Head Coach Sean McVay – Media Availability – November 6, 2017**
(On if he is surprised with the position that the team is in at this point in the season)
"I think our team has done a great job. Continue to come away impressed with the way that our players handle every single week, whether that be responding from good or bad things – can't say enough about our coaching staff. We've got a lot of good people that are doing the right things, that are putting ourselves in a position to win these football games and have these outcomes. We talk about that one day at a time approach and respecting that process and that's what we'll do leading into the Texans game with (Texans Head) Coach (Bill) O'Brien and these guys coming into town and what's going to be a great challenge for us."
(On if he can see the thirst and hunger for more knowledge from his players and buying into this process)
"That's exactly right and that's something that we talk about day-in and day-out. I think the players are bought in, they believe in it and we talk about some of those things as a coaching staff. But then, when the players really believe it, they carry it over in terms of how they act in the locker room and then how that translates to the way they carry themselves in meetings, on the practice field and then hopefully our practice preparation equaling game reality – there's been a lot of good examples of that. The thing that we are encouraged with right now is you look at the last two games we've played in, there's been a good performance really we feel like we put all three phases together. If we continue to do that, we'll give ourselves a chance to compete and try to come away with some wins. But, we're focusing on getting ready for the Houston Texans now, we feel good about the win yesterday, but it's time to move on and get ready for a good football team."
(On the advice that he gives his players about believing the hype)
"I think it's just like what we've done. There has been a lot of things that have been said and really, when you look at it, what were teams' records at the halfway point last year? You don't remember unless you're at the halfway point. It's how you finish games and how you finish seasons and for us right now, it's about finding a way to play a really good ninth game of the season for us because that's what it is. If we do good things there and come away with the result that we want, then we'll worry about what's next after that and that's the approach that our team has taken. Really, whether we come away with a win or a loss, the guys have responded the same and our approach doesn't change. We want to be consistent and methodical with how we go about our weekly process and rhythm and I think the players have gotten comfortable with that, they're bought into what we're doing and it's showing up on the tape and we want to see that continue."
(On if there is a part of the game that he identifies that needs improvement)
"When you look at the last couple games, there's always going to be things when you break down an entire game of things that you can clean up, whether that be the fundamentals, techniques, some of the assignments and how we play basic adjustments whether that be on offense, defense or special teams. But, I think we feel good about what we've done the last couple weeks – there's always room for improvements. There's a handful of plays in all three phases that we feel like we could have made. There's a lot of good things that we are doing right now, but it goes back to we really talk about our football philosophy with our players and the number one thing that we talk about is it's always about the ball. By going plus-three in the turnover margin yesterday, that was a big indicator of giving yourself to win the football game and now we're at plus-three for the season. If we can continue taking care of the football offensively, getting it back defensively and then special teams making sure that when you get the blocked punt or when they're returning the ball that we have 100 percent ball security there. Those are the things that we talk about, we emphasis moving forward and those don't really change. You can always find room for improvement. I think there are a lot of good things right now, but you're never content and we're big believers in you never stay the same, you either get better or you get worse and we preach that daily improvement every day and I think our players are doing that right now."
(On the reaction of the coaches and the players after big plays)
"I think everybody is happy for each other – that is the biggest thing that is good right now about the team. When you look at those big plays, whether it's (WR) Pharoh Cooper making a big punt return and how excited (WR) Tavon Austin gets or (LB) Cory Littleton blocks a punt and you watch the way that (LB) Alec Ogletree and (P Johnny) Hekker and all those guys run on to the field to celebrate. We've got a connected team right now. We want to continue to stay connected, guys are pulling for each other – it certainly isn't a separate offense, defense, special teams – it's a team that's connecting. We're committed to each other and we want to continue with that theme moving forward and I think that's going to serve us well because inevitably at some point you do face some adversity. Whether that is leaning on one phase or another and we can look back to instances of that throughout the course of the year and these eight games that we've played, but when we play all three phases like we have the last couple of weeks, you're going to give yourself a chance to play efficient football. Our team's got a lot of confidence right now, but we know that it's a week-to-week business and if you're not ready to go next Sunday at one o'clock when we play the Texans, you get humbled very quickly in this league. I think our players respect and acknowledge that."
