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21 September 2016

Transcript: Los Angeles Rams Conference Calls with Tampa Bay Media (9/21/16)

(On last week’s win against Seattle)
“All wins are great, but this one was big just because of the circumstances around it and everything. The fact it was our home opener and the support that we’ve had since moving and it was just really exciting, an exciting moment for the players and the fans and everybody here. And then you take into consideration who our opponent is, they’re always a tough team and I’m just really happy. A short week, guys rallied, responded, came back. Carried a great deal of respect into the game as far as the Seahawks are concerned and we found a way to win it. It wasn’t pretty, but we found a way to win it. Obviously we’re onto the next one now and I think we’ve got a good head start, we’re in a good place. Great deal of respect for what the Bucs are doing, we understand how difficult it is to play the Cardinals. I thought the Bucs did a great job against a really good Atlanta team and looking back to our game last year I just thought you see significant improvement out of [Tampa Bay quarterback] Jameis [Winston], just been always very impressed with him. I was impressed with the game that he had against us last year and I think they’ve done a great job with their personnel. So we’re coming cross-country and giving our best shot.”
(On what kind of damage his defensive line can do)
“It starts with the run game and I’m not pleased with where we are with respect to that. Granted, in our matchup with the Bucs last year, we didn’t have [linebacker Alec] Ogletree or [safety] T.J. McDonald or [defensive end] Robert Quinn, so we were a little short-handed there. But I just have great respect for how the Bucs game plan, I think they had over 104 yards of rushing in that game and were behind. So that’s where it starts, but obviously every team starts the year [saying], ‘You’ve got to stop the run,’ and then when it comes time to rush the passer you hope you’ve got people in position and a skill set to do so.”
(On what is unique about defensive tackle Aaron Donald)
“It’s a combination of everything. He’s got tremendous strength, quickness, leverage. He’s a quiet player, he’s very, very smart. He understands stances and protections and all of that stuff. He’s very, very difficult to block one-on-one, so it’s our job to try and create those one-on-one matchups and it’s the opposing offense’s job to create the two-on-ones and so we understand that. Someone else has to win when Aaron gets the double, but he’s a special player, he’s a great teammate, he’s just a really special player.”
(On if the Rams prepare for individual Tampa Bay running backs, or the overall running game, since Buccaneers running back Doug Martin was injured last week)
“Well it’s the running game itself. No one like to lose their top back, but everybody in the league has quality backups, so to me and to our defensive staff, the concern is our scheme, it’s the run scheme and how well coached they are and how diverse they are with respect to their run patterns.”
(On what Rams linebacker/safety Mark Barron has brought to their defense since being acquired in a trade with Tampa Bay in 2014)
“Any time you do a deal like that, it’s a good deal for both sides, so we welcomed Mark with open arms. We put a couple packages together early when we had him and then once ‘Tree’ [Ogletree] went down last year early in the season, Mark got an opportunity, so we took advantage of it. He loves the defense, he understand the defense and he’s just been outstanding. Again, great teammate, I was really glad that we were able to get him re-signed during free agency.”
(On being featured on HBO’s ‘Hard Knocks’ during training camp)
“There was nothing negative about the experience. When we agreed to it back in the spring, we felt – as the league did and everyone felt – that we get an opportunity to document this move because none of it had been document before. I really enjoyed – we all enjoyed – working with them. Things settled down after a couple of days and they pretty much just disappeared. And the big thing for us was just to be yourself and be a player, prepare for the opener and do all those things that you ordinarily would do at camp, as opposed to trying to be an actor or draw attention to yourself. There was a lot of fun stuff that went on, I thought the productions were great and I’d strongly recommend it to anybody next year.”
(On how challenging it was for the team to have to relocate to Los Angeles)
"We found out in early January and then within weeks of that we started packing things up. The first move from St. Louis to Oxnard was a challenge, but we got set up. And then of course we moved again for the draft and then we were in nomads for a month because we had no place, no facility until we reported to training camp to UC Irvine. And then immediately after a Thursday night road game, the fourth preseason game, we came back Friday and did the final cut downs, we had to relocate again. We’ve got things up and running and we’re rolling, but I’m really proud of the players, they’ve handled it really well. I have not had a player late, haven’t had a player miss anything. They’re in early, staying late and they’ve responded really well to it. I’d like to think we’re settled here. Now we’re facing another challenge, obviously the same thing that the Bucs face and the same thing that our division faces, and that’s how to take advantage of the travel opportunities because there’s a lot of long road trips. So having a new appreciation for what our three other division teams have been doing over the last few years.”
(On what is unique about Tampa Bay Head Coach Dirk Koetter as an offensive play caller)
“First and foremost, it starts with preparation. His offenses are always very well prepared. I’ve not witnessed in person a practice, but I could imagine what a great job he does at practice. So they carry over that preparation in the game and week-to-week they appear to be a little different, but they do what they do best. And like any successful coordinator in this league, you don’t ask players to do things they can’t do and I think he’s done just an outstanding job with Jameis. The two of them, you can imagine they’re on the same page.”
