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TRANSCRIPT: McVay, Phillips, Gurley Press Conference 11/30


Head Coach Sean McVay – Media Availability – November 30, 2017**

(Opening Remarks)

"From an injury standpoint, (LB) Mark Barron did not participate, (C) John Sullivan was limited, (T) Andrew Whitworth did not participate, (OLB) Connor Barwin did not participate with his forearm. (TE Tyler) Higbee did not participate with an Illness. (WR) Josh Reynolds was back full, (CB) Kayvon Webster was limited with his ankle, (WR) Robert Woods did not participate with his shoulder, (RB) Malcolm Brown was limited with his knee and then (RB) Lance Dunbar and (CB) Nickell Robey-Coleman were both full today."

(On if LB Mark Barron will be active this week)

"This has kind of been typical for him the last couple weeks, so he'll do some stuff tomorrow and then he'll be good to go for the game. He's had just some nicks and bruises and we just want to be smart with Mark, just kind of getting him through the week and managing him. He's felt good – that's been the best plan where he's taken a lot of above the neck reps with some of the walk-thru's and things like that. But just with the physical reps, we've kind of been smart managing him, but he'll be good to go." 

(On if he thinks WR Robert Woods will start practicing next week)

"I think that would be a good situation. I think more than likely it might be another couple after that. You'd say you're shooting for the Philly, but I think a more realistic target would be the Seattle game. So a couple weeks from now is probably what's the most realistic approach. But you never know with Robert."

(On what's different about this Arizona Cardinals team since he last faced them in London)

"Well, I think you still see a lot of great players. And I think when you look at that game, I don't think the score – I've said it before, that was not indicative of, really, the way the game played out. I think we got fortunate where our defense got a couple turnovers towards the end of the second quarter, but it was 6-0 with like nine minutes left in the second quarter and there were a lot of things that went back and forth. You look at – they missed a field goal on their first drive where they were moving the ball well. So, great competitive football team. I think you've seen (Cardinals QB Blaine) Gabbert do a nice job the last couple games, providing a spark for their offense. You look at (Cardinals RB) Adrian Peterson and (Cardinals WR) Larry Fitzgerald – could go on and on about those guys. The tight end (Cardinals TE Rickey) Seals (Jones) has made a lot of plays for those guys the last couple weeks. And then defensively, they're getting some of their younger players going. You look at (Cardinals S) Budda Baker, you can continue to see (LB) Hassan Reddick improve and they've got two All Pro players with (Cardinals OLB) Chandler Jones at 12 sacks leading the league. He's really made an impact on that Jacksonville game. Then (Cardinals CB) Patrick Peterson is still one of the best corners in this league. You certainly feel (Cardinals CB) Tramon Williams with the experience he's had. (Cardinals S Tyrann Mathieu) 'Honey Badger' has made a handful of plays and then they've got the backers that are doing a real nice job. (Cardinals LB Karlos) Dansby's played a lot of football – does a great job kind of managing things inside. So, there's a lot of things that this team does that present problems and we know how well they've played at home over the last couple of years. (Cardinals Head) Coach (Bruce) Arians will have those guys ready to go and it's going to be a great challenge for our team."

(On the workload for RB Todd Gurley II in the coming weeks with the playoffs in sight)

"I don't necessarily know if it's like that. We know that we're guaranteed those 16 games, but you do want to be smart with Todd. Last week was an especially specific approach just based on his availability wanting him there on the third down and kind of some of those get back-on-track situations. Just with the depth that we had with both (RB) Malcolm (Brown) and (RB) Lance (Dunbar) being down. That approach will be affected and altered based on if those guys are available this week. But Todd's a player that – as long as he's kind of got a feel for where he's at. He does a great job communicating with (Director of Sports Medicine and Performance) Reggie (Scott) and his staff and then myself to kind of know, how does his body feel week in and week out? Because you look at the pounding that these running backs take, not to mention that he's involved in protection. He's getting a lot of touches in the pass game where he's able to create and he's a physical player. So, you always want to be smart, especially with a player that's as important as he is and kind of a focal point of our offense. So to answer your question, yes. And that's really a week-by-week, game-by-game approach. But you also what to make sure that you're getting him involved and getting him his touches because of what he does for our offense." 

