Rams Head Coach Sean McVay – Media Availability – December 21, 2021

Rams Head Coach Sean McVay – Media Availability – December 21, 2021


(Opening Statement)

“First of all, what an incredible job, really by our organization as a whole: staff, coaches, players.  I mean, you look at (Vice President, Sports Medicine and Performance) Reggie (Scott) and his group, (Director, Football Operations) Sophie Harlan, so many people were instrumental in even getting us in a position to play this game. And I couldn’t be more impressed with just our coaches, our player’s ability to be able to bottle up. There was a lot of emotions. This was a heavy week navigating through all the things that we went through. But for our guys to come in here, perform the way that they did, I thought the fans were outstanding. Just so many people. This was a big time win for our team. And it wasn’t perfect by any stretch, but I thought there was a lot of key plays that were instrumental. I loved the response from the offense after we went down 10-3. I thought our defense as a whole was outstanding throughout the course of the day. (CB) Jalen Ramsey showed up, (DL) Aaron Donald. Those guys continue to make their plays. I thought really our rush as a whole and then for (S) Taylor Rapp to be able to finish it out. But defense was great. (QB) Matthew (Stafford) and (WR) Cooper (Kupp) made their plays. I thought (RB) Sony Michel ran, tough, physical, and hard. Guys just played. And then (K) Matt Gay continues to shine. I thought our (special) teams were really good today. And this was a tough, hard-earned win. That’s a really tough group. Got a lot of respect for (Seahawks Head) Coach (Pete) Carroll and the Seahawks. And you could see, they had some good momentum coming into this game after they ended up beating San Francisco and then had a really outstanding performance against Houston last week. So, really, great job. Also, I think it’s incredible. Matthew Stafford, I was just told, fastest quarterback to 50,000 yards and then all the records that Cooper has set. Two of our captains. Two of the most important guys that are instrumental in terms of their leadership and then also their play and just what they mean to me and to our team. So, really happy to get this. And then, you know, we’ll start our preparation for the Vikings tomorrow.”


(On if he is surprised that WR Cooper Kupp doesn’t know when he breaks a record)

“No. I think he has an idea of how well he is playing but he is truly one of the most humble, special players I have ever been around. He doesn’t need all the accolades. I think it’s great he gets his first Pro Bowl recognition. I don’t know how he’s not going to be a First Team All-Pro prayer. I think he’s a legitimate candidate for a lot of awards but he is about our team. He’s interested in leading the right way, making the plays that are instrumental and vital to the outcomes of our team’s success and he does a lot of stuff without the football as well. But he’s so special. You and I both know that. Pretty cool.”


(On how everyone seemed to be on the same page despite an unusual week of preparation)

“It’s amazing, Maria. It certainly has been a whirlwind. You know, for our guys…(Defensive Coordinator) Raheem (Morris) joked, he said, ‘We’re like the Lakers, we got a couple shootarounds earlier this week, and then we rolled it out and played.’ And so, I think that’s well said. But our guys, you talk about a mature football team, it’s later on in the year, but we got a lot of our guys…I think (General Manager) Les (Snead) and his group did a great job of filling out some of the practice squad looks and really just the entirety of our roster for us to look at practice in a manner that’s getting ready for a good football team. I think what we’ve seen from this team is these guys are mentally tough. They’ve stayed connected. Some of the adverse moments we’ve been through, these guys find a positive in that. I think that’s really developed a good armor for us to be able to sustain some of that adversity and respond the right way. Whether it’s in games or throughout the course of the week. Really proud of this team, really proud of these players.”


(On missing two of our coaches today)

“We were. Yes, we were missing (Assistant Head Coach/Running Backs Coach) Thomas Brown and (Offensive Assistant) Zak Kromer and hopefully we’ll get them back sooner than later.”


(On the running back group’s performance today)

“Yeah, Sony got the majority of the workload. I thought (RB) Darrell (Henderson Jr.) came in and did a nice job. He was really kind of getting his wind underneath them. He had a couple big time carries. But I thought Sony was outstanding today. (Assistant Head Coach/Running Backs Coach) Thomas Brown is such a leader for that room, he’s assistant head coach, he’s a running back coach. He has a great feel during the course of the game. I thought (Assistant Quarterbacks Coach) Zac Robinson did a great job being able to spell those guys, have a good feel, communicate with them in between drives. Sony was outstanding and then Darrell did a nice job with the opportunities he had today.”


(On the sequence of offensive plays when players were moving the piles forward for extra yards and if that was an illustration of the effort players showed)

“It is, and I thought it’s been especially relevant these last three weeks. You look at it, our guys, they tightened up when they had to be at their best. Sony was leveling runs off. The one that you’re talking about is probably when Darrell got that really good push, you know, in kind of one of our downhill direct runs. I thought that was a tone-setting play for us. And then, really, once the defense makes the stop on fourth down, the first play of that sequence where Sony breaks it out, has the presence to stay in bounds where the clock…you run another 40 seconds off the clock and then ultimately, Matt Gay coming in and delivering the field goal to put us up 10. So many things, but I thought the offensive line did a great job in particular when we had to run it to be able to close out the game.”


(On if he thinks this win showcased his team’s ability to rally)

“I think it did. It was really, it was special by those guys. It makes it that much sweeter when you see guys just stay connected, stay together. It wasn’t always perfect. And there were some opportunities that I think we’re going to be able to learn from, similar to what Cooper was saying before I walked in here. But guys didn’t flinch, they didn’t blink. They just stayed the course, we stayed connected as a team. For them to come out, they had a good drive to start out the second half, they go up 10-3, and then what happens? We respond right away. There was some big time plays, but Sony’s toughness…the one long run he broke out when were in the shotgun, and he ended up getting the stiff arm. And then to be able to have Matthew deliver a nice timing throw to Cooper to finish out that drive for the touchdown was key to get back to 10-10. And then I thought we had the momentum from then on for remainder of the game.”


