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TRANSCRIPT: Rams HC Sean McVay, STC John Bonamego, OC Kevin O'Connell, DC Brandon Staley - Media Availability - Feb. 12, 2020

February 12, 2020 12:47PM
Rams Head Coach Sean McVay, Special Teams Coordinator John Bonamego, Offensive Coordinator Kevin O'Connell, Defensive Coordinator Brandon Staley - Media Availability - Feb. 12, 2020

(Opening Remarks)
McVay: “This is an exciting day to make it official to have these three and to be able to talk about a couple other instrumental members of our staff that we’ve added. I think it’s important to make sure that you recognize some of the guys that have been a huge impact on me and our organization over the last couple years when you talk about (former Rams Defensive Coordinator) Wade Phillips, (former Rams Running Backs Coach) Skip Peete, (former Rams Special Teams Coordinator) John Fassel, (former Rams Assistant Special Teams Coach) Matt Daniels, (former Rams Assistant Coordinator/Offense) Jedd Fisch and (former Rams Director of Strength Training and Performance) Ted Rath – those six members I consider friends. They’ve done a great job within their roles and they’ve been instrumental in a lot of the success that we’ve had.

“As we move forward, very excited about the opportunity to work with these three men (Bonamego, O’Connell and Staley) right here. They each bring a unique skillset, but one of the things that is consistent with all of these guys is they’re great teachers, they’re great human beings and they inspire players. They know how to connect, but I think there’s a level of capacity and competency in football. They also – when you talk to players they’ve worked with, when you talk to coaches – there’s a connection and there’s a character that exists that I think is what really makes them special. We’re also very excited about adding Thomas Brown as our running back coach, he’s a guy that I’ve known for a while. I remember playing against him when he was the top recruit in the country. He was a really good football player and you can see why he’s seamlessly transitioned to become a really good football coach. Another guy that has a lot of those traits and characteristics that you look for.

“We also added Jonathan Cooley, who will be helping out as a defensive quality control. He was coaching the ‘DBs’ (defensive backs) at Akron. In addition to these three guys, very excited about those two and we’re looking forward to having a great atmosphere and environment in our building, where it’s a healthy competition. It reminds me a lot of some of the things that we had going back to my early years in coaching at Washington with the types of men that we have and how those environments can lead to – most importantly – helping the players reach their highest potential. But, also, have a healthy competition where you don’t want to lag behind, because these guys are always working to get better. I’m excited to have those guys and to be able to work with them.”

(On the decision to not retain Phillips)
McVay: “I think, really, when you get down to it, he did so many great things for us over the last three years. It really wasn’t anything in particular, but very excited about what (Rams Defensive Coordinator) Brandon (Staley) will add. I think his ability to work in unison with our coaching staff that’s currently in place – you look at the foundation that Wade was instrumental in establishing. I think Brandon has done a great job. I’ve really enjoy sitting in on some of these meetings and watching the collaboration of Brandon’s leadership with the coaches that we’ve had in place and figuring out what’s the best way to put it together for our players.”

(On his conversation with Phillips after deciding to let him go)
McVay: “Nothing but gratitude. I think you guys all know Wade – just appreciative, letting him know exactly what we’re doing. He couldn’t have been more of a pro about it and it continues to epitomize what makes him special. What I think I’ll always be indebted to Wade for is when the Rams decided to take a chance on hiring a coach that’s 30 years old, unproven, I think one of the major reasons that there was a comfort level is because Wade Phillips is coming and the credibility that brought. Then, also, what he’s meant to me over the last three years. Nothing but appreciation and he handled it exactly like I think you would expect. Nothing but class and I’m forever thankful for Wade.”

(On the direction the defense will move toward going forward)
McVay: “I think a lot of it is predicated on what Brandon’s vision is. I think there’s a very similar philosophical approach to the game. Whether it be offense or defense, staying in tune – some of his experiences and just getting to know him, hearing what he’s about. Then when you talk football – I’d like to think that I love football as much as anybody – you’re sitting there and you’re thinking, ‘This guy might be sicker than I am’ (laughs). It’s fun to do that and I think those are things that remain to be seen. We’re really looking at it. It always starts with the players and Brandon will be the first to tell you that. How do we maximize some of our players? That was one of the things that was very intriguing. When Brandon came in, there was a clear-cut vision for all of our players and how he saw the ability to accentuate their skillsets within the framework of a sound foundation schematically, how we want to operate. There will be a lot of similarities and then there will be some nuances. I’m excited about seeing how that thing unfolds.”

