Eagles’ offensive coordinator Mike Groh spoke to the media on Tuesday following the win over the Giants and talked a big about the play-calling in that NFC East-clinching victory, as well as how the young skill players are developing.
Here’s what the OC had to say:
On play-calling vs. Giants
Groh was asked to walk-through the touchdown pass from Carson Wentz to Josh Perkins, and how challenging it is to make that kind of throw.
“Well, it was a designed movement play where we were going to get Carson out of the pocket there and obviously fake to the left and boot out to the field. Perk did a really good job with it. We’ve repped the play over the last several weeks, and Perk obviously, with his expanded role, was only really getting the reps in the last week or so.
We got a unique coverage maybe that we weren’t anticipating on that particular play, and I thought Perk did a really good job breaking all the way across the field in front of the safety there.
And then Carson, we know how good he is outside the pocket, but he’s got the arm strength to be able to throw it like he did, put it right on him. Perfect amount of velocity to complete the pass and a great job by Perk coming down with it.”
Designed movement plays are a big part of what they want to be able to do, but sometimes it presents itself in a game, and other times they have to focus on other things and aren’t able to get to them.
On the young skills players
Groh talked about running back Boston Scott and his knack at getting into the end zone from the goal line. He said that the offensive line did a “terrific job” the other day and opened up some really big holes for the rusher. But, Scott is hungry and has gone a really good job finding the hole, being patient and picking his way through it.
“I think it’s a combination of things: good design, some good plays, and the guys have blocked him really well, and then obviously Boston has finished them off. Credit to him and being able to get in there three times.”
The OC was also asked about wide receiver Greg Ward and his potential as more than just a slot receiver. He pointed out that Ward is a very versatile player, and they’re just trying to get him — and all the guys — in positions for them to be successful.
Despite the success of guys like Scott and Ward, Groh doesn’t think about whether they should have gotten opportunities to contribute earlier.
“They got their opportunities when that time presented itself. Like I said before, you got to give the guys a lot of credit. One of the hardest things I think about being either a backup player or on the practice squad is staying focused, concentrating, being diligent, not just when you go out to practice and you’re running the plays, but paying attention in the meetings.”
Groh went on to explain that it would be really hard to catch up with just a night’s notice, but the guys have been successful because they’ve been ready. He said that it’s also a credit to the coaching staff for keeping the guys ready, even if they don’t have a regular role.
On Carson Wentz
“I think he’s playing really well right now, like you said. I think that’s stating the obvious a little bit, but he’s obviously a big part of why we’ve been able to have the success we have had. We’ve always had a ton of confidence in Carson and his ability to lead our offense and get us where we want to go.
It’s a credit to him. That’s life in the NFL. You’re going to have your ups and downs. To be able to be the same guy and come to work and obviously be able to work with new guys and adapt to their games and be able to lead your team in December when the games really are the most important and get us into the playoffs, it’s a credit to him but also to everybody and the competitive toughness and the resiliency.
Just thinking on the bus ride home the other night how lucky we are to have the guys and the leadership in the locker room that we have, and obviously the direction from Coach Pederson.”
On facing the Seahawks again
The last time they faced Seattle, linebacker K.J. Wright said they identified some tells and were able to predict the Eagles’ calls. Groh said they have to do a great job of changing the things that they do, especially because of the great, smart players on the Seahawks’ defense.
“Sometimes that’s the case regardless of whether you -- the screens we ran last game weren’t the same. They were a new presentation. But people know that we want to get the ball to our guys on some screens. I think we still had opportunities there. Didn’t necessarily execute them as well as we have the last several weeks, so we have to find new ways to be able to do things we want to do on our offense to present new challenges to them on defense.”
That last game against the Seahawks also was one of Carson Wentz’s worst games of the season, but the Eagles’ OC noted that the quarterback has put in a lot of work since then. He pointed out that none of the players or coaches were proud of the way that game went down, and it was more than just Wentz, they all take responsibility for it.
They’ve been played a lot better in the weeks since, and Groh said it’s a credit to everyone in the huddle to trust the process and one another, and continue to work.
“Coaches have done a good job putting these plans together. We’ve had some new faces go in there and perform, which has been fun to see and exciting for those guys. They were ready and they were prepared when their opportunity came.
That’s all you can ask guys to do. You may not know then that opportunity is going to come, but make sure you’re prepared when it does. They have done a great job with that.”
Groh also said that turnovers were a big issue for them against Seattle, but they were able to move the ball. He recalled about 23 first downs, but they just couldn’t sustain the drives, and self-inflicted wounds allowed the Seahawks to control the game.
“We know we have to do a lot better than that. We have to protect the quarterback. We have to be able to run the football better. We have to take care of the ball. I think we’ve been doing those things. We are confident in who we are and our preparation, and really looking forward to the challenge.”