(On if this win showed how the defense is starting to find its identity)

“Those two guys are so special to us. They’re team captains. Missing (S) Jordan Fuller, I thought (LB) Ernest Jones did a great job handling the dot (mic) today. But Jalen and Aaron are First Team All-Pro players for a reason. They’re legitimate Defensive Player of the Year guys. They’re so special. They’re one of one at what they do. And their leadership, their ability to be able to bottle that up…I think anybody that’s great at what they do has a mental toughness and resilience and, certainly, both those two guys really stand out and check the boxes on both of those things. I also thought Raheem and our defensive coaching staff did a great job. You talk about a great plan, being able to maximize it. It was really up until this morning, you don’t really know if you’re getting some key players like (OLB) Von (Miller) and just all the moving parts. I think it showed great agility by Raheem and his group, (Special Teams Coordinator) Joe DeCamillis, and (Assistant Special Teams Coach) Dwayne Stukes, (Offensive Coordinator) Kevin O’Connell and the offensive coaches. Those guys did an outstanding job. But Jalen and Aaron were special tonight.”


(On the most challenging moment for him this week leading up to this game)

“I don’t know if I’d ever really look at it like that. I think it was just, ‘Take it one moment at a time and figure out what is the way we can have a solution-oriented mindset.’ I was very fortunate. And I mentioned this earlier, but with the league and the PA (Players Association) to be able to work in coordination, to be able to move this game back. I thought that was key for us to be able to play this game. You know, with the amount of guys that we’re going to miss. I don’t even know if we had enough guys to field a team. But I didn’t really look at it like that. It was just, ‘Hey, let’s be in the moment, let’s take it one step at a time, and let’s figure out a way to maximize the guys we do have.’ Our preparation, given clarity, I thought the way they had kept the tension on some of these Zoom meetings and translate that to, really, two days of on the field preparation was big time. But it was kind of a build up to this game where you got a little bit better information every day. It started to just get a little bit brighter and brighter, and hopefully we’ll get some guys back for Minnesota because that’s going to be a really tough game.”


(On the performances of the tight ends with the absence of TE Tyler Higbee)

“I thought they did a really good job. I think (TE) Kendall (Blanton) really, the last couple weeks, he’s been asked to step up. Missing (TE) Tyler Higbee. Been really pleased with him. I also thought (TE) Brycen Hopkins. That third down that he had, was a big time play for us. And then (WR) Ben Skowronek, he’s a sharp, savvy, smart football player, he’s tough. You know, he’s going to only remember the one play where he was trying to get vertical before he ended up catching it. But he had four catches for over 40 yards that were big time. And he’s just going to continue to grow and get better and better for us, both on offense and on teams.”


(On his thoughts about COVID and where the team is with a short week before the next game)

“I am optimistic just based on the new protocols and kind of what we’ve learned about this. So many of the people that were affected by this were asymptomatic. You want to be smart. We’re going to have to alter and adjust our schedule the way we operate for the rest of the way. But I think that’s going to be consistent with the rest of the league. What we have going for us is that we have a situation in a setting similar to last year, we can operate outside because the weather, for the most part, is so great. Now, I think it’s supposed to rain this week, where we might have to come down to SoFi (Stadium) and be able to practice here. We’re just in the moment right now. I think the most important thing is let’s play our best ball in the month of December and we’ve strung together three good performances. Has it been perfect? Certainly not. But I think we’ve developed some resilience, some toughness. And we’re just trying to establish an identity that’s in alignment with giving ourselves a chance, if we do get fortunate enough to be able to play after the regular season, let’s peak at the right time. What that looks like is an exciting thing for us. But, you know, for now, we’ll enjoy this. We’ll come back tomorrow and get ready for a tough Minnesota team.”


(On where his head is right now after the last couple of weeks)

“I think where my head is at is I’m grateful for this team. I’ve been reminded, not really reminded, but you’re just so appreciative of the guys that you go to work with, our organization, our players, our coaches. That’s why you go to work and you work so hard to try to experience moments like what we had in the locker room. But, also, sometimes that adversity…I look at it as every single week represents a chapter in the book. And these guys are writing a special book right now. And I think some of the adversity that we experienced in the month of November makes these moments that much sweeter. Let’s continue to build on it. But I’m just appreciative to do this with people that I love and care about. And I am tired right now. This has been emotionally and physically exhausting. We’ll get some rest and then we’ll get back at this thing tomorrow and have a zest for life. It’ll be good.”


(On how RB Sony Michel’s production is a sign he is more comfortable in the offense)

“He’s been awesome. I think he’s really brought a toughness to our offense. You know, you saw the body of work that he had at New England. I think about when they ended up beating us in the Super Bowl. That stretch run, they really shifted their identity where they leaned on him and they were pounding, they were physical. We’ve been able to do that with him. And I thought he made some key plays in the pass game. He’s so tough in blitz pickup. He’s really a complete back. He’s brought so much to us. He’s so conscientious. Thomas Brown’s done a great job. But I think more than anything, he’s brought a toughness, he’s brought an ability to sustain possessions. You can see that time of possession has really tilted in our direction in a positive way. I think you’re seeing that show up with, ‘Hey, how does that affect us playing complementary football.’ Our rushes getting home, we look fresher on defense. And I think that’s why we played so well as a team these last three weeks.”