Head Coach Sean McVay – Press Conference – September 11, 2017**
(On if the team exceeded expectations on both sides of the ball)
"Yeah, I think to be able to come away with 16 points from our defense – what a credit to them and any time that you're able to win the turnover battle, that's something that we talk about. But, I thought the overall energy, the intensity that the guys came out with, you could see there was a focus and a resolve where they were ready to go. Certainly it wasn't perfect. There's a lot of things that we can clean up, but ultimately it's about coming away with a win and I can't say enough about what those guys did to find a way to do that."
(On CB Kayvon Webster's injury)
"He's going to be day-to-day. It's something that we're monitoring his shoulder and he'll be questionable over the next couple days. We came away with – it was positive in terms of something that it's not like you're not immediately ruling him out. But we're optimistic and I think that it's going to be a situation where (Director of Sports Medicine/ Performance) Reggie (Scott) and his staff are going to be working with him and we'll have a better idea on Wednesday. He'll be getting treatment every single day and we're hopeful that he'll be able to play this week."
(On plan for DT Aaron Donald)
"The plan is to get him going just back into the flow of a normal weekly rhythm like all of our players do. He's back here with us now and looking to get him going. As far as how he'll be utilized in this game and kind of exactly what that plan entails is going to be predicated on how he feels going out to practice and getting involved. Those will be things that Reggie, myself and the rest of our coaching staff will discuss as far as how he's feeling."
(On if he's confident whether Donald can play in Sunday's game)
"Yeah, I think that's the goal. He's back here and that's a step in the right direction. Today was really about kind of wrapping up yesterday's game and getting a preview on Washington's personnel. Tomorrow is a player's day off and then we'll come back Wednesday where, really after this and then going into tomorrow, we'll have a better idea exactly how we want to break that plan down with Aaron. But, I think like we've mentioned, just getting him back in here is the first step and definitely want to try to get him on the field."
(On how much the change in organizational culture contributed to the game yesterday)
"I think it's about the players. I thought they were ready to go and I think it's a credit to them having bought into some of the things that we've emphasized. But ultimately, we've got to start that as a coaching staff, but the maintenance of that is driven by the players. When you see your leaders set that example day-in and day-out and then kind of that practice preparation equals the game reality – that's exciting to see. I can't say enough about what a handful of our guys did. I could name a handful of guys that showed up, made big-time plays, but I think it's a credit to the way the players went about the weekly process – that approach and that preparation and then it led to a good performance. I'm really pleased with our team overall."
(On P Johnny Hekker and DT Ethan Westbrook signing extensions and what that means for others towards the end of their contracts)
"You mentioned it and I think being able to get a player of Johnny's caliber – you get around Johnny, he's a special person, he's a special player, he's been very productive, an all-pro player the last couple years and then what he brings to the locker room matches up with the production you see on the field in terms of the leadership, the intangibles. When you look and vote for captains, he's a runaway with the special teams votes because of the respect that his teammates have for him. And then Ethan's a guy that I've been very pleased with. I think really in the last couple weeks you've seen him turn it on. I thought he made a handful of plays where he played with power and was a physical force on the inside for us. I'm glad to get those two guys taken care of and it should be able to allow you to do some different things moving forward with guys that you do want to try to get taken care of as far as that aren't under contract for years to come."
(On whether those extensions are a part of master plan to get Aaron Donald signed)
"I think there's a handful of guys that are very important people to us that are coming up on the end of their contracts. So, you always have big-picture perspective in mind when you do things like this. The first thing is, is we valued those two players and wanted them to be a part of this roster for years to come, so that's the first thing. But anything that you do, I think (Senior Assistant) Tony (Pastoors), (General Manager) Les (Snead) and (Executive Vice President of Football Operations/Chief Operating Officer) Kevin (Demoff), they do an excellent job of kind of having a long-term vision in mind with how we want to set things up and then what that allows us to do with the way that the cap is structured to try to first and foremost, take care of your own. Because there's a handful of guys on our roster that have been here, that were draft picks or that have been here for handful of years that you want to reward and you want to make sure that they're Rams for a long time because of the way that they do things. And then what you do outside of that with draft and some of those acquisitions through free agency, you at least have some options down the line as well."
