The addition of DL Datone Jones, did you guys get him in for a workout? What was the thought process of bringing him in?
“Yeah, we got him in for a workout. We’ve been pretty banged up there each week. We’ve been having to play a number of new guys. We struggled versus Dallas, wanted to see if we could upgrade ourselves at all, especially with our run support and everything, so we had to get a few bigger guys in here and he looked good in the workout. So, we made the move.”
He’s been used as an edge guy in the past. Do you see him as that or do you see him maybe in that three-technique spot?
“I think right now, with the injuries we’ve had, we need guys who are able to do both. He’s capable of doing both, so we’ll see what’s the best way to use him as this week goes.”
Do you have a progress report on DL Ronald Blair III and when he might be able to start practicing?
“He has been practicing. He started practicing last week. I think the earliest we’re allowed to use him, based off of rules, would be Arizona. And hopefully everything goes well and he continues to show he’s healthy. Looking forward to getting him back.”
So, the window has opened?
“The window has opened. Yeah.”
How about DL Tank Carradine?
“Tank, he’s still a week or a couple weeks away from the window, maybe three weeks away from the window. Seattle is the first time he can play.”
What is the status with FB Kyle Juszczyk? Do you expect him to be able to practice this week?
“Yeah, today will be the first day he’s been able to practice. We’ll have a blue jersey on him, not allowing any contact. But, the fact he’s able to practice, being optimistic. Really hoping to get him up for this week.”
On Monday, you were talking about the process of becoming a good team. The Eagles were a middle of the road team last year and now they have ascended to being one of the elites. What have you seen as some of the key components into their ascension?
“I think they stuck with their plan. I think they hit pretty well on some draft picks. They’ve been able to stay healthy. The veteran players that they’ve had there, they kept and they’ve continued to perform. They were a pretty talented team a few years ago, so it’s not that they hit bottom very hard. I think they went more middle of the pack, from the top to middle of the pack, and made a big move to go get a big-time quarterback and they had some talent to begin with. So, I think they are one of the better teams in this league.”
Where, in your eyes, has Philadelphia Eagles QB Carson Wentz made the most strides from last year to this year?
“He showed a lot of ability last year, showed a lot of ability in college. You continued to see that. I just think the guy’s just played a lot more. When you have the ability that he has as a thrower and as a runner, when you have the size he has to be able to handle the physicality of the game, and when you seem as fearless as he does, I don’t know him as a person, but he seems pretty on it in every aspect of the game, it’s just a matter of time. He’ going to improve and he’s going to keep improving.”
They have one of the best offenses in the league, if not the best, on third down. What have you seen from that aspect? Is it play calling? Is it Wentz’s evolution like you mentioned?
“They have a good scheme and everything, there’s no doubt. But, the quarterback is playing at an extremely high level. And when you have a guy who can do it with his arm and his legs, there’s not many perfect defensive calls for that. He’s playing at a high level and he’s one of the best in the game right now.”
Where is QB C.J. Beathard as a runner? I noticed some of the read-option stuff the other day. Is that something you want to take advantage of?
“C.J. is capable of doing it. It’s not something that, you put it in to keep people honest and things like that. I think you see a lot of teams do that with those type of quarterbacks, but it’s definitely not something you want to run when teams are expecting it. He’s not a true zone-read quarterback, but he can move good enough and he’s tough enough and makes smart decisions when he does have the ball.”
Did you run the zone-read with Atlanta Falcons QB Matt Ryan and were there any QB Brian Hoyer zone-reads runs?
“I haven’t done any with Hoyer. We did with Matt Ryan, I think twice.”
Twice in two years?
“Yeah, two times too many.”
It didn’t go well?
“No, it was a good look. It just didn’t work out how we planned.”
Is the fact that he’s a rookie, does that have anything to do with running the read-option on Sunday with C.J.?
“No, not at all. It has to do with how they are playing their fronts. And when you get a good look, that’s usually the easiest time to run the zone read is when teams aren’t playing the zone read. You saw Washington do it versus us. You watched Dallas, when they got a guy out who’s capable of running the zone read and then they’ve got a guy in who wasn’t able to run it. Everyone plays their gaps, which is extremely sound football. But, now there’s 11 people when you count the quarterback and if you don’t count that quarterback, that’s what’s going to happen for anybody in this room. As long as it plays out the right way, you can run and slide for 10 yards untouched. Then when people know you’re doing it, now they have to count for the quarterback. That changes up systematically what defenses have to do. That’s why it’s always good to have that threat.”
Both you and Philadelphia Eagles head coach Doug Pederson are former offensive coordinators. He’s been a head coach for two years. He’s in his second year. What do you admire or respect about how he’s made the transition to the head job?
“I don’t sit there and evaluate the guys and watch their press conferences or study them as head coaches. I just know that I’ve meet Doug at the owners meetings this year. That was, I think, the first time that I’ve met him. He’s a great guy. Talked a lot of ball with him. Got to hang out with him one night, him and his wife. They are real good people, good people who are very good at what they do. He’s got a good team, too. It’s usually the winning combination with all of those things.”
We talked to him on the conference call today and he mentioned, it seemed like a big theme for him defensively, building their defense, he kept on saying, ‘We wanted to build it from the middle out.’ So, he was emphasizing middle linebackers, safeties and that. I’m wondering if you guys have had the same philosophy as you’re building your defense here and whether that was part of the rationale to get LB Reuben Foster into that middle linebacker spot as quickly as possible?
“Yeah, I would say so. I think most people are that way. I think ideally, if anyone has their first choice of how to build a team, from a defensive standpoint you’re going to pick either the best pass rusher or an elite edge rusher and if you can’t get that you’d love an elite inside guy. I think it usually starts there. You go right back to your linebackers into your secondary. On offense, it’s usually the quarterback and after that you want a tackle. I think everyone is pretty close to the same thing. The problem is, just because that’s most people’s philosophy, those guys have got to be there too. It’s not like, ‘Hey, the best way to do it is up front.’ Well, if you can get an elite guy up front then you do it as opposed to an elite guy somewhere else. I think they’ve gotten that. They started out early with [Philadelphia Eagles DT] Fletcher Cox, which I had to go against him since his rookie year being in the NFC East. That’s a great guy to build that front around.”
The Eagles losing T Jason Peters, would you expect them to reach out, maybe after this game to see if T Joe Staley is available in a trade and would you entertain it?
“You know, I haven’t really thought about what they would do. Joe is a guy that I definitely want here and definitely a guy I wouldn’t want to lose by any means. I’m not going to sit here, if anybody called for any one of our players, it’s not like you just hang up the phone. If people want to offer the world, you’ve always got to listen. You’ve got to always try to think what’s going to help your team and make your team better. To lose a guy like Joe Staley, that wouldn’t be something I’d be excited about so that’d have to take a whole lot.”
This is your third trip to the East Coast in the last four weeks. Has your week of preparation changed at all? Did you change the schedule or make any adjustments just for the time change and energy levels?
“Yeah, kind of cut down, I didn’t cut down on the reps, but usually we have four periods in a practice and today I moved one of those periods to walk through. So, we didn’t lose out on reps, but we practiced one of those periods at a slower pace. Now when we go out to practice this afternoon, we’ll have three full speed periods, which should save the guys’ legs a little bit. I don’t want to change the reps, because we need those reps, but I am very well aware of how the last month has gone. We’ve still got a few more weeks before we get to that bye week, so I’ve got to be very smart with how I make sure our guys are continuing to learn and get better, but also not at the expense of wearing them down.”