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Direct From The Coach’s Corner

Read The Wide-Ranging Interview With Coach McVay. There’s A Lot To Learn.

(East Los Angeles, CA) January 26, 2022 [From The Editor’s Desk]: As the countdown to the NFL’s and the NFC’s Championship game “kick-off” continues, for all of the thousands of Super-serious Rams fans who reside here in the City of Angels, East L.A., and many other highly supportive and well-known residential communities Beyond, we bring you more supplemental game information for this NFC “Clash of the Titans” at SoFi Stadium this coming Sunday .

For your total Rams game prep, we have the full transcript of Head Coach Sean McVay’s “day-after” the Tampa Bay game via his customary media availability. In it you’ll learn how is gearing-up and preparing his team for the third encounter of the 2021 NFL season between these two highly respected and esteemed teams. While it is lengthy, it will give you a great and comprehensive read regarding Coach McVay’s leadership, his responsibilities to his team, and to the Rams franchise.

{Head Coach Sean McVay}

(On the 49ers defense and if there’s anything new that he has learned about them to contain and prevent them from getting after the quarterback)“They do a great job. They have excellent personnel. They’re really well coached. You can see they can do an excellent job of applying pressure with a four-man rush. There’s a real buy-in and a commitment to a philosophy. The way that they play with their front four, I think (49ers Defensive Line Coach) Kris Kocurek does an outstanding job with those guys. And then they’ve got great personnel. They’ve got great speed on the second level. I think (49ers LB Fred) Warner’s one of the best players in this league, especially at that position. And then they’re excellent on the back end. They really sound. They do a great job. All 11 tackle on this defense. I think (49ers DB) Jimmie Ward’s a phenomenal player. Obviously, (49ers DL Nick) Bosa and (49ers DL Arik) Armstead have been outstanding. I’ve been really impressed with what (49ers DL) Samon’s (Ebukam) done, (49ers DL D.J.) Jones on the interior. So, they’ve got great players. They’ve got a great scheme. They’re really sound and they play with a relentless, fanatical effort every single snap. And you can see there’s a real commitment to a philosophy and you earn every yard you get against them.”

(On what needs to be said about RB Cam Akers in regard to the two fumbles against Tampa Bay)“I think the first thing is (I have) tremendous confidence in (RB) Cam Akers. We always talk about with our team, ball security and the important emphasis of that – just like for the defense being able to attack at the football. And so, just being more cognizant of great ball security. I think great defenses in this league – and the (Tampa Bay) Bucs one of the best – do a great job attacking at it. And that’s exactly what the 49ers are going to do this weekend, so we have to be cognizant of that in traffic. Both of those are where it’s kind of a second effort run, where he’s breaking a first tackle. And those usually are the times where the ball can get a little bit away from your body, when you’re kind of straining a little bit more and – to their credit – whether it was (Bucs DT Ndamukong) Suh or (Bucs S Antoine) Winfield (Jr.), both those guys made great attempts to be able to strip at it and force it out yesterday. But Cam will learn from it. Like you said, one of my favorite things about him (is) he’s a supremely confident, secure, individual, and I’m just fortunate. I think we’re all glad that we get an opportunity to be able to respond, and (we have) a lot of confidence in Cam’s ability to be resilient and we are looking forward to him responding the right way this week.”

Photo-Graphic Courtesy, Los Angeles Rams, NFL, AP Images, and ABC 7

(On injury updates of OL Andrew Whitworth and S Taylor Rapp)…“The only guy that came out the game a little bit – (OL) Joe Noteboom strained his pec a little a bit towards the end of the game in that kind of that two-minute sequence when we ended up going and kicking the field goal. (He) did a great job finishing out. So, we’ll kind of monitor his progress throughout the course of the week. (OL) Andrew Whitworth had some great treatment. (He) really responded well to that. He’s feeling good. I expect him to be able to practice this week and see what that looks like. And (S) Taylor’s (Rapp) really making great progress. (He) has ramped up some of the physical activity and he’s feeling good. So, both those guys look like they’re on track to be able to play on Sunday potentially.”

