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Rams vs. Cardinals III – Super “Wild Card” Playoff Preview

Winner Moves On To Face Tampa Bay. Viewers Could Top All MNF Records

(East Los Angeles, CA), January 16, 2022 [From The Editor’s Desk]: For all of our faithful followers who are always looking for different types of Rams coverage, we continue to invite you to read the latest on interviews from Head Coach Sean McVay, a variety of his “key” players, and his Coaching staff. If that should be the case, then stay with us here at East L.A. Sports Scene to get the most “in-depth” coverage that we can offer. Once again, I’m very glad and pleased to report to all of our followers that we will be attending the game as an officially credentialed media outlet. And, designed with you in mind, we will bring you our best coverage possible.

Now, in preparation for the Big Game on Monday, and coincidentally on the commemoration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s National Holiday, here’s what was said in interviews with Coach McVay and Odell Beckham, Jr. as they prepared for this NFL “Super Wild Card” Weekend game scheduled as the first Monday Night Playoff contest in the League’s history.

Los Angeles Rams Transcripts – Head Coach Sean McVay, WR Odell Beckham Jr. – January 15, 2022

-[Head Coach Sean McVay]-

(On injury statuses)…“Everybody’s good except for (S/Taylor Rapp) is still working through stuff. He’s going to be out for the game, which is a big loss for us. But he’s doing everything in his power to get back as quickly as possible. And then (RB) Buddy Howell with his hamstring will be doubtful. Everybody else should be good.”

(On how DB Eric Weddle is coming along and if he anticipates Weddle to be an active contributor in the game on Monday).  “Yes, he’s coming along great. And yes to that. (It’s) been really (good to have DB Eric Weddle back), I’m not surprised. You guys know him, you guys made him stay on his conference call for an hour the other day. He’s hard not to love. He’s done a great job. He’s brought a great energy. He’s a great communicator. He’s a great leader. He’ll be ready to go. What exactly that role looks like, we’re still working through kind of. But, we got a lot of confidence in (S) Nick Scott and (S) Terrell Burgess as well.”(On if he feels like the vibe has picked up intensity and urgency now that the playoffs are here)“What I love about this team, I think guys consistently go to work. I think there’s definitely a clear understanding of what the circumstances are in terms of, ‘Hey, you win, you advance. And if we don’t take care of business, then the season’s over.’ So, I’d like to think that our guys are always very focused, have great concentration. We got the right kind of guys, but think you just know the stakes are higher. The level of urgency at practice has been consistent with what it’s always been.”

On what makes Cardinals RB James Conner so difficult to try to contain and defend and what makes him so elusive, especially in the run game)“Here’s what makes him great is you look at his career in Pittsburgh. He was a tough, physical, downhill runner. I couldn’t be more impressed with the versatility that he’s displayed with the situations and the opportunities he’s been given in Arizona. He’s a really gifted player out of the back field. He’s got a great feel in the screen game. He can make plays catching the football – intermediate, down the field. You saw the one-handed snag that he had against us the last time that we played them. So, I think it’s the versatility, the ways that he’s able to be utilized. Obviously, he’s got a nose for the end zone. But I think the contact balance, all the things that made him great in Pittsburgh and then he’s also given opportunities to show what a complete player he is. And I think he and (Cardinals RB Chase) Edmonds are an excellent one-two punch.”

(On what does he feel needs to happen to fix the lack of having black coaches and coordinators in the NFL)“I think it’s very important to acknowledge that. I feel so fortunate that I’m around great coaches. A lot of these guys happen to be African American, but really, we got great coaches and there’s a lot of great coaches that this league has to offer. And I know firsthand from the guys that are on our staff. My understanding is a couple of those guys are going to get an opportunity to compete for some of these jobs. Like you look at (Defensive Coordinator) Raheem Morris and what he’s meant to me as a mentor. And so, it is something that you’re disappointed (with). You want to do whatever you can to help have that go in the right direction, but there’s a lot of coaches. And hopefully those guys get an opportunity to compete for some of those jobs that I think some are deserving of being in those roles.”

