Q: I once heard Kobe Bryant say in an interview that it doesn’t guarantee victory, but preparation is what gives you the confidence to get the job done. And it struck me yesterday because I thought you guys played with confidence throughout the game, beginning to end. If they smacked you, you smacked right back – especially when (quarterback) Daniel (Jones) came on the field early on, like the first possession. You were already down 7-0. You could tell it was, ‘Let’s go.’ Did you feel that – in their minds, their preparation is what got them there?
A: Yeah, and I think that’s what you have to lean on in these types of games is your preparation, your practice and then ultimately going out there and executing it in a competitive situation, in a high-stakes game. And those guys kept a level head. They were composed. I thought they were prepared, and ultimately, they were the ones that went out there and executed throughout the game to give ourselves a chance to win both offensively, defensively and in the kicking game.
Q: Can you talk a little bit about the job your assistant coaches have done with guys that have come in after training camp, mid-year, just getting them up to speed? What is the process that they’ve been doing to get these guys up to speed to where they’ve been able to contribute?
A: They’ve spent a lot of time. Any time we bring a new player in, that position coach spends a lot of time with that player to get them up to speed as quickly as we can. You give credit to the players because they’re the ones that have to come in and learn it, spend extra time at night. But I’m very thankful for the guys that I get to work with, all the assistants from the offensive assistants, defensive assistants, all the way up to the coordinators. It’s a really good group, and they help me do my job. They’re great teammates. I’m very thankful for everybody on our staff.
Q: There are people that are saying that right now the team is playing its best ball. I’m sure you’ll probably disagree with that, but do you know what the ceiling is for the team at this point? And how close are they to really breaking through that?
A: I’d say we don’t concern ourselves with that. We concern ourselves with our preparation and our process and our practice habits and doing everything we can do as a coaching staff and as players to get ready to play a game. We’re in a short week here. There’s a lot of work that needs to be done. I understand we just played these guys twice here in the last month. We’ll play them again here coming up. So, there’s familiarity on both sides. But again, there’s always a process that you have to go through. It’ll be one less day to do it. So, a lot of work that needs to be done.
Q: You’ve probably heard the sports cliché that one of the hardest things in sports to do is beat the same team three times; that’s what the Eagles will be trying to do. Have you ever put any stock in that? What kind of impact do the first two games, being especially that they were within the last month, have on this team?
A: None. It’s how we go about our business this week, again how we prepare, how we practice and then ultimately how we play on Sunday – or Saturday in this case. Every game’s a new game. Obviously, you have matchups that you’ve went against here over the last two times you played them. One week really has nothing to do with the next week or one game has nothing to do with the next game other than you take things from it. You learn from it. You try to grow from it. But it’s going to be how we execute on Saturday and how we prepare throughout the week. That’s our process; that’s what it will always be. And that’s what it’ll be this week.
Q: I think, if I’m not mistaken, that both (safety Dane) Belton and (cornerback Cor’Dale) Flott hadn’t played at all on defense until the fourth quarter, and they both made – whether it was Belton with the tackle and I think Flott had a pass breakup – pretty good plays. What does that say about guys and their ability to come in cold like that and make big plays? Because you know the opponent’s going to attack a guy like that off the bat?
A: I think that, again, give the players credit. They’ve played games throughout the season. They’ve gotten better. And whoever we bring to the game has to be ready to go. We have a lot of confidence in all of our guys. Those two guys made really critical plays. I’d say (running back Matt) Breida made a critical play on third-and-1 when four guys sniffed it out. (Wide receiver Kenny) Golladay made a critical play on a block. Everybody’s responsible for our football team when we play on Saturday or Sunday – all of us. Everybody plays a hand in it, whether that’s three plays, whether that’s 60 plays. We’re all accountable to one another to do the best we can.
Q: You played (inside linebacker) Jarrad Davis over (inside linebacker) Micah (McFadden), who had played a lot during the season. I’m just curious, what went into that decision? And how did you feel Jarrad performed?
A: I think he did good. He’s played well the last couple weeks. And we thought that was the best thing for our team for this game. He’s picked up our stuff, and we’ll see how it goes this week.
Q: With (offensive coordinator Mike) Kafka, I know he’s able to start doing interviews tomorrow. I think another request just came in. How are you guys going to handle that this week? Have you talked about what his plan will be?
A: Yeah, we have. I’m not going to dive too deep into it. He’s not going to do anything. Everything’s focused on Philadelphia, so this is going to be a normal week for him, for our offense. I know where his focus is. So, there won’t be any interviews leading up to this game.
Q: How different do you think your team is from the one that Philadelphia faced the first time?
A: I’d say you try to evolve after every game. I think we’ve gotten a little bit better each week, so what’s going to matter is how we play on Saturday.
Q: Specifically, though, your defense. Obviously, you’re gaining half your secondary back. (Cornerback) Adoree’ (Jackson) came back, and (safety) Xavier (McKinney) didn’t play in that first game. How much more does that allow you to do when those two are in the game?
A: I think with whoever we have in there, we do as much as we can do. And I think all of our players understand our system and how we want to approach things. We’re week-to-week. So, whether it was J-Pin (safety Jason Pinnock) or Belton or T-Jeff (safety Tony Jefferson) – whoever it may be – everybody knows what to do. It’s always good to have starters back that have missed some time. It’s good to have those two guys back.
