Head Coach Sean McVay – Media Availability – December 18, 2017**
(On the injury updates)
"(LB) Mark (Barron) was the only guy yesterday after the game and he just had a little knee soreness. He's been fighting through some things. You see how tough Mark is and I think when you just look at the weather and some of the elements, it just bothered him a little bit more than it had. I thought (OLB) Cory Littleton did a great job stepping up in his absence. But, we feel like Mark will be okay and we'll kind of just evaluate him day-to-day as the week progresses and we'll have more updates on Wednesday."
(On if the potential for snow in Nashville on Sunday will affect Barron's availability and the team in general)
"I think it was good for us to be able to play in Seattle. It was a little bit colder (of an) atmosphere than we're accustomed to out here. But I think it will be a great opportunity for us to just continue to try to focus on some things as far as dealing with the atmosphere, the elements if that's what it is with the snow or some of that cold weather. I thought last week served us in a valuable way where we'll be able to use that being able to move forward into this week against Tennessee. You always have to have some specific adjustments as far as some of your play calls and different things, especially from an offensive standpoint and how that affects your ability to handle the ball. And a lot of times, especially in that weather, it feels like a rock. But, it's something that guys will do a good job adjusting just like they did yesterday."
(On how much the increased practice time for Littleton helped him prepare for the increase in playing time during the Seattle game)
"I think it helps a lot. You look at Cory, he's been such a key contributor on special teams the last couple years, but when he's gotten his opportunities Cory is a really good football player. Just finding different ways to get him involved, I know we've created some different personnel groupings throughout the course of the year just to get him on the field. You see his speed show up, great recognition ability, makes a great play kind of on the little boot(leg) that they ran where (Seahawks TE Jimmy) Graham comes across the formation and he tackles him for minus one yard. Cory has just stepped up. But I do think that definitely helps him out when he's able to get a lot of those looks and reps during the course of the week and it's a great credit to (Linebackers) Coach (Joe) Barry and (Assistant Linebackers) Coach (Chris) Shula having those guys ready to go and Cory stepped up and did a great job."
(On how big it is for the offense when the defense can cause turnovers on the first drive and if that has factored into his division to defer when winning the coin flip)
"Yeah, it's been incredible. I think when you look at seven times they've forced turnovers on that opening series and I think you talk about starting fast and getting some momentum. I thought our kickoff coverage unit did a great job and then it's a third down and (S) Lamarcus Joyner does a great job forcing that fumble. You look at our ability to recover that and then for the offense to be able to go out and then turn it to points, you'd like touchdowns. But, it definitely does factor in. I think you always want to try to kind of have that approach where you can maybe get another possession if you defer. But the way that our defense has started out games this year, definitely leaves you feeling confident and then you like the ability of being able to receive the ball out of the second half offensively."
(On if he talks about the fact that the team can win the division this weekend)
"Absolutely. Yeah, I think the one thing is we certainly have respect for every single week in that it does mean one. But as the season progresses – and to the players' credit with what they've done – we're in a position to go try to win our division this week, and yesterday was a huge a step in that direction. To be able to try to take a two-game lead against a great team like Seattle going into their place. We don't shy away from what is at stake, but we do keep our same approach in terms of just kind of that weekly rhythm. But, that's absolutely something you talk about. Tennessee, they're a very good football team. They've got a lot to play for, too, so we know that it's going to be a great opportunity for us to try to go win the division and what you guarantee yourself there is a playoff spot and you guarantee yourself a home playoff game, too. So if you're able to do those things, we know that it's going to be a tough challenge, but you definitely talk about what we can accomplish. To the players' credit, like we've mentioned, to be able to even put themselves in a position to have this opportunity is an extremely positive and encouraging thing and one that we're excited about."
(On if he had set the goal on winning the division earlier in the season)
"What we talk about, we've broken – you've heard us talk about it before is, we break the season up into quarters and you just emphasize that. I think it's those small milestones one week at a time and if you do things then you put yourself in a positon to achieve this goal. But I think anytime that you start out, everybody, all 32 teams have a goal of trying to win a world championship, but the only way you do that or the way that you can ensure that you get in the bracket is by being able to win your division. So, to be able to do that is going to be a big step if we're able to accomplish that, but we know it certainly won't be easy."
