Friday, July 14, 2017

The Los Angeles Rams Weekly: All or Nothing: A Season with the Los Angeles Rams, 24 Hours with Sean McVay, Relocation Fees, Rams Host Summer Event for Kids Club Members, Diary Of A Ram Fan

A ‘Nothing’ Season for Rams Turns Into Compelling TVWhat’s interesting about an NFL team losing 75 percent of its games and firing its head coach before the end of the season? Plenty, as the NFL Films creators behind the Amazon Original series ‘All or Nothing’ learned
We spent a day with first-year Los Angeles Rams coach Sean McVay as the youngest coach in the NFL attempts to make his mark on his team at a recent minicamp.

We spent a day with first-year Los Angeles Rams coach Sean McVay as the youngest coach in the NFL attempts to make his mark on his team at a recent minicamp.

On Dec. 12, in a team meeting room, Los Angeles Rams punter Johnny Hekker fights back tears as he stands to address his teammates.

“That man is gone because of us,” Hekker says. 

He’s talking about head coach Jeff Fisher, who has just left the room for the last time. Some of his former players openly sob, others sit in stunned silence, processing the fact that their leader was fired that morning.

The aftermath of Jeff Fisher’s post-Week 14 dismissal is one of the most compelling scenes from NFL Films Amazon Original series, All or Nothing: A Season with the Los Angeles Rams. In its first season, the series followed the 2015 Arizona Cardinals, a 13-3 team that was one win away from reaching the Super Bowl. This season in L.A. went an entirely different direction—a franchise on the move, a losing season, and organizational dysfunction. The MMQB talked to NFL Films coordinating producer and All or Nothing show runner Keith Cossrow and the director of the series, Shannon Furman, about the challenges of making the 4-12 Rams season into a compelling series of binge TV.

All eight episodes of All or Nothing: A Season with the Los Angeles Rams are available now on Amazon Prime Video.
Photo: Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
KAHLER: NFL Films also produces the show Hard Knocks, which focuses only on the training camp period and coincidentally also featured the Rams last August. What are the biggest challenges in following a team for an entire season as opposed to just a few weeks?

Here is the Transcript:
FURMAN: I think for us, one of the biggest things is that guys don’t see the product until the end. On Hard Knocks, we film for 17 days before the first show airs. Even that is a lot at the time, everybody is waiting to see what this is going to look like. For All or Nothing, since this is such a new series, there are some guys who don’t even know what the series is. So they see you around and they are wearing wires, and you are going home with them and they’re like, What are we doing? Where does this end up? So for me in the field, that is one of the biggest challenges, that they don’t actually get to see what is going on. I remember when [Rams linebacker] Mark Barron had the interception against his former team, the Bucs, I was telling him, Oh the shot is great, wait until you see it! And he was like, Okay when do I see it? And I’m like, well, next July.

COSSROW: On the back end here at Films, it is such a different process because Hard Knocks is happening in real time, we are trying to make a movie in real time. The turnaround on Hard Knocks is insane and there is nothing really like it in TV. It’s great, it’s amazing, it is a high wire act. And this show is obviously not airing until several months after the season ends. So we’re collecting about 1,200 hours of footage without shaping it right away. We are logging it all and figuring out stories and storylines, obviously tracking the season very closely, but we’re not editing until November or December, and at that point you get a chance to edit it all at once. So even though it is eight episodes, it’s a binge show that is going to drop all at once. So you do get that experience as a storyteller of thinking of it as one big movie or a novel that is told in eight chapters. That sort of storytelling that has become so popular and is so enjoyable. It is a totally different process for us as filmmakers and storytellers on both ends.

KAHLER: Have you heard any feedback from the players or coaches featured in the series?

FURMAN: Yeah actually we have, and it has been really positive, which has been great for us because it was a difficult year. I’ve heard from Aaron Donald and the Keenums. I’ve heard from probably almost all of the coaches. Everybody seems to really think that we have portrayed them very fairly and showed their hard work through a very difficult situation.

KAHLER: Have you heard anything from Jeff Fisher? The scenes from the moments after he was fired were so powerful, I’m interested to know what he thinks of it. 

FURMAN: Coach Fisher has watched the whole series. He likes it. He’s been around for such a long time that he understands what life in the NFL is like and I think he saw the value in having us being able to show how close they were in some of those early games and how quickly things can go wrong even though they are all working extremely hard. At no point was he ever reluctant throughout the season. We knew it was going to be tough going into it, they moved the whole franchise. So we knew we probably weren’t going to be in the NFC Championship like the Cardinals the year before, but we still thought it was valuable. It was still a historic year for the NFL and L.A., which is one of the big reasons why we went forward with this. It didn’t go the way Coach Fisher wanted it to go, but I think he really saw the value in us being able to show a group of people working hard and things just didn’t go the way they had planned.

COSSROW: That response from the players and the coaches and Coach Fisher, I think it speaks to what is unique about this season of All or Nothing and why I think it is worth checking out. We’ve never had a chance to tell a story like this before, in 55 years of making football movies at NFL Films. Like Shannon said, I think they all recognized the value of what we are trying to do here, in showing a side of life in the NFL that people don’t ever get to see. This is what happens when a season goes bad. When you watch the show, you’ll see it’s not because they aren’t working hard and it’s not because they aren’t trying their best, and it’s not because they aren’t talented players and brilliant coaches. It’s a razor’s edge, the NFL, and a lot of those games early in the season could have gone either way, and are decided on the last drive of the game. That team could have been 5-2 or 6-1 very easily, and to see it not go their way, and then that snowball starts to roll downhill on them and get away from them.