(On if Donald worked out at the facility today)
"Yeah, Aaron was working out. He was here, he took part in the exact same thing that everybody else did. We came in, we had meetings, we worked out, went over the film – he was in the defensive line meeting room and going through the tape just like as if he had played in the game and then the players will have off tomorrow and we'll come in and be ready to go on Wednesday."
(On team communication regarding Donald)
"I think the guys have a lot of respect for Aaron. We've mentioned exactly what's going on. When he was able to come back, I mentioned that to the team, let them know exactly – we talk about communication all the time and I think it's important to keep our players in the loop. While I know there's a lot of them that have great dialogue with Aaron, I wanted to just let them know what was going on. He was in the team meeting this morning and we kind of took care of that and now that he's back in the building, you're operating kind of standard operating procedures with him here."
(On any truth to a report he took a trip to Atlanta before Green Bay game)
"That's true. I think it was more just trying to show how important this situation is to our football team. Let them know that while I'm not going to be involved in terms of the money and the negotiations, but I just wanted them to be able to hear how important Aaron is for the overall dynamic, everything that we're trying to get done and accomplished, how much respect his teammates have for him and I thought it was something where you feel like, 'What can you do to be a part of the solution?' And we thought that was a good decision. We went down there. It didn't take away from anything we were doing going in to that Green Bay game. Our players knew exactly that – they knew that I had done that and I think like we talk about, those are things that if you feel like you can have an outcome that's favorable for what we're trying to get done in terms of this Aaron situation, I wanted to do what I could control to try to be a part of that solution."
(On club's reaction not being overly excited in response to yesterday's game)
"I think you certainly want to continue to raise the standards and the expectations, but I think those guys did a great job. There's a lot of confident individuals in that locker room and while you certainly don't ever take for granted a win and how important and how hard they are to come by in this league, it's very important to realize that it's one week. We've got 15 more to go, but we've got one this week that's very important. We said to enjoy it yesterday and now when we come back today, let's close that game up and let's be ready for a great Washington team that I know that (Redskins Head) Coach (Jay) Gruden's going to have those guys ready to go. They have great players on offense, defense, special teams and it's going to be a great challenge for us."
(On when he left Washington if he took the playbook with him)
"Coach Gruden taught me a lot of stuff, so I know he's mixed it up. I've got a lot of respect for him. He's taught me a large portion of things that I know and things that we do here, so we've got some familiarity with each other. But, I can't say enough about how much I respect him and what he's done for my coaching career."
(On team's reaction to Donald's return)
"That was something that we said he's going to be here on Monday. But, we went about the team meeting like we normally would – where you're showing some of the things that guys did great on special teams, defense and offense and guys supporting each other. That was kind of really what the team meeting entailed and then we made a couple announcements for kind of what's to come for the upcoming week, but I didn't want to make a big deal about that. That's the one thing that I mentioned that you respect so much about Aaron is, he wants to just come back in here. He doesn't want to be a distraction at all. That's why he wasn't at the game yesterday. That was the first thing that he mentioned himself because he realized how important it was for us to kind of try take a step in the right direction and come away with a win. That's what he wanted for his team and I think that's what you like about Aaron is, he's all about football. He just wants to get here, get a solution to this and get back with his teammates and compete and play the game that he loves. That's the impression that I get from the interactions that I've had with him."
(On if it was his idea to fly to Atlanta to meet with Donald)
"It was a collective idea, when you talk to Kevin Demoff, Les Snead and Tony Pastoors is as they've gone through the negotiations. We've been really involved in the players that have been here and you kind of get bits and pieces, I just said, 'Would it be any help.' And, really it was more of a kind of – we just had a conversation and dialog that we thought it certainly couldn't hurt. I hope that it was helpful as we're continuing to work through it."