(On Gurley's 15-yard run in the third quarter following a holding penalty)

"I think when a guy's got a hot hand and you can kind of just feel it, that's something that you kind of want to be in tune with as a play caller. And that was a situation where he had popped a ling run before we got the holding call and then we came back to the same exact concept and you could see he kind of created a lot of that on his own. So, you certainly want to be mindful of – if you've got a guy that's feeling it, to keep him in that rhythm and keep the ball in his hands. That's definitely something you want to be in tune with. And when you've got a player like that, you want to try to keep the ball in his hands in those situations. Especially, when he's able to do what he did on that specific run."

(On the amount of self-scouting he feels like he has to do going against a team for the second time in a season)

"We try to do a lot of that on our own, regardless of whether you've played an opponent already or not. But, you definitely take a lot of time studying some of the things from that game and then looking at just based on whether it be personnel or what they've done to adjust since the time that we've played. There's been a handful of games, but I think you look at specifically from a defensive approach, (Cardinals Defensive Coordinator) Coach (James) Bettcher has done a great job being able to adjust, throwing some different wrinkles in some things in his pressure packages, some of the things that he's doing on the early downs. Then (Cardinals Head) Coach (Bruce) Arians is obviously one of the brightest minds in this league and he's produced at such a high level. Anytime you go against a quality coaching staff when they've got good players, they're going to be in tune with some of the things that you've already put on tape. So it is extra important to make sure that you're aware from a self-scout standpoint, but that is something that we just try to be mindful of, even when you're going against non-divisional opponents."


Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips – Media Availability – November 30, 2017**

(Opening remarks)

"This week, we played this group before but they still have one of the greatest running backs of all time. The top receiver, I think he's leading the league, and one of the greatest receivers of all time. The quarterback's come in and given them some juice I think. (QB Blaine) Gabbert's played well for them – kind of opened their offense back up again, gives you some problems. Then the coach, (Cardinals Head Coach) Bruce Arians is one of the great offensive quarterback coaches. He's done great things with quarterbacks and I think you can see it with his quarterback playing now. So, I think they've come back to their offense. They still got a runner, receiver, and a quarterback and a coach that knows how to move the football, so it'll be a challenge for us. Anytime you get beat like that, that we beat them last time, we expect any team's best, but we're going to get their best."

(On how he evaluated the way the defense played against the Saints)

"26-20 – kind of my evaluation of that ball game. 8-3. I thought we played well against (QB Drew) Brees. Obviously, we had one big run play that hurt us. I thought we played well against Brees and you can't take the one run away, but we played really well against their running game – which they couldn't control the ball with the running game. So, that's what they had been doing and they couldn't control the ball with the passing game. We had played good on third downs. I think they were on like two or three out of 13 and third-down in which they were one of the top, top third-down teams and we knew that was the big down for them to be able to stop them. I thought we played well. Anytime you play well enough to win that's important."

(On what OLB Samson Ebukam brings to the defense and describe how the rookie class is doing overall)

"Samson has been playing some. It's not like he hadn't played. I think he has two sacks already, maybe two and a half, caused a fumble in a game. He's played well, rookie wise, for the time he's been in there and I think he'll come in and do a good job for us. He's worked hard at it. He's a smart kid, and he's got a world of talent. That play against the Texans, you could see his acceleration and making the hit on the quarterback and causing the fumble. So, he's got some talent. I think he's ready to go. He told me he's nervous. I said, 'Are you nervous?' Then said, 'Heck yeah.' I said, 'Well, you better be.' He's got a lot of energy and I like that about him."

(On the rookie draft class contributing on the defensive side)

"The draft here, I couldn't be more pleased with them. We got some guys that are contributing, not only contributing, but starting. And (S John) Johnson's (III) played well too now. Not just for a rookie, I think he's played really well. We're certainly pleased with the guys we have."