This happens to seven or eight teams every year in the NFL.That’s a lot of lives that get upended and a lot of coaches and families that have to start over again. It’s a really tough life. I think the players and coaches had a feeling of what we were going to do in the story, but after seeing it, it confirmed to them that we were going to tell the true story of what it’s like to have this happen. It’s not an indictment of anyone, so much as it is, here’s the reality of it. It’s hard and it can happen to anybody in the NFL.
The show captured many emotional scenes, including when punter Johnny Hekker addressed his teammates after learning their head coach was fired.
The show captured many emotional scenes, including when punter Johnny Hekker addressed his teammates after learning their head coach was fired. Photo: NFL Films

KAHLER: Unlike Hard Knocks, there is no camera in the coach’s office when shooting All or Nothing. Because of this, you guys weren’t able to capture the moment where Jeff Fisher finds out he is fired. Will you try to negotiate for cameras inside the coach’s office for next season? Or is that something a team would never agree to?

COSSROW: We have a meeting here next week before people leave for Hard Knocks, a final post mortem to talk about what we did well and what we can do better, and how we can improve the show, should we be fortunate enough to have a season three, and I’m sure we will talk about that. I think there are things we do in Hard Knocks, it is a limited six weeks, it’s during training camp, that it just might not be practical to do over four or five months. To have a camera in a head coach’s office running 12 hours a day, seven days a week for four months is a lot. It’s a lot of resources to expend, it’s a lot to ask of anyone to allow that. It’s something we will consider, it just might not be something that is practical for this show, or necessary. We get so much from just constantly wiring everyone on the field at practice, from being in all the meeting rooms. Yes, of course there are moments that you don’t get, but even if we have a camera in a coach’s office, what's to say he is not going to go outside and make a phone call on his cell phone? You can shoot 24/7 with 10 cameras and you’re still going to miss a lot of things. There is no way to prevent that.

KAHLER: You caught some pretty incredible scenes of the aftermath of Fisher’s firing, like when Hekker cries and tell his teammates, “That man is gone because of us.” Were you surprised by the raw emotion there that you were able to capture?

FURMAN: Probably not, just after being around the team for that long. Coach Fisher is a player’s coach. Those guys love him. By that time of the year, I had been around since the start of Hard Knocks and even before the start of Hard Knocks. I got a feel for that everyday how much these guys liked him. He is loyal to a lot of his players. He brought some guys with him from Tennessee, [wide receiver] Kenny Britt and [defensive end] Will Hayes. Those guys love him. I’ve been around a lot of teams in my 13 years with NFL Films and I’ve really never seen anything like it. I would even see star players from other teams come up to him pregame and tell him that they would love to play for him some day. It did not surprise me, the emotion that those guys had that day. Everyone had this feeling that Fisher was safe, himself included. A lot of the players thought this was going to be a free year because they moved and they had a lot of other stuff to go through, so everyone was pretty shocked and I think that emotion was really real that day.

KAHLER: What is the best scene that was cut from the final series?

COSSROW: People always love asking that questions, but I always watch these deleted scenes from movies or shows and they are usually deleted because they aren’t that good.
FURMAN: I’ll answer for Keith. I went to Paris for a day with the wives and that was cut out. It’s in the bonus scenes, but that was not easy to organize. I was French travel agent for the day, and I had never been to France in my life. I thought it was a fun scene, but we got a lot of great access in London that week, so at the end of the day, we went with the stuff that had the guys in it because we did a bunch of trips all around London with different players, so when it came time to cut something out, that went. But I thought that was a cool scene [because] that was something we’ve never done before.

COSSROW: It was expensive too. Our project manager was not happy. You make those decisions because you can only tell so many stories. There are only so many characters that an audience can be asked to really be invested.

KAHLER: Was there one guy on the team, either coach or player, who you felt most invested?

FURMAN: That’s easy for me. That was [quarterback] Case Keenum. Case is awesome, his wife is awesome. I had the chance to work with him in Houston also, back in 2013. Nobody works harder than Case. He’s a great leader. He has become a good friend. We were all rooting for him here, and he gave us a ton of access into what he was going through that year, especially as the quarterback of a team that just moved to L.A. I’ll continue to root for him. He’s in Minnesota now, so there’s a chance he might be playing again this year.

COSSROW: I think the other guy who emerges in the series and someone who you really root for is [special teams coordinator] John Fassel. He is a fascinating case. His dad is Jim Fassel, who coached the Giants, and we knew that he is a terrific special teams coach, with an interesting and fun personality. Shannon and the directors knew that from Hard Knocks, but we were very skeptical out here as to whether we would find a way to get him into the show. Shannon would call me and say, Keith, we’re going to shoot Coach Fassel on the beach with his wife and kids tomorrow night. And I would say, Shannon that’s great, I have no idea what we are going to do with that, but go for it! Maybe special teams will have a great game and we will find a way to weave him into the story somehow. And then lo and behold, everything happens and John Fassel becomes the interim head coach and in a lot of ways he was as shocked as anyone. You see this guy get thrust behind the wheel of a sinking ship. All of a sudden he is the head coach of an NFL team with three weeks left in the season. It is just a really emotional scene to watch unfold. He becomes a little bit of our proxy. He comes off as a very regular guy, someone we can relate. It was interesting to us to track his story.
Aaron Donald was in the middle of the action throughout the season for the Rams.
Aaron Donald was in the middle of the action throughout the season for the Rams. Photo: NFL Films

KAHLER: I was impressed that you somehow made the Rams home opener, where neither L.A. or Seattle scored a touchdown, look like a compelling game. The Rams went 4-12 and has a pretty miserable season. How challenging was it to make bad football look good?

