Rams Coordinators Meet The Media

ST. LOUIS — On Thursdays throughout the regular seasons, the St. Louis Rams coordinators speak to reporters following practice. Check out what offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur, defensive coordinator Ken Flajole and special teams coordinator Tom McMahon said this week.

Pat Shurmur - Rams offensive coordinator

(On the challenges he expects from Seattle)
"We know the team pretty well. They've got a lot of returning starters. From a defensive perspective, they're very aggressive. I think they run very well. They can generate pass rush, and I think they're very solid in the secondary so this is going to be a good test for us."

(On how not having RB Steven Jackson affects the game plan)
"We try to put the scheme together with the idea that our best players are going to be in there, and then as the game goes along you have runs and passes and you decide the combination of what you're going to do. But obviously, Steven being in the game is something important."

(On what RB Kenneth Darby showed him last Sunday)
"I thought he did a terrific job. The key to a role player is to be able to come in and execute having had very few reps during the week. Most of what Darby has to do is on scout team giving a look for the other team, and then he has to learn it kind of visually and through the book. I think he came in and executed very well."

(On what he knows about Darby as a person)
"He's probably one of the tougher players on our team. He's obviously been one of our best special teams players and contributors in other areas. He's gone in there and done a good job in the times that Steven has been out of the game, so I appreciate Ken because of what he is. He's a true football player, and I think it showed up for him last Sunday."

(On what he saw from TE Fendi Onobun and WR Brandon Gibson)
"Fendi made a catch early in the game. He finished the game by blocking, and so in between he had a few other reps. I think for any rookie in there, the game will slow down for you and your play will speed up. I look for that from Fendi this week, but he did a good job for a first time in there. Then Gibson got in there and made some catches. I don't think of him as a rookie. He played a lot of football for us last year, so he did a good job."

(On RB Keith Toston's performance)
"He slammed it up in there pretty good. He's a very good runner and I think he's a very tough guy, so the reps that he got in there were very valuable for us."

(On rotating G John Greco into the game)
"John's a big guy and he's got good feet and he gets in there and takes up a lot of space. He did a nice job for the 20-something plays he was in there. Let's face it, you can't have enough linemen. If you have a guy that you feel like is worthy to get in there and compete, that's kind of what we did with John."

(On the progression of OTs Jason Smith and Rodger Saffold)
"I think they're progressing well. Fortunately to this point – aside from the rotation with John Greco in there – those five guys have played together in there for bordering on a month now. I think we all know what continuity in the offensive line means, so as long as they stay healthy and keep playing well together, that will mean a lot for this team."

(On last week's third-and-20 and the trust they have in QB Sam Bradford)
"If you're talking about Sam, we trust Sam to do the right thing. Plays are designed to do certain things. We had an 18-yard route there. We were trying to get a first down and put him on the perimeter. Once you get out there, there's some things that you've got to go through in that situation. You obviously don't want an incompletion. You don't want to be out of bounds, and if you have to run you have to stay in bounds. We trusted him to do the right thing and he did it."

(On how common it is to trust a rookie QB like the coaches trust Bradford)
"I don't know how common it is. I have experience with (Washington QB) Donovan's (McNabb) progression. Donovan didn't play until week eight, so this is uncharted ground from that standpoint, but we drafted him for all the reasons that we're seeing."

(On if he senses that Bradford is settling into a good routine)
"It's a Sunday-to-Sunday routine, and I think you don't really know how to do it until you've gone through it. The preparation and when you look at certain things and how you study this, when you put the base to bed and review it and move onto the nickel and then the red zone, so you have to go through it in order to learn how to do it. Then each week I think he'll get better. He'll start to see things that weren't quite as obvious, where maybe a big play will show up as he goes through it more than maybe if he missed it early on."

(On Seattle CB Marcus Trufant)
"He's one of the top corners in the league and he's been that since he's been in there. He's a very good cover guy and he plays physical. I think he's a guy that you have to be aware of, and when you're going against corners that are good cover guys you can't be sloppy with the football. You put the ball in a place where the receiver is limited to get it, then they'll make interceptions on you and I think Marcus is one of those players."

(On if he's surprised by Bradford diving into the preparation routine)
"I'm not surprised. I think he's…I've said in the past, but he's extremely talented. He's extremely smart, he understands how to play the position, and he works at it. So that combination is going to keep him improving and helping us win games."

Ken Flajole – Rams defensive coordinator

(On whether it's hard to game plan for a team that uses two running backs)
"Well, it does if those backs have a little bit of a change of pace in how they run. I remember in the olden days when Oakland had Tyrone Wheatley and that little back from Washington, Napoleon Kaufman. It was hard to defend them because each running back had a different style, the runs that they featured for each back were a little different. So yeah, if they have different styles, it makes it a little bit more difficult."

