Q. Do the Eagles blitz even more now than they have in years past? How has the defense changed with a new defensive coordinator?
A. Believe it or not, they do. It has become more of a numbers blitz, if that makes sense. They have always done a great job with disguising and making it look like they come from the right and then turn around and come from the left. They back it up with some type of zone coverage, often two deep zone coverage. Even though that is part of the package now, it really is that they are more willing to gamble and you’ll see many occasions this Sunday where there is going to be eight guys up on the line of scrimmage, sometimes nine. The two other guys who are not coming are anywhere from five to six yards deep. It is an all out, here we come. ‘You have an answer for us, because we are going to pin back our ears and come after you.’ It’s been a philosophical change, there’s no question about it. They have always been a blitz team. They have always been an outstanding blitz team. They have some great individual players that execute the blitz packages well. Now, if anything, he has ratcheted up the pressure. He has really done a nice job of making it difficult to find a comfort zone.
Q. Hakeem Nicks and William Beatty have done a nice job so far this year. Is it easier to be a rookie wide receiver than it is to be a rookie offensive lineman?
A. Well, that is a great question. It is hard to answer because history has shown that very few receivers have come out and played well their rookie year. Usually it takes a little bit of awhile because of the quality of the defender, ‘a’, and ‘b’, the ability of defenses to disguise and they do an outstanding job. So, to be able to come out and without any hesitation recognize what the coverage is and make the appropriate adjustments is tough for anybody to do. For a guy who is doing it for the first time, it is understandable why rookies haven’t been successful very often in their rookie year. For him to do as well as he has done is terrific. To answer your question, I still think it is more difficult as a lineman just because of the complexity and everything that happens, happens immediately. They are right on your face. They are right there. He is going to make mistakes and sometimes if a receiver makes mistakes, you can hope it doesn’t cost you, but if a lineman makes a mistake, it is probably a sack and possibly a tackle before the back has the ball secured and maybe there is a turnover involved. I think it was a compliment to Chris Snee and the linemen that they kept him plugged in so that the mistakes were kept to a bare minimum. It is a compliment to William how well he played. He knew what he was doing the majority of the time. He blocked pretty well.
Q. He seems smart, is he bright?
A. He seems to be. I think he is a very introspective guy. He is very quiet and reflective about what is going on. He is not as boisterous and loud as some of our players. I guess you could interpret that anyway you choose. He is serious about doing well. I am very proud of the fact that he rose up and responded positively to the opportunity to play. He is certainly not the reason we didn’t win the game.
Q. There has been a lot of talk about the offense having a problem getting into a rhythm. Is part of that problem the fact that Eli has to get the right call made at the same time the play clock is winding down?
A. Yeah, that may be exactly what it is. It is something that he has been doing for six years, so we are not asking him to do anything less or anything more than what he has had to do. Part of the reason we have been effective and have been good is because we have put a lot on his plate to put us in a good play. You hear people talk about the run game, well a lot of the reason the run game is good is because he gets us in and out of things that would not have been successful had we stayed in them. We do ask a lot of him and that is a lot to bear, but he is a bright guy. He is very, as you said, since his rookie year, hard working and a blue collar kind of guy. So, he doesn’t mind the challenge of putting in the time that allows him to perform like a (Tom) Brady, or like his brother (Peyton Manning), a lot of the qualities of Drew Brees. Basically, the game is theirs to run. It is our job as coaches to not only select plays that give our players the best opportunities to be successful but part of the preparation is to get him ready so that he can get us into the good plays and get us out of the bad ones and make good judgments so our guys execute the things we have asked them to do. It is a lot to ask but it is something that we feel he can handle. Sometimes certain teams do a good job of making it more difficult for him than others and when that happens we try to take a little bit off of his plate. Just go ahead and run this, go ahead and run that. To be honest with you, there are a very few things that you can do that are just like that.
Q. So basically it is okay if he takes up the entire play clock to get that call made?
A. As long as he gets it off.
Q. How has that defense changed without Jim Johnson?
A. It has always been a blitzing defense, there is no question about it. The difference is he relied heavily on the disguise of the blitz, like a good magician I always say, they got all the action over here on the left and that usually means the pressure is coming from the right. He did a great job and Dawkins was especially gifted, but they all were. Now, it is, here I come, we got eight guys up on the line of scrimmage, sometimes if your formation allows it, they got nine guys on the line of scrimmage. There is no disguise, they are telling you, here it comes, but do you have an answer for it? They have really hurt some people with that. Now it is not something they do every time, but they do it quite often. When they do, you are very limited in what your responses can be. It does give you some one-on-ones. We think, we hope, that we have some guys when given that opportunity and you can get the ball in their hands, they can do some things with it.
Q. It sounds like they have become even more arrogant than they were?
A. They are more willing to gamble. Whereas before, they didn’t always blitz. More often than not, they protected behind the blitz with zone coverage. Very often, believe it or not, they went to two deep coverage behind it. Again, the beauty of what they did was the quality of the disguise. It was a good blitz, they got great players executing the blitz, but also they disguised and they would turn around and protect it. They were fairly conservative behind it with two deep. It is tough to do, but if you can do it, it is tough to beat. Now, they still do that, but that is not what they exclusively do. There is much more willingness to get up and play man coverage with the blitz and just say ‘hey, we’re coming.’ This way, it doesn’t matter if you sort it out, you are still going to be one short. Before, if you could sort it out, you could get numbers wise, whether or not you were good enough to block them, that’s another thing, but you could get it so that scheme wise you had enough bodies. Now, sometimes it doesn’t matter. They are going to bring more than you’ve got, no matter what.
Q. You mention Hakeem Nicks progressing nicely. Where would you like to see his game improve?
A. Just his route running. He still has a long way to go with that stuff and he knows it. He is working very hard. We are very, very proud and pleased with how he is progressing. He knows that he can get better.