(On how helpful it has been to grow up in the Los Angeles area)
“There is an advantage, just being familiar with L.A. It’s a great city, it’s big and there are traffic patterns and issues. I don’t know if you guys heard, but the league allowed us – the Player’s Association allowed us – to have a meeting in March with our players out here. And it wasn’t a football meeting, it was just a relocation meeting because the players went from the end of the season to March, not knowing what was going on. So we had a meeting, we showed them traffic patterns and we made suggestions, we told them where we’re going to be training and we made suggestions as to where the best places were to relocate because you want to keep your five-day or six-day-a-week commute to the facility manageable and they all did that, so it was helpful. It’s been a great experience, really good experience. You think back and one can only imagine all the stuff that we’ve been through, but we’re settled now. We have our email up [laughs]. Our coaches stations are working and we’ve got a field, that’s all we need.”
(On if he is confident running back Todd Gurley will improve as the season goes on)
“Yeah, he’s outstanding. When the season is said and done, people are going to go, ‘Wow.’ Our difficulties have come in the third down area. We’re not efficient on third down, so we’re robbing ourselves a series, an opportunity for Todd. So once we become more proficient, then Todd will get more opportunities. The idea is to get the ball in his hands however we can, as often as we can.”
(On the difference between playing linebacker and safety)
“It’s really not much different to be honest, for me. In my opinion, I’m just closer to the ball, so I can get to everything faster.”
(On if the game speeds up when playing linebacker)
“Most definitely. You have to see things a little quicker because you’re keying different things and you’re involved in different things, as far as dealing with the offensive line and run fronts and things of that nature.”
(On if he has followed the Buccaneers since being traded)
“No, I honestly don’t keep up with them much unless we’re playing them or they just come across the screen. I don’t go out of my way to see what’s going on with the team.”
(On if he tries to show that Tampa Bay was wrong in trading him)
“Most definitely. I always feel that way, every time I face that team. Like you said, even though it’s a different staff, I most definitely approach the game that way.”
(On if he was hurt when Tampa Bay traded him)
“I wouldn’t say hurt, it was just the way everything happened. I didn’t ever feel like it was the way it should have happened, I didn’t feel like it was respectful at all, in my opinion. But I’m happy it happened, I feel like it was one of the better things that happened to my career actually.”
(On if he didn’t feel like it was respectful because he was the seventh overall pick by Tampa Bay in the 2012 NFL Draft)
“No, I just didn’t know anything about the situation. I didn’t even know that it was being talked about.”
(On if the trade caught him by surprise)
“Yeah, most definitely.”
(On the things the Los Angeles defense needs to key in on against Tampa Bay)
“They’re definitely a team that wants to run the ball, so definitely have to stop that. They have [quarterback] Jameis [Winston] and you most definitely want to keep everything under control. We feel like he’s a streaky type of quarterback, so you don’t want to let him get going. That’s it, you stop the run and try to force them to pass, but don’t let them get going in the passing game and we feel like that’s all we need to do to get a win.”
(On if getting Winston off his game starts with the pressure up front)
“Yeah, that helps with every quarterback and it’s the same with him. You want to make him uncomfortable, by getting him off his spot, keep pressure in his face. You want to disrupt him in every way you can.”
(On how much the Tampa Bay offense has changed from when he was with the team)
“It’s a lot different. I don’t know a lot of the guys, I only know a couple of the receivers, I don’t really know any of the O-linemen, I don’t know the quarterback, I know the running back. So it’s a different-looking team, most definitely.”
(On how much he has changed since he was in Tampa)
“Like you said, I came [to Tampa] when I was a rookie. I’m still going and now I’m in my fifth year in the league, so of course I’ve grown. As a player, I feel like I’m smarter. I feel like I’m more comfortable in the league. Obviously there always will a difference between a guy who’s a rookie and a guy who’s in his fifth year in the league.”
(On if the move to a more hybrid position fits him better)
“I wouldn’t say it fits me better. I like doing it, I feel like it’s good because like I said earlier, I’m closer to the ball. I feel like I was always a guy that was always around the ball, even from a safety position. So now I’m just closer to it and I can get to everything faster, which allows me to make more plays.”
(On being part of such a ‘ferocious’ defense)
“I love it because that’s also my style of play so I feel like it’s a perfect fit, that’s the way I approach the game. When I came out here I was pretty much placed in a group of guys who approach the game the same way I do, so they were a lot like me. So I feel like, like I said earlier, I think that was probably one of the best things that have happened to my career.”
(On if his teammates in Tampa weren’t as physical as his current ones)
“I wouldn’t say that, but it’s most definitely different. From what I was playing when I was in Tampa –scheme-wise – from what I was playing in that scheme to what I’m playing here, there’s most definitely a difference.”
(On if was asked to do more in coverage when he was in Tampa)
“No, I still cover now. The first game I was in man-to-man coverage probably half of the game. I still do –I don’t go back and play halves right now – but they still ask me to do a lot, as far as coverage. It’s not like I’m just simply playing around, I still do a lot of things, coverage-wise also."

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