The Eagles offense has started finding success with young players, including rookie running back Miles Sanders, and offensive coordinator Mike Groh spoke to the media on Tuesday about the impressive touchdown pass to Sanders in the end zone, and what they’re doing to prepare for the Cowboys.
Here’s what the OC had to say:
On Carson Wentz
Groh talked about how confidence is a result of demonstrated performance, and for Wentz to go out and play the way he’s played recently, gives him and the offense confidence.
Conversely, the OC was asked about Wentz having 13 fumbles over the past 8 games, and he noted that the quarterback is very conscious of it, and the coaching staff just tries to emphasize pocket security and keeping two hands on the ball. But, Groh said there was no different in Wentz’s play or technique after starting the year with 0 fumbles in 6 games.
He later explained that the Wentz to Miles Sanders touchdown pass was just guys making a play.
“I think it’s guys making a play really. One of those ‘wow’ plays. Was certainly a great play that those two guys were able to make. He stuck it right in his chest, got it through about three different sets of hands and arms. One of those kinds of plays.”
Groh said it was happenstance that Wentz has stayed in the pocket more. However, they are fortunate that the QB has the ability to escape and extend plays, keep his vision down-field, throw on the run, and most those kind of plays.
“When you work a scramble drill early in training camp, it gets a little condensed there in the red zone obviously. Miles started in the flat, he’s really the low player. Then as you scramble, if you’re low, you’re taught to go deep. If you go deep, obviously if you’re coming across the field, and working the back of the end zone there, I think it just happened. There were a bunch of guys over there in that corner. There wasn’t a lot of room.”
On Miles Sanders
Groh was asked about defenses taking away the vertical route from Miles Sanders since his 3 to 4 game stretch with success. He said that he didn’t think anybody has done anything in particular to take that part of his game away.
“We called I know one for sure the other day. The right look didn’t present itself, so the play didn’t come to fruition.
Trust me, we have those up every week. We understand how explosive Miles is. We have a lot of confidence in him going down the field and making those plays. You kind of saw a little bit there on the scramble for the touchdown where Carson threw it to him there in the back of the end zone where he was able to get down the field again and get behind the defense and make another big play.
We understand he’s a weapon, and we’re going to try to continue to do those things you’re talking about.”
Sanders has had a lot of touches the past few games, and Groh said they try to guage where he’s at physically. It’s late enough in the year that the running back has a lot of stamina and he’s in really good game shape. The OC also said that Sanders is prepared and takes it all in phases and has “done a tremendous job”.
Groh also said that they’ve seen a lot of improvement in Sanders over the course of the season, and he spends a lot of time with Duce Staley going over the game plan and different blocking schemes they have, as well.
On personnel and play-calling
“Yes, we still design plays specifically for certain players, most of the players really. Some get more than others. Yes, we have to be creative with the personnel in terms of like we were talking about, in terms of where we’re putting guys, who is on the field, try to maximize the talents of everybody that’s available.
You try to make sure we’re not overloading them with a bunch of new stuff, but here is stuff we think we’re really good at because we have confidence in this over the course of a season, and here may be a new way to do it. Something that we have a lot of confidence in that may be an old play, but here is a new presentation that they’re not practicing on down in Dallas or whoever it is we’re playing.”
On Cowboys prep
Groh talked about the takeaways from the film from the first meeting this season, and he mentioned the two turnovers early on, and they need to stay on the field and drive the ball down the field, and score points early in the game.
“They’ve played really good all season long. A lot of talent, a lot of speed. Very good scheme. They’re well-coached. We’re looking forward to the challenge.”
The OC was also asked about former Eagles DE Michael Bennett, and Groh was quick to point out that he can create some issues one-on-one and put pressure on the quarterback — noting that he made a lot of plays like that when he played for Philadelphia.
“He’s one of those guys that you have to pay special attention to.”
Groh also admitted that the guys know what is on the line in a big game against Dallas, including it being a divisional, rivalry game.
“We want to go out and play one play at a time. That’s all you can really do. Play with fundamental discipline and great eye control and great communication, worry about the things we can control: our preparation, the way we go about it. Then go out there and play with great intensity and urgency and energy, go have some fun, and make some plays.”