TRANSCRIPT: McVay, LaFleur Press Conference 9-15

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Head Coach Sean McVay – Media Availability – September 15, 2017
 
(Opening Remarks)
“Today on the injuries, (CB) Kayvon Webster was limited. He will be questionable for the game, but other than that, we should be good to go with everybody else.”
 
(On if there is any difference between what he thought being a head coach would be compared to what he has experienced so far)
“That’s a good question. I think really the biggest thing has been how much you appreciate what we’ve got with our coaching staff and then how much you appreciate how willing to buy into what we’re trying to get done our players have been, especially those leaders. A lot of that is predicated on kind of the way that we approached free agency, the draft, the guys that we kept in-house that want to continue to grow and develop and can’t say enough about what these players have done. In terms of a surprise, I think it’s just been refreshing to see what a good group of men that I’m surrounded with here and getting a chance to go on this journey. Fortunately, Week 1 started out the way that we wanted and we know that we have a great challenge ahead of us on Sunday.”
 
(On how the actual role of him as head coach is different from what he expected)
“I think the biggest thing is just figuring out that balance to make sure that you’re still involved in the offense, know what’s going on, but paying close attention to the defense and special teams – you have to just be more specific with your time while you have great coaches and you can delegate and do different things like that and empower those guys. You still want to have an ownership on what’s going on overall, big picture and when you’ve got 53 guys on the active roster, your 10 guys on the practice squad, there’s a handful of guys that you want to make sure that you’re continuing to try to build and develop those relationships with. You want to be real intentional, but also authentic and genuine about. So, that’s where it’s just being mindful of, ‘What am I doing every single minute to try to do a good job in this role?’ So, I think it’s just more being real specific with that time is the biggest thing.”
 
(On what problems he thinks he’s been able to avoid as a rookie head coach by having veteran coordinators like Wade Phillips and John Fassel)
“I wouldn’t say it’s anything that you avoid, I think it’s just being able to have guys that you can lean on that have done things that you just haven’t. When you have a (Rams Defensive Coordinator) Wade Phillips in-house that has been a head coach, done a lot of really good things. You look at (Special Teams Coordinator) John Fassel’s pulse on this team from having been an interim head coach, been a special teams coordinator for a handful of years. I think it’s just knowing that you’re around good people and not being afraid to say, ‘I don’t know something. Let’s figure this out together.’ And that’s what we want to try to do with everything. It’s not exclusive to me – that’s really kind of our approach with this building and I think that’s what’s going to hopefully give us a chance to do things the right way and sustain some things over time.”
 
(On the situation with DT Aaron Donald)
“The situation is that we feel good. He had a good week of practice and as far as how we approach that game, that’s something that we’ll figure out in the next 48 hours. But, he’s going to go unless something changes between then. The snap count and how many plays he plays is yet to be determined.”
 
(On if Donald will start)
“He will start. Yes.”
 
(On how in shape Donald is and if he has some areas he needs to catch up on)
“I think in terms of what I’ve always thought about Aaron, just watching him from afar and the little bit of exposure that I’ve had from him – he came in in good shape, he’s looked good, looks fresh, looks like the Aaron Donald that you guys are accustomed to seeing and that’s kind of what I expected because you know he’s a guy that’s going to take great care of himself when he’s away. He was working hard, he was doing everything that he could while not being here to make sure that when this opportunity presented itself, he would be ready to go and help his teammates out and try to be a positive thing that helps us win football games and that’s certainly what he’s done this week. I’m looking forward to seeing him get out there and compete with his teammates on Sunday.”
 
(On if he sees more opportunities to utilize WR Tavon Austin going forward)
“Yeah, Tavon is a guy that we want to continue to get more and more involved in this offense and really, if the game was a little bit different you would have seen him in there a lot more. He’s a guy that’s a playmaker, both as a receiver and like we’ve said with the ball in his hands, so he’s a guy that you’ll continue to see get more work. A lot of it was predicated on that he’s just returning from a hamstring (injury) and we’ve got a rotation of six receivers that are active on game day and we feel really good about all those guys, the ability to rotate guys through, keep them fresh and that’s what you can expect to see.”
 
(On if he thinks that he has some tendencies that Redskins Head Coach Jay Gruden may be able to pick up on)
“Yeah, I think there’s a lot of things – Jay was a big part of shaping kind of the philosophy that we have and that I have as a play caller, so he’s got a great feel for kind of what we want to be able to do offensively and how we operate. We’re very similar in that manner, but he said it earlier in the week and I thought it was a great point is, you kind of have an idea, but you don’t know exactly when you’re going to do those types of things. You always want to kind of have an awareness and an insight on, ‘What have you done?’ That’s where that self-scout is a very important part of what we do as you go throughout the course of the regular season, where you’re preparing for an opponent, but you also want to make sure what you’re putting out there and what they’re preparing for. So, I think it goes hand-in-hand. But Jay’s been such a great mentor to me that he certainly has a good feel for how we want to operate offensively, but you want to try to do a good job, put our guys in good situations on Sunday and hopefully let them execute.”
 
