Head Coach Robert Saleh, 12.1
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Corey Davis is going to be out today. Foley (Folorunso Fatukasi) is out today with a back. (Sheldon) Rankins is out today with a knee. (Trevon) Wesco is out obviously with him ankle. JFM (John Franklin-Myers), with his hip, will be limited. Morgan (Moses) is limited with a knee. Quincy Williams, with his calf, will be limited. Zach Wilson is a full participant today with his knee. Keelan Cole is out for COVID.
Brian Costello, New York Post: What’s your feel on Corey?
It’s going to be a day-to-day thing, same as last week. It’s going to be as tolerated, to see how he progresses.
Al Iannazzone, Newsday: Denzel (Mims) is back today?
Denzel is back today, yeah.
Rich Cimini, ESPN: With Keelan, does that look like a longer stay on the COVID list?
From my understanding he’ll be out this week.
Brian Costello, New York Post: When we asked you about Elijah Riley on Monday, was there a back story of someone who knew him, a scout that had seen him, that had scouted him out of college that made you guys target him off the Eagles practice squad?
A couple things. So, Joe Douglas, I guess he was trying to poach him last year. So, there was obviously a liking from a year ago with Joe from an evaluation standpoint. But having (Matt) Burke here and Marquand (Manuel), they were in Philadelphia last year also, to just piggyback and talk about him and kind of reaffirm everything Joe had been talking about since the day we walked in. It was kind of an easy pick up.
Rich Cimini, ESPN: Robert, how does the kicking dynamic work this week with the two guys? Are you going to have a competition to see who kicks on Sunday or how is that going to work?
We’re going to open it up for a little competition. Get those two guys working and may the best man win.
(follow up) Is that how it went last week too?
Brian Costello, New York Post: When you studied the Eagles, their running game kind of jumps off the stat sheet, especially in the last five or six weeks. What do you see when you’re watching them?
You see an unbelievable offensive line. A lot of creativity from the coordinator. Quarterback is dynamic with the ball in his hands and he’s always a threat to run. Whenever the quarterback is involved in the run game, you’re creating an extra gap. It becomes 11-on-11 football so you’re always gapped out or short a gap, if you will. Then on top of it, they’re able to throw the football. He does a great job scrambling and creating an off schedule. They found an identity of the last five weeks and he’s really sticking to it and even last week, they still rushed for over 200 yards on a team that was doing everything they could to stop them from running. So, they’re good. Their offensive line is physical, they’re very talented, just overall, and their backs, it’s just a talented group.
DJ Bien-Aime, New York Daily News: To follow up with the run-game concept, they’ll run some counters and some powers. So, obviously, the d-line, you guys teach them to get straight off the field. How much do that test and discipline on staying home and being prepared for those counters and power plays?
Yeah, they do it all. A lot of double teams, a lot of gap scheme, a lot of traps and whams and misdirection, a lot of QB read. It doesn’t change our style in terms of trying to attack and create new lines of scrimmage, but just understanding that you have to keep your head on a swivel and understand that their run game and their blockers can come from every direction.
Brian Costello, New York Post: What have you guys done adjusting in the run game, Robert, since that Colts game when they really got you?
We feel good about it, obviously. This is going to be the big test. This is a team that is deliberate in the way they want to run the football, so I’ll have a better answer for you on Sunday night.
Al Iannazzone, Newsday: Any advantage or disadvantage from joint practices earlier? Like are you guys totally different, are they totally different?
Yeah. Especially that was something Nick (Sirianni) and I talked about when we wanted to see where we were schedule wise before we even planned on even practicing against one another. They’re so different. Maybe not personnel wise, but they have a complete identity now. We have an identity that’s different, offensively, defensively. It’s been so long, the familiarity of that is probably gone.
DJ Bien-Aime, New York Daily News: They lead the league in carries and rushing yards out of 11 personnel. What about that grouping makes them so effective?
It’s their ability to operate in an RPO system. They can get the QB zone-read system. Their o-line is really good. They got so much speed on the outside that they can create space and they can get the safeties held back so they got a lot of talent. Tight ends, obviously really good. Just overall as a group, it is an extremely talented group. Jalen (Hurts), I just think he is kind of the piece that puts it all together with his ability to go off schedule, he can carry the ball, he’s a strong man, he’s a confident man, just remembering him from practice. Just out of that group, they’re getting their best 11 on the football field and they can do a lot of stuff. They’re very creative in the way they call it, too. They got a good thing going.
Connor Hughes, The Athletic: Is it different preparing for this game compared to another game because of the fact that you guys had those joint practices in the summer?
No. Like I said, our verbiage has changed since then. Some of the things that we use offensively, defensively, a lot of checks have changed and I’m assuming the same thing applies to them. I’m not concerned at all.
Brian Costello, New York Post: Are you aware that the Jets have never beaten the Eagles, all time?
I saw that.
(follow up) What do you make of that?