(On QB Matthew Stafford saying he likes to “snatch people’s souls” and the competitor in him that we may not get to see)
…“I mean that kind of epitomizes it, but just watch his body language – how juiced he is after he spiked the ball. I mean, it was kind of (NBA legend) Kobe (Bryant)-esque where he is ripping across his chest. And I mean, he’s a great competitor. I mean, he’s got a great balance. I think the quarterback position in general, you got to be able to strike that balance of being even keeled, but having the appropriate, authentic emotion when it’s necessary. And he’s got a great feel for that. And it’s always authentic. He’s very poised in front of the media and he’s poised during games, but he’s got a lot of stuff to him that I think people wouldn’t realize. And that’s exactly what you want from your quarterback. I love that fire that he has.”

(On Noteboom’s impact in the game on Sunday)…“I thought he was outstanding and really that’s what kind of Joe’s done – whether it’s having to play right tackle on Monday Night Football against the Cardinals a handful of weeks ago, whether it’s playing left tackle for the extended amount of time when Andrew missed a good portion of the season last year. He’s just come in. We feel like he’s a starter. I thought he and (OL) Rob (Havenstein) both did an outstanding job for the amount of times and some of the stress we put on them, with the amount of drop backs that we did have in that game. And to be able to hold up against that rush was instrumental in us being able to win. (I) was really pleased with Joe yesterday.”

(On how much the fumbles changed the play calling, if at all)“In a lot of instances when you’re up 27 to three, kind of midway through the third you’re thinking, alright, let’s try to keep the clock moving. Let’s really try to sustain some possession. In a lot of instances sometimes running it, but probably some stretches there where you get a little bit conservative, but then you say, alright, well, when we do get the quick change we had kind of a look that we wanted, we had an errant snap. So, all of those have a little bit different narrative. You want to be able to close people out, but I love the way that our guys handled the ebbs and flows. And certainly, I’m always going to look at myself with some of the decision making and things that I can do better for our players within the framework of a game – really in all phases, but especially offensively yesterday.”

Photo-Graphic Courtesy, Los Angeles Rams

(On what determines which running back he wants in the game between Sony Michel and Cam Akers)…“I think there’s a lot of confidence in both those players. (Running Backs/Assistant Head Coach) Thomas (Brown) has a great feel for those things. He and I are so much on the same page and a lot of it is based on the flow of the game. But I think we’re at our best when you get both those guys involved. To be able to do that, you want to be able to establish a rhythm and a little bit of flow offensively, get both of those guys involved. Cam ended up getting the bulk of the work yesterday, but I think for us to continue to go in the direction that we want and give ourselves a chance to win this game against a really tough opponent, both those guys are going to have to be contributors. And I think that’s what you can expect to see.”

(On both running backs being involved considering how important the run game was in the last 49ers matchup)…“We had some things that they did a great job of being able to slow us down. And so that’s going to be a key factor, as it is usually with every single game, to be able to do that and be efficient when we do activate those runs.”

(On injury updates of LB Ernest Jones, DL Sebastian Joseph-Day, and RB Darrell Henderson Jr.)…“(LB) Ernest (Jones) is a guy – that of any of those three – that if anyone was going to have a chance to play. Those other guys, we just wanted to start their clock and kind of see if there was ever a chance. But with Ernest, I think he’s making good progress. He moved around. He was out there at practice. (He) looked really good last week and he’s a guy that definitely could potentially factor into the plans this week.”