COSSROW: So challenging. We’ve been editing football games for a long time here, so we’ve had a lot of practice. I think a lot of the techniques we’ve learned over the years—wiring players, bringing a lot of cameras, and looking for different ways to tell a story—make it less dependent on how many touchdowns are scored. In this series, the games function as another scene where you can get to know the players better and see the characters in action. Heading into a game, you will have been introduced to guys like [defensive tackle] Aaron Donald and [running back] Todd Gurley and then the games serve as payoffs or high points in action, even when there isn’t a lot of scoring or traditionally exciting action. You are still seeing your characters in a way that you want to know what happens to them. Aaron Donald is wired against the Seahawks and wreaking havoc against their offensive line and destroying Russell Wilson. That is compelling. It might not be that exciting when you are watching the Fox broadcast in Week 2 and you’re looking for fantasy stats, but in this context, there is a lot we can do to make it interesting.

KAHLER: I love the scenes where the players are hanging out together away from the facility, like the one where a group of guys are grilling out together at Robert Quinn’s house. How do those moments come together?

FURMAN: I spend many hours in the parking lot, stalking everyone. Rob was actually the only player on the team I really knew, going into Hard Knocks. That was Rob and Will Hayes and Aaron Donald, and their wives and fiancees. [The grill scene] actually came about through Rob’s wife, Christina. She had told us that they were going to be doing that and invited us by if we wanted to come and film for a little bit. A lot of it is through forming relationships with wives and mothers, because women are usually more dependable. We try to figure out what our storylines are and sometimes it doesn’t end up paying off in the games. We knew that moving was a storyline, so we started talking with [tight end] Lance Kendricks and his wife Danielle about their house, because they were doing a home renovation project. You’re just always looking for things to do, whether it is through the PR staff or forming relationships on your own. I don’t know that we will ever try to do a Hard Knocks team for All or Nothing ever again but it was nice having those relationships.

COSSROW: The scene Shannon mentioned with Lance and Danielle Kendricks—there is a scene with the two of them that is a great example with what we are trying to accomplish with off-the-field shoots in this series. He drops a crucial pass that would have been a touchdown against Carolina. It’s a devastating moment. It’s one of these games that they probably should have won. The defense played great but the offense just could not score. And then the next scene, you’re at their house and they are cooking dinner and they are talking about what happened and how difficult that is. Did you bring that home? How do you move on?  It’s not something you ever think about as fans when we watch a game and scream at our TV when a guy dropped a pass. You don’t think about, Oh, that guy is going to go home and have dinner tonight with his wife and sit and talk about that, or not talk about that. What we try to do is capture the mundane. When we ask players if we can shoot something with them off the field, we are not trying to do something they wouldn’t ordinarily do. Can we just come home with you while you are cooking dinner or whatever it is you are going to do tonight?​

FURMAN: When I shot with Rodger Saffold one night, we come over and they were filming with E! before we got there. It was a huge set with lights and Rodger and his wife said, Shannon, what do you want us to do? And I was like, I want you to do whatever you were going to do. I want you to feed your kids and put your kids to bed, I don’t want you to do anything that is fabricated. So that’s the scene where you see Rodger pulling the kids around in the cardboard boxes. It’s just natural. I usually say, Can we just come over tonight? Just eat dinner and I’ll throw some questions at you, we just want it to be real.

COSSROW: That’s the idea of the show. We want to give fans a chance to see what this life really is about and that means, do what you’re doing and let us come capture a little piece of it. I know a lot of people have asked, Why did you do the Rams? Why should we watch a series about a team that didn’t go anywhere? I think this season it is just as compelling as the last season, where we saw a team that almost went to the Super Bowl. Now we see the other side of that coin.
KAHLER: Which team will be featured next year?

COSSROW: We are in conversations with several teams and we certainly hope and expect to do a third season, so we will see what happens. Question or comment? Email direct.

24 Hours ... With Sean McVay by Andy Benoit (Follow Andy at Twitter: @Andy_Benoit)
He may be the youngest coach in NFL history, but the Rams’ new head man is in unquestioned command of his team. Word for the wise—no daydreaming in meetings!

We spent a day with first-year Los Angeles Rams coach Sean McVay as the youngest coach in the NFL attempts to make his mark on his team at a recent minicamp.

This is the fourth installment of The MMQB’s “24 Hours” series, inside-inside, multimedia stories for the 2017 NFL season, chronicling a day in the life of an important figure in pro football.

After seven years in Washington, the last three as Jay Gruden’s offensive coordinator, a soon-to-be 31-year-old Sean McVay took over the Los Angeles Rams in January, becoming the youngest head coach in NFL history (modern era). It’s been a whirlwind first off-season, though if you observe McVay running the team, you’d think he’s been at it for a decade. In May, during the Rams’ third OTA session (which meant full days with the players and live practices), McVay welcomed us behind the curtain.
* * *
Los Angeles, Calif.
May 24, 2017
9:43 p.m. PT
Sean McVay answers the door to his contemporary-style house in Encino Hills, a neighborhood in the San Fernando Valley northwest of downtown L.A. He moved in a few weeks earlier. His mother, an interior designer in Atlanta, has been furnishing the place. She’s off to a strong—and, to McVay’s occasional astonishment, expensive—start. But her work is far from done. About half of the home’s 4,660 square feet remain bare. McVay lives here with his girlfriend, Veronica, who moved with him from Virginia.

After McVay, the former offensive coordinator in Washington, got the Rams job on Jan. 12, he planned on returning to his Reston, Va., townhouse to gather his things. But there was too much to do in California. So Veronica and a few friends took care of clearing the townhouse, and it sold in a day. McVay never made it back.

