Both Nolan and J.T. O'Sullivan spoke with the media earlier today and addressed some of the issues the offense will face on Sunday. When I posted Nolan's post-game comments, one issue you guys mentioned was the lack of discussion about the offense. So, this is certainly somewhat timely. Normally I roll out Nolan first, but given the criticisms of JTO I thought it was better to go with him first.
On Asante Samuel: "You have to understand that you’re going against a good secondary across the board. It’s a veteran group. It’s a lot of guys that can make plays. Him in particular: everybody’s kind of aware of how he got there and that sort of thing. But it’s something that we’re not going to…we’re aware of where there best players are and conscious of it, but we’re not going to not do what we do, if that answers your question. Everybody in this league is pretty good. There are definitely elite players and he’s one of them. So we’re aware of it, but we’re still going to…we’re not going to close off one side of the field and say, ‘We’re not going to do this.’ We’re going to play our game, and we understand that he’s a very good player. We’re going to have to raise our level."
On whether the defenses have done anything different to lead to 5 INTs in 2 weeks: "I don’t think so. Do you want me to answer the question of why I think there are more picks in the last two weeks? Is that what you’re…?"
On whether defenses are guessing the primary receiver and taking him away: "No. I think I do a pretty good job of understanding what the reads are, checking the ball down and things like that. It’s just a matter of protecting the ball, being conscious of the fact that obviously turnovers are bad but I’m not going to become trigger-shy and start to question my judgment. If I see something, I’m going to throw it to the open guy."
On the difficulty of getting Vernon Davis incorporated into the offense: "I don’t know if I’m the right guy to answer that question." (Fooch: Interesting response)
On his on-field relationship with the Duke: "I think Vernon is an absolute pro. Nobody works harder out here. The last couple weeks we’ve been staying after and I’ve been getting a better feel for him just the last couple weeks. But I’ve had a good feel for him. I don’t know how you can not have a good feel for someone who is that athletic and that fast down the field. We’re just going to keep trying to get him involved as much as we can."
Mike Nolan after the jump...
Nolan's comments on the offense deal primarily with defensive blitzing and offensive line protection. Those are certainly big issues for the offense.
On whether Martz prefers blitzing to open up mismatches: "Be careful what you wish for. As far as that goes, whether they blitz or not, New Orleans Saints weren’t a big blitzing team, they brought it from time to time. They had pressure even with four guys in that game. As far as what you wish for again, we don’t. We just react to what’s dished out. But they are a blitzing team and so we know that going into the game, prepare for that and hopefully do a good job against it. But again, to say you’d rather see a blitz versus not a blitz, there is the opportunity for plays against blitzing teams, but there’s also a big opportunity for them as well why they do it. So philosophically, it’s important that you know what your opponent does, that’s where they stand."
On the QB protection versus the Patriots and going forward: "From a protection standpoint, yeah it was good enough to play winning football. Sure. Because without the few mistakes that we made on both sides of the ball, I think we were in that game much better than we were and a penalty or two that was bothersome but yeah, I would say so. Obviously the quarterback, as all quarterbacks do, they have to use their legs to stay alive, too. Every quarterback, even the best of them, has to have an ability to avoid rush. This week, we play one of the best offensive lines I think in the league: Philadelphia. And I believe the quarterback has a lot of people touch him from time to time but he…I shouldn’t say ‘a lot’. That’d be unfair because it’s a good line. But when people do, he does a very good job of avoiding the rush. He’s very strong in the pocket. He’s very hard to bring down. Seldom does the first guy bring him down. So, anyway."
RE: The Patriots might only rush four at one time, but you never know which four it’s going to be. Are the Eagles the same when in that you never know where exactly the heat’s coming from? (couldn't think of a good way to reword this): "Everybody is going to come most of the time. They have a good…that’s part of attacking protections. As I said, Jim Johnson does a very good job of it: creating one look and doing something else, for example. Everybody’s protections are different, too. Some people let the line handle it, sometimes the quarterback handles it. So with each opponent, there is a different challenge."
On whether Philly DC Jim Johnson brings the blitz constantly: "I wouldn’t say every play but he does, yeah, in pass situations if he anticipates a pass they do blitz a good bit. The thing that he does as I always say, I’ve come out of games where we had very little blitzing but we had a lot of pressure everybody says, ‘Well, you’re really bringing it.’ Not really. When it looks like pressure, everybody thinks, ‘Well, you must be brining pressure.’ You try to bring pressure as often as you can, whether it’s four guys or five guys or six guys, you want to get that pressure. It’s just that at times you have to create it because you’re not sure you’re going to get it without bringing people. If you could rush four every down and just cover everybody, and get pressure as some really good pass rushing teams will do, that’s great, because you can cover them up. You get the best of both worlds. That’s not usually normal for most football teams. You’ve got to be creative somehow."