(On what the conversations are like when they huddle up and talk about some of the nuances that can make such a big difference in that way and what troubleshooting looks like – not just for a team who can do that against you, but also as a team who can offer those nuances ahead of a matchup like this)…“I think the first thing is, is looking at the different ways and kind of what the intent is behind some of the structures that those guys are trying to get off – whether it be in the run game, or how they want to attack your coverages in the pass game with the way that they’re distributing people. They do a great job of being able to use different things – the motions, the pre-snap things – to try to be able to create angles and leverage in the run game. They do an excellent job being able to change that math – if you will – like we’ve kind of talked about. And so, making sure that we kind of have some counters to that – being able to mix it up, keep them off balance. Because if you give them kind of the same type of thing, they do an excellent job being able to exploit it. (They have) great coaches. They got great players. And so, there’s a lot of challenges. And then I think what any great defense does, all 11 have to be able to tackle. And when they run the football, they force all 11 to get involved in tackling. That’s where your corners have to come to life, the safeties from depth – depending upon what you’re doing. But that’s always an instrumental part of being able to slow down an excellent run outfit like them in such a good, tough, difficult scheme where they can utilize a bunch of different people that can carry the football. You see (49ers FB Kyle) Juszczyk, even the other night, showed what he’s capable of with some of those quick, hidden downhill direct runs that he increased it to get them some good, positive yardage. And we know what they’ve done with their backs. And then (49ers WR) Deebo (Samuel) is as good as it gets with the ball in his hands.”

Photo Courtesy, Los Angeles Rams

(On the case he would make to a Rams fan to hold onto their tickets as opposed to selling them to a 49ers fan)…“I tell you what – what a great opportunity that we have to be able to put together a great week of preparation so that we can have something that the fans can be proud of. And to be able to play at home, SoFi (Stadium), (Owner/Chairman) Mr. (E. Stanley) Kroenke’s house that he built, an NFC Championship (Game) – (I) couldn’t be more appreciative of the support we felt from our fans throughout the whole year. I thought the Monday night atmosphere was electric and looking to create something (similar) – and even that much more – for the NFC Championship. (I’m) really grateful for those Rams fans. Hold onto those tickets and it’ll be much appreciated. But our guys are looking forward to putting on a good show against a great opponent. (We) can’t wait to be able to do it and don’t sell those tickets!”

(On the difficulties that arose from the abundance of 49ers fans in attendance during the Week 18 matchup, and the Rams preparing for the possibility of a similar crowd)…“I think the biggest thing would be, what catches you off guard is, they do a great job (of) traveling. They got a really loyal fan base. They’ve got a great tradition, and history, and it’s a short trip. So, credit to them. They made it difficult where in a lot of instances, you’re kind of absent of your verbal communication. If they get as loud as they were when our offense was on the field – in certain parts of the field it was really noisy. It was really difficult to operate. And so, you almost have to handle that situation like you would an away game. As far as the preparation, we’re just getting into the parts of it. I am very confident and excited about the loyal Rams fans showing up and, hopefully, it’s going to be a great amount of energy cheering for us.”

(On what the ride home on the plane was like last night)…“It was great. I think guys are excited, really enjoyable. (I) wouldn’t have minded if we got back a little bit faster, but we hit some wind. It was a little bit longer flight. And so, the guys are excited. But I think they also understand that, ‘Hey, enjoy this, but understand the challenge that lies ahead.’ We’ve got some more things that we want to try to be able accomplish and we know what a great challenge it’s going to be to do it. But, our guys are excited about attacking it the right way. It was great though.”

(On what it is about the 49ers that the Rams haven’t been able to get over)…“I think the first (answer) – and the simple answer – is, they’re a really good team. They do a great job. So they’re a really good team. Those previous matchups they’ve found a way to get it done. And in a lot of instances, those second games each of the last few seasons, have come down to the wire. But they aren’t going to get any excuses out of me. They’ve done a great job. They’ve found a way to win in that window of time. And every single game is its own separate entity. There’s going to be a lot of similarities in terms of the players, the personnel, some of the schemes, but we have to do a great job playing our best ball for a full four quarters. And if we need another extra quarter to do that, then so be it. But, we’re excited about it. We know it’s a great challenge. But I think in its simplest form, they’re a really good team and they’ve done a good job.”

(On what he learned about his ball club yesterday)…“I think I learned that a lot of the things that they’ve demonstrated continues to ride true in some of the biggest moments of the season. (They’re) mentally tough, resilient. All the adversity and all the different things that we did, (I) give them credit. They forced some of those plays to allow them to get back into the game and I never sensed any sort of panic. I think there was some frustration, which is understandable, but I thought the guys just kept playing. They kept battling. There was a lot of different things where guys needed to lean on one another, pick each other up, and I thought there was great instances of that. And that’s what a great team does. They find a way. To be able to turn it over four times, to do some of the uncharacteristic things that we did and still find a way, shows that mental toughness, that resilience. And that’s what I love about this group the most – or one of the things I love most about them. And that’s what I learned about them yesterday. In the biggest moment of our season, they came through and they showed what’s been a real strengthening factor for our football team in a lot of instances this past season.”