Al Iannazzone, Newsday: How do you think LDT (Laurent Duvernay-Tardif) has done in his short time? What do you think about his story last year and everything like that?
Obviously, admirable for him to step away to fight a greater cause. It takes a person of great confidence to be able to pass up playing the league when you got such a short window anyway to do something that’s selfless. I thought he made a big jump like we were expecting. I thought he did a really nice job and I still think he’s going to get even better. Like I said, he hasn’t played in two years. So, his first game, obviously there were a couple plays he wanted back. This last game, I thought he did a very nice job against a very active front and I think this week, this is probably the best d-line we’ll be playing all year, so it’s going to be a great challenge.
Brian Costello, New York Post: Robert, you made the rounds on social media yesterday because of Brian Kelly. I’m guessing Eric (Gelfand) might have made you aware of that. You told that story a few years ago about you and (Matt) LaFleur shoveling snow. Do you have anything to add to that story?
No. I feel terrible because that whole thing was taken out of context. When you’re coming up in this profession, part of that article was to tell a funny story of Matt and I as GAs. Part of being a GA, every single coach in this profession, there’s a rite of passage when you’re a GA and a QC. That was a funny story and not indicative or not an indictment on how Brian treated us. Brian is a phenomenal man, he really is. That was just one of those deals that was supposed to be a funny story that people took in a negative light. Maybe shame on me, I should have worded it better. There’s a reason Matt went back and worked for him, there’s a reason why I tried to go back and work for him. He’s a really good man, he treats people the right way. I know people are probably upset with him now, but there’s never a right way to do things of that nature. He’s taking a shot on himself, so I’m always one of his biggest fans. I feel awful that it was taken in that light.
(follow up) When did you try to go back to work for him?
When he got that Notre Dame job.
Rich Cimini, ESPN: You interviewed with the Eagles right after your Jet interview, right? It was like a bang, bang thing. Maybe just describe what that period was like, because I don’t think there was much time in between. Everything was happening so quickly.
We interview, go right to Morristown, on the flight down to Florida to meet with Mr. (Jeffrey) Lurie, which was a tremendous treat. Such a family-oriented interview where it felt like the entire organization was involved. I was very impressed with the entire set up and impressed with Mr. Lurie and Howie (Roseman), the entire staff. Very thankful that they gave me the opportunity to interview, and they’ve got a fan in me.
(follow up) The Jet offer was like right after that, it was pretty quick?
I had one more after that. Calls were coming in in the middle of that interview (laughter).
DJ Bien-Aime, New York Daily News: One thing that popped up a little bit, but I guess you’ve seen it, too. Sometimes, when Zach’s first read isn’t there or the pocket gets a little bit muddy, he kind of like gets happy feet. So, how can you guys help him work through that so he can still go through his progressions and deliver accurate passes.
The big thing with Zach, and you’ll see it a lot with young quarterbacks, they get to number one in progression and they’re usually waiting because they’re used to having time in the pocket from where they’ve come from. In this league, you’ve got to be able to say “no” faster, which will come in time. The second part is just consistency and footwork. In this game, your footwork has to be so consistent. We always talk about reading coverage with your feet and the timing of everything are with your feet. All these plays have footwork tied to them, so to get him and his footwork to be a lot more tempo’d, a lot more consistent, get his eyes where they need to be and get him to progress faster, it’ll help the entire play. It’ll help the pocket remain consistent, it’ll help receivers work through their timing and it’ll help him be more controlled in the pocket so he can work through his progressions and get the ball to where he wants to. So, the happy feet comes when just the footwork might be a little bit off. For him, he’s feeling something because his footwork is off. This whole six game stretch is really a big emphasis on footwork, eyes and just being disciplined in what the offense is asking you to do.
Brian Costello, New York Post: How do you balance the footwork, Robert, with one of the things people talked about him coming out of BYU was he can throw off platform. He doesn’t have to have his feet set. There’s clips of him where his feet are in the air and he’s throwing the ball. So, that was kind of like, to use one of your terms, his superpower, right? So, how do you balance that versus wanting him to have the proper footwork?
Great question. So, there was a play, you guys remember the play he completed to Griff (Ryan Griffin), and it ended up being like fourth and one and we go for it. It was kind of an off-schedule play, it was in the fourth quarter. In that play, his footwork wasn’t that great. He didn’t come off one fast enough, but the play broke down. So, the conversation with him in that was that you go through your progression, you go to number one. Even if he had perfect footwork on that particular play, the Texans covered it perfectly. If he went to one, two, three, it was going to be covered with the way the Texans covered it. Well, now, go activate your superpower and take off your cape and go be Superman, save the play. But try to execute the offense in rhythm and when the rhythm breaks down, now you go do what you were famous for at BYU. That’s all going to come with time and him understanding that his superpower, Clark Kent would walk around sidewalk normal until somebody yells for help. When the play breaks down, that’s (Mike) LaFleur yelling for help, go save him. That’s kind of how you balance it.