Q: Can you talk about
A: Obviously he was playing at a high level in the preseason before his injury. Has been able to jump back on the bicycle and ride as fast as we want him to ride? No, but I think it is coming. He is always more critical of himself than anybody us. He wants to improve and get better and he will get better. It takes time.
Q: Is there a difference between being self-critical and just crying about it?
A: Oh yes, there is definitely a difference. I think he is being more self-critical more than anything else. He wants to make plays. He wants to return to form. It is just taking him a little more time than both he and we expect.
Q: Has he acted different this year on and off the field?
A: No. He just wants to make plays. He is not making as many plays since returning or a year ago or when we were playing last year or when he played earlier in the preseason. I think it will come, I really do. He made a comment to me saying he had to get good again and I said, he just has to practice. This has been his second week of really practicing at full tilt for us. It will come. Justin is a gifted player.
Q: Is he drawing fewer double teams than a year ago?
A: No, I wouldn’t say that.
Q: Do you have to lift the morale of your veteran players like you would the young guys?
A: You have to do it with all players. I don’t think the young players or veterans are any different. You see the good, you see the bad and you see the things that are encouraging with some of the players. Sometimes you see things that they don’t see. I just think it is a thing that he is seeing where he was in the position to make this play and he didn’t make that play. He is saying, I would have made that play a year ago. I think it is being more self-critical.
Q: Are there things that he is doing that don’t show up in the stat sheet?
A: Yes, definitely.
Q: What are they?
A: He draws a lot of attention when he is down in that three technique playing over that guard. He draws a lot of attention when he is at end and people have to worry about him in the run game. He did an excellent job for us in the run game against San Fran. He has taken some the burden off of JPP as far as playing some of the number of plays and JPP can play fresh and all of our ends are fresh. We have plans to do some things with him to move him around from guard to defensive end. Having that flexibility for our defense is a plus, a big plus. He is being self-critical that he does not have five, six or seven tackles and three or four sacks but I think that is what he is talking about more than anything.
Q: What did you see from your two rookie linebackers when Boley went out?
A: I was pleased that they went in and didn’t panic. That was a big game for them to be in. We had some mistakes with them but for the most part, they did well. They had a couple bad plays in there that were critical mistakes that they made but I think they will get experience, learn and get better from it.
Q: Are you comfortable with them calling the plays like
A: We will handle that a different way. For the most part they can handle the front, the defensive fronts and they can call the plays. They can handle that part of it. Michael Boley is more trained at doing that than they are but they have been training all year long so it is time for them to step up and assume that responsibility.
Q: Do you think they are ready for that?
A: We will take some of the burden off of them.
Q: Will someone else where the headset?
A: Yes, someone else will wear the headset but I won’t reveal that. We will have someone else wear the headset.
Q: Will you stick to things you normally do or change because Michael Boley could handle it and they can’t?
A: We will make some adjustments because that is where experience pays off. That is where working together with another guy that you have been playing with over the course of a season pays off. We will make some changes so that hopefully we can eliminate or reduce some of those errors so that they won’t occur.
Q: With Michael Boley out, are you able to do less with Mathias upfront and more with him as a linebacker?
A: Yes, that is a possibility but I won’t reveal that.
Q: You have used all three rookie linebackers but
A: He has been in several packages that we have had over the last few weeks. The personnel groups we were playing didn’t allow us to use him. It is not that we haven’t wanted to use him. He has been practicing up in some different packages but we just haven’t used those packages.
Q: What do you like about him on defense?
A: He is a big man and he is physical. Mark is a go getter. He is one of those 100% guys that if he sees something, he is going to go smack it and ask questions later. The thing that I really like about Mark, he is a student of the game. In the classroom, when you are going over a defense and about to ask a question, he is already answering it. You really like his enthusiasm for learning the game and him trying to absorb as much as he possibly can absorb.
Q: How do you see JPP benefiting for Tuck taking more snaps?
A: He plays faster for us. Earlier in the season, we were just watching the Philly game because we are about to play them a second time, he made a sack and a play and he was gasping. Sometimes he comes to the sidelines huffing and buffing. I don’t see him huffing and buffing like he did earlier in the season. I think he played 40-45 snaps last week, Justin played 35-40 snaps, that helps players play fast and it helps their recovery.
Q: Early in the season JPP was playing 60?
A: 64 and almost 70.
Q: Does Osi look like he is back from surgery?
A: Osi looked 100% when he walked on the field against
Q: Earlier you said you wanted to take about five snaps off JPP’s total, have you accomplished that goal and has he seen it in himself?
A: Yes and I think so. He is still productive. When you look at the stat sheet, he is still productive. He is a productive guy. The ability to play with more energy and when you need him in that clutch period, he has that extra gear.
Q: How concerned are you about LeSean McCoy without Michael Boley?
A: Very much so. To me, (McCoy) is playing at a Pro Bowl level. That guy is really good and he is going to be a headache. That is enough to task for us on Sunday.
Q: Has your run defense gotten better?
A: Yes I think we have gotten better. I thought we played good run defense last week except for one play in there when we didn’t align properly and play good run defense. I think we have gotten better the last couple weeks.
Q: What is the biggest improvement?
A: I think guys trust each other. They are learning to play with each other. Justin is back and Osi is back. We had three defensive ends and four defensive tackles and now we have four defensive ends and three defensive tackles. The chemistry is coming together and they know where each other is supposed to be within the defense. We are just starting to click in the run defense. Again, losing Michael kind of takes some of that away and so we have to develop defenses with our backers now and make sure we all can be on the same page. We have made progress in the run game, definitely.
Q: How do you compare your three rookie linebackers?
A: I think they are all different. I think they are different in personality. I think they are all team guys. They are a pretty tight knit group from getting in the classroom and studying and when to come in and look at extra tape. I mention that Mark is a student of the game but it is not like the other three aren’t students of the game. They want to be sponges. They want to absorb as much as they can absorb but in the same sense, there is only so much that they can handle and be affective. That is what we have to do is trim back some because we can give them a lot of information but they can only execute so much.
Q: Why do we look at Tuck differently and hold him to another standard?
A: I think because it is year seven and he has been such a high level performer. He is obviously the captain of our team and the leader of our defense. He has been a guy when we needed to have a play made, he has been there to make those plays for us. He has the ability to make plays and when you don’t see him make a play, you wonder why and he wonders why.
Q: What have you seen from Prince?
A: He has been getting better every week. I like what we saw out of him this week and
Q: Who are you preparing to face at quarterback?
A: Both of them. Well, all three of them, really.
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