Quotes & Notes 2/28: McVay on Gurley and coaching changes, Snead optimistic about Rams’ core, calls Fowler a priority

Following each media session, Quotes and Notes will bring you what was said, who said it, and what it means for your Los Angeles Rams.

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“From a physical and really a mental standpoint he’s in a good place. And we’re excited about how Todd’s feeling moving into the offseason.”

-HC SEAN McVAY

  • Running back Todd Gurley put up his second-best season as pro in terms of yardage in 2018, touting the rock for 1,251 yards rushing with an additional 580 yards receiving. He also found the end zone a league-high 21 times — but ended his fourth professional season dinged up and in the center of storm of media speculation concerning his left knee.
  • McVay once again took responsibility for Gurley’s lack of action — 10 carries for 35 yards — in Super Bowl LIII and insisted that the star back would not undergo any medical procedures this offseason.
  • Both McVay and general manager Les Snead expressed an upcoming focus in paying attention to Gurley’s workload and the best way to use the All-Pro back in 2019.

“He’s definitely a guy that we’re interested in bringing back but similar to Ndamukong, you know they’re going to have some interest.”

-HC SEAN McVAY

  • Snead disclosed that his NFC Champion club does not intend to use the franchise tag on any one of its pending free agents — including outside linebacker Dante Fowler and defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.
  • McVay said on Thursday that the Rams are certainly interested in bringing back the pair of sack seekers, while admitting that Fowler and Suh, along with safety Lamarcus Joyner and left guard Rodger Saffold will be free to test the waters.
  • Fowler and Suh played a big part in the Rams’ run through the postseason, combing for 3.0 sacks, 14 tackles, six tackles for loss, and eight quarterback hits in three games.

“So I had to make that decision and it wasn’t an easy one, but then being able to acquire Eric Henderson is something we’re excited about, and I think he’s going to provide something nice for that defensive line.”

-HC SEAN McVAY

  • It was announced earlier this week that the Rams will add three coaches to its staff in 2019.
  • On Thursday, McVay detailed that the club has parted ways with defensive line coach Bill Johnson after two seasons leading one of L.A.’s most impactful position groups. The head coach was appreciative of Johnson’s work orchestrating one of the league’s most impressive pass-rushing units since 2017.
  • The Rams defense posted 48.0 sacks in 2017 and 41.0 in 2018 — 31.5 of which came from Johnson’s back-to-back AP Defensive Player of the Year defensive tackle Aaron Donald.
  • Incoming defensive line coach Eric Henderson joins the Rams after a brief run playing in the NFL with the Bengals and most recently two seasons as a DL assistant with the Chargers.

“[W]e feel really good about Jared Goff’s development and I know he’s excited about even continuing to improve going into his fourth year as a pro.”

-HC SEAN McVAY

  • McVay seemed encouraged about his former No. 1 overall draft pick as quarterback Jared Goff turns toward his fourth pro season.
  • Goff’s 293 yards passing per game put him at No. 5 among all signal callers in 2018. The California native has improved in each of his three NFL seasons thus far — setting career highs in completions (364) yards passing (4,688), touchdowns (32) in his NFC Championship season.

Check out photos of Los Angeles Rams players at the NFL Combine through the years. (Credit: Associated Press)

“We’ve got multiple of those young players that got a little bit of minutes last year but not enough. I think, really, the domino is Fowler.”

-GM LES SNEAD

  • Snead called Fowler the front office’s “biggest priority” with free agency just around the corner, when he was asked about the Rams’ situation at the edge spot.
  • The GM mentioned the growth in production from outside linebacker Samson Ebukam in 2018, but said other young members of the defense faced a lack of opportunity — perhaps due to the addition of Fowler in Week 9.
  • Snead wrapped up his comments concerning the position begging the question whether or not Fowler could be replaced from inside the club or from elsewhere. Rookie Oklahoma outside linebacker product Ogbonnia Okoronkwo didn’t see the field after returning from an offseason injury in 2018. And first-year defensive end John Franklin-Myers played in all 16 games and logged 2.0 sacks.

“Last year was kind of sexy, but the goal is not necessarily to be sexy, but it is — I’ll keep saying it — to put the best version of the ‘19 Rams on the field.”

-GM LES SNEAD

  • The Rams picked 11 rookies in the 2018 NFL Draft — eight of which participated in last year’s NFL Combine.
  • Snead listed every possible way to add personnel when asked if this year’s combine was quieter than 2018’s, however he did mention being “jacked about [the Rams] core.”
  • On Tuesday, ESPN’s NFL Nation reporter Lindsey Thiry listed possible edge rushers the Rams could be keyed in on this week in Indianapolis. Thiry’s edge rushers to watch can be found here.

“It’s definitely a position we’re going to scrutinize. Now I think, again, I think the way we’ll do it is, we’ll have a priority of position we should target.”

-GM LES SNEAD

  • Snead said his staff plans to take a close look at the cornerback spot this offseason, with star corners Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters’ contracts up after next season.
  • Talib and Peters combined for four interceptions and 13 passes defensed in their first season in L.A. Talib, however, played in just eight games due to a Week 3 ankle injury that landed him on the injured reserve.

“That’s always a tougher animal to deal with, because you’ve got to decide between inexperience or experience. Maybe inexperience with upside, or experience on the downside, but has experience.”

-GM LES SNEAD

  • Snead gave some insight into the challenge of addressing a backup quarterback vacancy on Thursday — specifically weighing out the value of league experience.
  • McVay also said he expects to have conversations with quarterback Sean Mannion as the backup is set to enter free agency.
  • Mannion’s played four seasons as a Ram and appeared in 10 games.

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