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TRANSCRIPT: McVay, Phillips, Gurley Press Conference 11/9

Posted Nov 10, 2017

Head coach Sean McVay, defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, and running back Todd Gurley addressed the media after Thursday's practice.

Head Coach Sean McVay – Media Availability – November 9, 2017

(Opening remarks)

“From an injury standpoint, the guys that were rest guys yesterday were back. Then with (RB) Malcolm Brown, he will not require surgery on that knee, so that’s positive news on that front. (TE) Derek Carrier was out again today with his hamstring and (OLB) Robert (Quinn) was out again today with an illness. So, those were the three guys that were not participants in practice.”

(On if he has determined who will take over for Brown this week)

“Today served as a good opportunity to be able to kind of evaluate, really (RB) Lance (Dunbar) and (RB) Justin (Davis). One of those two guys we’ll look to get up. As far as making that decision, we haven’t made that yet, but they both did a good job today.”

(On if Brown’s injury was a sprain)

“Yeah, it was a high grade sprain though, so it’s something that is going to require a couple weeks. It shows his toughness to be able to kind of push through that. Of course only in Malcolm’s way he says, ‘My knee is a little bit sore.’ Then it shows up – well no wonder. An extremely tough player. He’s been so reliable for us too, so that is a big loss, especially when you look at the value that he provides for our special teams unit as well. But, it will call for some guys to step up and looking forward to seeing who does.”

(On how much of RB Todd Gurley II’s success can be attributed to the offensive line and the Gurley’s football production)

“I think it’s always tough unless you’re in a building and you know the nuances of what is being asked to ever really comment on anything else schematically. But, I think when you talk specifically about what the guys have done this year – teams that run the football efficiently, it takes all 11. That is not exclusive to the receivers, they’ve got to compete on the perimeter. We’ve got guys that have done that consistently. The linemen have to be in sync, tight ends and then the backs have to be able to press it and then the quarterback has a role and responsibility as well, especially with the way that we operate in our run game where we might call a couple different runs and we ask them to get into the right one based on the look that the defense presents. So, I think we are running the football pretty well these last couple weeks. There are certainly always areas of improvements and then I have a role in that as well. You look at some of the tight red zone runs where I put our guys in some bad spots where you take some negative plays with some of those lost yardage runs down in the tight red area. That’s where I have to do a better job for our players and kind of put them in better spots. But, I think as a whole we’re continuing to find our identity, the players have embraced that and clearly Todd has run the ball very well. (WR) Tavon (Austin) provides a nice change of pace back for us and I think when Malcolm’s gotten his touches he’s done a really nice job too.”

(On if there is anything more that he wants to see from Gurley in the second half of the season)

“I think you want to see him consistently play at a high level. The challenge was, let’s see if we can pop off a long run and he answered that bell right away with a plus 36-yard run on the first play of the game last week, which I thought provided us with a great spark. Todd is doing a lot of really good things right now. He’s playing as a complete back. It’s never perfect and he’ll be the first to tell you that he has high standards for himself and so do we for him. So, I think you want to see guys just consistently play at a high level and then continue to just clean up the little things and we’ve always got to take great care of the football. Anytime that you touch it as many times as he does specifically, got to make sure that we’re doing a great job with our ball security, especially in all those contact and traffic areas where he is carrying it.”

(On if he is constantly thinking of new ways to connect on big plays in games)

“Yeah, I don’t know about jotting on a napkin, but I probably have no life outside of football, so you’re kind of thinking of new ways to put our players in good spots. I think what the bye provides is an opportunity to really look closely at yourself and also kind of think about what are some things that we’ve done that can kind of play off of each other and then we’ve got very capable players that can do a lot of the things that we’re asking them to do. When you have that, it makes it fun as an offensive coaching staff to kind of find creative ways to do some different things that fit within the framework of our system. We’ll always kind of try to make tweaks and things, but we don’t want to lose sight of the foundation of our offense where you still do have an identity. But, I think being able to throw in a couple of things here or there that forces a defense to prepare for it and not know where it’s going is something we always want to try to do offensively.”