(On if WR Van Jefferson had a little bit of a setback with his shoulder and if he’s going to be limited)“He should be good. He was just feeling a little off. We just wanted to check and I think sometimes when you get the clarity from some of the scans – or whatever – it can kind of just give you that sense of peace. He’s such a tough competitor. He’ll be good.”

(On what a realistic workload for Weddle looks like this week)“We’ve talked about that out a lot with Eric, with our coaches. There’s a lot of ranges and I think a lot of it will be feeling for the game. Like I said, you do have tremendous confidence in those other guys. Burgess has played good football. Nick Scott’s played a lot of really good football. So, there’ll be situations and circumstances. And then Eric’s ability to communicate to us. But I do know as a competitor, when he’s out there, if he’s going and he gets into the flow, he’s going to want to go. And if he’s feeling good and there’s no risk and we’re in a good flow, we’ll kind of just take it a snap at a time. But I think it’s hard for me to realistically put a parameter around it because this is something that’s never been done before. (It) could be 10, could be 30. I think in a lot of instances too, it depends on what type of personnel groupings that we’re presenting to the Cardinal’s offense as well.”

(On if there’s a benefit on having Weddle on the sideline to help communicate if he’s not playing)“There’s no question. Yeah, you just said it. His ability to communicate, his ability to be able to kind of instill confidence in the teammates around him because of how smart, how cerebral he is. There is no question that when he is on the grass, he ends up being an extension of the coaching staff because of the way he’s always approached the game. And there’s definite benefits that he can provide just being present – whether that be on the field or off the field with these guys.”

(On if he senses anything different with QB Matthew Stafford as the playoffs approach)“He has been steady. He’s been consistent. He’s been the same. And he’s very confident in his ability to go out and play really good football for us – just like I am. I think one of my favorite things about (QB) Matthew (Stafford) is how refreshingly secure he is in himself. There’s a total respect for the jobs that you guys have to be able to do, but we want to do everything we can to be able to win this football game. Kind of like I mentioned the other day, the results when a quarterback plays well can have a big hand in it, but it’s not exclusively on that. (We’re) looking forward to playing a good, clean game as a team. And Matthew’s going to be an instrumental part of that. I feel good about it.”

(On Stafford having a good regular season for the Rams and if it’s fair for people to judge Stafford based on what happens next)“I think that there’s so many layers to playing the quarterback position. And to exclusively just rate whether we win or lose this game on how that pertains to his performance, I think it’s shortsighted. I think you got to be able to put some context around it. We’ll be able to have a better discussion on how we played and what the game ended up happening. But, there’s a reason why you play 17 games. He helped us win a division. He was a huge part of that. And kind of like I had mentioned earlier on in the week, I just have tremendous respect for how much goes into this position and how much he has learned and really taken ownership on everything that we’re asking that was totally foreign a year ago – and even less than a year ago. And so, he’s only getting better. I think he’s done a great job leading. His teammates love him, his coaches love him. And so, I know that this team is excited about the opportunity to compete against a great football team. (Let’s) see if we can do everything in our power to let it all hang out and go advance. And I know Matthew feels the same way, but I think he’s had a successful season. We want to go as far as we can take this thing, but I don’t think it’s exclusively a reflection of what occurs moving forward and everybody’s entitled to their opinion on that. And I totally respect that.”

(On if ILB Troy Reeder will be the defensive signal caller)“It’s looking like there’s a good chance of that.”…

(On if there are any particular challenges when facing a playoff opponent that has not played well down the stretch and lost a lot of games)… “I think it’s a challenge because this is a good football team. I saw them a couple weeks ago beat a really, really good Dallas team, at Dallas. They went wire-to-wire (with Seattle). And I don’t care what Seattle’s record is, that’s a really good football team. We know that. And so, I got a lot of respect for this team. They’ve done a great job. You’ve heard me say this before, this team was good enough to get in. They won 11 games out of their 17. They beat us earlier in the year. We had to play really well to get after them at their place. And it’s going to be who plays the best in that three-hour window. Really nothing that occurred prior to has anything to do with what’s going to go on in that three-hour timeframe. We’ve got to be able to execute and be in the moment and enjoy the (opportunity) that these guys have earned.”

