So we already know that Carson Wentz is the starting quarterback for the Eagles in Week 3 against the Colts, but there are still a lot of unknowns surrounding some of his offensive weapons heading into the weekend.
The team has started making roster moves, including adding RB Josh Adams to the 53-man roster from the practice squad, and subsequently releasing WR DeAndre Carter. The team now has three healthy wideouts heading into Sunday’s matchup, which does not seem ideal.
Eagles coordinators Mike Groh and Jim Schwartz talked to the media on Tuesday and gave their impressions of the team’s Week 2 loss and a look into how they are preparing for the game against Indianapolis.
Here’s what they had to say:
On offensive weapons
Groh admitted they have a talented player in rookie tight end Dallas Goedert and they need to find more ways to get him involved. He talked about having some extenuating circumstances on Sunday, but they are going to modify that moving forward and give him a bigger role.
They’ve had a lot of turnover since training camp, and Groh said they’ll have to try and find a rhythm with the 11 players they have on the field each week. He also pointed to a lot of moving parts with the receivers due to injuries, but that isn’t exclusive to the Eagles roster.
Nelson Agholor took more reps than he normally would have in Week 2, given the injury to Wallace early in the first drive, but Groh said the wide receiver is an extreme competitor. He continued on about how going no-huddle made things more difficult, but the coordinator said that also speaks to the overall conditioning of the team.
He talked about being impressed with running back Josh Adams during the preseason, and as someone already on their practice squad and familiar with their scheme, he was a big body they could bring up to the active roster.
Groh was then asked if Adams was brought in as a Plan B to Jay Ajayi not being able to go in Week 3, and the OC admitted that was part of it. He said they need to be sure they have the roster in place in case Ajayi is still tending to an injury.
On Colts prep
He was asked about how they prepare to go against former OC Frank Reich, to which Groh quipped, “Frank who?”
But he quickly got back on topic and just made note that there are some provisions and adjustments they need to make so that Reich doesn’t have any sort of unfair advantage over his former team, but that isn’t something too concerning for the Eagles.
On Carson Wentz’s return
Groh also talked about being excited to have Carson Wentz back, and said that the quarterback has worked incredibly hard to get himself ready to play again. As of now, the team is just looking forward to getting him back out on the field, and they aren’t really setting any sort of expectations this early.
The OC said the quarterback’s job is to lead his team to victory and Wentz has tremendous command of the offense and has a clear vision for how he wants to lead this team. Groh said that Wentz has articulated those things to both the coaching staff and his teammates, and they are excited to get behind him.
Groh wouldn’t say that Wentz would look like he did in 2017 in his first game back, but did say that eventually — perhaps after any rust gets knocked loose — he’ll look like himself. He thinks it’ll take a couple of games to get him back into the swing of things, especially after having no preseason snaps and very few reps over the offseason.
On playing at home vs. on the road
Schwartz said playing at home is a big advantage for defenses throughout the league, but particularly for the Eagles team in front of the Philly crowd. He echoed what Groh mentioned, there is a reason they call it home-field advantage.
The coordinator did acknowledge that they need to be more consistent on the road, however. He said they don’t change their game plan based on playing at home or on the road, but he doesn’t think that an airplane ride affects his guys all that much.
On the long TDs
Schwartz was asked about the two long touchdowns on Sunday against the Bucs and whether it was an aberration. He quipped “it wasn’t in this game” and continued to talk about how they would be on the wrong path to say it was an aberration.
He said one was on a blitz and one was on what was considered a pretty safe zone, but Schwartz talked about how it taught them that you can’t let your guard down on any play.
He pointed out that fans are always yelling at him to call a blitz on every play — which he understands and agrees you need to bring pressure on the QB — but it also comes with some risk, as evidenced by that first play on Sunday.
Schwartz noted they didn’t execute well on the big plays, but also they didn’t tackle well. He said the defense didn’t look like themselves, with wide receivers dragging the Eagles defenders an extra couple yards.
He said it’s never the fault of just one guy, but that there are a lot of layers to missing out on a play.
Schwartz was blunt — as he usually is — saying the defense in particular was sloppy on Sunday. The tackling wasn’t as good as it normally is, as well as their technique and pursuit, and some missed assignments. He said you can’t blame the weather on things like that.
He said he might not have been happy with the overall performance, but at the end of the day he’s proud of the guys for finding a way to push through to the end and continue to fight. Schwartz pointed out it takes a lot of character to continue to push when you’re “playing like crap”.
On Colts prep
Schwartz was asked if while looking at the game tape ahead of the Colts game, if Andrew Luck still looks as good as he did years ago. The DC acknowledged that Luck is completing 71% of his throws right now and they are a great third down team.
He continued that Luck is still a very accurate passer and has some mobility. He’s taken some hits to that shoulder, and hasn’t been afraid to scramble around, which shows that he’s feeling pretty good and not shying away from things like that.
Schwartz also talked about several of the offensive weapons the Colts have that they have to prepare for, including deep threat T.Y. Hilton and their tight ends. He said each week you have someone to focus on, but Indianapolis certainly has options the Eagles need to pay attention to and prepare for.
The coordinator didn’t mince words when asked about preparing to go against his former colleague and friend. Schwartz said he’d go on record saying that Frank Reich “is one the best guys I’ve ever met in this business” and even calling him “a gem of a man”.
He continued that it isn’t rare to go against friends in the NFL, but the talent they have in Indianapolis is different than what they had in Philly, so he doesn’t expect it to be like something he used to see in training camp, but there is going to be some familiarity — as there is with anybody you worked with for several years, and bounced ideas off of.