(On how he came to know of Staley during the hiring process)
McVay: “I think the thing that I would say is it’s a small network of coaches. When you talk to people that you really value their input and they’re not going to say things about people unless they genuinely believe it, you hear the word of mouth references. There’s some similar people that I really hold in high regard when they give you an opinion on somebody. Then, when you meet him. He did a great job there. When you look at the system especially with the success that a (Broncos Head Coach) Vic Fangio led defense has had over the course of a really elongated period of time. Vic is a coach that I really respect and hold in high regard. When you listen to the things he says about Brandon Staley, when you listen to the people that I’ve come in close contact with that have been around him, when you look at the background, it’s impressive. You can feel the passion. I think our players – and I know our coaches – have felt that in the initial introduction to him. Those are things that I’m very excited about.”

(On what Staley has seen in the Rams defense from 2019)
Staley: “Certainly, a lot of respect for the players and the coaches here. We faced these guys in 2018 in that game where there was a lot at stake, it was a primetime game. They were on a run and we (Chicago) were on a run, so I was very familiar in 2018 with a lot of the players on the team. (Rams Head Coach) Sean (McVay) is just a guy that I’ve held in such high regard for so many years. As a defensive coach, you’re always trying to stay ahead, you’re always trying to anticipate where the NFL is going. It was always an offense that you always had to be aware of, a team that you always had to be aware of. (Rams Outside Linebackers Coach) Chris Shula is one of my good friends, so I’ve always kept in touch with the Rams, their personnel, their players. Since Sean came here in 2017, there’s just been an explosion here where football – overnight the Rams just became one of the premier teams in the NFL. I would say that I was very familiar with the players going into this process. Then, preparing for the interview gained even more perspective and I think that’s what makes this opportunity so attractive.”

(On if there are challenges following Phillips and the culture he’s built with players and his reputation)
Staley: “I certainly have so much respect for Wade. I’m coming from Denver where certainly he built such a big legacy as a defensive coordinator and as a head coach. I think if you talk to any of the coaches that have coached for him or the players that have played for him – I personally coached (Broncos OLcool smiley Von Miller and know (Ccool smiley Chris Harris (Jr.) very well, two of the key figures on that great defense that won the Super Bowl. Sean mentioned it, the reputation that he has and standing the test of time in this league, which is so difficult to do. I just have so much respect for him, but I really look at this opportunity as a beginning; it’s a beginning for us moving forward. In the NFL, every year is a new year. What’s exciting is the foundation that has been laid here by Sean and all these other coaches, by our personnel people, by our ownership. There’s such a great foundation in place and I’m looking forward to getting started.”

(On if he will be looking to play a 4-3 or a 3-4 defensive front and what kind of schemes he has planned)
Staley: “Sean talked about it, a lot of it is predicated on the players. Structurally, our systems from a personnel standpoint, there will be a lot of carryover. With Vic, we’ve been a 3-4 structure, but we play a lot of different groupings. As an offense or a defense, you’ve got to have a framework of where your guys is going to meet. So, I think that’s going to be a comforting thing for our players is they’re going to be performing a lot of the same jobs, a lot of the same roles. There’s none of those wholesale changes that happen at other places. So, I think there will be a comfort level there with the players knowing they are going to be doing a lot of the same things, but maybe schematically, situationally, technically, there may be some nuances, but it will be different.”

(On if he’s had a chance to meet the any of the players or had a chance to talk to DT Aaron Donald and CB Jalen Ramsey)
Staley: “That’s the exciting thing as a coach, they don’t call you coach without players. I’ve been able to reach out to a bunch of these guys. (DT) Aaron (Donald) and (Ccool smiley Jalen (Ramsey) are certainly two of the guys that I’ve been able to talk with. I haven’t gotten Aaron in person yet because he’s back in Pittsburgh. My twin brother lives in Pittsburgh and I’m from Cleveland, so, we kind of share that background. I know a lot of his high school coaches, kind of know his story growing up from Penn Hills. I think that’s kind of exciting for me because when you talk to people at Penn Hills, they talk about the 17 year old Aaron Donald, not the NFL MVP, so I kind of have a background on him. Jalen Ramsey, I’m really good friends with some of his college coaches at Florida State, so I was able to get a head start with him. There’s been a number of players that I’ve been able to meet passing through: (DL) Michael Brockers, (DT) Sebastian Joseph-Day, (Lcool smiley Clay Matthews, there’s been a lot of guys. That’s always the fun party as a coach.”