(On what has impressed him the most about WR Odell Beckham Jr. in the time that he’s been a Ram)“I think it’s just the consistency with his daily approach. There’s not one thing that I can point out. It’s how smart he is. Obviously, he’s so gifted and talented. What a good teammate he is. He’s been a real joy to be around. I’ve really enjoyed it. He brings, definitely a swagger and a confidence to our team and he’s fun to be around. And so, there’s just so many things that I’ve really enjoyed about being able to work with him. And then he’s really got some great experiences and great perspective. You listen to he and (WR) Cooper (Kupp) talk amongst one another. With the resumes that those guys have built and kind of really just being able to kind of sharpen each other, it’s been fun. He’s been really coachable. I think (Wide Receivers Coach) Eric Yarber does a great job with that room, but it’s all of those things. I think it’s just the entire body of work and how he comes in every single day. He’s got a zest for a life and that’s a good thing.”

(On how important is it to have leaders get input from other players)“I think it’s huge. And (CB) Jalen (Ramsey) is a guy that, when he respects you – I think he always had tremendous respect for Eric because the way he carried himself, his body of work on the field. And Eric, similar to Jalen, is very straightforward. But there’s an emotional intelligence when they deliver that information that it’s received the right way. And I think Jalen respects that. Those guys that are the best at what they do as you know. They want to be coached hard. They want to be demanded excellence, snap in and snap out, just like they demand of themselves. And I think when you do that – and I think he always felt like Eric really poured into him because Eric cares about his teammates – you could see the immediate respect and rapport they have for one another as soon as we traded for Jalen in that 2019 season. And then they’ve kept in touch because that’s the type of person that they both are.”

(On what value does he see that he’s specifically learned from the playoffs that might be different from the regular season)“It’s hard to say. Really, it’s still about the same things that are in alignment with winning in the regular season. I just think that you want to be consistent in your approach. I think that the key thing is, ‘Hey, let’s go compete to the best of our ability. Go play with a quieted mind.’ Does the level of competition ramp up, and the pace and the speed? I think that’s for players to be able to answer. But I think why it’s ramped up is it’s because these are the best teams throughout the 17-game resume that they established, and they earn the right to be one of those 14 that get an opportunity to go compete for a world championship. And so, it’s about playing really good in this game. Even going back to last year, playing Seattle, playing Green Bay, I think everything is a learning opportunity. I could say that same thing about regular season games, but the stakes are higher because of what we all know (it) means if you don’t handle your business.”

– [W/R Odell Beckham, Jr.]-

(On what it’s like for him being back in the playoffs)“I mean, it’s everything you work hard for is for this opportunity. And right now, it’s just about fine tuning your skills and locking in on all the details. And (I’m) just excited about the opportunity we have in front of us. (To) be back in the playoffs is a very good feeling.”

(On how he feels he has progressed in his short time with the team)“Just day to day. Just finding ways to gel, put the work in, and (I’m) just happy to see it all finally come together. And now it’s time. The season starts right now at this very moment. So, like I said, honestly, it’s hard to answer. I’m just looking forward to the opportunity and just ready to play.”

(On what he’s expecting from the Cardinals defense based off their last matchup)...“I feel like they’re a very confident team within what they do and as they should be. They’re a very good defense. So, I expect them to make their tweaks and corrections, but to be similar and true to their core about the way that they would go about this game. And (it’s) just (going to) be two dogs fighting and one’s (got to) come out on top.”

(On how he keeps everything in front of him and stays present in the midst of the playoffs)“I mean, it’s tough to answer, but I think you just do it. You just go about your day as if it was any other day, lock in on the details, fundamentally sound, all those things. And just know that this is the last given opportunity you have for the season. And obviously the same as in Week One, you want to win that game. Week Two you want to win. Every game you want to win. I don’t think anyone steps on that field to compete and lose and be okay with it. So, the goal is to win and just kind of go about your day the same way you usually would.”