(On how he would describe the offensive identity right now)

“I think it’s ever evolving. But I think, what you try to see for us is a marriage between our run and pass game – especially with the play-actions and the movements off of that. Want to be able to change the launch point – I think you always hear about defenses talk about, ‘Make them earn every blade of grass.’ And I think our role as an offense is to make them defend every blade of grass and that’s using the field horizontally in the run game and then in the pass game, using it horizontally and vertically and we’ve got the players to distribute the field the right way and we’ve got the players to be able to do some different things in the run game. But, it’s always something that is a great challenge for us, especially going in playing a very good defense like what the Texans present in terms of the scheme, the players and the coaching. So, we’re looking forward to it, but we’ve got to be at our best if we’re going to play well on Sunday.”

(On if his personnel has adapted to his schemes or if his schemes have adapted to his personnel)

“That’s a good question. I think good coaches always fit their schemes to their personnel and we’ve got a lot of players that can do a lot of different things – I think it is ever evolving. When you look at the ways that we want to put our players in spots to do the things that they do best and that’s what the constant challenge is. We’ve got a lot of guys that really aren’t limited in terms of what they can do, but I think you always want to adjust to your players and I think you want to keep a consistent approach. You certainly always have a foundation in terms of how you want to operate offensively where, what are those schemes and some of those different things that you can kind of hang your hat on. But, you’ve always got to evolve and adapt and adjust and find ways to be creative, but also its most importantly this is a player’s game and I think we always want to be mindful of that and not lose sight of that. When you have the personnel that we do both up front, at the skill positions, quarterback, running back, it provides a great opportunity for us to be able to continue to try to evolve and find ways to put good players in good spots.”

Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips – Media Availability – November 9, 2017

(Opening remarks)

“Another vengeance game for me. I think I’ve got three more left after this one – maybe four. Houston’s my home and I coached there twice with the Oilers and with the Texans. I can’t say enough good things about (Texans Owner Robert) Mr. McNair and his family there and how they treated me. It was a rough time for us when my dad passed away there and they were just wonderful to me and I’ll always appreciate that. As far as the football team, I was there in 2013. I think there’s maybe five or six guys that are still there, so it’s been a big change. I think (Texans Head Coach) Bill O’Brien has done a great job with them. We left them kind of in shambles and they won the division a couple times and he’s done a really outstanding job with them. I think (Texans Defensive Coordinator) Mike (Vrabel) does a good job with their defense. They’ve played really well. I’m looking forward to this. It’s a home game, hopefully people are excited about this football team, I know I am. It’s nice to be winning, but every game is a big game – this obviously is our biggest game of the year. Defensively, obviously we’ve been playing better. We’re not there yet, but I think we’re playing sound football, making plays. We’ve had a good rush, we’ve had an interception almost every game, so those things are good, solid things for us. But we still – we know we can get better, we know there’s things we can do better and we’re going to keep working.”

(On what the defense can improve on at this point in the season)

“Just consistency. If you can consistently play an 11-point, 12-point game, which is really good. That’s not, ‘we’re there’, that’s we’re one of the best, if you can play like that. But we’ve still got a ways to got to get there I think, but the players work hard. We’ve got a lot of talent I think. It’s all about winning and we’re winning and points per game. That’s normally the situation why I’m here, because they gave up a lot of points, so we’re trying to cut down on that.” 

(On the changes with the Texans offense now that QB Tom Savage will be the starter instead of QB Deshaun Watson who suffered a season ending injury)

“Watson is an outstanding young talent that made plays off schedule and runs with the ball – rushing yardage and scramble yardage and all those things. But Savage has been there four years with that system, so we expect him to be proficient. Especially, after he didn’t have a great game coming back, but it was his first time playing this year since the first game. He knows what they want, he knows how to do it and he’s got some talent. They’ve got two receivers, one of them’s got eight touchdowns, the other one has got seven. That’s pretty phenomenal, so he’s got some people to throw it to. I think the tight end is coming back, they’ve got a good running game – they have a good offense. You look at their stats on offense, they’re good, so it’ll be a challenge for us.”

(On if he is surprised at anything about this team at the halfway point of the season)

“Yeah, that we’re leading the league in scoring. You don’t expect that certainly just coming from the past, but it doesn’t surprise me. I didn’t say it would surprise me, I’m just saying he works awfully hard, he knows what he’s doing and he’s doing a great job of getting our offense to be one of the top offenses. We try to complement that with getting turnovers and getting the ball back as much as we can. These last two games, you just don’t have games like we’ve had the last two weeks. He said today to the team, ‘We’re going to face adversity.’ We’re going to have to get going again and see how we react. But he’s done a great job I think of getting them to play through those things and when things don’t go right, we bounce back well.”

