aaron Donald played from the jump. I thought Darious Williams did a great job where he ascends himself into the No. 1 corner role. You never replace a guy like Jalen Ramsey, but Kareem Orr came in and did a nice job. The turnovers are huge for us. For Aaron to get his hands up, Ernest Jones to get the turnover, for Leonard Floyd, both of those end up turning into points for us. That was big. I thought Matthew Stafford was outstanding. I thought he made great decisions. He had some unbelievable big shots that he took advantage of. Was great on third down straightening up some of the protections. Cooper (Kupp), Odell (Beckham Jr.), Van (Jefferson) on the big play, Sony (Michel) ran hard, and then pretty amazing for Andrew Whitworth to be one-of-one. Only guy in the history of the league to start at left tackle at the age of 40, incredible by him. There are so many guys that contributed. I thought our coaches did such a great job. I was really pleased with this. Now we got to get ready for Seattle on a short week. This was the sign of a mentally tough team. You talk about identity, we talked about that earlier in the week, and I think what it is is figuring out a way to put it all together all three phases week-in and week-out. What that looks like might be changing, but for us to start playing good ball in the month of December after the month of November that we had, can’t say enough about the leadership for this group.”


On his reaction to adding two additional players to the Reserve/COVID-19 list on gameday:

“My initial reaction was, ‘You’ve got to be shitting me.’ On Saturday morning we find out that we’re losing three really important players and in (Rob) Havenstein, ‘Double D’ (Dont’e Deayon) and Darrell Henderson – or on Sunday that was. And then on Monday morning you say, ‘Oh by the way, now you’re losing Jalen Ramsey and Tyler Higbee.’ Can’t say enough about just the guys’ ability to not flinch. You don’t replace those kinds of guys, but that’s why you have 48 guys that play on gameday, and we certainly used everybody today. Really proud of these guys. Proud to be associated with this group and just be a small part.”


On how many times he had to change his game plan in response to losing players to the Reserve/COVID-19 list:

“It was a lot. The hard thing was it’s one thing if you get this information early on in the week, but you go through your whole process and preparation and really, it’s completed on Saturday when you’re playing on Monday night. Sunday represents an opportunity to really just finish up any sort of last reminders above the neck and that’s when we found out about those first three. Those guys did a great job being able to handle it. The amount of changes, I can’t even really go through. My head’s killing me from all this.”


On how concerned he is that COVID-19 will spread through the team:

“To say that I’m not concerned wouldn’t be accurate. I think you want to find out a little bit more because to my understanding just looking at the landscape of the league, this was as bad as the outbreaks have gotten. The hard thing is for some of these guys, and I don’t want to get into the specifics just out of respect for the individuals, but some of them there’s no symptoms. They feel great and that’s what’s unfortunate. And then you get some of these where there’s false-positives. There’s a lot of mental gymnastics that’s going on. All we can do is try to take safe precautionary measures. I think like anything else, and really this has been going on since we started trying to navigate through this. We’re learning every single day. That agility and that adaptability is going to be necessary for our success. And then guys being able to step up, which they did tonight against a great football team that we have a lot of respect for.”


On if Week 14 was the best the team has played since losing WR Robert Woods:

“I think when you take into consideration the opponent, the caliber of defense that we’re going against and what these guys have done, I think a lot of guys stepped up. I was really pleased with just the group effort from the receiver room as a whole. I thought Odell (Beckham Jr.) made his plays. Van (Jefferson) had the huge play down the field. Cooper (Kupp) just showing up time-in and time-out. I think when you look at those three guys, I thought they did an outstanding job delivering. You don’t ever really replace a Robert, but I think those guys really stepped up. I thought Matthew (Stafford) was outstanding as well.”


On how the team responded to DL Aaron Donald setting the tone early:

“You’re grateful. That’s what the best do. They play their best when their best is required. We talk about competitive greatness all the time. This guy is the epitome of competitive greatness. Really proud at Aaron, not at all surprised. He’s a special player, special person. You felt his presence from the very first snap and then to the last one. He was outstanding tonight. If he doesn’t win ‘NFC Defensive Player of the Week’ something is wrong.”


On his reaction to the successful Cardinals onside kick late in the fourth quarter:

“It wasn’t good. My thoughts were, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me.’ Something we can learn from. Two players that I do have a lot of trust in Christian Rozeboom and Terrell Burgess to be able to make that play. It’s something that we’ve got to do a good job of putting our guys in the right position. Defense delivered. I thought to be able to draw the holding on the first play when it looked like they were moving the ball down the field, and ultimately Aaron ends up closing it out. That’s what great teams do. They pick each other up if one phase is faltering a little bit. I thought the defense answered the bell having to go back out on the grass. That was two good teams going at it tonight. I was just really pleased with the overall effort, but that’s certainly something we want to be able to clean up.”


On where LB Ernest Jones has improved his game:

“He’s a stud. He’s really just continuing to gain confidence. You see the versatility. You see the ability to do a lot of different things. He’s playing in all of our personnel groupings now, so he’s really never leaving the field. He’s showing why he was a guy that we liked so much coming out of South Carolina. He’s got great leadership, great range, he can blitz, he can cover, he’s got great ball skills. He’s checking the boxes in a lot of ways, and he’s got just a great play demeanor that you love being around Ernest Jones.”


On Week 14 being a ‘measuring stick’ game for the team:

“It’s a measuring stick for tonight. I thought our guys answered the bell. What you realize more so than ever that we’ve talked about a lot throughout the course of this year, now how do we build on this. This is one night, we’re going to enjoy this, but we’ve got a short week. Seattle has really gotten rolling over these last couple of weeks. Big win over San Fran, they looked really good over the Texans yesterday. Really pleased with these guys, but we want to continue to be totally and completely present. Enjoy this, but let’s keep building on it. That’s what the good teams do, they get better in the month of December and that’s really our goal. You want to continue to be relevant but you also want to make sure that you’re improving so that if you do give yourself an opportunity to play after this 17-game regular season you’re playing your best ball.”