(On how he worked his way into the offense)“I think just over time, you kind of get a grasp of the concepts and things that are going on. With repetition, you gain more knowledge. And just kind of not being as involved earlier to sitting back to watch and figure out what’s going on. And now you’ve been tossed in the fire, you’ve been in the action. (I) definitely just have a better understanding of where we’re at, and where I fit in the scheme of the offense (inaudible). All that matters is making plays.”

(On if he is comfortable with the idea of he and other new Rams – QB Matthew Stafford and OLB Von Miller – being judged by what happens in the next one to four games, no matter how successful they were previously)…“Absolutely. It’s the nature of it. These are the moments that you, as a kid, you waited for, you prayed for, and now have the opportunity to play for. And that’s really what matters is being great in these moments. Regular season is cool, but their (are) teams that made it in and they’re nine and eight. You know what I mean? Like it doesn’t – the regular (season) – I don’t want to say it doesn’t mean anything, but everything is about this weekend. Just got to come out and put our best ball out on the field.”

(On what they need to get from QB Matthew Stafford to go a long way in the playoffs)“I think it’s just everything he’s brought through the regular season and then the same with the rest of us. It’s just a little more. It’s just a little more. Everybody needs to bring that to the table. I had this clip that I had found on Instagram, but I forgot to send it to him (QB Matthew Stafford). He threw a pass to (Hall of Fame WR) Calvin Johnson. And I think he got down on the one and he’s trying to get everybody lined up to clock the ball and everybody, ‘clock, clock (inaudible).’ And just seeing that energy and just I think more (inaudible) need to have a bit of tenacity and hunger, but I don’t think it’s anything that we are all not capable of.”

(On what it’s like being able to go into the playoffs with OLB Von Miller)…“It’s hard to answer that. It doesn’t really make sense. We’ve trained for years with each other. And we’ve always joked about, man, we’re going to be on the same team one day. And we’re on the same team and it’s like, here we truly are on the same team – Los Angeles Rams – and just ready to find a way to scratch, claw, and fight for that W. And just when I’m out there and I’m watching, I’m seeing him come up with plays, it just brings me joy. This is my brother and we’re having an opportunity to do something special. So, the opportunity’s right there in front of us.”

(On what has been a surprise to being Miller’s teammate despite their longtime friendship)“That his locker is somewhat clean (laughter). That’s probably about it. Other than that, man, I know this guy in and out. I know what he’s capable of on the football field. So, when you see all those things come in to play, so just know I’ve watched him. I’ve been there with him in the offseason. I’ve worked out with him, competed against each other. So, it’s just time, man. It’s just time to put it all together.”

(On how much his connection with Stafford and the offense has grown throughout his time with the Rams)“I think, like I said earlier, I think it’s just with time. Time is the inevitable. It heals all. It fixes all. And just being able to have games with each other, practices, meetings, all of those things. I can definitely see that it’s growing and like I say, it’s just time to put it all together.”

(On what effect does adding DB Eric Weddle have on the team)“It’s guys that have been around. And I necessarily haven’t been around any championship runs or anything like that, but you gain a certain level of experience from playing over years. And guys like (DB Eric) Weddle, Von, Stafford, all those guys – with time, you gain a lot more knowledge. So, these are guys that know what it takes. They know what it’s like to be a part of that locker room and we just need everyone to step up and play their best ball and lead.”

(On his initial reaction to the NFL having a Monday night playoff game)…“It’s playoff time. Whatever the game – they could have told me, it was Wednesday. It’s time to go. So, I don’t feel any extra sense of now there’s a Monday night game. I think we all know why the game could be on a Monday and it only makes sense for us to be the ones playing in it. So, it’s just time to lock in bro. And got to find a way to win.”                           — RAMS —

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