With the Super Bowl one week away and the 2017 NFL season ending, I was able to catch up with 12-year veteran quarterback Dan Orlovsky. Dan was with the Los Angeles Rams during training camp. He was nice enough to grant me an interview and talk Rams football.
Knowing you have played for multiple organizations, what was the vibe like when you joined the Rams?
“Organizations have vibes, a lot of organization’s vibes in the springtime are positive because there is hope that they will be better, especially if you’re not one of the top two or four teams from the previous season. The Rams had a young and energetic vibe, I think there was a vibe of hopeful questioning. There was a feeling like we may have found something special with this coach. I think the vibe was cautiously optimistic. Sean McVay did a good job of raising the expectations and the standard. He then gave his guys a chance to reach those expectations and level of standards. Sometimes coaches set the level of standards, but don’t equip their players with the tools to get there. Sean brought in a coaching staff that allowed the players to have tools to reach that standard.”
In your opinion do you think Coach McVay made himself a better head coach by surrounding himself with so many other good coaches?
“I think Sean McVay was going to be a good coach no matter what. You knew Calvin Johnson would be a great wide receiver and you knew Bill Walsh was going to be a great coach. McVay gave himself the tools to meet the standard he set for himself with the coaches he surrounded himself with. It’s a very un-egotistical thing to bring in a Joe Barry who has been a coordinator and Wade Phillips who has been a head coach in this league. To bring those guys in and not feel threatened, but rather say ‘they made me better’ is special.”
How does it affect you as a player when a new coaching staff gets brought in?
“There are different tiers of players and how it affects them. If you’re a younger player and not an early round draft pick, you do everything you can to try to prove yourself to the coaching staff and when the coach gets fired your thoughts are like ‘oh man, I have to prove myself all over again. This coach knows nothing about me, doesn’t know my practice habits and the General Manager can think what they want, but the head coach has an impact.’ If you’re a wide receiver for example, you don’t know if the coach is going to bring in another player from his previous team to fill that spot that he already likes. If you are a veteran and under contract, you are saying, do I fit in this guy’s plans? Do I fit into his scheme? What kind of offense or defense is he going to run? What kind of practice schedule will he have? Is he a grinder? Is he a little friendlier?
In the offseason, all these questions come into play. If you are a free agent, you have to figure out what type of coach this is? The Rams did a good job of not only getting a good coach but also, they got a good recruiter. I think that’s an undervalued aspect of coaches these days. Free agency can be very impactful now a day. You can make your team better with the right moves, but you must be able to recruit them. McVay got the right guys, Robert Woods and Andrew Whitworth. They had to decide if he was a coach that they wanted to play for. So, coaching changes affect a lot of different people in different ways. I think that’s an undervalued quality of Sean’s. I mean he got me out there playing football. I was going to retire, I was not in the mindset to play and after spending some time on the phone with Sean and Greg Olson, that’s when I said I’d come out and play.”
What did you see from Jared Goff in training camp and did you think he would have a breakout season?
“My experience with Jared was this, I would get a text message every day during training camp from someone I had known in the NFL, whether it was a coach, another player, an agent, or media and nine times out of 10 the question was what do you think of Goff and does he have any chance? My honest to God opinion every time was I actually think he is going to be a pretty good player and nine times out of ten the response back was you’re the only one that thinks that way. I just saw a kid who was a natural thrower of the football which is a big deal. You can’t easily train your eyes, brain, and arm to follow and throw the ball in a specific way to a specific spot, with a specific time, with a specific trajectory and with a specific velocity. It’s just not easily taught. I thought Jared was smart and I spent a lot of time with Jared and it was quickly obvious to me that he wanted to be good. I think he quickly understood offenses, defenses, and reasons why and he has the ability to not remember bad stuff and that really stood out to me. I thought he would have success. I’m not going to sit here and tell you that he was going to have the year he did, but I thought he would have success.”
What are your thoughts on Sean Mannion?
“I really like Sean Mannion. I always want to be honest and I’m not going to bash a guy. I’m also not going to sit here and tell you that Sean Mannion is a starting quarterback in the NFL, but I’m also not going to tell you he is not. Sean belongs in the top 40 quarterbacks in the NFL. Can he get to the top 15 or 20? I think so, he is a big tough kid, he is really smart, I think if he could break out of his shell a little bit and be more of a dynamic leader. If he could break out of his shell a bit, I think that would be a positive. He has a very good fastball, I do think if he could develop a changeup it could benefit him. At worst, I think Sean is a very high end back up for his career.”
Watching the Rams this season, what do you think their biggest strengths and weaknesses were this season?
“Offensively they were incredibly difficult to prepare for and play against. I can reference it to being like Greg Maddux in baseball, he was never an overpowering guy, but you were always off balance. You never knew when it was coming, how it was coming, or where it was coming from. That is kind of how I felt the Rams offense was. Sean did a great job of changing personnel, formations, tempo, and plays and they’d execute well. They have good players and offensively they were explosive and dynamic. Defensively they were obviously opportunistic and they have the best defensive player in football. I was surprised by some of the moves they made such as cutting Mo Alexander, but I think Les Snead is a very underappreciated general manager. That pick he made with the Safety out of Boston College was a great pick (John Johnson III). They had a great year and it’s hard to pick a flaw, but if I had to pick one, I wonder why they didn’t play better at home? That would be the one thing I would look at to see if you could make a change for next season.”
What is your next move? Do you plan on coaching or working as an analyst?
“I have thought about both. I have talked to some organizations about their coaching, but I don’t know if I am there yet. I needed a break from being a player. I would like to stay close to football. I’m very intrigued by the media and TV world. My whole life, I have been studying football, watching football and communicating football. So, I think I have a unique ability to do it because I have been doing it my whole life. My career as a backup quarterback had me watching film and communicating it to teammates. My teammates came from all different places with different abilities to understand. So, I have the ability to communicate it especially on the offensive and quarterback side of the ball. I think there’s a lot of bad information out there and I have a desire to educate people. I get intrigued by the media and commentator world. I think I have a lot to offer and it is a much healthier home life for me and my family.”
Dan Orlovsky has a lot of great knowledge about the game of football. He is able to communicate the game of football very well to all levels of understanding. He has great insight on the Rams from his time with the team last season. I look forward to seeing where his career takes him next.
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