He’s wearing his usual: shorts, t-shirt and running shoes. “Come in, make yourself at home,” he says.
* * *
10:01 p.m.
McVay toured six houses when he got to L.A. The fourth felt like the winner. But then he saw this one. It overlooks Burbank and has an enormous open patio. The bells and whistles abound: a gas fire table near the edge of the balcony; a miniature balcony overlooking the pool; floodlights—remarkably powerful floodlights; surround sound inside and outside; an Alexa system that controls the lights on command. (“Alexa, turn all off.”) And a glass wall that slides open at the push of a button, converting the living room into essentially a fancy covered patio.

“Pretty cool, huh?” McVay says as he reveals each nook and cranny. He’s too earnestly impressed to be bragging. He grabs a beer and takes a seat near the gas fire table, only to discover that the cushions of his new patio furniture are damp. Oh well. He’s calling it a night soon anyway. The youngest head coach in NFL history explains that the consequence of waking up early is going to bed at the hour of an old man.
* * *
May 25
4:01 a.m.
The alarm was set for 3:45 a.m. And now he’s ready for work. The plan was to leave a little after 4:00. The camera crew following him today was to arrive at 4:10. They show up at 4:06. McVay is welcoming but clearly eager to go. The day is already slipping away.
* * *
4:17 a.m.
McVay winds his black BMW 750i through nearly two miles of his Encino Hills neighborhood to the freeway. His commute to the Rams’ temporary football offices at Cal Lutheran in Thousand Oaks is 28 to 30 minutes at this hour, depending on how you hit the lights. Some mornings McVay will listen to an audiobook. (Lately it’s been Extreme Ownership: How Navy SEALs lead and win.) Other mornings he’ll call people back east. He can catch his parents at this hour. Today he just chats with the camera crew, as hip-hop plays quietly in the background.
* * *
4:37 a.m.
McVay’s office is sparse. There’s a large oak L-shaped desk and cabinet, and four screens: two computer monitors, a laptop and a large flat-screen, which displays the contents of McVay’s main computer. On the wall is a blowup picture of Rams linebacker Alec Ogletree leading a huddle. That’s it. There’s also a blowup of running back Todd Gurley and a painting of Eric Dickerson, but they’re yet to be hung. The room comfortably fits two large leather arm chairs, a small leather sofa and a round table with three chairs. On the table is a list of hour-by-hour daily schedules covering all the way through August. In the back is a one-man locker room equipped with a shower and toilet.

McVay, drinking black coffee and a sparkling water (Rams general manager Les Snead got him on it), is at his desk watching clips of plays from Atlanta and Washington that he’ll be installing today for his young Rams offense. It’s Day 3 of the third OTA session. Practice is from noon to 2:00, but players will arrive for meetings at 8:00 a.m. McVay wants to show examples of how these new designs play out against different defensive looks. “One thing about going through all these clips,” he says with a smile, “is you gain a real appreciation for how good some of your former players were.”
* * *
6:10 a.m.
He’s still watching clips. The only break is for a bowl of cereal, which he takes back to his desk. Today it’s Frosted Flakes; the cafeteria was out of Frosted Mini-Wheats. He eats with a plastic spoon out of a small paper bowl. 

Distractions keep popping up, and he winds up barely finishing half. It’s all McVay will consume for the next eight hours.
* * *
6:41 a.m.
Offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur pops into the office. McVay and LaFleur have been friends since 2011, when they worked together on Washington’s staff. They discuss a wide receiver screen play.

“I think it’s so hit-or-miss for a running back to block this defender when he’s offset,” McVay says, pointing to an example on the video.

“So you want me to switch it out?” LaFleur asks.

“Well, I’m asking your opinion here, too.”

“Yeah, I think it just depends. If you do have the running back aligned there, you have to have other plays off of that.”

The discussion continues for several minutes. They go over which plays to install today and which to hold until next week. 
There’s a fine line here, because in the NFL you don’t have plays per se; you have variations of concepts. It all must tie together.
* * *
7:03 a.m.
Tight ends coach Shane Waldron stops in. McVay also solicits his opinion as well on whether to put in the package he discussed with LaFleur. It directly affects Waldron’s players, and he’d prefer to wait until next week. “If you don’t mind,” Waldron says.

“Not at all,” McVay says. “That’s why I’m asking.”
* * *
7:08 a.m.
Now it’s Rams head trainer Reggie Scott who drops by. He has injury updates. McVay asks him which player so far has run the most total yards in OTAs. (The Rams track this data with a GPS program.) McVay guesses wide receiver Mike Thomas, and he’s correct. (Naturally; wide receivers run farther downfield on each snap than any other player, plus they must jog to and from the huddle.) McVay also guesses Todd Gurley is near the top because of the way he continues to run through the whistle. Scott’s polite tone suggests this guess is close but not spot on. “Yeah, he’s top third,” Scott says.
* * *
8:00 a.m.
Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips is in the defense meeting room, addressing his whole unit. He’s wearing a red plaid shirt but will later change into Rams gear. McVay stands in the back alongside cornerbacks coach Aubrey Pleasant. In a few minutes, Pleasant and safeties coach Ejiro Evero will take over, addressing the defensive backs. They’ll go back and forth, playing off one another and challenging safeties and corners to understand who is providing help in Los Angeles’s matchup coverages. McVay sits quietly in the back, taking notes.
* * *
8:55 a.m.
Now it’s McVay’s turn to run a meeting. He’s addressing the entire offense. He jumps right in, no intro. “Today we’re going to be exclusively in ‘11’ personnel (one back, one tight end), working against pressures.”

McVay calls on players at random throughout the meeting. Rams employees have come to fear this. Nothing is worse than the head coach catching your daydream in front of the entire room. From quarterback Jared Goff to the quality control assistants, many have learned the hard way to pay undivided attention. Some have even taken to keeping a cheat sheet at the front of their binder, listing all the Ram slogans and acronyms that McVay asks about. It’s not unusual for McVay to call on a potential victim and hear frantic page-turning.