(On Offensive Coordinator Kevin O’Connell and the decision to hire an offensive coordinator)
McVay: “Kevin and I got to meet each other, actually a handful of years back at the QB Collective at Westlake High School when I was working with the Redskins. We immediately clicked and we’ve kind of had a lot of similar connections. Then he ends up being in Washington, keeping in touch with those guys. I’ve always watched him from afar. I’m a fan of coaching, I’ve been really impressed with from when he was a player and the seamless transition that he’s made into coaching – his mastery of the position. When you talk about big-picture perspective, it’s not just the quarterback position, it’s all 11 (Players) on offense, it’s all 11 (players) on defense, understating rules, responsibilities. Just the charisma, the presence, all those things were things that excited you about getting an opportunity to work together. ‘We’ve operated under a very similar structure before. Our first year when (Packers Head Coach) Matt LaFluer was in that same role, those guys, when you look at what Coach (Run Game Coordinator/Offensive Line Coach Aaron) Kromer, what (Passing Game Coordinator) Shane Waldron, those guys will continue to play instrumental roles. Really, it’s always a collaboration of the coaching staff and how we formulate the best gameplan to really attack the opposing defense and ultimately put our players in the right spots with our weekly rhythm and then how that translates to our three and a half hour window (games). ‘His ability to communicate, his big picture, I think it’s going to be a great opportunity for (Qcool smiley Jared (Goff) to work with someone like him, because of some of the things that he’s done, that maybe I haven’t gotten exposed to. I’m really excited about learning from him, working together and us positively pushing each other, to ultimately figure out what’s the best version of the 2020 Rams offense and how does that look as we continue to try to put that together with our players in mind. ‘All of these guys – and when you add John Bonamego into it – you’ll feel the energy, the passion that all three of these guys have for the game of football. I think that’s what will get the players excited about coming in here every single day, because of the juice that they bring, the type of work that they are putting into these meetings. That will draw a confidence from our players and then most importantly, the ability for these guys to connect with the guys.”

(On what made him select John Bonamego the special teams coordinator)
McVay: “I met John a handful of years ago through Matt LaFluer. They had known each other through some mutual connections. He’s got a bunch of great experiences to draw on, having been a head coach, a coordinator at this level for a long time. Then when you really spend some time and you talk football, again, the passion. I think you want to see a genuine authentic love for the game, the competency and then when you do the background and you really talk about people and you do the vetting process, all the things that come back on these guys, you’re checking all the boxes. I think when you look at the type of culture that we want to try to be able to embody and create day in and day out, these guys are perfect examples of that. It’s always about the people. The people make the place, the people are always any organization’s greatest assets and that’s why I’m so excited about working with them, building these relationships that we talk about, and watching them lead our players. I think it’s the success, the consistency – you look at the production they had under his guidance and leadership in Detroit this last year, really good stuff. He’s got innovative things to be able to implement, he’s got an ownership on situational football – which in a lot of instances, especially for the head coach, you rely on your special teams coordinator. Again, checking all the boxes is what you look for, but most importantly, it’s about the type of human beings these guys all are.”

(On if there is one coach that is exclusively the quarterbacks coach)
McVay: “In a lot of instances, Kevin will assume those roles, working with those guys. Whether it’s a (Assistant Quarterbacks Coach) Liam Coen that will be in that room. (Pass Game Coordinator) Shane (Waldron) will still have some interaction, but ultimately, really Kevin will take on the typical responsibilities of a quarterback coach, if you will. Very similar to what (former Rams Offensive Coordinator) Matt (LaFleur) had done a couple years ago.”

(On how O’Connell sees the role as Offensive Coordinator after watching from afar and seeing what Matt LaFleur did and how he sees himself fitting into the role)
McVay: “He’s not leaving after a year hopefully, all right (laughs).”
O’Connell: “Recalling the experiences of being in the coordinator role with a head coach as the play-caller before, you can really find roles where you can just assist that head coach. Sean will obviously be somebody that having the relationship with before will aid in that process. At the end of the day, it’s just being an extension of him. It takes a lot to do that. The experience and the success that this offense has had, you really want the players to look at you as an extension of the head coach, because when you stand up in front of them, you talk to them, you want them to respect you the same way that they respect a head coach that obviously has developed a culture and put together a program here where people want to be a part of it. I was no different. This is a place that when this opportunity came about, you look at, you can’t get here fast enough just because of the type of role, the type of coaches, obviously the quarterback had a lot to do with it for me as well. Just going back to it, just the ability to make his job, that is the most difficult job. People talk about the quarterback being the hardest position in sports, I think being an NFL head coach as the play-caller could rival that in its own ways. I want to assist that, I want to help in any way, shape or form, but also fit in with a great group of coaches on this staff and really figure out how to help make it the best possible version of an offense in 2020.”