(On how much time he self-scouts when it comes to game planning)
“I think you almost want to delegate about as much time to both because you have to make sure that you’re putting yourself in a position to execute, you’re on the little details and being aware of what you’ve done, but also making sure that the way that you’re executing things, those players know exactly how we feel like is the best way to do it and with the techniques, the fundamentals, that’s a huge part of this game. So, I think you want to make sure that you’re spending just as much time on what you’re doing as you are that preparation and it kind of leads to success on both ends.”
 
(On if there is anyone that mentored him that drilled that idea into him)
“I really think I’ve been around such great coaches in the amount of time that I’ve been coaching. When you start out with (Former Tampa Bay Head Coach) Jon Gruden, you’re around (Former Redskins Head Coach) Mike Shanahan – you get a chance to work for those types of guys, (Redskins Head Coach) Jay Gruden, so the three head coaches that I’ve worked for in this league are all guys that have put a huge emphasis on making sure that you’re aware of the self-scout and being around great coaches gives you a chance to see what it’s like, how it’s done the right way and that’s what those guys have done for me.”
 
(On if he tries to avoid a player like Redskins CB Josh Norman in his game plan)
“I think Josh is a great player. I have a whole lot of respect for Josh and knowing him from just seeing the way that he competes day-in and day-out at practice. I think you even have more of an appreciation for what he is as a competitor and as a guy that studies the tape, he knows what to expect. I think you want to make sure that you’re always aware of the personnel that you’re going against in those matchups and how that dictates and determines your decision making. But, Josh is a guy that I have a whole lot of respect for and certainly (Redskins CB) Bashaud Breeland is a much better corner than I think he’s given credit for. So those are two players that I’ve seen do a lot of really good things over the course of their careers and then getting an up close and personal look at them in practice – great competitors, great ball skills and that’s why you always have to be on the screws when you’re going against two good players like that.”
 
(On if WR Sammy Watkins is fully implemented in everything)
“He is. I think he’s fully implemented. He’s playing a specific position, but I think now knowing that we get a little bit more specific and we put a couple things game plan wise, game-in and game-out, but you’re still trying to operate off of a lot of the things that you’ve done, kind of setting that foundation in training camp. I think Sammy’s at the point now where he’s pretty much fully immersed in the offense and feels comfortable with everything that we’re doing now.”
 
(On if he’s spent more time with the defense this week because of his familiarity with Washington’s offense)
“I think you talk to them about a couple things, but you want to be careful of giving them too much information. I think it’s a really delicate balance of making sure that you give them a couple things, but not something to where you’re chasing a ghost, because you still have to go play football, react, we’ve got calls to make on the defensive side, they’re making their calls offensively. There’s a couple of things, but we’ve got some defensive coaches that were in Washington, they have a really intricate understanding of how we’ve operated too. So I think (Assistant Head Coach/Linebackers) Joe Barry and (Cornerbacks Coach) Aubrey Pleasant have been great resources just without me having said anything because of the way they went about their business in Washington. But like anything else, I know Jay’s done a good job at tweaking some different things here and there. It’s going to be about players going out and executing on Sunday.”
 
(On how the conversation will go before the game with Jay Gruden)
“We’ll talk like we normally do. We’ve got a great relationship, but I don’t think we’re going to be sharing our first 15 (plays) with each other. Jay’s a guy that he’s been so good to me. I’m looking forward to seeing a handful of guys. We’ll have our conversations and then we’ll go play a football game and then we’ll shake hands and it will be like anything else. But it’s going to be a great opportunity for our team to play against a great football team that’s had consecutive winning seasons and we know they’re going to be coming in here ready to go and we’ve got to match that intensity.”
 
(On maintaining his poise going into this game)
“I think that the biggest thing is, if you preach to be able to be poised, even keeled throughout the course of it as a coach, you better make sure that, to the players I’m saying, you better make sure you do it as a coach as well. I think being able to just take it one snap at a time and know that that’s how this game is. You look at even in the team meeting this morning, I look at back last week (S) Lamarcus Joyner makes a great play to knock the running back out at the one-yard line. Everybody thinks, ‘Oh, it’s probably a touchdown.’ But then three plays later, our defense gets a stop, forces them to a field goal, so whatever has happened on the previous play, let’s learn from it, let’s move on and let’s be ready to play the next play and I think that’s the mindset and mentality that our teams taking on and I feel good about that.”
Offensive Coordinator Matt LaFleur – Media Availability – September 15, 2017
 
(On if he was surprised by the offense’s performance in the Colts game)
“No, not surprised. It was just good to see us put a full game together. Anytime you come out with 46 points, granted the defense spotted us and put us in some really good situations, but overall was happy with our performance. I thought the guys communicated well and I thought we played pretty hard.”
 
