Los Angeles Rams Head Coach Sean McVay
Conference Call with New Orleans Media
Wednesday, November 22, 2017
*I saw an ESPN article where you complimented Sean Payton's play-calling. What else stand out about Coach Payton to you? *"When you look at the production year-in and year-out, I think there's a very clear-cut philosophy, just what I know about him from people who have coached with him. They just can't say enough about his leadership and feel for the game, ability to communicate. I worked with Ike Hilliard (in Washington), who he coached in New York. Ike's a great coach and has a great feel for the game from a receiver perspective. He couldn't say enough good things about him from when Sean coached him. We have Aaron Kromer here (who coached with Payton at Miami of Ohio and was his running backs and offensive line coach in New Orleans). I think when you just look at other people who are doing their job at a high level, you have a lot of respect for that. Certainly as an offensive mind and as a play-caller, there's a lot of things that you can almost look up to and really admire about the way he's handled himself and the success he has achieved being an offensive background guy."
*The comparisons have really been rearing its head the last couple weeks leading up to this game, but how many similarities do you see from when he was a young coach and you being a young coach? *"I think he's accomplished so much I don't think it's fair to put me in the same category as Coach Payton. I think hopefully if you achieve even close to what he has in this league then maybe you start to get mentioned. I think in terms of looking at the trajectory and being around some of the same people, it's certainly flattering words, but I definitely have not done enough to be mentioned in the same sentence as Coach Payton."
*Being a young head coach, how does it help in your ability to bond with a young quarterback like Jared Goff? *"I think it helps, but I think whether you're a younger coach or an older coach with more experience, guys know how to connect. There are examples of that on our staff right now. Wade Phillips is a little bit older than me, but he's got a way about himself in terms of how he reaches and connects with our players in an authentic, genuine way that's true to his personality. So, I'm sure there are some things that help, but ultimately we talk about developing and building relationships with our guys. You have a foundation which you can build upon when you're coaching a guy because so much of that involves communication and understanding of one another."
*What has caused some of the struggles on run defense this season and the challenges of this Saints backfield? *"It's a great offense. They can do everything. There's no limitations. They have the ability to throw the football anyway they want to and then with the one-two punch you have going there with Mark (Ingram II) with (Alvin) Kamara, it's special. It's why you have the top offense in the league. I think when you look at the run game, it's about maintaining your gap integrity, handle the calls and making sure that we're on our fits. We've played some tough rushing teams that have done a good job and been able to create some things. It's going to be an excellent challenge for our defense, one I know they'll be excited about, but if you look at the entirety of this offense, they can do everything like we talked about. Coach Payton has such a way of putting them in great spots and with Drew (Brees) and his ability and decision-making and command and understanding of the game, you clearly see why he's a first-ballot hall of fame player."
*You have one of our local players in Tanzel Smart out of Tulane on your team. How pleased are you with his growth and development as we enter week 12? *"I'm very pleased. I really enjoy being around him. Tanzel is very consistent in the way that he approaches every day with the mindset and mentality to get better. He's very conscientious. He does exactly what he's supposed to do and he does it consistently. You win with players like Tanzel. I think he's only going to continue to get better as he matures and gains experience, but I think being around some of the players he is in his room every day when you look at the Aaron Donald's and you look at the Michael Brockers' and some of those other guys playing inside with him, you have some great examples inside on this team."
*What is it about Todd Gurley that makes him so versatile? *"Similar to the kind of backs that you guys have, he can do a little bit of everything. He's a great runner, competes well in pass protection and has shown that he's a good receiving back, whether it be in the screen game or catching some things down the field. I think when you have complete functional backs that can play all three downs, those are special players. You are fortunate to have them. Unfortunate for us and fortunate for you guys, you have two of them on your team."
Speaking of those two, last week or a couple weeks ago you had to prepare for Adrian Peterson with the Arizona Cardinals. How many similarities do you see to his running style and the way that Mark Ingram II and Alvin Kamara are running right now?"Anytime you see great runners, they have a feel for pressing the hole, dependent upon whatever scheme or concept teams are running. Sometimes guys have a feel, usually those great runners you don't have to tell them where to go, but you just kind of give them a starting point and let them feel that space. I think when you look at Mark and Alvin, both of those guys have displayed great patience, but acceleration through the hole. When you look at Mark, he's a great contact runner, he runs with good low body lean, has the ability when he gets to the second and third level to make guys miss and with Alvin (Kamara), done a great job. He's using a variety, the perimeter stuff and does a great job in the screen game. I think when you look at both Mark and Alvin, they've just done such a great job and you can see why this team is playing so well on the offensive side of the ball and a lot of credit goes to those two players."
As you look at the Washington tape, the Saints were shorthanded without A.J. Klein, Marshon Lattimore and Kenny Vaccaro*. How much did that figure into the Redskins having the success that they did? *"It was a great, competitive game. I think you look at just really good football on both sides, displayed by the Saints defense and the Redskins offense made some good plays. They have a good quarterback in Kirk Cousins who does a great job distributing the ball. I think when you look at the Saints defense, there's a variety of issues that they present. Coach (Dennis) Allen does a great job understanding how to put offenses in a bind and he's kind of in that attacking mode and mindset. It's very impressive. They have great playmakers all over. You see how Lattimore consistently shows up. I think you look at Marcus Williams at the safety position. I think you go up front where Cameron Jordan is one of the best players in this league and (Craig) Robertson, (Manti) Te'o and (A.J.) Klein are playing really well at the linebacker spot. I think as a whole when you look at it, this defense is playing pretty well. Their defense is top 10 in scoring and it shows up on the tape why they're playing at such a high level."
*If Lattimore is out on Sunday, what type of player is this team missing? *"I think they have great guys who are ready to step up and fill that void. You look at some of the experience they have in that secondary, but I think Lattimore's a star. I've been extremely impressed in watching the tape of him, patience at the line of scrimmage and strength, short speed quickness, agility, all of the traits you look for in a corner. He's one of the most explosive players on the team, especially with some of the concepts Coach Allen has in play. He's a special player. I can't say enough good things. I've been extremely impressed with him in watching the tape so far this week."