A few weeks ago star defensive back Trumaine Johnson was asked to name one of the two C’s that define their culture. With abrupt certainty that only a corner can conjure, Johnson said commitment. Wrong. “But he was so confident about it,” McVay later recounts for Veronica and friends, “that I paused and thought, ‘son of a gun, am I wrong about the two C’s?” 

(For the record, it’s character and communication.)
* * *
9:50 a.m.
Special teams coordinator John Fassel—known as “Bones” for his lanky build—is leading the next meeting. It’s in the same room as the offensive meeting and is slated to start at 9:50. The second the clock ticks over from 9:49, McVay calls out, “What time does this 9:50 meeting start?” He’s busting Fassel’s chops, but the veteran assistant hastens anyway. Fassel dives in, full energy, a few seconds before the clock ticks to 9:51.
* * *
10:10 a.m.
It’s time for the full team meeting. This is where today’s emotional tone is set. McVay explains that there will be a competitive session near the end of practice, offense vs. defense at full speed (no pads, so no tackling). Three drives, each valued at one point. The offense gets a point by either gaining three first downs or 40 yards. The defense gets a point by forcing a punt or turnover before then.

McVay reiterates some of the mantras that he wants his team to live by. He talks about the importance of operating with poise and tempo. Of communicating. Of pursuing daily excellence. “We expect to achieve and live our highest standards,” he bellows, pacing back and forth. “You know those three things we have. Coach Wade Phillips, what’s one of those three things?” McVay keeps pacing, knowing his renowned veteran defensive coordinator will answer quickly and get the ball rolling.

Except Phillips says nothing.

McVay stops and turns. “Our APP [slogan], what’s one of its three things?” McVay asks again. Saying the three letters—APP—is a disguised lifeline for Phillips; a few weeks earlier Phillips himself had come up with the acronym. He’d picked off three values McVay commonly preaches—approach, preparation and performance—and proudly announced, “I have an ‘app’ for that.” Now here’s Phillips sitting in Row 1, before the entire team, drawing a blank. He starts to blush. “Help him out!” McVay barks. “Approach, preparation and performance,” nearly 100 dumbfounded voices mutter. 

Giggles start to creep across the room. Purely by accident, McVay has caught his unlikeliest daydreaming victim yet. Phillips can only laugh.
* * *
10:25 a.m.
More meetings with the offense. McVay focuses on wide receivers, going over the nuances of spacing, blocking rules and how to set up routes that achieve separation. There also is discussion about Jared Goff’s progressions. The emphasis is not just on where the ball goes, but also why. This is for everyone to understand.

One player McVay calls on consistently is Robert Woods, a free-agent wide receiver formerly with the Bills. (And always by full name. What’s our rule for five-step timing on this play, Robert Woods? What do you do here against two high safeties, Robert Woods?)

Shortly after the meeting, on McVay’s way out, Woods, a diligent student with what’s planned to be a big role in Los Angeles’s passing attack, stops the head coach with a question. By the time he and McVay wrap up, five other players have gathered to listen.
* * *
Practice time. McVay recently tore a quad sprinting, so he’s not running from station to station as much as he normally would. Though an observer would never know. The coach traverses the Rams’ two fields, spending most of his time with the offense. It’s McVay’s prime area of expertise, plus the defensive staff is highly experienced, starting with Phillips, who has served as a head coach in Denver, Buffalo, Houston and Dallas. Those coaches can run much of their own show.
* * *
12:21 p.m.
The first of many offense vs. defense sessions is beginning. “Left hash, ‘11’ personnel!” McVay yells. “Let’s start this thing off right!” Then he turns his attention to his young quarterback. “Alright Jared, here we go buddy. Right tight, Y-left, draw left, 16-4 vice blaze. Hey, let’s set the tempo here. Let’s have a good day. If something bad happens, don’t blink.”
* * *
12:30 p.m.
The Rams are practicing a run alert play. That’s when the huddle call is a run but Goff has the option to throw a quick slant depending on the defense. McVay takes Robert Woods through it. “L 17-dancer, 13-slider. You get these corners, they play off just in no man’s land on you, when you get into a reduced split. We get it to you, right through that outside ’backer who’s up on the line of scrimmage. You catch that thing clean, man. Julio [Jones] caught a couple of balls for about 20 yards. It’s a great way to make people pay. And you throw the ball about four feet.”
* * *
12:41 p.m.
The receiver drills need more precision. “Hey, listen! Listen! Listen! Listen! Listen!” McVay yells. “When we do this, in routes on air, come on man, you’re too on top of this, be three yards inside the numbers, right? You’re selling this through to the hash. Give somebody room to feel this, know what I mean?” 
* * *
12:54 p.m.
“Hey Robert Woods! Good finish, man.” 
* * *
1:02 p.m.
Backup quarterback Sean Mannion is intercepted on a deep ball. A receiver ran the wrong route, bringing the free safety into play. Mannion watched it happen and threw anyway.

The defense, which has talked trash for much of the scrimmage, goes nuts. Someone yells, “Yes sir!”

“No, no that’s not ‘yes sir,’” McVay hollers. “That’s what happens when you do your own shit. I love that that just happened.” He walks over to Mannion. “Hey, don’t let [the receiver] screwing you cause you to make a bad decision. Because you’re going to bring the safety over there.”
“I just don’t want to throw from one side to the other,” Mannion says.

“And here’s what I would say to you: Throw it away,” McVay responds. “Because that’s the only play [available] when he screws you. Because when you stay on that side, that safety’s going to key over the top.”