(On if he evaluated players on how they would fit into his scheme)
"I think what's important is – when you first get here, I thought our offense and defensive coaches did an excellent job of kind of painting a picture in terms of what you're looking for in terms of, not necessarily a scheme fit because there's great players all around this league that'll fit in any scheme. You've heard (Defensive Coordinator) Wade (Phillips) say this all the time, 'If you've got a great player and he doesn't fit to your scheme, it's probably not a great scheme.' So, you've got to do a great job adjusting to your personnel, but I think there's certain prototypes that you're looking for in terms of being able to have a balanced unit personnel-wise. Both upfront with what you want to try to emphasize from a starting point in the run game. But, you look at a player like (RB) Todd Gurley, he's going to fit in any scheme. So there's certain guys that fit in all schemes, but I think you want to have complementary pieces and ideally how you want to operate both on offense and defense. You might have a certain value for different positions that maybe a certain scheme would value less or more, but as long as you kind of have a vision for what you're looking for. I can't say enough about how receptive they've been to try to learn it. I thought it was really a good process going through free agency and the draft by being able to spend some time, kind of have the personnel guys hear it from a coaching perspective – these are the things that you're looking for and really you're able to hear it from them as well, so we can continue to find a way to speak the same language. That's how you get on the same page and you kind of get players that we're all looking for as a Rams organization, as opposed to the coaches and personnel being separate."
(On what's key for him to teaching young players on the team)
"Well, I think when you're a coach, you're a teacher. We want to try to make it as seamless as possible. I think going back to something that I heard from (Hall of Fame) Coach (Bill) Walsh, there's really stages to learning – there's reception, retention and then there's the comprehension. We've got smart players and I think when you force them to kind of communicate back to you what's going on by the way that you teach it as opposed to, 'This is the only way that we do this.' We have different ways from a foundational standpoint of trying to get these guys to understand the big picture, then you force them to kind of give it back to you, so you really see where they are at. Other than just kind of seeing it on the practice field. But, try to get that communication where you're not just giving information, you're receiving it back as well in the meeting room. Which, I think is really conducive for learning."
(On the best thing that QB Jared Goff did yesterday)
"I think the best thing, first and foremost, he took care of the football. No turnovers. That's an outstanding stat to have as a quarterback and then I think he did a great job of distributing the ball. When you see four of your top guys all have over 50 yards receiving, that's a credit to him and the decision-making. I thought he got the ball out in the timing and the rhythm of the play and like I mentioned yesterday, I thought the protection was excellent as well. Anytime that you're able to use the width and depth of the field to attack people in the pass game, that's what you want to do. But, I thought just overall, 21-for-29. I thought he made some good decisions, threw the ball with accuracy and really, he played a pretty clean game. He's going to be able to tell you, and we'll tell you that there's a couple plays that he could have made, but there was also a couple plays where, you put him in a tough spot and he makes it right because that's what great players do and he did an excellent job yesterday."
(On if he celebrated his first NFL win as a head coach)
"Yeah. It was fun having my family here, you're able to kind of get away and enjoy that last night as you're watching the Sunday Night (Football) game, so that was a pretty special experience. Really excited for our team as a whole. I thought the way we were able to do it was a true team win, where there was a lot of good things from all three phases. Now, we come in, we enjoy it, and it's on to Washington."
(On reactions from his friends, associates, etc and did any of them stand out)
"You know what, it's been really cool just to see the amount of people that are reaching out, texting you just to say congratulations that are happy for you. There's been a lot of people that have reached out that I'm very appreciative of, but to say that any one person stood out, there would probably be too many people that you don't want to single one person out."
(On if his most recent former boss reached out to him post-win yesterday)
"He did. Yeah he did. I've got a great relationship with a lot those people in Washington and I'm always pulling for those guys, except for this coming week. There's a handful of people that I still keep in close contact with – looking forward to seeing them and looking forward to getting past this game. Then, we can kind of try to be able to help each other out as we move forward into the regular season getting deeper into it, especially playing the NFC East and some of the familiar opponents and some of the things that will cross over with them."
(On whether he'll spend a few extra hours preparing this week, since he's going against his former team)
"I think there's a familiarity that you have with this team. I think every single game is so important in this league to say that you'll spend more time on it, I don't know that'd be true. I'll probably be cranky later on in the week like I am normally because I don't get much sleep. But, it's going to be a big, big game for us, because it's the next game that we have and it's against a great opponent. Washington's one of the teams in this league that's had back-to-back winning seasons. That's hard to do. They know how to win football games. (Head) Coach (Jay) Gruden's a great leader and there's a lot of players on that team that I have a lot of respect for that I know what they're capable of."
