Good morning. Merry Christmas and happy holidays to everyone, Christmas Eve. We prepare to play the Philadelphia Eagles, our divisional opponent this week, our 16th game. An Eagles team that is a very, very good football team.
An offensive team that is ranked fifth overall. Ninth with the rush, 14th with the pass, 29 points per game, 70 plays per game, and they have scored 85 points on their first and second drives. They are a potent offensive team. Mark Sanchez, LeSean McCoy, Darren Sproles, you name it. Jason Peters, Jason Kelce is at the center position. He wasn't there the first time around. Lane Johnson, Jeremy Maclin, just to name a few. All of these people are having outstanding years. They are everything you can think of in terms of an offensive team. Chip Kelly has done an outstanding job.
Their defensive team, they are ball-strippers. They have caused a league high 22 fumbles and recovered 15 of them. They have 49 sacks, second-most in the National Football League. Connor Barwin has 14.5 sacks. Vinny Curry has nine sacks. Four sacks by Fletcher Cox. [Brandon] Graham has 5.5 [sacks], Trent Cole had 6.5 [sacks]. Mychal Kendricks has four sacks, the outstanding inside linebacker. The defensive football team does not get as much recognition as the offensive team does, but if you watch our first game of the year against the Eagles, you wonder why.
Their special teams are outstanding. They are ranked second in the NFL with 13.2 [yards] per punt return. They are ranked third in the NFL with a 27.8 [yards] per kickoff return. They are 12th allowing punt returns, 11th allowing kickoff returns. Donnie Jones, their left-footed punter, does an outstanding job. They have Sproles with a 13.3 [yards] punt return average, [Josh] Huff with a 29.7 [kickoff return average] and [Chris] Polk with a 30.9 kickoff return average.
They do have an outstanding team. Our first time around against the Eagles, they had scored many touchdowns off of fumbles, interceptions run back, kick returns, so they are a potent football team. We started our preparation with our team last night. We got some work on the field. This is a continuation for us. This is our Thursday practice, if you will. We will recognize Christmas day tomorrow. We will not meet tomorrow or practice. We will have a training room session at noon. Coaches will be here tomorrow.
Q: What are your emotions right now because this will be the last time this team is on the field together?
A: I am not thinking about that. I am thinking about this game. I am excited about the leading up to this game and what this group has been able to put together, although late in the season, what they have been able to put together. I look forward again to the challenge, which is against a team that just two weeks ago played for the number one seed in the division and a team that is recognized as an outstanding football team and to see where we are. What's our progress been like? That is where I am emotionally and every other way.
Q: How's your progress been?
A: How's it been? We are getting a little better. How am I doing? I am not quite as quick as I once was, but I am working on it.
Q: A couple weeks ago, Eli [Manning] said, 'We have to learn how to win.' Do you think in the last couple of games that has happened?
A: We have won a couple of games and it is a whole lot better than the other side. We've had to bear down and do some things you have to do in order to win. Probably the best thing we have done is take care of the football. Offensively, the ball has not been turned over in two weeks, so I am hoping we can do that again.
Q: [Devon] Kennard and Andre Williams are on the injury report?
A: Kennard will not practice. Andre will practice.
Q: How serious is the Kennard toe injury?
A: It is a sore toe.
Q: Is there a chance that he won't play?
A: We'll see. For me, it is day-to-day, but we will see.
Q: How is Rashad Jennings looking this week?
A: He looked okay yesterday. We can only comment on what we see.
Q: Did he run around yesterday at practice?
A: He looked okay yesterday. He made some cuts in the walk through that were just… Yes, he ran around okay. He tried to do more than everyone else because of having not practiced.
Q: On Thanksgiving [Philadelphia] beat Dallas down there. What happened to them after that?
A: They have run into some very good football teams that have played well against them. You know what happened. Dallas got a big lead at 21-zip. [Philadelphia] came back, roaring back, and took the lead. They have that capability also. Seattle did a nice job on the defensive side of the ball. Both teams held the ball for 41-42 minutes. Both teams did an outstanding job of preventing a lot of snaps. The goal down in Philadelphia is probably, I don't know for sure, but I would guess 80 snaps per game is what their goal is. Both [Seattle and Dallas] were able to reduce the snaps they had. They had plenty of snaps in Washington. They put themselves in position to win. They had a couple missed field goals and a turnover.
Q: How different does their offense look with Mark Sanchez?
A: They try to run their offense and the quarterback is the instrument behind it. You don't see a whole lot of radical or different changes, even the play calling.
Q: They haven't gotten as many balls down the field… Is there anything you have seen to that?
A: Well, Maclin has gotten the ball downfield. Whether it was a short pass, long run or deep throw, he has a bunch. The tight ends last weekend were obviously incredible with [Zach] Ertz catching 15 balls. That was obviously their plan.
Q: How have you continued to get your team to play with a purpose down the stretch with no playoffs in sight?
A: Because every week, it is consistently about improvement. It is about pride. It is about who we are. It is about our team. It is about trying to be the best that we can be as individuals and teammates. It is about representing your franchise to the best of your ability. It is about doing it for the guy next to you, all of those things. We preach all of that.
Q: Is that a hard sell for guys?
A: Not for me it isn't.
Q: Last time you guys played the Eagles, there was a lot of talking… Did you say anything to your team this week?
A: I said some things to the team, but I didn't expect it to happen this time. I think we have learned our lesson.
Q: What does Rueben Randle have to do to have more games like he did on Sunday?
A: It started with preparation last week. He was very serious about his work. He prepared well. If he would do that every week, I think he would have that kind of production every week. He obviously made some outstanding plays last weekend and contributed in a huge way. I kidded him yesterday about running into the end zone with that slant at the end. A little jay-walk there. In all seriousness, he played well. We need that because the contributors we knew last weekend and we know this weekend that the contributors are going to have to play very well.
Q: You talked the other day about your relationship with Odell [Beckham Jr.] and what he has been able to do and staying on him… Did you ever have that conversation with [Victor] Cruz?
A: I think you have to. You have different people, different personalities, where different people have come from and how it has happened for them and it is different. There are different aspects to every individual. You try to be what is necessary or needed as a coach and teacher for each individual that is in your classroom. They are all different. The approach is a little bit different because of what is surrounding them.
Q: Do you see any similarities to the sudden stardom between Beckham and Cruz?
A: I think they are really different cases, completely.
Q: What is your sense on Victor and his recovery and how optimistic are you guys?
A: I think he has done well. I think he is on schedule. I don't think there have been any setbacks. There aren't any crutches, no anything, at this point in time. I think he feels pretty good about that. I have watched him work from time to time [with the trainers] and he has been pushing hard.
Q: When Victor was injured and left that video for the team about being your brother's keeper… We have also seen that mentality more recently with your group… Does that matter on a team that has as many young players as you have?
A: Sure, absolutely. The closer that these individuals are, the more they care for each other, the more they are not going to want to let each other down.
Q: In retrospect, how much does it hurt not to have [Cruz] in the receivers room?
A: You can imagine. A leader, a captain, a guy that has been through it, a guy that has won a Super Bowl is all of a sudden no longer a part of the meeting room with a lot of young people, but again there isn't really a whole lot to contemplate there because the unfortunate thing is that he was injured and that ended Victor's season.
Q: Any thoughts on this rivalry?
A: It has been a good one, but all of our divisional opponents are exceptional rivals.
Q: [Jameel] McClain's status?
A: He is working today.