It was Eagles’ offensive coordinator Mike Groh’s turn to talk to the media after practice on Monday, and there were understandably a lot of questions surrounding the surprising addition of QB Christian Hackenberg over the weekend, and why the team felt they needed to add more depth at that position.
Groh also talked about some of the injuries and rehab status for some of the guys, as well as a general overview of his thoughts on how the receiving corps is coming together.
Here’s a breakdown of what Groh had to say:
On adding Christian Hackenberg
Groh acknowledged that adding the now-No. 5 QB on the roster was a personnel decision, not his, but that, “We’re happy that he’s here and looking forward to working with him.”
This isn’t the first Groh has been able to see of the third-year quarterback, having recruited him back in high school and reportedly knowing Hackenberg’s family for “a long time”. The offensive coordinator spoke about Christian struggling since he’s gotten to the NFL, but that they are treating him just like any new player they bring in.
Groh said they’ll just need to work on shrinking the playbook for Hackenberg, and making things more game-plan specific, so he can prepare for each opponent rather than worry about the whole picture at once.
He didn’t exactly give many indications that the new signee was a longterm option for the team, talking about taking things one step at a time and just getting him acclimated to what they are doing first.
“We’ve just got to get him out here, and first of all, he’s got to learn what to do and then how we want it done. At this point, he’s got to crawl before he can walk.”
Groh also wouldn’t say whether he was looking forward to the challenge of developing a player whose struggled this far in his NFL career. The Eagles’ OC wouldn’t bite and simply quipped, “We look forward to developing all the players on our roster,” before the topic changed.
On injuries and return timelines
The sky was falling over the weekend when rookie tight end Dallas Goedert was sidelined with an undisclosed arm injury. It didn’t take long for reports to come out that everything, was indeed fine, and Groh confirmed as much on Monday.
“Yeah, we’re just monitoring Dallas right now. Just making sure that he’s good to go, that he’s healed up from the game.”
He was asked later on about Carson Wentz and his return timeline, and while Groh is “really pleased” with where the QB is in his rehab, as Doug Pederson and Wentz have said this whole offseason, they’ll “stick to the plan”. (Blah, blah, blah.)
Groh echoed the sentiments made over the weekend by head coach Doug Pederson regarding the injury to RB Donnel Pumphrey just before the team’s first preseason game.
“I can’t predict a timetable on when he’d be back, but you’re right. It’s unfortunate. It’s out of our control, out of his control. He’s doing everything he could, and then this happens. I know he’s working hard in the training room to get back.”
Similarly, Wendell Smallwood has been trying to make the most of his opportunities in a crowded running back room. Specifically, Groh mentioned that Smallwood and the rest of the players competing for the roster spot, will not only be evaluated with what they do when they have the ball, but how they contribute on plays where they don’t have the ball.
On the wide receivers and availability
Some of the team’s veterans had Monday off, and with some still dealing with injuries, there’s concern that a disconnect could develop as we get closer to the season. Groh laments that the team will have to rely on the investments they made last year, and the extra time and practice during the postseason.
“They’ve had a lot of time out here on the practice field together, but when they all get out here together, we won’t have that bank of training camp. So, we’ll have to draw on some of that from the past.”
One player who seems to be acclimating to the Eagles’ offense is wideout Mike Wallace. The veteran talked about how much he’s been enjoying his new teammates and organization, but it seems things are finally showing on the field as well, and that the quarterbacks are learning to read his body language and develop that chemistry.
On what he wants to see against the Patriots
Groh was overall pretty pleased with the offense’s performance in the first preseason game of the year, and has trust in his player to make the adjustments needed to be successful.
“Well, I thought we did a good job with the first unit the other night. Had a misread in that first series, which obviously we’ve got to get that corrected, and I think [QB] Nate [Sudfeld] understands what that is. And then we backed up on our second drive, we were able to dig that ball out and unfortunately stalled out before we were able to get points just out of field goal range, but I thought that was a really positive drive.”