(On what other players have surprised him with the way they've been playing and how)

"(DT) Aaron Donald, because he's better than everybody and I didn't know he was better than everybody. I thought he was good, but I didn't know he was better than everybody. But, he is. I'm being a little bit sarcastic, but he's such a tremendous player. You can't overlook how he plays. But the rest of the group overall, we're getting where we want. They're working hard at it. We're trying to get better all the time. We're not giving up a lot of points which points, is first and then turnovers, so we're up there in those categories, so I feel like we're progressing well. We just want to keep going this way as a team. I think (Head Coach) Sean's (McVay) mentioned that, and that's what we believe in. We've got to keep trying to get better though."

(On some plays in the last couple of games where guys got their hands on the ball, but couldn't convert them into takeaways)

"Yeah, we dropped some interceptions the last game, several."

(On if there is anything that he can point to being the reason why they couldn't convert those takeaways)

"No. Both wins, so I think we're playing good. Those things will come. We're very aggressive on defense – we've gotten our hands on it, we just didn't grab it, but it will come. We didn't play a whole lot of plays last game either, the second half. We don't want more opportunities though, we want less opportunities. The less plays they play the better it is." 

(On what he saw from Ebukam early on in camp)

"Well, he missed the OTAs (Organized Team Activities), so when he came into camp, he worked real hard. We noticed that real quick. He had a good work ethic, so that helped him fit in real well. Once you see a guy that is as talented as he is, you try to work with him as much as you can and let him get as much experience as they can. Then when they get the opportunity they've got to take advantage of it, which now is the time for him."

(On how much Donald impacts the game despite his sack total)

"I'm sure he has more pressures than anybody in the league. He's by far – like I said, he's better than everybody and you can see it in the game. It doesn't take a coach to see that. If you just watch him during the game or watch a film of the game, the whole game you just watch him the whole game and you see how he dominates, even against two blockers. Those great players, they obviously are going to affect the game and he does that. He had two games in a row where he knocked the ball out on the first pass of that game – that's setting the tone pretty good. One game we played, they tried to run the ball the second half and there was a three-yard loss on the first play and after that they said, 'Well, we can't run the ball.' So, those kind of things he affects."

(On if Donald could ever be one of the 15-20 sacks per year type of player)

"It's awfully hard inside. We had (Hall of Fame DE) Reggie White and when I first had him we had him inside and it was hard for him and then we moved him outside. But, he was 6'5 and 305 (pounds), so he did well outside. It would be harder for (Donald) to play outside, I think. We did the same thing with (Texans DE) J.J. Watt, too – we moved him outside. You've got a better chance outside because you can't get doubled as much. What we're trying to do is, obviously, get him one-on-one as much as we can inside and then when he beats them quick he's there quicker than the outside guy. So, that's our challenge and them trying to do the opposite, trying to get more people on him."

(On the Saints' last touchdown drive)

"Yeah, I know, everybody says prevent defense and all of that stuff and don't go into prevent. We didn't want to give up a big play for a touchdown where they had the ball, where they could get the ball again before two minutes. Two scores ahead, if they score – we'd like to have slowed them down and we didn't. But a two score game, they've got to get an onside kick and score again to win. It's almost impossible for them to do that if you get it under two minutes. That was our goal, to get them under two minutes and slow them down. We didn't do that very well. It comes from, part of it is you need to learn when you're ahead how to play and we learned some things from that. So if it happened again, I think we'll do better. We've done better in the other games, but we weren't that far ahead."


RB Todd Gurley II – Media Availability – November 30, 2017 **

(On how he would describe this year's offense after making reference to last year's offense being a middle school offense)

"It's good. I didn't make reference, I said we're playing like one."* *

(On what it means when Head Coach Sean McVay says, 'Give me a woo.')

"You've never seen Ric Flair? Ric Flair, the legend."

(On if he's ever seen Ric Flair)

"Not lately. But I talked to him at the Dallas game. That was probably the last time I heard from him."

(On why the Rams haven't had many choreographed celebrations)

"Bad chemistry on the celebrating, but it's whatever. We get in there so much we don't have to do it every time, so it's cool."

