Los Angeles Rams Head Coach Sean McVay - Conference Call with New Orleans Media - Wednesday, January 16, 2019
How did C.J. (Anderson) manage to integrate so quickly into what you all were doing out there with the run game?
"Yeah. You know, he has played in some systems similar before when he played under Coach (Gary) Kubiak's leadership. But I think he is just a great football player. Extremely smart player. Got a great natural feel as a runner really with a variety of different schemes. And then I think guys have done a nice job around him. But he's really such a smart player, but then he's also just got a great feel for the game. Got a great feel for congested areas where he could put his foot in the ground, work edges on people and then when he gets to the second and third level, does an excellent job of a leveling runs off and falling forward so that you can stay ahead of the chains. And I think that's been instrumental to some of the success that we've had running the football, specifically since he's been here."
And pairing him with Todd (Gurley), does that also help Todd out then where he doesn't have to be a guy who's carrying the ball 25 times a game?
"Yeah. You know, I think you always want to make sure that you're getting our guy Todd (Gurley) his work because he's such a special player that can do so many different things. But I don't think it hurts at all to be able to keep him as fresh as possible, especially, just getting back last week for the first time having played in about a month. And I thought those two did a great job complimenting each other. And certainly Todd's our guy, but I thought C.J. (Anderson) was a great change of pace to come in there and be able to do some really good things and hopefully we'll be able to do the same thing. But this is a great defense we're going against that is outstanding against the run."
You and Sean Payton both kind of cut your teeth on Jon Gruden. What were some of the biggest lessons that you took from that time with him?
"I just think the level of detail, the way to communicate and present, and then having an ownership on all 22. He really taught me to see the game from a 22-man perspective as opposed to just the specific position you might be working with. The amount of offense that he gets you exposed to helps you learn a variety of systems, not only in the run game from a concept standpoint, but also the pass game. But then also teaching you some of the intricacies of defensive roles and responsibilities. So, so much of what I have been fortunate to kind of have been exposed to, starts with the foundation that I learned under Coach Gruden."
Three of the four teams playing in championship games this weekend have had coaches who also serve as play-callers. What's the benefit to that in your mind and what are some of the challenges associated with doing that?
"Yeah. I think really for me I'm still getting used to calling plays. I mean, this is really just my fourth year doing it, so I don't think you ever stop learning. But I definitely am learning every time you get humbled every time you do it as well, because so many people are so good in this league. So many good players and good coaches, but it's just something that I've always done being around the offensive side of the ball, and when you've got an opportunity to call plays, you just absolutely love it. But that's where you lean on the people around you to help you with regards to some of the clock management. I haven't been perfect by any stretch of the imagination but I try to learn from the mistakes that I have made. And then you've got great people around you like John Fassel, like Wade Phillips and the Joe Barrys. Jedd Fisch does a great job to be able to help do some of those things situationally within the framework of a game. So it's a collaborative effort, but calling plays is something that I love and I really enjoy that element of it."
Sean Payton said earlier today that he doesn't believe it's an argument that Aaron Donald is the best defensive player in the league. As a head coach, why has it taken so long for a defensive player to win the MVP award in your opinion?
"I'm not really sure. That is for the voters to decide. I think a lot of it probably is predicated on just based on the nature of some of the statistical things that drive the excitement with when the ball's in your hands, whether you are a quarterback, running back. So I think you naturally get a few more opportunities, but you can't say enough good things about Aaron Donald and I sure am glad he's on our team. Easy. He's a great football player and even better person. And the way that he goes about his business every single day, and the way that he operates, you see why this guy's great."
You guys did a good job last week of shutting down Ezekiel Elliott. Obviously the Saints have two dynamic set of running backs here. How do you hope to replicate your success against Elliott against the Saints this time?
"Yeah. I think really just getting blocks up front, doing an outstanding job keeping our gap integrity and then tackling well. You know, I thought they did a great job. There were some different structures we were able to play. Certainly, we'll have to be able to mix it up against you guys this week because of the amount of ways that you can beat you. Not exclusively just running it, but any time you've got two elite players at the running back spot with Alvin (Kamara) and (Mark) Ingram, it presents a great challenge. And then the different personnel groupings – the way that coach (Sean) Payton mixes it up, you just know it's a great challenge and there's a reason why they're the 1 seed and they the best record in the league, and you've been playing at home for the conference championship."
What stands out about Terron Armstead as a player?
"I just think it's consistency. His consistency, his ability to compete in both phases, his strength. You know, you can see when guys rush in to him, he immediately shuts down movement and he's able to create removal at the point of attack in the run game. And you know, any time that you're trying to evaluate a player like that, you really just see him consistently play productive football down in and down out."
Was there anything from that first meeting that the Saints were able to do to limit Aaron Donald's big plays, sacks, tackles for loss that sort of thing?
"I think, you know, there's an element of in a lot of instances sometimes you're working towards him, sometimes you're not and a lot of ways still influence and affect the game in ways that don't show up on the stat sheet. But I also thought they did a great job of just changing up the launch point. The timing at which the ball came out. And then when you're able to have some success running and finishing drives in the red zone with touchdowns. But we know that that game, it was a while ago. It's a great reference point for us to learn from to try to learn from some of our mistakes that everybody made and we're looking forward to the challenge again on Sunday."
This may be something that does not apply to you at all, but how do you work around things like sleep schedules as a coach with late night film studies and that sort of thing? Do you have to just kind of manage operating on little sleep during the season? Do you have to try to fit it in where you can? How do handle that as a coach?
"Yeah. I mean we try to do a good job of being efficient with our time. You know, it's not necessarily about the amount of hours, but the efficiency at which you operate. So you know I try to be mindful of a few days out, especially, before the game trying to get eight hours of sleep. Maybe a little bit earlier in the week, I'd get a little bit less, but I'm naturally a pretty wired guy anyway, so I'm waking up sweating and tossing and turning anyways, but I try to get that sleep when I can."