(On what the Rams' defense has to do to stop RB Justin Forsett)
"It has to improve. It's things that we can correct. There are sometimes it's just a small thing where we're not fitting it right with one guy, and there's an exposed gap, but it's something we'll continue to work on. I believe in this league, you still have to be able to stop the run. You earn the right to rush the passer on third down, but if we don't get to third down because we can't stop the run game it makes it difficult for the rest of the game. So it's always a point of emphasis for us."

(On how DT Jermelle Cudjo played against Washington)
"He was in for minimal reps. I think he had 10 or 12, but he did a nice job. He went in there and spelled the guys that were taking the bulk of the reps and did a nice job for us."

(On whether he will keep that role for a couple more weeks)
"Yeah, right now going into the future, that's what we'll be doing with him."

(On whether the defensive front four got more of a pass rush against Washington)
"They did a great job for us. Again, we were, as the game got along and it looked like it was going to turn into more than a one score lead for us, and knowing that they were going to have to go into more of a throwing mode. You always look at ‘do you want to pressure' and those types of things. Those guys were very confident about being able to rush the passer with a four-down front. That's a nice thing for us, that you don't necessarily have to blitz the quarterback to affect the quarterback and they really… all the linemen that came in, our front really did an excellent job last week."

(On how much of that carries over to this week)
"Well, I hope it just continues to build. We'll see, but I think that they realize that they really affected the game and hopefully they'll continue to do it because it was a great ‘plus' for us."

(On having to make mid-week and mid-game adjustments because of injuries in the secondary)
"It makes it interesting, particularly when the…now when we have a little lead-in time during practice during the week, who has the potential to be up or down, it makes it a little bit easier because we have some time to think ‘What can we do? What can the new guys absorb?' When it happens during the course of a game like it has the last two weeks, then you're in a bit of a scramble mode. To their benefit, we've had some guys play some unfamiliar positions. When I say that, corners that have had to go back to safety, two weeks ago Craig Dahl had to go play nickel in the Arizona game. He hadn't had any snaps at that. But they did a nice job. We pared the package down for them a little bit, but they went in and they did a nice job and we survived."

(On LB Brian Kehl's performance)
"Sharp guy, been impressed with him mentally. Went in there when we were in a pinch because of injuries and did a nice job for us, had a nice pressure on Bradley Fletcher's interception."

(On what Craig Dahl adds to the team)
"Veteran guy that's been in our system for more than just a few games, so we'll get his leadership, his know-how, his game experience back there, that will make a big difference for us."

(On Dahl's ability to create turnovers)
"Yeah, absolutely. We'll need it again this week because we'll have our hands full."

(On what problems TE John Carlson creates for the Rams)
"He's a comfort zone No. 1 for the quarterback. I think when they get in crunch time you always try to feed the ball to the guy that is your playmaker and certainly somebody if you throw the ball, you think he's got a reasonable chance to get open and catch it, and he does that. He's an excellent tight end for them and him and Matt Hasselbeck seem to have a real chemistry right now, so we'll have to be aware of them."

(On what he has seen from Hasselbeck so far this year)
"He still looks pretty good to me. You don't surprise him on pressures. He's seen probably every ‘zone dog', every man blitz that there's been. He gets the ball out quick. He knows when you give him certain coverage rotations where he wants to put the football. He's just a veteran quarterback that has skill that just knows what he wants to do. He's just played it for so long, those guys have a certain knack and sense about how they manage the game that rookies don't. You can see it off tape, he's done a great job for them this year."

(On how Jerome Murphy has progressed)
"He's doing a good job. We've got some guys that are coming back right now, the Kevin Dockerys, the Justin Kings that have come back here the last couple of weeks that have probably minimized his reps a little bit. But Murph's doing a good job and we'll keep giving him his reps, he'll keep growing in the system, and hopefully he'll get a chance because somewhere along the line in this season we're going to have to use him and use him in a big capacity and I'm sure he'll continue to grow and answer the bell."

Tom McMahon – Rams special teams coordinator

(On taking on the Seahawks' return team)
"Yeah, we're going to earn our money this week. Everybody knows, with (kick returners) Leon (Washington) and Golden Tate back there these guys have the No. 1 return game in both categories in the league right now, and very deserving. They've done a great job, and (Seattle Special teams) Coach (Brian) Schneider's done a great job so we've got a handful. We've got to play well."

(On what distinguishes Washington and Tate as returners)
"The biggest thing these guys can do is they're both former running backs. I know that Washington's still a running back, but you look at Tate, he played running back in high school. You see those skills in the return game because they can break tackles. A lot of returners have got the shakes and make you miss, but these guys can actually break tackles. You have to get in there and get them on the ground, you can't just one-arm these guys. And that's what they're doing, they're making people miss tackles and those turn into another 10 yards and then they make another guy miss. It just compounds itself. So we've got to get these guys on the ground, we've got to tackle well."