(On if he ever got to a midpoint in a season where his entire front line was injury free)

“I think probably, maybe 75 percent of the time you do that. You don’t lose a lot of players normally. The years we’ve lost a lot of players, we didn’t do well. But I think overall, the teams I’ve been with have been fairly healthy. They do a good job here, our strength and conditioning people and our trainers are just outstanding – our athletic trainer. They’re outstanding and they do a good job with monitoring those guys and keeping on top of it. There’s certain injuries you can’t prevent, but I think they do a good job of getting them where we don’t have some soft tissue things and things some people have.”

(On what he sees from WRs Will Fuller V and DeAndre Hopkins on tape)

“Well, Fuller’s got great speed. He’s just so fast that he runs good routes, but part of that is he just can run by anybody, basically. Then Hopkins is all-everything – he’s an elite receiver. He can run, he’s powerful and he can catch anything. You just throw it to him and people are all over him and he still makes the play. He’s scored like five touchdowns the last three games. We got to double him and double the other guy and double the tight end. We got to worry about the running backs, so it’s a problem with having two wide receivers like that.”

(On if the one game from Savage on tape is enough to game plan against him)

“I think you have to get a feel, but he’s played some this year. He played a game and a half, so you have that. But they’re going to attack – because he’s been in the system, they can attack anyway they want to. Now, if he hadn’t been there for four years, you say, ‘Well, they’re going to simplify some things and so forth.’ But I expect them to attack the way they would attack the next team they were playing, because he’s got experience as far as their system is concerned and he knows how to handle it.”

RB Todd Gurley II – Media Availability – November 9, 2017

(On if he feels physically better heading into the second half of the season compared to last season)

“My body has been feeling pretty good surprisingly. It’s a tough year, it’s a long year, but it’s been feeling pretty good. It’s been feeling really good actually.”

(On if there is anything in particular that he wants to improve on heading into the second half of the season)

“I just want to keep being able to do what we’ve been doing. What’s that quote? If it ain’t broken don’t fix it – I don’t know what it is. But, whatever we’ve been doing, it’s been going well, so hopefully we can just keep doing what we’ve been doing.” 

(On if the play on Sunday where he stutter stepped and waited for (G) Jamon Brown to block shows that the chemistry between him and the offensive line is better this season)

“Those guys did a good job. I kind of saw colors, so I kind of paused and luckily I kept my head up and was able to keep running, so credit those guys to opening it up on the first play.”

(On what it means to him being clocked as faster than WR Sammy Watkins and WR Robert Woods on his touchdown)

“I’ve been knowing that I’m faster than those guys, so I’m, not really worried about that. (Laughs). But, no (Head of Strength and Conditioning) Ted (Rath) and (Sports Science Coordinator/Assistant Athletic Trainer) Tyler (Williams) and (Director of Sports Medicine/Performance) Reggie (Scott), all those guys do a good job with the heart monitors and the speeds. So, we’ve always been competing since (training) camp and OTAs (Organized Teams Activities) just going back – you have a good run and you just go back and ask Ted, ‘What did I hit this time?’ We’re well aware of our speed and luckily Sunday we were able to showcase our speed little bit. So, that’s always a good thing when you can get a player over 20 mph, that means he’s probably running more than 30, 40 yards, so that’s always a good thing for sure.”

(On if he could describe 6-2 in one word)

“Awesome.”

(On if he’s talked to P Johnny Hekker about not getting as many opportunities this year because of how well the offense has performed)

“No because he had plenty of opportunities since he’s been here. I’m pretty sure we’ve worn his leg out a lot since he’s been here for six years. But yeah man, everybody knows what he can do and that’s why he’s one of the highest paid punters in the league, just because the previous years he was our offense. We weren’t able to get yards, he was able to put the defense in a good position, so when we need him he’s always there for us. Just having Johnny and (K) Greg (Zuerlein) and (LS) Jake (McQuaide), those guys are incredible. But, it’s always a good thing when your punter is not doing good.”

(On what kind of challenges the Texans front presents)

“Obviously they’re missing one of the best players in football (Texans DE J.J. Watt) and you don’t want to see him hurt, but that’s a good thing for him not to be playing this week. (Texans OLB/DE Jadeveon) Clowney is a beast. He’s the No. 1 pick, No. 1 pick for a reason. I played against him two years in college and I know what he can do – he can destroy a football game easily. He just makes it look so easy. Definitely a big challenge for us this week just being able to go up against him, but we face great players in this league week-in and week-out, but we’re definitely going to have to be well aware of where he is at on the field for sure.” 