(On if he wants to see the team do a choreographed celebration going forward)

"It would be cool, but I don't have all day to be trying to do a whole cha cha slide and the electric slide rehearsal and then you plan one thing and then you get in the game and it doesn't go well. But, we'll have to work on that sooner or later."

(On if he gave any thought to it personally when the league allowed celebrations)

"I'm too big to be dancing. That's not my game. I'll leave that to (Giants WR) Odell (Beckham Jr.), (Vikings WR) Stefon Diggs and the boys – they do a pretty good job of that."

(On if he feels any better or worse physically than he did at this point in the season last year)

"I don't know. That's pretty hard. Yeah, I think I felt like this year I've been fresher, been able to recover well. Thank God I've been able to be healthy and be able to survive a whole 11, 12 games so far. It's definitely not easy being able to play in this league week-in and week-out."

(On how much communication he has with the coaches, Director of Sports Medicine/Performance Reggie Scott and Head of Strength and Conditioning Ted Rath about how he is feeling physically)

"They come to talk to me a lot, but I tell them I'm fine. We all do a pretty good job of communicating and making sure that I'm feeling better, but I just feel like I need those reps because if I don't get those reps, I go in there and have a bad game and like they say, 'You play how you practice.' So, you definitely have to go out there and make sure you get the right reps and some good reps."

(On if he likes going no huddle and if they are doing it more than he expected)

"Yeah, most definitely a lot more than expected. I feel like I'm back at Georgia right now, it feels like college ball, but it's cool. Being at Georgia and being able to do signals and no huddle kind of helped me out and that's just how the game is these days. It's definitely tiresome sometimes, especially those first couple drives, but after that it's pretty good."

(On if doing no huddle at the beginning of the game helps him score touchdowns)

"Yeah, I think so. It's been working so far. We've been pretty good on the first couple drives of the game. It kind of wears teams down and they know what to expect – they've seen it on tape week after week and I feel like we've just been doing a great job of just going in there and executing and being able to run our plays."

(On if he feels like his workload has decreased and if he wants a bigger workload)

"I'm a running back, I'm always going to want more, but coach knows what he's doing. He's doing the best for the team. Obviously, last week I understood. They had two of their starting corners down so why not take advantage with (WR) Sammy (Watkins) on those backup corners. Like I said, we're winning. As long as we're winning, I'm cool. Everybody's roles are going to have to decrease. I can't get the ball every time. Someone's always going to have to be that guy to step up and that's the thing about this team. It's not all, 'If Todd doesn't get the ball 20 times, we're going to lose', that's a good thing. Even from teams seeing that, 'Oh, they didn't use Todd, but they're still having a great game.' So, for us just to have players on the team that can step up like that and play their role is amazing."

(On if he feels like he will be fresher towards the end of the season because of that)

"I wouldn't say all that. Football, all it takes is one hit for you to be messed up. I don't know. Like I said, I just try to prepare every week. Get my mind right, get my body right and make sure I'm just ready to go on Sunday."

(On if there is any fear that the team could overlook Arizona because the Eagles game is looming)

"Yeah. It's just like any team. You go on the street and beat somebody up pretty bad, you go fight them again, you probably thing you're going to win. We just know being in the league, how the league works. It doesn't matter if you're playing the Chargers, the Browns, San Francisco, Arizona, Seattle, any team can beat anybody – whether it's the best team or the worst team in the league. So, you have to come and bring it each weekend. The biggest thing is turnovers, you can't control those things sometimes, sometimes you can you just have to make sure to take care of the ball. If we take of the ball the rest will take care of itself."

(On what he thinks about WR Cooper Kupp's arm strength)

"He threw a pretty good pass in practice last week. He thinks he can throw the ball, but I think I should be back there throwing it. But, whatever. He can throw. He's going to make great decisions with the ball if anything. Unlike me, I'd be trying to do all types of crazy stuff and make a play and look like (Chiefs TE) Travis Kelce and throw a pick."

(On if he's made his pitch to Head Coach Sean McVay about throwing the ball)

"Nah. I'm just going to take off and run with it anyway so I'm good."

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