The Eagles are back from their bye week and offensive coordinator Mike Groh spoke to the media after practice Monday about the addition (again) of Jordan Matthews, how the offense has to change with DeSean Jackson officially not returning, and what they expect from the Patriots defense on Sunday.
Groh mentioned that they spend the bye week both self-scouting and trying to identify any tendencies they need to exploit, while also utilizing some of the extra time they have to prepare for the Patriots.
He said that there’s a lot of positive things to build on in Philly, but specifically the offensive line is playing really well right now, especially in the run game. And, the running backs are playing really well both on the ground and as part of the passing game.
Here’s what the OC had to say:
On Jordan Matthews
“The guy’s made a lot of plays for the Eagles over the years. He’s got excellent football intelligence. He knows our system, so he’s got familiarity there. I think there’s great comfort with him in the huddle; there’s rapport and chemistry with he and Carson [Wentz], which is important. So, certainly nice to get him back.”
Groh went on to say that they’ll probably move him around — in the slot, on the outside — and the receiver has shown the ability to do both.
On filling DeSean Jackson’s shoes
Groh was asked how they replace Jackson’s speed and talent, now that he’s on IR through the rest of the regular season.
“Obviously, he’s unique, so isn’t gonna be just one guy who does that. And, we gotta utilize — we’ve got plenty of good players that are our there in the huddle with Carson, and we gotta find ways to create those explosive plays that you talk about. Get guys open, help them get open, and then make the plays when the plays are there to be made.”
He said that Jackson being out officially doesn’t really change how they game plan. Groh noted they always had great communication regarding the wideout’s availability, so they weren’t in the dark (i.e. planning for Jackson just in case).
On the passing game production
Groh said that he thinks they’ve identified and addressed what they need to do to get more production out of the passing game. He said he’s got “a lot of conviction” in the offense and they’ll just keep working the process. Plus, they’ll work in Jordan Matthews, and continue trying to get the ball to the other skill players and get it to them in new spots, and “keep it fresh”.
He later talked about Zach Ertz being more productive in their win over the Bears. Groh said that it’s always beneficial to get Ertz — and any of the guys — involved early, and the tight end’s first catch coming on 4th and 2 was a big momentum boost for him and the offense.
On Carson Wentz this season
“I think he played really well. You know, in a few of those games that we didn’t win, I think there’s plays that all of us look back on and say, ‘Wish we would’ve done this a little bit better’, and certainly, it’s not exclusive to him. It’s across the board — all of us, from the coaching staff, down to all the players on offense, and when we don’t win, we’re always evaluating that, and being very critical of ourselves.”
Groh went on to say that he’s really liked the tempo of the offense in the past couple of games, and Wentz’s ability to get them in and out of good plays, and he’s excited about the next seven weeks.
On the Patriots defense
Groh talked a bit about what he’s seen from New England’s defense so far this year:
“Wow. They are very good. Completely, playing great team defense, put a lot of pressure on you, a lot of blitz zero. If you want to ask, that obviously jumps off the tape. They’re attacking, they’re pressuring a lot, and you know, they don’t beat themselves, they’re very opportunistic and really well coaches, and they’ve got a lot of really good players.”
The OC was then asked if they expect Stephon Gilmore to match-up against Zach Ertz. Groh sort of skirted the question, but noted that they know the Patriots are a match-up defense and so they know Gilmore will be matched up with someone, and it could be Ertz. But, he says they won’t really know who he’ll cover until they get out on the field Sunday.
Later on, Groh acknowledged that with the way the Patriots prepare for a game, it’s very important to show new things against them. He went on to say that he has a lot of respect for Coach Bill Belichick and his players and how prepared they will be.
Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz mentioned earlier on Monday that during the off week, they watched the Super Bowl win over the Patriots two years ago. Groh agreed it was a good resource, but also that they are two different teams now than they were back then.