(On what the challenge is for Bonamego coming into the role as Special Teams Coordinator with a group that has been together for a long time and has previously only had one coordinator)
Bonamego: “Just learning them, their routine, them learning me, communication. I’ve already done my homework on those guys. A lot of those guys I’ve looked at coming out of the draft. I had a pretty good relationship with (P) Johnny (Hekker) before he signed here. I was in Jacksonville at the time, we took a kid by the name (Texans P) Bryan Anger instead, but I remember those conversations. Those guys are like any other position. They want to be coached, they want to get better. It’s really working with them and establishing a rapport, a routine, learning what they can do and what they do well. Try to keep them out of, like any other player, try to keep them out of the situations that are asking them to do things that they don’t do well. The No. 1 takeaway there is communication.”

(On what went into the decision to make a change with former Running Backs Coach Skip Peete)
McVay: “In a lot of similar instances, you talk about more than anything, I think it’s about the gratitude you have for Wade and Skip. It was more than anything, we decided to go out and move in a different direction. You can’t deny the success that he’s had over his coaching career and the production that the backs under his guidance and leadership have had. I think that’s the most important thing to recognize and there’s a reason why Dallas acted quickly. They got a good one in him. Very fortunate for the three years that we did have together. I’m excited about Thomas Brown coming in and hopefully helping us out.”

(On if RB Todd Gurley II has a relationship with Brown)
McVay: “They know each other. When Thomas went back to coach at Georgia, so he played there, spent a year as kind of a strength intern and then got into coaching where he was at Marshall, Wisconsin, went back to Georgia, then Miami, Florida and now he’s been at South Carolina. They didn’t cross over when Thomas spent some time there, but they do know each other. That Georgia running back fraternity is a pretty special one, I mean, you look at the production. When you guys meet Thomas, you’ll be really impressed. You feel his presence, you feel his knowledge of the game and more than anything, he earned the right to be here because he’s a great coach. He and I, really, there was a possibility when you first go and you’re interviewing for head coaching opportunities, you have a list of projected coaches. Skip was in place and felt really good about continuing that relationship. But Thomas is somebody that we’ve always kept in touch and there had maybe been a chance if the circumstances and the timing worked themselves out for his family and his situations and this year just so happened to be that year. I’m excited about being able to work with him.”

(On what was taken away from seeing how the playoffs and Super Bowl played out and how he thinks the Rams measure up to those teams)
McVay: “I think it’s one of those deals it’s easy to have all the answers and no accountability when I’m sitting on the couch. It’s not fun, it’s not fun to watch, but I think I’m the fan of the game and I’m excited and motivated and really, I would say more rejuvenated and reinvigorated than I’ve ever been since I first got here. That’s a reflection of these men up here. The excitement about getting back with our players and really attacking this season by strategically taking it a day at a time and understanding, ‘All right, let’s really look inwardly at what are the things that we can do to be better.’ I think you can have a tendency to overreact as well because the easy excuses are to say how close we were, but let’s really look inwardly, let’s figure out how each person can do their job a little bit better. What are the things that we can do? If in fact we do, do those, it will hopefully lead to a more consistent product, a better opportunity for our players to be at their best in those three-and-a-half hour windows, so that we can achieve some consistent production, some play and then I think the results will follow if the process and the ability for everybody to have that ownership and accountability is consistent on all levels.”

(On if he has hired anyone to replace Rath)
McVay: “We’re in the process of accumulating those names. We have not hired that position. We’ve got some really qualified candidates that we’ll be bringing in. We’ll talk to some guys at the end of this week and then starting next week, we’ll really get into that. I’d like to say that hopefully at some point after the combine or if you meet somebody before. In the next month, you’d like to be able to finalize that decision.”

(On if he anticipated this amount of turnover in his staff after a 9-7 season)
McVay: “I would say this, it feels like a lot because of the significance of these roles, but we still have 14 coaches in place that have been foundational pieces. You’ve got five new guys that we’re talking about. The one thing that’s so great about all three of these guys is, even though they’ve got the coordinator title, they’re interested in being a part of something bigger than themselves. How can we come in and add value to the entire unit – offense, defense, special teams? That to me is what’s great because you want to be able to bring in a competitive staff that also balances each other out. I think one of the things that’s been consistent with all three of these guys as they’re getting familiar with the other coaches that they’re working with, there is an ability to work with others that I think is so important and the ability to work in unison for the collaboration. You have these structures and different things like that, but it’s the power of, ‘All right, how can we identify everybody’s roles, responsibilities, give clarity, but also make sure that there’s legitimate value.’ We have that with all of our coaches. These guys are going to continue to add value to the entirety of the unit. I think it can feel like a lot and certainly you don’t take for granted. I think it can be a good thing too where you bring in some fresh new perspectives. What I like is as much as anything is you like a good challenge of, ‘Hey, alright maybe I see it a little bit different and let’s find out what’s the best way to do it.’ It doesn’t matter who’s right, it’s what’s right. That’s the approach these guys take and that’s why you’re excited to add a lot of people that, you become the company you keep. I know I’m going to be a better coach for having been around these guys, the people that we’re bringing in and the 14 coaches that are already in place that are going to continue to do a great job for us.”