(On facing Seattle's return team without some key special teams players due to injury)
"The biggest thing is you can't look at what's not in the kitchen anymore. You've got to look at what's there and what we have here and we're going to go down and cover and I think the guys are going to do well and play their tails off."

(On how to avoid the blocked field goals)
"The biggest thing we've got to do is I've got to do a better job of coaching. At the end of the day, when you get field goals blocked it comes down to execution, it comes down to the fundamentals. We're not executing fundamentally, we're not doing a good enough job when it comes down to coaching. We've got to do a better job and spend more time which we've done a lot of this week."

(On whether game planning for KR Leon Washington keeps him up at night)
"There's no question it keeps you up. People that say that it doesn't…he's a tremendous player, and Golden's a tremendous player. Their schemes, they do a great job. And the big thing you've got to remember, those guys blocking for him, they believe in him. So that's the thing when you start having success, the guys believe in him. So yeah, you have to stay up at night and you have to scheme him and that's part of coaching and we've got to go down and cover kicks. At the end of the day, we have to shed blocks, and we have to tackle."

(On whether it's fair to ask K Josh Brown for touchbacks)
"Yeah, he should be expected. We need touchbacks, we need those big kicks, and I think that he wants that. But at the same time, you never go say right before a kickoff, ‘Hey, this is what we need.' But within your scheme you have to do things that not only help him but help your coverage unit, too. You're not always going to get the touchbacks, not even in Denver and those places that people are hitting touchbacks. You can't put it all on him, but yeah, he needs to have a big week and we need to put him in a situation where he can get higher hang and get the ball a little bit deeper, where we're placing the ball, things like that."

(On whether the blocked field goal against Washington could have been prevented)
"Oh yeah. It's a great play, and any time somebody makes a play you never take it away from them. He did a great job of getting there but we should have that blocked. There's no way that a guy should have came through that A-gap. Like I said, you can't have mental errors on field goal unit and I've got to do a better job of coaching, because he just walked right through the A-gap."

(On what he's seen from the Rams' return game)
"You always look for improvement. The biggest thing, for example, on punt return that I always look for is, ‘Are we controlling their net?' What are we getting from the standpoint of drive start, and I think that's what (punt returner) Danny's (Amendola) done probably the best at this time. He hasn't had a lot of balls ‘to return.' There's been a couple of short balls and he's went up and fair caught them. Last week, a 28-yarder that could have turned into a 45-yard net, and those are the things I expect out of him. Keep us away from the ball. If the ball's hitting the ground, keep our guys away from it. The returns will happen because the guys believe in him. They're going to block for him. That will come. From a kickoff return standpoint, I think we've got to do a much better job in executing. That's where you get the new, the changeover. When you have new players, it's just like an offensive line. You get a new group in there and guys haven't worked together and that's where you see it. So we just have to keep working and working, the guys are doing a good job with that. And (kick returner) Mardy (Gilyard) does a good job. He's got a lot of courage, the guy does a great job of playing behind the wedge and making cuts when he needs to. But at the end of the day, he's got to hold on to the ball, too and he knows that."

(On whether Gilyard wasn't properly securing the ball)
"No, and I'm not going to expound on why a guy fumbled a ball. The biggest thing is, at the end of the day he's just got to keep that high and tight and I've got to keep coaching that. I'm not worried about him, if that's what you're asking. I don't think it's something that's going to be…something that continues on."

(On whether Seattle K Olindo Mare still has the same ability as he's had throughout his career)
"Yeah, he still has that line drive. He has the big toolbox, what I call, of kicks. So he can kick the power ball back to the back of the end zone and then he's going to hit you with a line drive and hit you with squibs. So you really have to be ready to go because that changes your timing on what you're doing up front, what you're doing in the back row. But yeah, he's doing a great job, he's still the same guy, causes everybody problems."

(On if there was a specific reason why he had both Amendola and Gilyard back deep to return kickoffs)
"Yeah. What it comes down to is where they're kicking the ball. When you start looking at what scheme you're going to run, where are they putting the ball, and they put the ball, Washington does a great job putting the ball in both corners. So you put one returner back there and he's working sideways to try and catch balls rather than working forward. To me, if you're working sideways to catch a kickoff, you might as well keep it in the end zone because you lose all the timing, so that's why we did that."

(On whether he stressed how pivotal special teams can be this week)
"No question. Where they're at statistically, but at the same time it's not all about statistics. These guys play hard. We have to match how hard they play. They play physical, they're well-coached. We've got to get ourselves in the classroom, we've got to do a good job out here on the field. I think the guys have done a good job with that. I think they're going to be ready to go and I think they're excited about the challenge. They're the best. At the end of the day you're playing the best, and they've earned that right. So now we have to go out and try to execute against them."

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