Head Coach Sean McVay – Media Availability – November 20, 2017 **
(On if there is any update on WR Robert Woods or CB Kayvon Webster)
"Yeah, so with Robert it's a shoulder injury. It's probably going to be a couple weeks on Robert, so that's unfortunate, but it requires some guys to step up and fill in for the void left by Robert and he's done a lot of great things. It's an opportunity for some other guys to step up and I know he'll take care of himself and hopefully we'll get him back sooner than later, but that's what it is right now and we'll continue to gather more information. With Kayvon, he's in concussion protocol. It seemed like today he was in good shape, so taking steps in the right direction and then with (CB) Nickell (Robey-Coleman), we talked about his thigh injury and we'll monitor him as the week progresses, but those are the guys with the game yesterday."
(On who will step into Woods' role)
"That's something that we'll discuss. I think you can see it kind of by committee with the depth that we do have whether it be finding ways to get (WR) Tavon (Austin) more involved, which I mentioned yesterday, which I've got to do a better job with that. Then (WR) Josh (Reynolds) and (WR) Mike (Thomas) and (WR) Pharoh (Cooper). So, I think it will really require a kind of by-committee approach and try to get some of those guys more involved."
(On what play Woods injured himself)
"It was on the catch that he made on the in-breaking route towards the end of the game on their sideline – it was when (Vikings S) Harrison Smith tackled him to the ground and his weight came down on him and that's where he kind of got that shoulder."
(On if he is confident that it is in the two-to-three-week range and not season-ending)
"There was a chance, but I think we got good, positive news back on that and the optimistic approach is hopefully a couple weeks. But, there was a chance that if it was something other than what it ended up being, that it was going to maybe require surgery, but it was nothing like that. So, those are positive things and there's a guy that he'll do all the right things in the meantime to try to get him back on the field sooner than later."
(On if the injury to Woods will get WR Tavon Austin more involved in the offense and make him more of a traditional receiver again)
"I think it will be a combination of both. I think it's just continuing to find ways to get him on the field. I think especially when you look at just the depth that we have – (RB) Lance (Dunbar) has done a good job in the limited opportunities he's had these last couple weeks, but without (RB) Malcolm (Brown) being involved. The bottom line is Tavon is too dynamic of a playmaker for our offense to not try to get him involved a little bit more than yesterday. You can sit here and make excuses that we didn't have enough snaps and things like that, but it's on me and I've got to do a better job of getting a feel for the flow of the game and finding a way to get him involved, especially when that was part of our plan and we kind of went away from that."
(On what the team is losing with Woods getting injured)
"Well, clearly from a production standpoint the last couple weeks you're losing a significant player. But, I think what he represents week-in and week-out just by the way that he goes about his business as well. He contributes, he's played like a complete receiver where underneath, intermediate, down the field, so that's a significant lose for us. But, there are guys that we do have confidence to step up and fill that void. I think like we mentioned, it will be kind of a group approach where it just offers an opportunity with the depth that we have to get guys a little bit more involved, hopefully keep them fresher throughout the course of the game. Certainly it is a big loss for us for what he brings, both just week-in and week-out and obviously what we see on Sundays with the way that he's produced for our offense."* *
(On if he is concerned at the depth at corner and the status of CB Troy Hill)
"Troy is going to be back this week. We're in good shape with Troy. But, that definitely it a concern – especially you look at a top offense that we're getting ready to play this week. The thing that's so impressive is they've consistently over the last couple of years thrown the ball as well as anybody and now they're able to run it as well. They're an extremely balanced offense, (Saints Head) Coach (Sean) Payton has done a great job. Obviously we know that (Saints QB) Drew (Brees) is a Hall of Fame quarterback and you look at the playmakers that they spread it around to and also the one-two punch with (Saints RBs) (Alvin) Kamara and (Mark) Ingram is special and that's why they're playing as well as they are offensively."* *
(On if he anticipated that some injuries to starters would happen at some point)
"Certainly you hope to avoid those, but I think it is a credit to a lot of the things that we've discussed before – the players taking care of themselves and then kind of having a plan in place. You've got to be ready to do that and when guys get injured that calls for the next man up and that's kind of what you see around the league. We have been fortunate in that manner that we haven't had a lot of guys miss games that have been in those starting roles, but it looks like that is going to end up occurring. We've got six games left for sure, but going into a very challenging game, coming off a tough road loss, it's going to present a great challenge, but that's what you love about the NFL – there's new challenges week-in and week-out and I think it gives guys an opportunity to step up and it's a great challenge for us as a coaching staff to try to put our guys in good spots against an excellent football team."