(On how he identified LB Cory Littleton as a player that could be utilized in blocking punts)
"Well, Cory has been a guy that's been a big time contributor for the special teams unit for the last couple years and I credit 'Bones' (Special Teams Coordinator John Fassel) to that. 'Bones' is a special leader, special, special teams coach where he's got a great feel for the game, he knows how to attack protections in the punt pro game and I think Cory is excellent. He has put him in some good spots. You look back at the Jacksonville game and then you look at what we did yesterday – he and (LB) Samson (Ebukam) are kind of just running a little stunt together and you just look how quick he got lateral, vertical immediately and then to lay out where if he doesn't get the contact, he's still going to clear himself of the punter so that you don't come away with a penalty. So, he's playing really good football right now. When he's played defense, he's been extremely efficient and Cory Littleton, he continues to show up week-in and week-out. He's very important to our special teams and I think he's a big reason why they're playing at such a high level right now."
(On how he viewed and broke down the WR Sammy Watkins touchdown on film today)
"It was a big-time play and similar to how we felt after yesterday – great protection up front, kind of selling a little play-action deal where it looks like your boot and Sammy is kind of running a double move where he's selling the corner and then breaking it back to the post and then we've got (WR) Cooper Kupp running on a crossing route. So, kind of a three-level throw. You can see that (Giants S Landon) Collins got himself caught where he was kind of holding a disguise and (QB) Jared (Goff) let it go with great anticipation and then Sammy, you see the elite speed down the field. What a great catch and throw. I think especially in the elements; it was a big-time play. To go for a long touchdown, I think it was great for those guys to be able to connect on that play, it certainly gave our team a big spark – we were all happy with it. But, those two players individually, a great throw, a great catch and route especially in the circumstances where it had just started to rain again and it was really wet. That was phenomenal by those guys and we were really pleased. It definitely gave us a spark."
(On what was going through his mind when the ball was sailing through the air)
"I thought it was a heck of a throw where that thing got out there and it was carrying really well and you could see it was going to have to be a phenomenal, fingertip-type catch. When he pulled it in, I think I was probably as excited as anybody, like you're saying. It was great for those guys to be able to make that play and very happy for Sammy and Jared and really our team as a whole because of what that provided for our unit."
(On Watkins being excited about his teammates success while dealing with limited targets because of coverage)
"It was really – it was fun to watch yesterday when you look at the third-and-33 that (WR) Robert Woods takes, which was a great individual effort by him and he had some great blocks out front. But if you look at the opposite side of the formation, Sammy was the single receiver there. He throws down the guy that's lined up over the top of him and then he does enough to shield (Giants CB) Eli Apple on the backside which is really kind of the last guy that was there to potentially be able to make that play. Watching the way he's competed without the ball and then he's running good routes, he dictates and determines where guys are aware of him. There's certain coverages that you have a feel of certain guys that are going to match him and he's really done an excellent job of being a big contributor, even though sometimes you only see the one catch for the touchdown yesterday. But he's making a lot of things happen without the ball in his hands and it sounds cliché, but it's true. You go back to the Arizona game – he has a big-time block on (Cardinals OLB) Chandler Jones on a third down conversion to (RB) Todd (Gurley). He was the one that was the lead blocker on the touchdown to Cooper Kupp on the screen, so he's continued to respond exactly the right way that we want. I know he certainly, like any other receiver, wants to get more touches, but couldn't be more happy and pleased with where he's at and what he's done for our football team right now."
(On how he would grade himself at the halfway point of the season)
"I think you know me well enough now to know that anytime that you talk about that, it's about our team. I think we're pleased with where we're at. I think anytime that you go into games, the goal is to try to win football games. But I think what we are pleased with is that the guys are bought into some of those things that we talk about with the process, with that weekly approach. Everybody brings up the culture and things like that and what we really feel like our culture is, is how we do things around here. I think you guys can see the types of people – the types of players we have in that locker room. We're starting to do things the right way consistently because of them and because of the way that they carry the torch when we're not around as a coaching staff and different things like that. You've got great leaders that you continue to empower. They believe in each other, they continue to connect and we're a mentally tough team right now. That's what we're very pleased with is that we've seen some adversity. I think when you look back, these seasons are all journeys and we've had eight games on this journey so far. A lot of great experiences to draw on and then some ones that we'd like to forget, or get an opportunity to learn from. I think both the Washington and the Seattle games have provided an excellent opportunity for us to respond from that adversity. Certainly, it's not perfect. You look at some of the things with the game management just for me individually. I can continue to improve and that's just getting a better overall feel for the dynamic of that. A simple example, even yesterday with the two-minute, just managing, 'Alright, do you take a knee there to try to run out the clock?' And things like that. That was something that I could've done a better job of on having some foresight on exactly the time that's going to be runoff and how you handle that in the right way. So, I think every game provides a great opportunity to learn from. We are 6-2 right now, where we've got a chance to achieve some goals, but right now it's about seeing if we can get to 7-2 and I'm just pleased to be a part of it with this team – with this coaching staff and certainly feel very fortunate to have the guys around me that are in this position."