(On his faith in QB Matthew Stafford never wavering and if he still had that faith when the team was losing with 42 seconds left)…“I did. Yeah. I think in a lot of instances – that was part of the reason why I was going to use that time out when they were in a potential scoring position. Because I wanted to ensure that we had some time – or as much time as possible left – to be able to try to go do that because of the kind confidence that I have in (QB) Matthew (Stafford) and the rest of our offensive guys. On the first play, he thought he was going to be (former NFL QB) Mike Vick for a second and then he realized, ‘Let’s go ahead and move and manipulate the pocket and find (WR) Cooper (Kupp) on the second down.’ And then, what an amazing play that those guys made and he made to be able to get us into field goal range and get it clocked.”

(On what kind of confidence does he have in TE Kendall Blanton in getting him the ball on the first touchdown)
“I thought that was great. That was a situation where he came up big. He gets two targets yesterday and to get the touchdown on that little boot, was excellent for him. Guys were fired up. What’s really cool is when you see of these guys that have been working hard, that their teammates have a lot of confidence in that maybe haven’t gotten as many opportunities, to be able to shine and deliver when they do get them. He did a great job there. And then we ended up hitting him on a comeback when he was backside, isolated as a single split-out receiver. (He) made a big-time play (on) both of those – one touchdown, one first down. And so, (I’m) really happy for (TE) Kendall (Blanton). He did a nice job yesterday.”

(On how old he feels)…“I’m very refreshed. If you said, ‘What’s the birthday present I wanted?’ It’s to be able to still keep working. So, I feel 36 years young.”

(On what the emotional impact of having a lot of 49ers fans in SoFi Stadium is)…“I don’t know that I really look at it like that. I think that you just look at it as, ‘Hey, let’s control what we can control.’ We want these fans to come out here. I think there were some unique circumstances around the Week 18 game. So, I’m really hopeful and would be grateful for these Rams fans to show up. I thought the atmosphere on Monday Night Football, in the first playoff game ever on Monday Night Football, against the Cardinals was electric. It majorly gave us an advantage and our players a big boost. (We are) looking forward to the same thing on Sunday afternoon for the NFC Championship. Our fans will be really proud of the way that these guys will come out and compete. I am looking forward to feeling their support because they’re a big factor for us – just like they were against Arizona. I feel confident they will be this Sunday.”

(On if he spoke to K Matt Gay in the minutes leading up to the game-winning kick)…“Yeah, you talk to them right when they come off and I think just like his teammates were saying, that’s exactly how I feel and I know our coaches feel about the confidence we have in (K) Matt (Gay). You (have to) be able to respond. That was a very uncharacteristic thing. It did feel like there was going to be another opportunity for him to be able to respond. I’m really grateful that he did. He did a great job of being able to have the last two times we go back to Raymond James Stadium; he ends up delivering in a big way. (It was) basically a walk-off field goal yesterday. To be a great kicker – and really to be great in anything that you do – there’s has got to be a mental toughness. There’s got to be a resilience and an ability to be able to compartmentalize where (you say), ‘Hey, let’s learn from it, but let’s not let it deter our ability to move forward in the right direction.’ You saw that represented and illustrated in a big way with the way that he came back. He hit it good too. It was kind of just one of those weird things where the accuracy was on point and it just fell a little bit short. So, I think he knew, it was very easy to be able to kind of just adjust, or tweak if you will, the things that he wanted to be able to have it true for the next opp(ortunity) that he got.”

