Good morning. In the division, for the lead in the division. Mid-December. It's exciting, very exciting. The Eagles are an outstanding football team. They obviously played well the other night in their win over Dallas. Dallas gave them a heck of a game. The Eagles were able to hold on to the ball late in the game and drive it down the field and secure the victory. They are an offensive team different from the last time we played them - they were third in the league then, now they're one. They are a defensive team that is very steady right there at 11 or 12 in the league and they have outstanding special teams with the real threat in the return area, so here we go.
Q: How is Steve Smith?
A: Well, you've gotten the news. Steve is injured and will not be able to play anymore. He will have surgery on the knee. I feel bad for Steve. He fights his way back, he gets back on the field, he gets a little bit acclimated to game conditions again and then is injured, so our thoughts and the entire thoughts of our team are for Steve at this time. I did not and I tried to encourage him after the game because the first news was that it may have been a hamstring or something like that or that type of injury there in the outside back part of the knee. Unfortunately it turned out to be more than that.
Q: Will he go on IR today?
A: I don't know when. That decision will be made.
Q: Was there a gray area on whether he could return?
A: Not according to the medical people, there wasn't.
Q: What's the recovery time?
A: I'm not sure. Don't ask me those kinds of questions. I don't know the answer to that right now. That was never discussed.
Q: Mario Manningham?
A: He does have an issue and hopefully he can progress a little bit each day. I haven't seen any of them yet this morning. They're coming in. There's a little bit later start on Wednesday after a Monday night game, but I'll see them here shortly. Hopefully he'll make progress and hopefully he'll be able to go tomorrow.
Q: Losing Steve is a continuation of different receivers rotating in and out. How much of Eli's interceptions are the result of his receivers being out?
A: Well, there is a part of that. Each time you have an interception, you analyze each one individually. At the beginning of the year there seemed to be a lot of tipped balls. You could look at one and say that wasn't a good decision, you could look at another and say if the receiver had followed through with what he was supposed to do there, at the very least we would have had an incompletion, not an interception, so there is some of that, but he's done a good job of working with all of these guys and has faith in all of them and these new guys that are on board and that have been on board for a couple of weeks now, they've got to step up and help us.
Q: In the weeks Nicks played without Steve Smith, was he affected by that?
A: No. I don't think so. I mean, he's probably going to draw a little coverage, but still.
Q: How did Nicks come out of the game? Any restrictions?
A: Seemed to be okay. At this point, no.
Q: What about the opportunity here? You've had to do a lot of things since you played Philly last and you've got another chance.
A: Yeah. That was the objective, to be in a position where we would add significance to this week and to the credit of our players and coaches that has happened, so we're excited about the key word that you used, the opportunity.
A: We're going to move him along further and we'll see.
Q: Can you overstate what Seubert has done in O'Hara's absence?
A: Well, there is no way to overstate what Rich Seubert's contribution has been. When Shaun is down and he moves into center and we really don't miss a beat, that says a lot about him. Rich loves to play, he loves any challenge, he's a competitor, he's physical, he's tough, he's a great example for everybody. The more the merrier. If we can get Shaun back in the mix, then that will be a good thing.
Q: What is your approach to playing Michael Vick? Is he still giving you stomach aches?
A: Well, I don't know how he can not. It's their whole team. They're a very talented team. They do an awful lot of things that are done very well. We did a decent job over there and we would hope to be able to build on that.
Q: Do defenses do more of what you did against them last time? How have they schemed against that?
A: They've adjusted by continuing to scheme and come up with different ways, particularly in the early downs, of creating problems for you with his movement. Every game is studied in the NFL and the good things are kept and the not so good are eliminated, so as we go along and from the last time we played them until now, we're looking at things other people have done that have helped them.
Q: You talked a lot about the freshness of your running backs. What besides that has made a difference?
A: I haven't talked about their freshness. You have. You've asked about it. I said that the distribution has been pretty good.
Q: What else has made a difference?
A: I think we're doing a good job up front. It's difficult and it's not always consistent, it's not always every play, it's persistence, perseverance - continue to keep banging away. We've done that and that's paid off. The other night with the two long runs, you don't always get that. Not against as good of a defense as Minnesota was.
Q: It seemed like Bear Pascoe had his best game.