(On if he is expecting a bigger and more enthusiastic crowd this Sunday and if it’s a big factor in their success)

“It’s probably not going to be a bigger crowd, but it is what it is. At the end of the day, we go out there and play ball, man. We want fans there and like I said, if we just keep winning, hopefully they keep coming. If they don’t, they don’t. If they do, we definitely appreciate the support. But we’ve been on the road the past four or five games, so we’re kind of used to seeing the other teams more than us. Like I said, the more we win, hopefully the more people will come, but at the end of the day, we’ve got to go out there and play our game.”

(On if he has taken any plays to Head Coach Sean McVay that he has seen from other teams and liked and tried to get those plays implemented)

“Not really. He’s up all night. He’ll tell you – he doesn’t have much to do, so he’s always copying new ideas. It’s a copycat league. We all do the same exact thing. We see something two, three weeks ago that Seattle beat them on, let’s try it again. If they stop it, they stop it. If they don’t then that’s a win for us. You definitely see plays all the time where stuff happens. The one was my last touchdown last game. I was always wanting a touchdown, like an inside zone touchdown where I could just run to the outside. I’ve always seen people do it. I’ve seen (Saints RB) Mark Ingram do it a couple of weeks ago. I’ve seen (Chiefs RB) Kareem Hunt. I’ve seen a lot of people do it, so I was happy to definitely get that touchdown like that so easily.” 

(On if he has had to change anything in terms of his preparation because of how involved he is in the passing game this season)

“Not really. Wednesdays and Thursdays we’re up here quite a long time, so it’s really a lot of mental work. Coach does a great job, just with the walk-thrus, that definitely helps out a lot. That’s kind of like an extra practice itself. Being in the individual meetings with the linemen. (C) John (Sullivan), he’s a genius. Just ‘MIKE’ (identifying), just recognizing the defense. Playing with guys like John and having Coach McVay and (Quarterbacks) Coach (Greg) Olson and all those guys really, we all help each other out. That’s where I feel like it’s been helping me out this year for sure.”

(On QB Jared Goff saying that when McVay calls a play during practice, a lot of times they don’t think it will work and then it ends up working out in the game)

“Yeah that sounds like me on every play. I’m like, ‘Aw, this ain’t gonna work’ (laughs). That’s usually how that goes though man. I had that in college, we were running a counter-play and I’m like, ‘I hate this play’ and we run it and I go like 25 yards and I’m like, ‘I love this play.’ Yeah, (there’s) plays like that all the time – runs, passes. I mean even the (WR) Tavon (Austin) one, went to (WR) Cooper Kupp and then he pitched it back and we’re just like, ‘Yeah right, this (is) the NFL.’ We have so much stuff in our offense, man. It’s definitely hard to defend when you’re doing stuff like that – you’re doing jet sweeps, you’re running with me, you’re running with Tavon, you’re running with everybody. So it’s definitely hard to defend and they don’t know what’s coming at them. But, (there’s) definitely a lot of plays like that.”

(On if he is able to enjoy this 6-2 start)

“Oh yeah. For sure. I was just talking to my buddy about that last night and we were just talking about…and Coach we (were) just talking about it. You know when you’re doing good – stuff is good. Everybody’s good. Y’all good. We’re good. When you’re doing bad, it’s everybody’s fault – my fault, his fault and it kind of is everybody’s fault, because you’re doing bad (laughs). It kind of is what it is. Just to go through times like that and be able to be where we’re at right now, definitely take it in for appreciation a lot more and you enjoy the moment, because you know how bad it is when you’re down bad. So, it’s always a good thing.”

(On some of the predictions that have come out saying that the Rams will win the Super Bowl)

“I (haven’t) heard that one yet, but I’ll take it. You’ve just got to take it one game at a time. You can beat one team one week and play them three, four weeks later and lose to them. Like I said, anybody can beat anybody in this league. You just have to come prepared mentally every week and the biggest thing is not turning the ball over, which no one tries to. But, it just happens in the sport. So, if we can just keep going out there executing and doing what we do and just taking care of the ball. If we take care of the ball, everything else is going to definitely take care of itself for sure.”