(On if he ever converted a third-and-33)
"I don't think so. The last time we were in a third-and-33. I think was in the Dallas game when we had the long snap over our head in the first preseason game and (QB) Sean Mannion…I think it was around our third-and-40 so that might be the longest one I've ever been a part of in terms of a team. But, it was a great job. You look at Robert (Woods), everybody wants to talk about him as a possession receiver. That's where you could see his 200-meter-speed as he was able to cut across the grain and finish. That was a strong finish by Robert. (T Andrew) Whitworth and (G Rodger) Saffold get out front and make big-time blocks at the point of attack and then on the back side like we mentioned with Sammy. So, with things like that, that was a big spark for our team and then you watch the way that those guys got so excited for each other. The celebration and how fired up Todd was for them and then even Jared coming in there late and then tripping late. I don't know if you guys saw that on the celebration, but those guys were having fun and those are always the fun things to see as a coach."
(On if there is anything that he can do to prepare for conditions like the ones in New Jersey on Sunday here in Southern California)
"The thing that you really would do is explore it – playing with a wet ball. Done that before, it was something that we had talked about. Jared seemed like he handled it really well yesterday, but I think that's more about asking your players what their feel is and especially the quarterback and the center, just because of the way that their controlling the ball every single snap. But you've definitely always got to have kind of a wet-ball plan and understand how that changes and dictates some of the things that you may or may not do, because of the handling of the ball and how things you can kind of set yourself at risk. To be honest that play to Tavon that we ran, I wanted to run that on the first play right when we got down in the redzone after Todd broke that long run. But it was still a little bit misty at that point and you were just a little bit reluctant to call that at the time. Let him get in the flow of the game and then also get comfortable handling that wet ball. So, it definitely does affect your decision making but I thought the players handled it really well yesterday."
(On TE Gerald Everett's versatility)
"He's a great athlete. When you have great athletes like that and he's continuing to learn how to play the position. You look at all the success that he had in college, but he wasn't often lined up in that kind of true tradition tight end alignment where you're attached to the line of scrimmage. But, he can detach from the core like you mentioned. He makes a big play on the third down yesterday, runs the jet sweep. You look at what he did in Jacksonville a couple weeks ago on the shovel pass. So, he's a guy that we'll continue to try to move around and find ways to get the ball in his hands. And then he's also going to continue to grow as a tight end. Playing in-line, contributing in the run game, whether that be a movable piece kind of as a lead blocker, as that H-back or even just playing in-line. But, he's got a bright future. He's a joy to be around and it was good for Gerald to be able to make some of those big plays yesterday."
(On WR Tavon Austin looking healthier and how much that will impact the offense going forward)
"Tavon is a dynamic weapon without a doubt and he provides a great spark. He's got such a great energy about himself, even just the way that he bounces around. He kind of brings people with him. You can't help but get excited and think, 'Okay, something good is about to happen' every time he touches the ball just because of how explosive and how quick he is. It was a great run that he had where he's motioning in the back field and goes for plus-20 and gets us down inside the redzone and inside the 5-yard line. But, he brings a spark to our team and it was exciting watching him compete without the ball. You look at some of the blocks that he made at the end for (RB) Malcolm Brown. You look at the third down conversion he made in the offset gun. That was a great run he made, where he kept the clock moving, kept the ball in our hands. Tavon's doing a lot of things for us and the game played out a little bit different than maybe we anticipated where there was a couple things that we might've done with him. But, he's a guy that can play receiver, he can play that running back spot and when you have guys like that and then even just talking with (Rams Reporter) Myles (Simmons) the question before about it – Gerald Everett. Those guys that can do a lot of different things, give you some versatility offensively and they're fun to kind of try to think of ways to get them involved for our coaching staff and get those guys going."