(On what area of the offense has improved the most since Week 1)
"That's a good question. I think it's just the maturity of our football team and really our players, offensively. I think it's use getting more comfortable with kind of finding an identity. I think you can start to see that show up where as you get comfortable with your players, you have a better feel for what they do best and that's what's most important for us as a coaching staff is to try to continue to accentuate those skillsets of our players. I think we've got an identity with how we want to run the football, how we want to throw it in certain situations and I think our guys are getting more and more comfortable and confident in our system and I think you see it show up with their ability to execute. But, we've got really good players. They're taking good care of the football. I think yesterday was a great example of team ball, especially offensively. You look at the way our offensive line controlled the line of scrimmage, guys were competing on the perimeter, (RB) Todd (Gurley II) was really getting going. I thought (QB) Jared (Goff) did a great job managing the game as far as making good decisions when we did throw it and those guys did a really nice job."
(On how he would define the offense)
"Yeah, I think when you look at it, we're an offense that you want to try to marry the run with the pass. You kind of have your play-actions, your movements, some of your different things – you always want to have kind of that illusion of complexity, but really you're trying to present plays that start out looking the same that are different. But, I think we're finding our identity within the framework of some of the formations that you see consistently show up and some of the core plays, but you try to dress it up differently. I think the players' ability to understand the concept, whether it be the run or the pass, has really helped their ability to execute at a high level and I think it's shown up."
(On if knows where his 2015 NFC East Championship hat is)
"Oh, yeah. Absolutely. That hat is in my house and yeah, those are tough to get. That's a special accomplishment, to be able to win the division. To win games in this league is so hard and you appreciate every single opportunity. When you do win, you certainly cherish that, but especially division championships. Being a part of a couple of those in Washington is something that you truly cherish and for us to have the opportunity to go compete and try to win an NFC West Championship this weekend is something that I know our players will embrace the opportunity and we're going to go try and see if we can seize the moment."
(On if it means anything to him if he has players that are recognized as Pro Bowlers)
"Yeah. I think it does matter to the players. I think anytime – the thing that you talk about that you really appreciate is that anytime an individual gets recognized, it's a reflection of the unit that he's a part of. We always talk about what a great team sport football is, but we've certainly had some great individual contributions to some of the success we've had to this point. It is important. I think it's a great honor, especially when you look at how it's decided with the fans, the coaches, their peers. Earning that respect amongst your peers in this league I think is something that the players appreciate and value. You want to see all your guys get in, but I think what the guys will understand is, whoever it is that is fortunate enough to be elected to that – I know that those guys will be the first to tell you that it's a reflection of their teammates and the unit that they're a part of where they've been able to have some of that individual success. But it's all about that unit and I know that our guys feel that way as well."
(On where he thinks RB Todd Gurley II falls in the MVP race)
"I'm obviously going to be bias to Todd, but I think if you just look at it from a production standpoint, he's been as productive as any player – he's got over 1,800 all-purpose yards, 17 touchdowns leading the league. Over 630 yards receiving. He has a great game yesterday, but Todd will tell you – that success he's had is a credit to his teammates. You look at the way guys compete in the run-game for him, he certainly is a special player, but I think with Todd's success, that is a reflection of our offensive unit. I think it's a great honor for him. I think he certainly has gotten himself into legitimate conversations with that just based on the production and what he's meant to our team. Like I said, don't want to make the same mistake twice – sure glad we gave him the ball a handful of times yesterday."
(On what percentage he likes in terms of the balance between the run and pass when designing plays)
"I think when you're in normal down-and-distances, you'd obviously like to have kind of a perfect balance and be able to do that to keep teams off balance. I think you want to see your run-pass balance, but a lot of times what we do is predicated on the defensive look – what we anticipate and kind of what they're taking away. So, to say you want to have a perfect balance – I think it's more of the mindset is what do we feel like is the best way to attack the defense? Whether it be through throwing the football or running it. But I can't say enough about our offensive coaches and the job that they've done putting these guys in position. You look at (Offensive Line Coach) Aaron Kromer you mentioned, (Offensive Coordinator) Matt LaFleur, (Quarterbacks Coach) Greg Olson, what he's meant to that quarterback room. (Wide Receivers Coach) Eric Yarber and (Assistant Wide Receivers Coach) Zac Taylor with the receivers – (Tight Ends Coach) Shane Waldron with the tight ends. I could go on and on, but feel really fortunate to have such a great coaching staff and it makes everybody's job a lot easier."* *
(On how it makes him feel that he is getting mentioned for Coach of the Year honors)
"I think just like anything else, this is a reflection of our entire coaching staff – to even be in a position where we're winning football games and our team. Can't say enough about the coaching staff that we do have when you look at it. What great leaders that we have – you look at (Defensive Coordinator) Wade Phillips and his staff. The defensive game plan they put together against a great quarterback (Seahawks Quarterback) Russell Wilson, great system. Unbelievable job by them. (Special Teams Coordinator) John Fassel continues to demonstrate why he is a special, special teams coach – a great leader. (Assistant Special Teams Coach) Tyrone McKenzie's done a great job and then our offensive staff, like I mentioned – the game plan, their ability to communicate. I think those guys giving clarity to our players, understanding how to put those guys in good situations and making sure that – it's not what we know as coaches, it's what the players know. Their ability to go play decisively, know what's expected of them. I think it's been a key and really a great coaching staff is the only reason why you even get a chance to go compete for a division championship this year – great coaches, great players and even be mentioned among those, because if you don't have success, you're not getting brought up in those types of conversations. But that's a credit to our whole entire team and our coaching staff."
