Los Angeles Rams Head Coach Sean McVay - Conference Call with New Orleans Media - Wednesday, October 31, 2018
What is it about the Saints offense that has allowed them to stay on the cutting edge and never get stale?
"It starts with the head coach and the quarterback. Coach Payton has been one of the great play-callers in this league and arguably of all-time. His ability to keep defenses on their heels with personnel groupings, ability to attack through the run and the pass, being great situationally on third down and in the red zone and obviously Drew's (Brees) command. Those two are so connected. They are on the same page. I think there's great players around them. You can just see this is one of the offensive systems since I've been in coaching, which hasn't been long, that I've always loved studying. I take things from them all of the time because of their ability to attack people in a variety of ways. But they have specific players that fit, those kinds of movable pieces with the backs like (Alvin) Kamara that line up all over the formation. I think Taysom Hill has added a different element and flair to the offense that makes it very difficult to defend. Michael Thomas is one of the best receivers in this league that people don't talk enough about. Ben Watson is still doing his thing and having Mark Ingram back has really allowed them to add another layer to what already is a nightmare to defend. I just think it's the consistency and ability to beat you both in the run and the pass."
Have you had a chance to talk shop with Coach Payton and do you see any similarities in your coaching?
"I've gotten a chance to meet him over the last couple years at the Owner's meetings and he's been great. I really enjoy being around Sean. I talked to him for a few minutes before the last preseason game. I respect the job that he's done and the way that he's led and the way that he calls games from a playcaller standpoint. I've enjoyed those moments but I've also enjoyed studying the tape and what they put out week in and week out. It's a credit to him, his offensive coaching staff and their players."
Do you look forward to going against him this week?
"Yes, I think it's a great challenge. I look forward to going against their team. I think it's a great team, an extremely complete team where they're playing really well on all three levels. I think special teams is doing a great job. Their defense is playing really well, opportunistic football, getting turnovers, forcing pressure on the quarterback and then obviously doing a great job of stopping the run on those early downs. And then offensively, you can't say enough. Anytime you are averaging nearly 35 points a game and can do it running the ball and passing, you're a nightmare to defend. This is one of the best teams in the league and they've won six straight."
Coach Payton says the Rams are a must-watch team for his staff on film study. Are the Saints the same way?
"I look at their tape every week, see what they're doing. It's a great offensive system, extremely sound. I also appreciate the aggressive nature that Coach Payton comes after people. You're even looking at the first drive against Baltimore that is a 20-play drive, a couple fourth down conversions. I think that mindset of never being afraid to fail and always attacking success is something that we try to do here and I have a lot of respect for that approach and I think it demonstrates a confidence and belief in your players. I think that's extremely important."
How much have you personally learned from your time with Wade Phillips?
"I think you continue to learn every single day. That's the beauty of it. Without him even trying to impart knowledge, just watching the way he consistently goes about it, his knowledge of the players and football with the amount of football he's been exposed to. There's just so many different things you learn. But the consistency and how much he enjoys it (stand out). He doesn't allow things to bother him. He has such a great demeanor and disposition, a great feel for the game. He's always looking at what his players do best and how he can adjust and adapt his system and I think that's why you've seen…He's coached a lot of great players. But it's no coincidence why those great players always seem to have some of their best production under Wade's guidance and leadership and he's been great along with our defensive coaching staff. A guy like him, I feel great to work and learn from him every day."
What do you think of the utility role that is employed with Taysom Hill?
"I think he's a specialty-type player that has a background as a quarterback. The thing that's impressive about him is the toughness to do some of the things they're asking an H-Back to do, the athleticism to be able to line up as a receiver, as a runner, to take jet sweeps. His versatility and athleticism from a quarterback background is a nightmare. I think it takes a specialty type of background and skillset and a special coach to be able to envision that role and how you put pressure on defenses. I think that's how Taysom and Coach Payton are a great match."
Is Todd Gurley's biggest asset his versatility?
"I think he does an excellent job and I think he's continued to demonstrate that versatility similar to what you see in (Alvin) Kamara. Competing without the ball, whether it's continuing to improve in the pass game, being a great runner, I think that versatility is his greatest strength. The one thing about Todd is that he's always working. I think he's gotten better from last year which was a great season. He always works. He's always striving for improvement never getting complacent and I think his understanding for the game the way he's able to have a great feel for how those 22 players on the field should fit and where he fits accordingly in the framework of that specific play is what makes a player like Todd so special. Those awareness and instincts combined with the work ethic into one makes a player like him."
What did you see from Brandin Cooks in New Orleans and New England that encouraged you to make such a long-term commitment to him?
"Anytime you have a player of his caliber, when he has the ball he can score at any point. Whether he's catching it short, intermediate, down the field consistently. He's a guy that's tracked the ball well, a high percentage of attempts down the field. He's come down with. I think that's a result of a great job by him, but he's also played with some great players like Drew and like Tom. But I just think he's an explosive receiver that's had a lot of production. I think the one thing and I'm sure you guys know it is, he's a special guy, a conscientious kid, detailed, football's important to him. He does all the things the right way. His character and talent are what we want to have in our locker room. Guys like him are what's right about our locker room."
What was the offseason approach that led to so many moves?
"When you're able to acquire guys like that (Cooks, Suh, Peters) and guys like Aqib Talib and Sam Shields, it's something that it might be splashy but it fits for us. These are guys that love football. Les (Snead) and his staff and Kevin Demoff and Tony Pastoors did an excellent job of being able to navigate the waters to where we can make it fit for a salary cap standpoint. We had a background with a lot of these players and do a lot of vetting. I feel like it's a fit and that these guys would help us improve as a football team, we wanted to get better from the previous year and with some free agents that we lost, it was kind of a combination of all those things and it's been great being around these guys, guys you can learn from, guys with a lot of experiences that they're willing to share and that's really our goal as coaches as well to continuously learn, that's something you can do from our players and I know I've learned a lot from our players here."