(On him being rejuvenated and if he feels like he now has full control of his staff with Phillips and Fassel now gone)
McVay: “I would never look at it like that. I think that you felt fortunate to have two great leaders like that in place and now I’m looking at three great leaders in addition to the other guys that have already been in place. I wouldn’t necessarily look at it like that. I think there’s a foundation that’s been established that (Defensive Coordinator) Brandon’s (Staley) coming in and he’s going to have the ability to work with – you look at (Assistant Head Coach/Linebackers) Joe Barry, you look at (Outside Linebackers Coach) Chris Shula, you look at (Defensive Line Coach) Eric Henderson, (Assistant Defensive Line/Defensive Quality Control) Thad Bogardus, (Cornerbacks Coach) Aubrey Pleasant, (Safeties Coach) Ejiro Evero. Those are great coaches that have been here for awhile that they’re going to be apart of that as we figure out what’s the best way to make our defense great. You look at our special teams, some of the continuity we have at the position where it’s the players. (P) Johnny Hekker’s leadership, (LS) Jake McQuaide, obviously a lot’s made about (K) Greg (Zuerlein) being a free agent, but you’ve got some foundational pieces that you hope can sustain and let’s see if we can push the envelope and get even better, and it’s the same things with (Offensive Coordinator) Kevin (O’Connell). We’ve got the continuity on the offensive side of the ball. So, while there are new guys coming in from a leadership perspective, there’s still a lot of good things that we have going on and I think it’s important to not stray too far away from. We didn’t achieve the things that we wanted to – we’ll never shy away from the expectations and we expect to go in and expect to win and try to compete to the best of our ability every single day. We’ll never apologize for not achieving the results that we didn’t get last year. I think there’s an excitement about the opportunity to respond and to get better and to use each year as a new year. I would say for myself, personally, even if you say it, do you really believe it? I think now having three years of experience to really draw on, if you really believe it, then you don’t take for granted the foundational things that we did do in year one. Really putting in the time to develop and cultivate the relationships. I think in some instances when I look at myself, I’ve gotten away from that, not necessarily just last year, but really for two years and we might have had better results going to the Super Bowl. But if you said, ‘Are you really dedicating the time that you want to for the expectations that I have specific to what we want to be able to do with your player interactions, the real foundational relationships, being present with the coaches and bringing a consistent juice and authentic energy and excitement about what the day brings?’ Those are the things I’m hopeful that will not just be said now, but those are things that I can feel good about – ‘Hey, we’re in Week 9, Week 12, Week 13 in the season and because of the people that you’re around, that’s what enables you to feel that way and be excited about attacking the opportunity and really the blessing that you have to be in this role.’ When you look at the amount of different people that reach out when some of these roles open up, it does give you a perspective and appreciation for how special and unique it is to, not only work in a great organization under (Owner) Mr. (Stan) Kroenke’s guidance and leadership, but to really be able to do it at the highest level in the NFL and how precious those opportunities are.”

(On how much change he expects on the roster)
McVay: “A lot of those things are what we’re going through right now. We’ve got a lot of guys that are free agents that are very important pieces that we want to be able to get back. In some of these instances, 31 other teams have a say and there is an element of what you can do within the framework of ways of onboarding and resigning. Whether it’s free agency trades, draft acquisitions, so we’re looking at all of those avenues. We’re in the process of collaborating with (General Manager) Les (Snead) and his group, working with the coaches and really this kind of starts now that you kind of get your coaching staff finalized. The next phase of the offseason program and where we really start working is – studying yourself, implementing the schemes, and then most importantly figuring out how we put together the most competitive team, not necessarily just acquiring talent.”


  TRANSCRIPT: Rams HC Sean McVay, STC John Bonamego, OC Kevin O'Connell, DC Brandon Staley - Media Availability - Feb. 12, 2020

Shaky174February 12, 2020 12:47PM