(On QB Jared Goff’s improved performance last Sunday compared to last season and what he contributes that to)
“I think first and foremost, it starts with his preparation and honestly, that he’s had some good play around him and that always help any quarterback in this league. But I thought just from day one, he’s had the right mindset and he’s prepared the right way each and everyday.”
 
(On which areas he’s seen Goff improve the most)
“I think, first, it starts with his footwork. He seems much more balanced and comfortable in the pocket and then again he’s grasped our concepts and what we’re asking him to do. I think he’s done a nice job with that.”
 
(On how Head Coach Sean McVay’s method of game-planning and play-calling has helped his offense)
“Well you look at the production in Washington right? Ever since he’s started calling plays, the offensive units have done pretty well. So, I would like to think that we have a pretty quarterback-friendly system however, it’s still the toughest position to play in all of ball. Jared, to his credit went out and executed the game plan almost to perfection. It’s never quite going to be perfect, there’s always one or two plays you like to have back, but I thought he did a good job overall.”
 
(On what about McVay’s personality contributes to him being a good play-caller)
“That’s kind of a tough question. I think his personality more than anything just is that of a good leader. He communicates very well, he’s very energetic and I think he’s got a magnetic personality that a lot of people want to follow. But I don’t think that necessarily always translates into being a good player-caller, because you’ve still got to know what you’re attacking and getting those plays called at the proper time.”
 
(On if it’s instinct when it comes down to calling plays)
“I think there is a little bit of feel to that, no doubt about it, but also just having a great football knowledge – a great mind. And then ultimately it’s about us putting those players in position to be successful and then they have to make the plays.”
 
(On the run game in the Colts game and what he would like to see improved this Sunday against Washington)
“Anytime you don’t produce like you’d like to in that area…there’s always room for improvement. But it definitely hurt us having two explosive runs getting called back. And so if we can limit those penalties, I think it’ll keep us on track and you’ll see us maybe be a little more committed to that run.”
 
(On if he noticed the Colts defense getting up to stop RB Todd Gurley and if he thinks that will change once Goff starts showing teams his can beat them by throwing the ball)
“I think definitely they’re going to try to challenge us and make us show that we can do it through the air. But to their credit, they had some big stop guys inside. Like I said, it’s never an excuse, but anytime you have a couple plays called back, it’s always going to kind of set you back in that area.”
 
(On if he was satisfied with the offense’s run blocking in the Colts game)
“Yeah, it was game one. There was some stuff that we definitely need to get cleaned up, otherwise you’re not going to have those penalties and what not. But our guys are working hard. I think we can scheme up some things, too, to put those guys in a little bit better position.”
 
(On if he envisions using WR Tavon Austin in different ways and expanding his role this week)
“Yeah. Really, it’s however we feel is the best way to attack a defense. If his number gets called, then we’re going to use him because he’s an explosive guy. And, just in those plays that he was in, we had a bunch of explosives off of whether he was getting the ball or not.”
 
(On distributing the ball around on offense)
“It’s always a plus when you feel like you can go to anybody out there. I think it keeps the defense a little bit more off balance, so we’re definitely going to try to spread the ball around each and every week. A lot of that is sometimes dictated by what coverage the defense is in and the play that’s actually called.”
 
(On what he sees from the receiving corps)
“I think we have confidence in all six of those guys to go out and execute at a high level. Honestly, it really doesn’t matter in our mind who’s in the game, because we have confidence in every one of those guys. It’s nice, we’ve added some speed. That’s certainly helped loosen up the coverage on the back end.”
 
(On where he thinks WR Sammy Watkins is in understanding the offense at this point)
“I think he’s as good as any of our other guys. He’s a smart guy, I said that last week. He is a pro. What I mean by that is, he asks great questions, he’s always engaged in the meetings and he didn’t have any busts in the game.”
 
(On how many of the coaching staff are involved in coming up with the game plan each week)
“I think we’re all involved. Everybody has their own specific area, whether it’s third downs or redzone, all the different situations that will present themselves throughout the game. Then, it’s basically on (Head Coach) Sean (McVay) and I to decide how we best attack that defense.”
 
(On if there’s any element to the game planning process that McVay has trouble delegating)
“No. He’s always going to have a say-so and the final say-so. We welcome ideas from those other guys and I think everybody is involved.”


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