After reporters had some time to visit with players in the locker room, Eagles offensive coordinator Mike Groh took to the podium to talk about the offense against the Giants, what they still need to work on, and how they’re preparing for the Panthers.
Here’s what the OC had to say:
On Carson Wentz
Groh said that Wentz is starting to get more comfortable with the speed of the game, especially after missing so much time throughout the offseason, but that he’s starting to settle into a nice rhythm.
He was later asked about the team’s expectations for the third-year quarterback and whether he’s already exceeded them.
Groh agreed that the team does expect a lot from Wentz:
“He’s a tremendous player, and we know the kind of player that he can be, and he’s very diligent about working towards becoming that player and being consistent on every down. I think you just see a guy whose played three games now, and is very comfortable in the system and knows exactly where he wants to go with the ball.”
He went on to say that Wentz has been really productive, and that even in a short week was able to put in the work needed, and they are happy with where he’s headed.
On the wide receivers
He was asked about Alshon Jeffery’s touchdown catch, and how they coach the offense to avoid pass interference calls. Groh said he coaches the guys to “dance with [the defenders]”, and went on to clarify that it means to create a wall there and dance with the defender a bit to avoid a call.
Groh was also asked about that across-the-body throw from Wentz on that Jeffery touchdown, and he called it simply “unreal”.
Later on, Groh was asked where the vertical element on offense is coming from, particularly with Mike Wallace out and Torrey Smith no longer with the team. He noted that with those two players not on the field for them right now, they’ve had to try and create the opportunities elsewhere.
He went on to admit that the vertical game is an element they are still searching for, and that while the outside right receiver isn’t designated for that kind of role, there is room for a vertical threat in the Eagles system. For now, they are using a bunch of different guys in that role — not necessarily on the right side, but generally within the scheme.
Groh then said that Mike Wallace is progressing and they’re hopeful to get him back this season.
The offensive coordinator then went on to say continuity is an underrated thing, but that the last three weeks they’ve finally been able to run with pretty much the same group which has helped. He acknowledged a few changes, like losing Jay Ajayi and getting Corey Clement back, but with Carson Wentz offering consistency at quarterback, the other pieces are falling into place.
Groh later on also noted that Shelton Gibson is doing a lot of good things and is progressing each week, but he is a guy who has that vertical speed that they’re looking for, and they are trying to utilize him in those roles.
On the running back rotation
Groh talked about getting Corey Clement back in the mix, he wouldn’t go so far as to say that he’s the team’s lead back, but it was good to have him back. He went on to say that he adds a lot to defense, both as a runner and a receiver, as well as always being conscientious in protection.
Clement also was not on a pitch count against the Giants, and Groh admitted he was full go on Thursday.
He also talked a bit about Wendell Smallwood and how he’s been able to stay on the field more this season. Groh went on to explain that last year, there was a specific role for Smallwood, but then when he got injured, he wasn’t able to get back into that role.
But, this season, he’s been very consistent with his performance and very diligent with his preparation in all areas — whether it be running the ball, catching the ball out of the backfield, and protecting the quarterback.
On Big V subbing for Peters
If Peters isn’t ready to go on Sunday, the team will likely look toward Big V. Groh echoed what head coach Doug Pederson said earlier in the week, that V is better with a full week to prepare — although Groh noted that’s true of everybody when given longer to prepare.
The OC went on to say that Big V is a guy they have a lot of confidence in and he did a good job for the team last season, and he did a nice job jumping in for Jason Peters on Thursday night. He did say, however, that it was probably too early to slot V into the starting left tackle spot for Sunday.
On Carolina’s defense
Groh was asked what he sees from the Panthers defense, to which he described them as big, strong, physical defense. He said upfront, they’re big and hard to run against, and that they’ve got a very good scheme and will be a challenge to go up against.
He also admitted that their big focus is Luke Kuechly, as he’s one of the premier middle linebackers in the NFL, and not only is he supremely talented, but he gets everyone else on defense organized and lined up.