(On how difficult it will be to separate the emotional connection with his former team in this Sunday's game)
"I think it'll be weird to separate the emotional aspect. I think once you start a game, then its about trying to put your players that you're working with in the best situations to have success, but I think really it's something that you know you want to see these guys have success. So many people in that organization have been instrumental in helping me get this position. But, once that game starts it's just like any other game and we're going to do the best that we can to compete to go win it."
(On if there was something specific he saw in practice or meetings leading up to the Indianapolis game that made him foresee the game's end result)
"I don't think you ever envision those types of games, but I think you felt like your team was focused and ready to go. I think they had a good feel even in the pregame, the week of preparation. But this league, you just never know and I think it's a credit to the players, like you'll continue to hear me say, that they made the plays. I think that to be able to start the first drive with the field goal where (K) Greg Zuerlein hits a 50-yarder. When we didn't convert on the third-and-short and then for (CB) Trumaine Johnson to come right back and immediately allow us to go up 10-nothing. That spark right there was huge. Then it just seemed like there were a couple situations that the defense just continued to deliver. When you put a team that goes 0-for-10 on third down, 0-for-1 on fourth down that's a huge credit to those guys. They get a safety. They force a turnover that lead to two touchdowns. Trumaine Johnson has another forced fumble that he recovers. Those guys just seemed to make play after play. Special teams units were outstanding and then offensively there was a couple things that we did a decent job with and then there's a lot of things that we've got to do a much better job with."
(On OLB Robert Quinn's performance yesterday)
"I thought Robert Quinn was excellent. I want to say he played 25 snaps, you certainly feel his presence on the defense. You look at the big sack, he makes a huge stop on the third down and long where he's able to pursue on the back side. He's certainly a rusher that you have to account for. He's got a great get-off. Love the effort and intensity he plays with. He's one of the guys that I've always had a lot of respect for just coaching against him in years past, where when No. 94 is right, you feel him and he is an elite rusher and he certainly looked like that guy yesterday and very glad to have Rob back."
(On how much the defensive effort helped Goff's confidence)
"I think it's huge. When you're able to start off with the field goal and then they end up getting the next points where you're up 10-nothing right away. I think that's an outstanding credit to those guys, but I think it definitely does alleviate some stress where they're putting some points on the board. But, I thought Jared did a great job of making decisions, controlling what he can control and taking good care of the football. When you're able to combine those two things with the defensive effort, a quarterback making great decisions, you're going to give yourself a chance to win a handful of games."
(On where his game ball is going)
"That game ball is going to go, you know I've got a nice little room…my grandpa always jokes, because he's got all these accolades and things that he's accomplished but he's one of the most humble guys you'll ever meet. He says he has an 'I love me' room, so we'll see if I can get enough stuff to have like what my grandpa did. But, I have a nice little room in the family room where that will go. But, very much appreciated from (Owner/Chairman) Mr. (Stan) Kroenke. I'm very fortunate to work for a great owner who's committed to trying to give us the resources and doing the things to try to help us provide a winning team for him."
(On when they moved S Lamarcus Joyner to safety, if yesterday's performance was what he anticipated)
"With Lamarcus, what a great competitor he is and for him to get his first pick on a great play yesterday and take it to the house. But, he's a great competitor, as soon as you get around Lamarcus Joyner you just love his demeanor. Like I've talked about with Aaron – Lamarcus is all about football. I think you just feel him on the practice field. You feel him on the games with just how violent he plays this game, how fast and physical, especially for a DB. His transition to safety, I think he's done an excellent job. I also think our Safeties Coach Ejiro Evero and our Corners Coach Aubrey Pleasant have been great with him as well. He's playing nickel, he's playing middle safety and what that does for us terms of the flexibility that it provides, is huge for our defense and he's a big time player. He's one of the guys – you look at our defense as whole, (CB) Trumaine Johnson, (S) Lamarcus Joyner, (OLB) Robert Quinn coming back and then (OLB) Cory Littleton with the strip sack – you give those guys game balls because of the impact that they made on the defense yesterday."