There were a lot of questions on offense against Detroit, and with dropped passes and turnovers aplenty, Eagles’ offensive coordinator Mike Groh spoke to the media on Tuesday about how they play to improve in those areas.
Groh also mentioned that they invested a lot of time in the screen game during the offseason, and situations have dictated that they not use it a ton so far this season, but they’ll use it again — it’s a big part of what they want to do.
Here’s what else the OC had to say:
On the number of drops
Groh was asked as the former wide receivers coach, what he thought about the number of dropped passes lately and how they improve in that area.
“We gotta continue to catch and catch balls in practice, and continue concentrating when the ball comes to you. Some of them were contested and you have to give defenders credit where credit is due, they get their hand in there and knock the ball out. But, obviously we want to catch everything that’s thrown to us, so that would be the mindset.”
Head coach Doug Pederson had mentioned that the drops were mostly related to focus by the receivers, and Groh was asked to elaborate on that a bit and how they can go about coaching that up. He explained that sometimes the surroundings — like a defender bumping you — can distract the receiver for a second and then they aren’t focusing on just the ball.
So, they want the players to eliminate everything around them and hone in on the ball, and then it’s technique like looking through their hands at the ball and violently bringing it in to the body for the tuck.
Groh was also asked about Nelson Agholor and how he’s bounced back from the drops, and had two scores in the second half against Detroit. The OC said that the best way to describe Agholor is “resilient” and has always had the self confidence to bounce back and to move on mentally to the next play, whether it’s good or bad.
On the running backs
Groh was asked about rookie Miles Sanders and how they manage not wanting to shake his confidence and also not hurting the team — with the two fumbles last Sunday.
“Well, just continue to talk to him about ball security.”
He also talked about some of the plays Sanders looked good, and pointed out that his two receptions were very impactful and he’s out there making plays. But, they’ll continue to emphasize ball security, and Sanders is aware of that and the importance of it.
It was pointed out that Sanders had a problem with ball security in college and whether that was carried over into the first three games. Groh noted that they tried to correct some of those things they saw from his college tape, and that resulted in him carrying the ball a little differently, which he’s still getting used to.
“Again, not the first guy to fumble in the history of the NFL, but obviously we don’t want to fumble the ball.”
The OC also mentioned that every year RB coach Duce Staley does a presentation on ball security and goes over the fundamentals about how to protect the ball and prevent turnovers.
Later on, Groh was asked about Jordan Howard and how he’s been utilized so far. He mentioned they have a lot of confidence in the running back and the group as a whole.
It was brought up that Greg Ward was activated from the practice squad but didn’t see any action, and Groh noted that he was added late in the week and was a way to provide some depth if they needed him. But, the guys that were out there were able to manage the reps that they had, but Ward was ready to go in if they needed him.
On preparing for Green Bay
Groh was asked what the confidence level is after so many turnovers last week heading into a matchup against a team that excels at takeaways.
“Confidence is very high.”
He later talked about how the Packers’ defense does a good job of mixing up their personnel groups, and that they’ve got a lot of versatile players who fill many roles and show a lot of different looks. But, Groh said that QB Carson Wentz has done a great job identifying coverages and making adjustments at the line of scrimmage.
The OC also mentioned that the Packers have added a lot of talent up front, and they’ll present a good challenge for them on Thursday.
Groh noted that they have a really strong secondary and two young cornerbacks who will both go on to have good NFL careers and the safeties are all interchangeable. He said they are all well-versed in the scheme and are playing fast.