McVay keeps Mannion on the field for the next snap.
“Alright buddy, let’s do this: right hash, ‘12’ group, 3-jet Y bird slice.”

Before the snap, LaFleur whispers something to McVay about the interception. “I know, you can’t do that,” McVay agrees. “Because you’re going to take the safety to the freaking play. That’s what I said to him.”

Mannion’s throw on the 12 group, 3-jet Y bird slice is complete. McVay perks up. “Good. There you go right there. Good job, Sean.”
* * *
1:17 p.m.
Mannion’s interception is one of several poor plays for the offense. McVay says for anyone in his vicinity, “Defense, you guys are kicking our ass on offense.”
* * *
1:26 p.m.
There’s a problem: Soon-to-be-32-year-old center John Sullivan, a former Viking in his first year with the Rams, is too smart. He’s reading the defense and immediately calling out perfect offensive adjustments. That’s great in live action but counterproductive in practice when you’re trying to develop your second-year quarterback. “Hey, John,” McVay barks. “Let him”—Goff—“make these calls!”
* * *
1:45 p.m.
The defense continues to defeat the offense. McVay gets frustrated at his second unit. At the end of a third-down play that, in an actual game, would have surely been measured by the chain gang, he yells “Two’s are off! [i.e., Second team, leave the field.] Point to the defense!” A little later, after the defense has won the drive-battle 3-0, left tackle Andrew Whitworth approaches McVay and tells him he got it wrong. The offense should have been granted a first down at the end of that second drive. The score should have been 2-1 defense.
* * *
2:05 p.m.
Practice is over. The entire team is gathered at midfield. “First of all,” McVay says, “it’s a good start for next week. What we know is this: We go through some of those situations, it’s a great test of our poise, for everybody. But our communication, getting in and out of the huddle, we’ve got to be better with that. It starts with me, okay? We’ve had three days of great work. Love your effort, love your intensity. Let’s see if we can start tightening up the screws. In the competitive period, give it up for the defense today, you guys got the best of us.” Muffled applause. “But we’ll come back, we’ll continue to compete, we’re all making each other better. Where’s Robert Quinn at? Give us a breakdown, Robert Quinn! Give us a breakdown, Big Rob!”
1-2-3 Rams!
* * *
2:16 p.m.
Drinking one of the dozens of smoothies that team nutritionist Joey Blake prepared for the team, McVay sits at his desk watching film of the practice, which ended seven minutes ago. In a few minutes the entire offensive staff will watch and analyze it together. Various staffers flow in and out, many catching snippets of McVay’s concerns. There were some time-related issues that hindered the practice’s flow. The passing game could have been sharper. A receiver got hurt. The offense got shorted some yards by unfavorable spots of the ball. That one isn’t a big deal, but still. Most maddening of all: The film reveals that defensive linemen consistently lined up offside. No one noticed.
* * *
2:53 p.m.
In the offensive meeting room, McVay sits at the head of a long table, opposite the projector screen. The other eight chairs are filled by assistant coaches. They’ll be there for the next three hours. McVay calls out every play beforehand, often analyzing from memory what’s about to happen. He runs the remote, which can be maddening. He’s known as a “remote tyrant”—someone who rewinds plays again and again. He used to drive Jay Gruden crazy in Washington.
* * *
3:02 p.m.
“They’re lined up offsides,” McVay says, pausing to examine the defensive line before the snap. “No shit,” deadpans offensive line coach Aaron Kromer. The helmets of three defensive linemen are clearly in the neutral zone. “Look at these guys,” McVay whispers.
* * *
3:17 p.m.
“This is not a good route,” McVay says. “Watch this. He’s been better than this.” The film shows Robert Woods getting absorbed by a press corner. “He’s not threatening anybody vertical on this play.” Woods already knows this. He’s the type who harps on his own mistakes. He had approached McVay after practice. Toward the end of the film meeting, when the position coaches each sum up their final thoughts, receivers coach Eric Yarber will admit that Woods is generally more consistent than he was today. Two bad routes were the difference. No one is worried.
* * *
4:41 p.m.
McVay wonders something: Is his presence on the field during the hurry-up drills hindering the offense? Does he need to let the players grow under fire a bit more? He honestly doesn’t know and asks the room what they think. Every coach assures him the current setup is fine.
* * *
4:49 p.m.
“Good progression by Todd, man,” McVay says, watching Gurley make a blitz pickup from his running back position. In the offensive meetings earlier, Gurley had worn an affable, subtly bemused smile, making you wonder if his mind wasn’t drifting toward topics a little more entertaining than the protection rules that were up on the whiteboard. But McVay called on Gurley several times, and each time his answer was quick and spot on. And now his actions on film verify his focus. McVay turns to running backs coach Skip Peete. “Gurley’s a smart guy, isn’t he coach?” Peete concurs.
* * *
5:11 p.m.
“This is where my blood really boiled,” McVay says. The film shows the second-team offense lining up incorrectly just before McVay called off their drive in the scrimmage. “I yelled ‘Two’s are off! Points for the defense!’” He laughs.
* * *
5:33 p.m.
One thing the film reveals: Whitworth was right. The offense had indeed gained three first downs on one of its drives. “I love that he cares so much, that he’s so competitive,” McVay says. This presents a golden opportunity: When practice resumes the following week, McVay will announce the mistake. The defense, which had been cocky and believed it won the scrimmage 3-0, will learn that the score had actually been 2-1. They’ll throw a fit and cry politics. (McVay, being so offense-minded, constantly worries about playing favorites.) And from that, the next scrimmage will be infused with competitive energy.
* * *
5:42 p.m.
McVay broaches an interesting topic with Peete and Kromer: Gurley needs to keep his shoulders squared downfield when running “duo,” which is an inside zone run with two double-team blocks. In the formation they’re watching now, Gurley knows the run will often bounce outside. That’s why he’s turning his shoulders outside. But if he stays square, defenders will react differently and, long story short, it’ll create better blocking angles for when the ball does bounce outside. McVay stands up to demonstrate. Peete and Kromer fully agree. “That’s why I think Matt Forte was so good for you guys in Chicago,” McVay says to Kromer, who was the Bears’ offensive coordinator under Marc Trestman. “He was patient to the line, and he could jump cut with his shoulders square. Who’s the other best duo runner in the league? Le’Veon Bell. Those guys are patient. They play with their shoulders square to the line of scrimmage. I think Todd’s going to be awesome at this play.”
* * *
6:16 p.m.
The meeting is over. The building is mostly empty. A three-day weekend is coming up, which McVay will parlay into a four-day break for everyone. After finishing some miscellaneous office work, he heads over to the trainers room to meet with Reggie Scott. There’s an update on the injured receiver. Scott also advises that the 35-year-old Whitworth and 30-year-old free-agent defensive end Connor Barwin should have their practice reps reduced. McVay agrees. Both veterans will hate it, but you have to save them from themselves. Before he goes, McVay gets instructions for healing his injured quad: light running over the next four days, but only on a treadmill, where he can regulate his speed.
* * *
6:37 p.m.
Time to head home. But first, a quick shower in the one-man locker room at the back of his office. Usually McVay does this right after practice, before the coaches watch the day’s film. Today there wasn’t time.
* * *
6:46 p.m.
On the drive home, McVay calls Robert Woods. “Hey, I was thinking about our conversation after practice. We can definitely clean up a couple of those routes—you can run them better—but don’t let that take away from all the good stuff that you’ve been doing, man.” McVay and Woods spend a few minutes discussing the specifics of those routes.