(On if he knows who Bull Behman is of the 1929 Frankfurt Yellow Jackets)
"I do not know who that is."
(On Behman previously being the youngest NFL head coach in win 9 games during his first season)
"Nice. There you go."
(On the best Christmas gift he ever received)
"I'll never forget when I was a little kid, I wanted receiver gloves. I was a huge (Former 49ers WR and Hall of Famer) Jerry Rice fan growing up and those receiver gloves – goes to show you that I really don't have a life. (laughs) But that was something that I do remember, I wanted those receiver gloves bad when I was a little kid. I think you know what would be a good Christmas gift for everybody is if we're able to come away with a win and that would be a special thing for this team and for a lot of our players."
(On if he wore gloves when he played quarterback)
"No, that was before I had really played quarterback. I hadn't even started playing football yet. I just knew that when my dad and I liked to go play catch, 'Hey, Jerry Rice wear some gloves, so why can't I have some gloves.' So, that was something that I do remember."
(On if he got the gloves)
"Oh yeah, got the gloves."
(On what kind of gloves he got)
"They weren't very good. Now that I see these Nikes and stuff like that. I don't want to throw anybody under the bus, but they were some cheap gloves my dad got me for Christmas."
(On if he has seen OLB Robert Quinn getting into a rhythm as of late)
"He's done a great job. He's really playing good football lately. You just look at it. The speed shows up and he's had a lot of success against Seattle. I remember even just being in Washington watching games when you'd cross over and watching the way that he pursues to the football. The way that they were able to kind of slow some of these offenses down. Robert, I think, you just see the speed coming off the edge, his ability to finish. We always talk about that effort with burst speed and finish, kind of being the three part of our efforts and he's demonstrated that. I think his get-off, you see why he's a special pass rusher. When you could just beat people with raw athleticism and good get-off that's been a big part of his success. We're very pleased with Robert."
(On if he's seen Quinn's strength and speed come through more as of lately)
"I think he's played well pretty consistently throughout, but I think just the production being able to finish. But he's affected and influenced the quarterback all year for the most part. You're very happy for Robert seeing him finish those plays and a come away with actually making the sacks."
(On how big it was having WR Robert Woods back)
"It was big. What he represents, I think both he and (LB) Connor (Barwin) getting those guys back, from a leadership perspective and just their ability to communicate. Both having been in big games was really important to us, Robert does such a good job of kind of demonstrating what it looks like week-in and week-out. You see the consistency, I thought with the opportunities that he had. He did a great job running sharp, crisp routes. That's a good secondary so a lot of times they're playing their three deeps or man coverage principals. Often times those corners on the outside are basically playing you in man even if they call their three-deep zone. But his ability to work edges on guys and then just do things the right way. Even without the ball, I thought he showed up. You look at the ball that (WR) Tavon (Austin) has the around, go watch him on that. He blocks three people. We joked about it that (G) Rodger (Saffold) on the long run that Todd (Gurley) had against Philadelphia. He ended up blocking two people on the second play of the game last week and Robert said, 'Well I see you get two, I'm going to go get three.' He actually did a great job blocking the nickel, then he comes off on (LB Bobby) Wagner, then gets another shot on (DE) Michael Bennett. So, unbelievable play by receiver right there. You talk about guys competing without the ball. I think that demonstrates the football character of this team and especially Robert."
(On if the team has converted to only walk-thrus on Wednesday)
"I think so. I think it's going to be the smarter approach. When you talk to (Rams Head Strength and Conditioning Coach) Ted (Rath) and (Rams Director of Sports Medicine and Performance) Reggie (Scott) and being able to lean on them for their perspective and advice. They think it's been the best approach and certainly coming off a performance like that where I think we felt fresh. Guys looked fresh. I thought we played fast. We looked like a fast overall team yesterday. As long as they continue to understand how important it is just to be locked in, great focus and concentration from a mental standpoint. We feel like that's going to be the best thing and that's the approach we'll take this week again."