Q: Anything on Pinnock or (outside linebacker Azeez) Ojulari? Are either of those long term where you can basically rule them out and the season’s in jeopardy? Or anything like that?
A: Nope. We’ll go day to day with all those guys.
Q: Anyone else? I see you looking at a list there.
A: How do you know what I’m looking at?
A: (Laughs) No, we’re in good shape after a tough game. I think nothing out of the ordinary.
Q: In your time here, just this year, how much have you learned about the amount of animosity that exists in this rivalry between the Giants and the Eagles?
A: It’s a division game, so I think every division game is important. We had, obviously, 0-2 against them this year. So, we’ve got to do a good job this week of getting ready to play the best team in the league, the best team in the NFC.
Q: What is the fiercest rivalry or rivalry game that you’ve ever been a part of? What does it add to the actual game experience or the competition of it?
A: Anytime you play a division game, it’s a pretty good rivalry. Obviously, this is a pretty big one here being so close to one another. They have a tremendous fan base, a tremendous team, and it will certainly be a big challenge for us.
Q: What’s the fiercest rivalry you’ve ever been a part of?
A: I don’t know. I’ve been a part of a lot of them. Whatever division you’re in, I would say that those teams that you’re playing are huge rivalry games. Obviously, this division is an unbelievable division with a lot of history and certainly huge competition between these teams. College, too. I’ve been in college where there’s some pretty big rivalries, but this one is near the top here.
Q: You’ve done this all season, so I assume the short week is a short week, and that’s it?
Q: When you looked at how Adoree’ played, did you see what you wanted to see? How much was he a part of the fact that (Vikings wide receiver Justin) Jefferson had 40 yards after the opening series?
A: It was good to have him back. He played a good game. Again, when you’re playing an opponent and a player of his caliber, it takes everybody: pass rush, coverage. But it was definitely good to have him out there.
Q: Have you tried to walk on water or multiply loaves and fish today?
A: I would sink like a son of a bitch. (Laughs)
Q: One of the biggest challenges, I think, of the Eagles is their pass rush – 70.0 sacks, I think, they’ve got this season. Knowing that, I wonder if you could talk a little bit about how you feel (tackle) Andrew Thomas has played this season, and what it does for your game planning knowing you have a left tackle who is playing at what, I assume you’ll agree, is a pretty high level right now?
A: He’s obviously been one of our best players. Smart, tough, dependable. Very good leader for us, and he’s had a lot of tough matchups. Again, the team we’re about to play with all their sacks, their production, and the players the players they have up front, it’s a challenge. It was a challenge the first time we played them, it was a challenge the second time we played them, and that’s certainly something we’re going to have to do a good job with.
Q: I don’t think you’ve used the behind the back handoff from Daniel (Jones) this season before. Is that something that’s fun? It’s obviously something that’s used to get a result there. Is that like the evolution of the offense and Daniel that you can do stuff like that?
A: I just thought it’s something that we had run in the past. I ran it when I was at Miami, Cleveland, Buffalo against Denver where we scored and it got called back on a holding penalty. Just gave it a different look. I thought it was something that we could use and maybe steal a few yards, possibly more than that. So, that’s all we try to do each week is try to put plays in that we think are going to be effective for us.
Q: You have to trust the quarterback obviously, and that’s a ball-handling thing. It’s not the riskiest thing, but he’s got to fake it this way. A behind the back pass in basketball, you get put on the bench sometimes when you make that, right?
A: I mean it’s something that we’ve practiced and again Daniel’s a pretty good athlete. (He) has a pretty good feel for a lot of different things in terms of ball handling, so it’s something that we put in (that) we thought would give us a chance. Didn’t gain a whole bunch from it, but those are things that each week you try to look at and see if you can steal something – whether that’s on third down, backed up, wherever it may be. That’s why we put it in.
Q: You’ve got a folder full of them waiting to pounce at the right time?
A: Well, I think there’s a lot of conversations each week. (Offensive coordinator) Mike (Kafka) comes from a place where they did that a bunch at Kansas City and then all the other assistants have certain things. But it’s got to be the right play. And you have to put it in for a reason, and obviously that reason is you think it’s going to work.
Q: Obviously, you were the underdog heading into Minnesota. And now, this run is starting to draw some comparisons with the 2007 run, which for a lack of better words, was a little bit of an improbable one. Has anyone said that to you? Have you gleaned anything from that? If not, how do you guys embrace the underdog role? Because now you’ll be the underdog, seen as the underdog, in both of these matchups.
A: I think we just focus on what we can control, having our good week. That’s what we need to do. We’re process oriented. That’s really what we focus on. In terms of what happened 16 years ago, no.
Q: What about that kind of identity, playing with a chip on your shoulder? What would you say your team’s identity is?
A: We try to be smart, tough and dependable and focus on the things we can control. Come in with a positive attitude, and try to be as resilient as we can. We know we’re going to go through some times, whether that’s during the season, during a game. It’s not always going to be perfect. We’re at where we’re at. Philadelphia’s earned that right to a have a bye and be the number one seed. We’ll just do everything we can to be ready to go on Saturday.