(On if Saints Head Coach Sean Payton is someone that he looks up to)
"Absolutely. I think you look at just the production since he's been the head coach in New Orleans, they're one of the top offenses year in and year out. You can see that there's a clear-cut philosophy. I've always had a lot of respect for him as a play caller – just watching the rhythm and the flow of a game. He's one of those guys that seems like he's got a great feel. If you look at the rapport between a play caller and a quarterback, I think he and (Saints QB) Drew (Brees) are one of the examples of what it looks like when its right. So, certainly have a lot of respect for him. I know that – philosophically just because he has some history with Coach Gruden as well there's some similar things that we try to implement, but they've done it as well as anybody in this league for a long time. You hear us talk about the consistency and they've consistently produced year in and year out and that's the truest measurement of performance."* *
(On if there is anything specific about the Saints offense that makes it such a special unit)
"Yeah, I think they do such a great job of making people defend the width and depth of the field in the pass game. I think it's a very well-versed offense where it's quick screens, play actions, movements – they do it all and they do it all very well. I think you see there's a variety of playmakers. Usually, when you look at a New Orleans Saints offense, you've got functional playmakers at the running back and the tight end spots. They've always got kind of those receivers where you've got a guy that can stretch the field vertically, some of the intermediate threats. Then, you look at some of the guys that have a good feel for working the slot. But, there's a very clear-cut philosophy on how they want to operate. Then, you look at getting two backs going and being able to do some different things that they're doing up front in the run game. They're a nightmare to prepare for and it's why they're one of the best in the league and it shows very quickly."
(On what kind of interaction he has had with Coach Payton in the past)
"Yeah, the extent of the interaction other than just meeting him real quick here and there is we spent a little time together at the owner's meetings with a group of people. I think the one thing that I came away impressed with – really with the whole coaching thing as a whole – is everybody was so willing to share. Very helpful, offer advice, how you handle team meetings – different things like that. It was casual conversation just hanging out with the guys, but he's a guy that I have a lot of respect for. He and (Offensive Line) Coach (Aaron) Kromer are very close friends and I've always enjoyed kind of picking his brain about just the way they've operated since they did it so well and won a World Championship in New Orleans together. So there's a lot of things that – you're a fan of the coaching profession and Coach Payton has done it very well for so long, so I respect it and definitely you try to take a couple things from what he's done so well for so long."
(On how concerned he is with the rushing defense)
"I think it's something that we've got to be aware of. When you really look at it, like we've talked about before, one game doesn't dictate and determine kind of the entire, you know, what we feel like we are. We didn't play up to our standards, really, offensively, defensively. Those are things that we can look at critically. We can correct. I think when you look at Minnesota, they did some nice things, but we feel like they're correctable mistakes whether it be just keeping our gap integrity, misfitting some different things and some of their gap schemes or where you kind of get a little bit of heavier personnel group in there. One guy gets out gapped and then you go for an eight-yard touchdown kind of untouched versus a goal line – type structure. But, Minnesota did a lot of good things yesterday. To say you're concerned, I think there's just always a level of urgency that knowing you're going against a very good rushing team this week. We've got to make sure we're on the screws with just our preparation and our approach and the players have to be aware of it. We want to see that practice preparation translate to the game reality and that's going to be a great challenge for us."
(On DE Ethan Westbrooks getting more snaps than DE Tanzel Smart and on the third, down status on the defensive line position on third downs)
"I think we're just looking at continuing to try to get those guys…we played a little bit more of those base personnel groupings and we matched up against some of their 11 in some of those personnel groupings where you see Ethan and Tanzel provided some relief as far as just being able to get in there and play some additional snaps. I think it's just kind of the way that a game goes. (Defensive Line Coach Bill Johnson) 'Billy' does a good job of rotating those guys. Ideally, you want to keep them fresh, but to their credit when you're able to sustain some drives, stay on the field on third downs. We're playing more snaps, anytime you play 80 snaps defensively – you don't want to play that many. When we've been playing really well, typically it's in between more of the 50 and 60 range. Offense has a contribution to that as well. When we're not efficient on third downs, now we're putting the defense back out on the field so you can see why football is the ultimate team game. We didn't give ourselves enough opportunities, offensively, defensively. We've got to raise our standards and do a little bit better job getting people off the grass and that's going to be a big point of emphasis for us moving forward."
(On if Woods's shoulder injury is on his left shoulder)