The Eagles’ offense still has a lot of improvements to make (and quickly, please). Offensive coordinator Mike Groh spoke to the media on Tuesday about some of the issues with the skill positions this season and against the Vikings, as well as what they’re expecting to face this week against Dallas in primetime on Sunday Night Football.
Here’s what the OC had to say.
On the receivers
Groh was asked why rookie wide receiver, JJ Arcega-Whiteside hasn’t had a bigger role so far this season. The OC mentioned that he’s primarily been used in the X receiver position, and has also been cross-trained with DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jeffery missing time. Ultimately, the rookie is the No. 2 guy behind Jeffery, so he gets the most practice in that position, but he is cross trained without many reps at the others.
But, they are really excited about JJAW and what he brings, but they also have confidence in Mack Hollins — so, Groh mentioned seeing both of them involved.
The OC was also asked what Mack Hollins can do to be more productive in the Eagles’ offense. (And his answer seems a little contradictory...)
“I think Mack is executing what his job has been assigned. The ball just hasn’t found him. He had a couple targets the other day. One was an off schedule, really more of a throwaway.
And then there at the end of the half, had the go ball there in the corner of the end zone, which I’m sure Mack would stand up and say, ‘I would like to make that play.’ It’s a 50/50 ball. It’s a contested play. We know that those kinds of plays are made and that they change games.
So, we haven’t lost any confidence in Mack, and we know that when the ball gets to him he’ll make a play.”
He also talked a bit about Nelson Agholor, and whether he slowed up a bit in the missed touchdown opportunity against the Vikings. Groh said that he didn’t notice Agholor slowing up — and if he had, that’s something they’d have to coach and correct — and is confident that the receiver will find his rhythm.
“We just missed another one, and I know that we’re all disappointed about that, but we’ll go back out there and keep working on it. It’s going to come. I really truly believe that it’s going to come. When it comes, it comes in bunches, and I think we’ll get on the same page.”
Groh also, later said that there was nothing to Jeffery getting involved on more screen pages, rather than Agholor. The OC pointed out they’ve both been utilized in screens and quick hitters in the past couple games.
And while the offense had a couple of good deep balls on Sunday, Groh admitted that they have to continue to be aggressive and hit more of them.
They are still taking things day-by-day and working with the trainers to get Jackson back on the field. Groh said it was difficult not knowing until closer to game day, but that they have a some plays specifically for him should he be available.
“Clearly DeSean is unique in his ability to track and he’s blessed with that. That doesn’t mean that everybody can’t improve, and that doesn’t mean that he hasn’t improved at it over the course of his career, with the amount of balls that he’s been able to catch at practice and in games.
So certainly his experience is a factor there, but we’re out there working on those things every day. That is part of what we do. Wednesday, Thursday, Friday practice is take our shots down the field. We are going to continue to practice those and we know that they’re going to come.
We have absolute confidence in them. We like the schemes. You can see that we’re getting guys open. They’re going to come. We are going to hit those plays, just like we’ve done this season. We’ve hit those plays.”
On Zach Ertz’s production
Groh mentioned that Ertz had four catches against the Vikings, but so did Dallas Goedert, and the defense did a good job slowing down the tight end. The OC said that receiver Alshon Jeffery had 10 catches and may have seen a few targets that might have otherwise gone to Ertz.
“Give Minnesota credit. They’re a good defense and they did a good job, but they didn’t eliminate him from the game.”
Groh also wasn’t worried that Ertz hasn’t seen many catches in the first quarter this year, saying that they haven’t had many series early in games in general, so there haven’t been a ton of opportunities.
On facing Dallas on Sunday
The OC was asked about the Cowboys’ linebackers — who made things challenging last season — and what kind of problems they post.
“Well, they’re big, they really run well, they tackle really well, they’re strong. Both are capable pass rushers. They do a good job in their scheme and utilize them in that way.
They have a good scheme. These guys do a good job covering the lineman up and allowing these linebackers to run sideline to sideline and make tackles. We know it’s important for us to get these guys covered up and give our backs some creases.”
Groh also said that the concentrate on preparing for division opponents in the offseason, and know that this game is significant for the division at this point of the season. He said his players are excited and are up for the challenge.