“But the main reason I was calling is because I could name about 25 good things you’ve done over last week and dating back to the minicamp, too. So, keep being hard on yourself because that’s why you are who you are, but don’t let it affect your weekend, man. You’re wired to separate, and you’ve done it consistently. And just watching how conscientious you are, and how you’re competing—showing the other guys how to compete, you’re making them better, too. And that’s what it’s about.”
* * *
7:08 p.m.
McVay gets a call from Mom. Just a quick check-in. Before hanging up, he remembers something. “Hey those cushions on the patio chairs—how are they at absorbing moisture? It didn’t rain last night but they were a little damp.”
* * *
8:15 p.m.
Veronica has just gotten back from the gym and isn’t sure that she’s presentable enough to be seen by The MMQB’s cameras, which have followed McVay inside. Her boyfriend chuckles at this.

Rams assistant linebackers coach Chris Shula (son of Dave, nephew of Mike, grandson of Don) comes downstairs. He and McVay were friends in college at Miami of Ohio, and now Shula lives in one of the six bedrooms at McVay’s a house. The two coaches have a beer by the fire on the balcony while Veronica and a friend visiting from back east get ready to go out. The group has a 9:30 reservation for sushi on Sunset Boulevard. The fireside conversation never veers from football.
* * *
9:04 p.m.
McVay trails the group out the door. “Alexa, lights off,” he says. Nothing happens. He tries again, this time with a more deliberate delivery, like how you talk to a dog that won’t sit. “Alexa, lights off.” Still nothing. “Alexa….lights…” Finally, darkness.
“He loves that light-switching thing,” Veronica says.
* * *
9:17 p.m.
An Uber takes the group to sushi. Just one complication: The driver speaks zero English. McVay, in the van’s middle-row seat, pitches ideas to Shula (front seat) for how to explain that after the car reaches its first destination—Shula’s girlfriend’s house—it needs to continue on to the restaurant. That means a whole separate Uber ride. It’s only a matter of time until the ride ends and the gentleman behind the wheel is left wondering why no one is exiting his vehicle. Nothing Shula says to the driver gets through. Thankfully, at the girlfriend’s place, the driver produces a vocal translating device on his phone. McVay couldn’t be more impressed with the app.
* * *
9:42 p.m.
The group gets a table near the front of the restaurant. It’s a trendy place devoid of sports atmosphere. McVay goes unrecognized the entire dinner. He and Shula drift in and out of conversations about football. At one point they quiz Shula’s girlfriend: How many wide receivers are on the field in “12” personnel? She says three but then quickly remembers that you subtract both of the personnel digits, 1 and 2, from five, not six. “Two! Two!” she says. Even at dinner, you must be prepared to answer McVay’s pop quiz questions in front of everyone.

Relocation fees to cost Rams, Chargers $645M, Raiders $378M
The 29 NFL teams that are staying put will each receive a gross sum of $55.2 million over a period of up to 11 years from the relocation fees associated with the moves of the Rams, Chargers and Raiders, sources told ESPN on Wednesday.

The Rams and the Chargers will each pay $645 million beginning in December 2019 and ending in December 2028. Neither the Rams nor the Chargers will receive revenue from the Los Angeles relocation fees.

The Raiders will pay $378 million over 10 years beginning in the year they move to Las Vegas, sources with knowledge of the numbers said. That money will be divided among every team but the Raiders.
The NFL moving fees for the Rams and Chargers to Los Angeles are commensurate with the projected increase to their teams' value. Their shared Inglewood stadium will open in 2020. Richard Vogel/Associated Press

The teams' relocation fees are commensurate with the projected value increase of their moves.

The Green Bay Packers reported Wednesday that the team will receive relocation fees that amount to $27.1 million.

The piece of information was disclosed as part of the team's annual public reporting as stipulated by its shareholder ownership structure.

