McVay gives update on Gurley, looking forward to Saturday

Hear from coach McVay ahead of Saturday's big matchup against Dallas.

(Opening statement)

"From an injury standpoint, everybody is good to go. (DL) Ethan Westbrooks didn't participate. He had a little collision in practice the other day, still a little bit sore. That was why he was a non-participant, but we are expecting him. He'll be questionable, but we feel like he'll be able to go."

(On if RB Todd Gurley II will play and what he has looked like in practice the last couple days)

"He looks like (RB) Todd (Gurley II). He looks like the explosive, great back that we're accustomed to seeing. He's feeling good. He's had a great week of preparation and we're expecting him to be ready to go. All things are looking in a very positive direction."

(On what he has seen from DT Ndamukong Suh that he has liked and what he would like to see that he's not seeing)

"I think he's done a good job. He's been very, very versatile for us. Played a variety of spots in certain situations. I think his football acumen shows up with his ability to do that. Then, everybody can always get better. Just playing at an elite level – fundamentals, techniques, urgency. But, I think (DT) Ndamukong (Suh) has done a really nice job for us and he's been a big part of our success."

(On the one or two things that he takes away and applies from last season's playoff experience to this season's playoff experience)

"I think like anything else, being able to play in those big-time games is definitely very helpful, that experience. I think we've gotten some players that, obviously, all the guys that were with us last year, but then also you bring in some players that have a lot of experience that I think their perspective from a players' standpoint is very helpful. Some of the wisdom that those guys can be able to give to their teammates – like an (CB) Aqib Talib, (CB) Sam Shields – these guys have played in a lot of big-time games throughout the course of their careers. (WR) Brandin Cooks, guys that have been at some other places where they're playing in Super Bowls, winning Super Bowls. It's about playing our best football, learning from the things. Then, I also think that being into year two, last year was a great year for us being able to win the division. Very fortunate to be able to do that again, but I think there's a confidence that's been earned where there's an expectation of we have a lot of respect for the Dallas Cowboys, but we expect to win this game. We know it's going to take a great effort, but we're going in with the mindset and mentality that we expect to win. I think that confidence is something that's been earned every day by our players and then we've got to go out and prove it on Saturday night against a great opponent."

(On if the atmosphere at practice this week was any different than it's been through the first 16 games)

"I would say that the rhythm has been the same, but I think naturally everybody is a little bit more excited. The urgency is up because you know what the consequences are if you don't come away with the result that you are hoping for and you know what they are if you do come away. I think that naturally creates an urgency that can't be created otherwise, but the guys have been great. They've been consistent in their approach, but there's definitely a good juice out there and guys are feeling good and I know they're excited."

(On how much film study he has watched of opponents defending the Cowboys rushing offense and RB Ezekiel Elliott, such as the Indianapolis Colts)

"Yeah, (Indianapolis Colts Defensive Coordinator) Coach (Matt) Eberflus did a great job, but I think that, like anything else, it was one game and then you've got to look at the entire body of work. But, they're a great run offense. They do a variety of different things. (Cowboys RB Ezekiel) 'Zeke' (Elliott) has the ability to run all the different types of schemes – wide zone, some of the tight zone, downhill direct runs. They can get into the off-set gun and run some zone read with the tight end coming back across or just some of your one-by-three formations. So, they do a good job mixing it up. They're a tough offense. That's definitely a big part of what we want to be able to, but I think it's always predicated on the situation. We have intent behind the calls. Stopping the run is going to always be a priority, especially when you're talking about playing against a team like this. We've got to play good football down-in and down-out. Stopping the run will be one of those things that will dictate that, but it also is going to be stopping the pass, getting them off on third downs, some different things that might come up outside of just stopping the run."

(On the biggest advantage of having an extra week of preparation besides players getting healthier)

"Well, I think it gives everybody a chance, like you're saying, really to get rested, to get rejuvenated, to kind of sit back and be able to still stay sharp, but also get away where it's been a long season. I think guys came back with a fresh mindset. I think it also provided a great opportunity for us as coaches to really look at ourselves that first week – where you don't really know who your opponent is going to be, so you can kind of focus in on, 'All right, what are the things in all three phases that we can do better? What are some of the situations from a coaching standpoint where we can be more mindful of putting our players in better spots?' Then, just continuing to evaluate our players and always being aware of asking them to do things that best suits their skill set. That's really a chance to really fine-tune some of the things specific to just ourselves, as opposed to getting ready for an opponent."