(On how rewarding and valuable is it to have depth players coming through in big moments)…“Yeah, it’s huge. It’s a real credit to these players. The depth of all the 48 guys that we have up and active on game day. Really, our coaches’ ability to develop, but also (General Manager) Les (Snead) and his group, their ability to identify these guys that you want to be able to work with, that you want to be able to coach. There’s a lot of people that play a huge role in that. Ultimately the players go out, they deliver, (I am) so happy for those guys to have that kind of success. But I think there’s a lot of people that really pour in and try to help them reach their highest potential. The guys’ preparation throughout the course of the week was in alignment with allowing them to go play with the quieted mind, ‘Let’s go shoot our shot, play to the best of our ability. If my number is called, I’m going to go deliver. And I feel confident in that.’ You saw that with a handful of guys – (S) Nick (Scott), (TE) Kendall (Blanton), (OL) Joe (Noteboom) stepped up in a big way. I thought (OLB Ogbonnia Okoronkwo) ‘Obo’ did a great job with the more snaps that he played yesterday. Our stars shined really bright. Then you see guys like (ILB Travin) ‘T’ Howard continues to make a big impact. (DB Eric) Weddle was out there flying around too. We got a lot of guys that I think are making their impacts felt and adding the perfect balance of us coming together the right way as a team. This is the time you want to be able to do that.”

On if LB Ernest Jones, RB Darrell Henderson Jr. or DL Sebastian Joseph-Day will all be reevaluated pending a win on Sunday)…“That’s more than likely the approach that we would take with those guys. Yes, that’s accurate to assume. (LB) Ernest Jones is really the only guy that we’ve recently brought off that I think is a realistic candidate to be able to play this week in the NFC Championship.”

(On how it feels to have been with the Rams for five years as today is his birthday and if he feels spry)…“It’s funny that you mention that, ‘spry’ is definitely not a word that I would use to articulate how I’m feeling right now. There was this this video going around when I was in Washington with (Packers Head Coach) Matt LaFleur and with (49ers Head Coach) Kyle (Shanahan) and they showed kind of how how young we looked. (WR) Cooper Kupp told me that he and his wife Anna saw it. She said, ‘Oh my gosh, Sean looks like he’s age 20 years since then. I said, ‘That’s a nice way of putting it.’ I look like I’ve aged 40 years since then seeing that. I looked like I was hitting the gym, eating protein shakes, I didn’t have a beard then. I’ll tell you what, the season takes a toll. But, seeing games like that, seeing how the feeling of excitement and the care you have for the people that you’re doing it with, it does genuinely energize you especially in these moments. This is what you do it for, to get an opportunity to go compete at your place, for the NFC Championship against a great team. So, I feel really grateful for these five years. Has it accelerated my aging? Yes. It’s like dog years. But I love every second of it. But I definitely feel like I’ve aged a lot more than five years over the last handful of seasons.”

(On if there is a psychological factor in what happens when you are comfortable in a game and have to decide when to keep your foot on the gas)…“Yeah. I don’t think there’s a question. Finding that balance are things that we always talk about because I think you wanted to still be able to maintain possession, not leave yourself susceptible to – oddly enough, when you look at just when some of those bad things or turnovers typically can occur, it’s so often in those pass situations. So, it’s finding that delicate balance. You guys know I’ll never run away from some of the decisions that I know I can make better. I also do want to make sure that, ‘Hey, you’re not just specifically outcome oriented. Let’s look at what is the thought process – was it sound, were we trying to get some things off?’ And in a lot of instances yesterday, I felt like there was, but I’ll never pretend to think that every decision I made was exactly right and that you don’t learn from it. So, finding that perfect balance – you want to be able to close people out. But you want to be smart in how you do that if you are able to establish a lead. Yesterday obviously wasn’t the recipe for it. There’s definitely some things that I want to be able to do. And then there’s some things that I think we can execute at a higher level as well. But what I do for feel like we can take from that, is the confidence in knowing that ‘Hey, we can overcome it.’ That feeling of the way the guys came out, they were ready to go. Then feeling them kind of creep back in it, but staying connected, staying together. I thought we could take a lot of powerful things to be able to learn, but also an increased heightened awareness and urgency with that ball security, all the things that are imperative and other than points are the biggest factor in winning and losing games when you just look at stats over time.”                –RAMS–

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