A: Bear had a good game and has had a good run. He's done a nice job of filling it at a job that at the beginning of training camp you just have your extra tight ends learn to play so that you can use another whole personnel combination and still in effect run the same offense. Well, it's become a whole lot more than that for him.
Q: He's learning to be a fullback.
A: Yeah. Plus, he made two contributions in the pass game. The ball in the flat both times and tried to demonstrate his leaping ability, which was probably a vertical jump of six to seven inches.
Q: The breakdown on special teams, was that a result of heavy legs?
A: That's what I was talking about. We didn't cover well. We had been doing a decent job - not a great job, but a decent job of that. I expect that to change.
Q: David Diehl and Shawn Andrews?
A: Dave was sore, which he better be since he hasn't played in a long time, but he'll bounce right back. Shawn is going to work this week. He's going to be limited at first and we'll see how far he can go.
Q: Diehl did a good job against Jared Allen. Were you pleased with his performance?
A: He did. Yeah, the continuity. The one breakdown shouldn't have happened.
Q: Did Canty have any issues?
A: Didn't appear that way.
Q: Has he been fighting a pectoral injury?
A: Nothing serious.
Q: Understanding the importance of this game, how dangerous is it to put all of your eggs in one basket because you do have other games coming up?
A: I don't think you do that. I don't think you do that. It's the most important game of the year because it's the next game, but last week's game was the most important game of the year and the week before was the most important. There are plenty of games to play here. There's a lot to be accomplished in these last few games of the season.
Q: Is running the ball the key this week? You didn't have much success with that at Philadelphia last time.
A: We didn't have much success running or throwing and our defense was able to rise up and hold them to one out of five in the end zone. The turnovers were ridiculous, to be honest with you. The numbers were way down, yet we're ahead in the fourth quarter. They have made quite a habit of winning in these close games in the fourth quarter if you look and study and see where they're at, including the other night. There are a lot of clear objectives here, one of which is that offensively we've got to get going, we've got to do our job, we've got to hold the ball, we've got to move the ball, we've got to be able to run the ball against a very good defense.
Q: Is the lost day of preparation significant?
A: I don't understand why all of this has got everybody going crazy here. We adjust. You adjust just like anything else. It becomes all of the sudden a Monday night game, so you kick into a Monday night game schedule and that's exactly what we did.
Q: Could the team going through the weekend together actually have a positive effect?
A: Yeah. I tend to think we're a pretty tight team as it is, but I think that there isn't any question that going through that particular part of it together and doing a good job with it, hopefully it just melded us together a little bit more.
Q: What did the players do a particularly good job with in handling the unusual circumstances of the trip?
A: They were patient, they accepted the fact that they didn't have any control over it, so we waited and once we got word, we came back up on the bit.
Q: How much of a blow is it to know that Steve Smith will not be back at all this season?
A: As I said, you'd prefer it the other way, but unfortunately there is nothing that we can do about it right now. Our thoughts go to Steve and hopefully we can help Steve over this great disappointment for him and our team just has to march on. Someone else has got to step up there and do the job that we would have asked Steve to do.
Q: Is Hagan still a replacement player in your mind or has he earned a legitimate top three spot?
A: Well, when called upon, no matter what the role is, whether he's a gunner or whatever, he's done a good job and we will continue to call on him.
Q: What are your thoughts on DeSean Jackson?
A: You're trying to ruin breakfast and lunch? DeSean is DeSean. The big play aspect of his game, of what he's done particularly on a first down and did again the other night for the 60 yarder on the first play of the game. You go back and look and see. That aspect of their game hasn't changed. He's their big play guy and McCoy is playing very well, Maclin had a big game against us the first time around. There's multiple talented guys there.
Q: How close are Michael Clayton and Devin Thomas to getting your whole playbook down?
A: They're going to learn week by week. You're not going to give them the encyclopedia. They're going to learn the game plan and they've done a good job of that and that's the way that it will continue. How the game plan applies to what you're seeing from the opponent and all the adjustments that go with that. That's how they'll continue to learn that.
Q: Was the best pattern the other night the one run by a Viking, the one by the center?
A: Actually, he was running a curl route 15 yards deep, moving inside... I was totally wrong on that, by the way. I was. I shouldn't have been out on the field, but I got carried away with that because I could see it from my sideline - he's standing over there in front of his bench. God forbid we should miss one of those.