Team president Mark Murphy said the team figured out the amount by taking the money that the three teams will pay and dividing it among every team but the relocated team. The Packers then accounted for the present value of the money over time, and taxes.

Murphy said the first payments will come on Dec. 31, 2019.

The Packers also said they received $244 million in national revenue, mostly from the NFL's TV deals. That means that the league distributed $7.8 billion to its 32 teams for the 2016 season. Murphy suggested that the national money by $21 million from the 2015 season, and that the figure was buoyed by a scheduled uptick in television deals, revenue from "Thursday Night Football" and the strength of the NFL Network.

Rams Host Summer Event for Kids Club Members
Members of the Los Angeles Rams Kids Club were invited to L.A. Memorial Coliseum for a special afternoon touring the facilities.

The tour included a behind-the-scenes look at the peristyle area, the press box, the field and the locker room. 

Rampage even made a surprise appearance to pose for photos and sign autographs for the kids. 
Other perks of being a Kids Club member include exclusive access to Training Camp, a Rams backpack, hat, notebook and more.

The L.A. Rams Kids Club launched in December in partnership with Cedars-Sinai, the official health partner of the Rams, to promote a healthy lifestyle and the importance of physical activity.

To become a member today, visit
2017-2018 National Football League Important Dates
Courtesy of NFL Communications
Rams Training Camp presented by AT&T returns to University of California, Irvine for second straight year; This year’s camp will feature a joint practice with the Los Angeles Chargers on August 9
LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles Rams will host their 2017 Training Camp presented by AT&T at the University of California, Irvine, for the second-consecutive year beginning on Saturday, July 29 at 3 p.m. Rookies report to UCI on July 26 and the remainder of the team will report to camp on July 28.
“Training camp is always an exciting time of the year and we’re looking forward to welcoming our fans back to Irvine for Rams football,” Rams Head Coach Sean McVay said. “From a coaching perspective, we are eager to see the players transition what they learned during the offseason program to training camp, and our practice with the Chargers will be another great opportunity for us to prepare for the regular season.”
The 2017 Rams Training Camp will feature 15 practices at UCI that are open to the public, including one joint practice with the Chargers on Wednesday, August 9. All open practices are free to the public. Gates open 90 minutes prior to the start of practice and select players will sign autographs after all open practices.
Below is a complete schedule of practices open to the public. Additional fan information can be found on the team’s website at Weather and field conditions are evaluated daily, so all dates and times provided are subject to change, including autograph sessions.


Saturday, July 29
3 p.m.
University of California, Irvine
Sunday, July 30
3 p.m.
University of California, Irvine
Monday, July 31
3 p.m.
University of California, Irvine
Tuesday, August 1
3 p.m.
University of California, Irvine
Wednesday, August 2
3 p.m.
University of California, Irvine
Friday, August 4
3 p.m.
University of California, Irvine
Sunday, August 6
3:30 p.m.
University of California, Irvine
Monday, August 7
3 p.m.
University of California, Irvine
Wednesday, August 9
*Joint practice w/LA Chargers
4:30 p.m.
University of California, Irvine
Thursday, August 10
3 p.m.
University of California, Irvine
Friday, August 11
3:30 p.m.
University of California, Irvine
Monday, August 14
3:30 p.m.
University of California, Irvine
Tuesday, August 15
3 p.m.
University of California, Irvine
Wednesday, August 16
3 p.m.
University of California, Irvine
Thursday, August 17
1:45 p.m.
University of California, Irvine
Fan Parking Information and Prohibited Items
Parking will be available to fans in the Mesa Parking Structure (next to the Bren Events Center). Fans are encouraged to purchase parking passes in advance at a discounted rate of $10 per car online at
Parking purchased in-person on the day of practice will cost $14 per car. Fans cannot bring alcohol, food (exceptions for special dietary needs), pets (service animals are permitted), video cameras or weapons. Please be aware that UCI is also a smoke and tobacco free community.
Media Policy for Training Camp
Media may watch practice in its entirety. Local television cameras will have the opportunity to film the stretching and individual periods (approximately the first 20 minutes). Still photographers may shoot the entire practice. Head Coach Sean McVay will speak to the media on the field following each practice, and players will be available by request on the field following practice after they have fulfilled all of their responsibilities (i.e. lifting, meetings, etc.). 
The use of cell phones for any reason is prohibited while at practice. Media may not, at any point, report details on personnel groups, formations, specific plays, or any information that would compromise the team’s strategic efforts. The Rams have a zero tolerance policy regarding the dissemination of strategic information gathered from practice. 
Media Credentials and Parking
Media interested in covering Rams Training Camp must apply and be approved for credentials by the Rams Communications Department. The Rams will begin accepting credential applications for training camp beginning on Monday, July 17. All applications must be submitted through the Rams credential website,, by the media outlet’s assigning sports director, editor, or producer at least 24 hours in advance of the practice(s) you wish to cover. No exceptions will be made.
Media approved to cover practice may park for free in Parking Lot 6A (please note parking is limited and the Rams encourage media to carpool). Outlets with TV Truck/Satellite Trucks should park in Parking Lot 6 (parking lot closest to the field).
Only credential requests from accredited working media on specific assignment for a recognized news organization or sports publication will be honored. Credentials will not be issued to independent websites or freelance writers or photographersunless requested by a recognized news organization or sports publication. Demand for credentials is high, and as such, the size and legitimacy of each media outlet requesting access will be considered on a case-by-case basis and is subject to the discretion of the Los Angeles Rams Communications Department.
A satirical look at more than 75 years of Football's Rams history, combined with discussions of American Exceptionalism and almost 50 years of personal experience in the life of a Rams Fan. The history parallels and intertwines life to form a humorous, yet serious look at American HistoryWorld History, an American Football team, and Political Science.