The Eagles had more than a few issues on offense against the Falcons, everything from injuries to rookies taking more snaps. Offensive coordinator Mike Groh spoke about how they adjusted for losing three of their starters, and also about Carson Wentz’s magic throw from him knees and Nelson Agholor’s big drop in the fourth quarter.
Here’s what the OC had to say:
On the rookies vs Atlanta
Groh opened by talking about JJ Arcega-Whiteside seeing a significant increase in snaps on Sunday and said there were some plays he executed really well, and others that they need to review and he’ll need to learn from. The OC also noted that rookie receiver will take more of a primary role in practice, “until we learn more about Alshon’s status”, and those extra reps can only benefit the young player.
He was also asked about JJAW and rookie RB Miles Sanders and how they handled themselves in their first primetime NFL game.
“These guys have played in big games in college, but there’s certainly a different feel about playing Sunday Night Football in the NFL. It’s a big stage and I thought both those guys just stepped in. The game didn’t look too big for them. But there certainly is experience that you can learn from going out there, and Atlanta has some good defensive backs and obviously a very good strong defense. It will be a good experience for both those guys.”
Later on, Groh was asked about Miles Sanders and whether he was trying to do too much in his attempts to bounce to the outside.
“I think it’s all part of the process, really. That’s an excellent observation. There were some moments in there where you’d like him to stick his foot in the ground and get north, and he can’t outrun everybody in this league like he might have been able to do in the past. That’s the learning experience of a young player. We know he’s going to learn for it. It’s been pointed out and he’ll be better for it. We’ve got a ton of confidence in the guy and he’s going to be a really good running back.”
On game-planning around injuries
He credited the coaching staff with making a lot of adjustments on the fly early on against Atlanta, and said that there were obviously unique circumstances that added to their slow start. Not only JJAW, but also Mack Hollins saw significantly more snaps on Sunday, and overall, Groh said he was happy with how the players and coaches responded to the necessary changes to the gameplan.
Should they still be without those three guys — Dallas Goedert, Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson — over the next couple of games, they’ll at least have some time to adjust their plan.
“It obviously helps now to have some time to plan, as opposed to happening in the moment. Like I said, it’s unusual. It’s never happened to me in all my time coaching to lose three skill position guys like that so early in the game. I think we were able to settle in finally and find a rhythm and those guys settled in the game and did a nice job.”
They also had to make some plans in case Nelson Agholor was sidelined after he was evaluated for injury on Sunday, and Groh mentioned that they were going to send in another running back if that were the case.
“Well, we were going to have to put a running back in so now that gets even more challenging there because you’re talking about a guy who hasn’t done -- at least the receivers have been in the room and they understand. The running backs, they haven’t been focused on that throughout the course of the week.”
But, of course, the running back they were going to send in at receiver was veteran Darren Sproles, so at least he’s someone who they could trust to jump in unprepared.
On Carson Wentz
Groh was asked about the protection for Wentz on Sunday. He mentioned that Atlanta has a great pass-rushing group and they were under pressure at times, but overall he thought the offensive like “did a good job”. The OC did acknowledge that Wentz took some hits that they obviously don’t want him taking, but they have a lot of confidence in their ability to pass protect.
On Isaac Seumalo specifically, Groh noted:
“Isaac has played well here in the past and we expect that he’ll continue to do that. He probably didn’t play his best game on Sunday night and I think he’d probably say the same.”
Groh was also asked about the incredible throw by Wentz as he was being taken down from behind. The OC noted it wasn’t the first time he’s made an impressive throw like that — citing the Jacksonville game last season and a pass to Jordan Matthews — but he did call the effort “heroic”.
“It’s just a testament to his strength, not only his arm strength but just his overall, his play strength and being able to absorb something like that and still deliver a ball.”
Following up on the hits against Wentz, Groh said that the quarterback has said that he’s fine — generally sore after a game anyway, that’s probably all it is.
Groh also talked a bit about Wentz’s production, and despite having a lot of new faces in the huddle with the three injured skill players, the quarterback had a really solid second half.
“Completed 70 percent or something like that. Was excellent. 8-for-8 on that one drive with a couple of unbelievable third-down conversion throws that he made. So I thought he had an outstanding second half. Be the first time, really, for any of us, him included, he’s looking at faces in the huddle that he probably didn’t expect to be there. He adjusted and I thought he was really gutty in his performance.”
But, Groh wouldn’t use the new faces in the huddle as an excuse for the team’s slow start. The OC noted that it’s something they all need to improve on, everyone from him down, the entire offensive unit.
On Nelson Agholor’s 4th quarter drop
“I think certainly he knows he’s got the support of the cave and the players in that locker room, every one of them. It wasn’t just one play. We know it was a significant play, but it wasn’t just one play, it’s a collection of plays. [WR] Nelson [Agholor] has got a lot of confidence in himself. He’s got demonstrated performance. He has a resume and he knows he can step up and make plays and as a matter of fact, just a play or two later, he made a huge play for us on fourth down to extend the drive and go up and make that play in traffic like he did.
So we haven’t lost any confidence in him and he’s going to be a big part of the reason why we win.”