(On the evolution of the Rams passing attack and the variety of receivers that QB Jared Goff)

"Yeah, I think he does a great job reading and recognizing coverages and a lot of the times, what the coverage is, dictates where that ball is going to go. We try to be mindful of getting all five eligible (receivers) involved in the pass game. We've got a lot of guys that have a unique set of skills where, look at our backs, they have the ability to catch the ball. Todd can be used in a variety of ways. Our tight ends have gotten more involved, especially the second half of the season. I think (TE) Gerald (Everett) and (TE) Tyler (Higbee) both have progressed in a big way. (Pass Game Coordinator) Shane's (Waldron) done an outstanding job with them. Then, (Wide Receivers Coach) Eric Yarber's been great with our receivers. Brandin and (WR) Robert (Woods) both having over 1,200 yards – I think you've seen them lined up in a variety of spots. (WR) Josh Reynolds has stepped up in a big way after you lose a great player like (WR) Cooper Kupp. So, that's been good. But, I would just say that everything is constantly evolving, but we always want to make sure that we still have our identity and as long as the players feel comfortable with their ability to execute, regardless of what that coverage is, that's the most important thing. I think, we're hopeful to be able to do some of those things on Saturday night."

(On if there is something that has to happen during the game for him to settle in with the game)

"I wouldn't say that. I think for the players, where they're actually the ones competing – that's great. I think any time, if you're talking about allowing our team just to get into a rhythm when the first good things happen, I think that always helps from a coach’s standpoint. But, from a playcaller standpoint, if you're talking about trying to get into a rhythm, the more plays that you get off, I think, the better rhythm and feel you're able to get for the flow of the game and what the defense is trying to do and how you can hopefully do some things to dictate or illicit a different response, based on trying to keep them in the defensive mode, where you want to always be attacking those guys. But, I think it's really for more of a player thing, as far as getting them into the flow of the game, whether it's the first touch as an offensive guy, first hit – special teams, defense, linemen fitting up on some blocks in the run game, some different combinations. So, I think that's probably more player driven than anything else. But, I know when the first good thing happens for us, we sure get excited as coaches as well."

(On how much comes into play with anxiousness as the game gets closer)

"I think the guys have taken it one day at a time and that's been important for us as we kind of incrementally install the gameplan day-by-day, so you can really just focus on the little thing details. They've done an excellent job with that. I know guys are excited about being ready to play on Saturday, but I think there's a good flow to the week where, we've got a couple things that we can tighten up, specific to finalizing our gameplan and then they can go play with a quieted mind on Saturday."

(On having special teams miscues in last year's playoff game and if it's something he anticipates and prepares to react to)

"Yeah, I think that really occurs almost every week in this league. It just happens that those games are under such a microscope because there's so few being played. So, that's a point of emphasis that we always make – taking care of the football, making good decisions – that situational awareness that you hear us talk about. So, I think if there is one consistent thing that you see with the teams that have been consistently good year-in and year-out, they don't beat themselves. The good teams play smart, situational football – they don't do things to put themselves in bad situations. A lot of that is decision making, situational understanding and awareness and I think we've got a smart football team and it's our job as coaches to make sure that we're constantly communicating, revisiting and allowing them to kind of just be an extension of us and really, us doing a great job giving them that clarity."

(On how it makes him feel that other teams are looking for a coach similar to him)

"I think, really, what it is more than anything else is, it's a reflection of our organizational success over the last couple years. I think it's certainly flattering. It's extremely humbling to even be mentioned in that. But, I know this, the reason that people are saying those types of things is because the Rams have had success. I know the Rams are having success because we've got great players, we've got a great coaching staff and we've got a lot of people that are working in the same direction. I think that's key for continuity in anything that you do. But, it certainly is very flattering and it's a reflection of the Rams’ success."

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