Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale
Martindale: In reflection of the last game, I was really proud how hard we played for the entire (game), all the way up through overtime. I think that our guys took it one play at a time, and that was the goal going into it, and that's exactly what they did. I was really impressed with the level of execution of the gameplan and hoping to build on that this week. With that I'll open it up for questions.
Q: You love comparisons, well you play an MVP candidate this week in (quarterback) Jalen Hurts. You have one for him?
A: Well, I think the whole thing is like, I was telling the defensive staff, I know they're not going to play the Pro Bowl this year, but they're playing it in Philly because they're talented across the board. Jalen is getting into that level, that top-tier quarterback, because you can just see the jump. We went against him his rookie year when he was playing sparingly, and then last year to this past year, he's really worked on his throwing mechanics, his footwork, and it's paying off for him. The same way it did for Patrick Mahomes. If you go back and look at those comparisons, it's very similar. He is a triple threat.
Q: You don't strike me as a big Twitter guy, but you had two of your players speak out about their playing time on Twitter, (cornerback) Rodarius (Williams) and (inside linebacker) Tae (Crowder), do you have a problem with that?
A: Why don't I seem like a big Twitter guy? I'm more of a TikTok guy (laughs). TikTok has good golf tips on there, scare cam's one of my favorite things to see, and a lot of comedians. I think (head coach Brian Daboll) Dabs hit on it earlier, it was taken care of internally, and like I said I'm not on Twitter, so I didn't really see it.
Q: I just asked because a week or two weeks ago in here you said it could be a big turning point in Tae's career how he takes it.
Q: Obviously it didn't seem like he took it well.
A: Yeah, well. Life is all about choices.
Q: How much was the other day sort of what you envisioned? You finally have (outside linebacker) Azeez (Ojulari) and (outside linebacker) Kayvon (Thibodeaux) both back and healthy, what you were probably hoping for when you began the year. You saw kind of what I believe you were thinking about when you looked at the pass rush.
A: It was one of those things, it was obviously a big day getting after the quarterback, but we really haven't the initial starting lineup together since we started, if you want to really reflect on it. So, when you get the entire starting lineup together that's when it's going to be even more fun than what it was Sunday, but you can see the difference. You guys can see it, you can feel the difference or however you want to say it and just watching the both of them out there. I think he was on a pitch count, Azeez was, and (senior VP of medical services) Ronnie Barnes asked me how many reps he had I said, "I forget", I think he went over the pitch count. It's a tribute to Azeez too, because he's really worked his tail off in trying to get ready to go and get back from all the injuries that he's had. It's been a tough year for him, so I was really happy for him.
Q: We know you believe in pressure breaks pipes, but when you have those guys healthy how much does that change for you? Maybe you don't have to blitz quite as much.
A: Right, there's a definite mix. There's a definite mix you go to, and each game is different. This game's going to be a completely different game than the last game. Each game's different, and you go with what you think is best to win that game. I'll never turn down a free runner to the quarterback, and I know we hit that quarterback a lot last week. We'll continue to try to attack teams the best way we know how.
Q: You've only had Azeez for a couple of games.
A: Two and a half.
Q: Yeah, so you see the impact he's made. When you look back at the guy you came in (with) and watched film on, does he look like he's made that second-year leap even though he hasn't played that much?
A: That's hard to tell. That's a good question, but that's really hard to tell.
Q: I just meant does he look different than the guy you saw on film or is it just the same guy?
A: I mean, it's really hard to tell. I don't look at it that way. Right now, we're at the execution standpoint of is he doing the right things, being in the right place. Like I said, you can see and feel the difference when both those guys are rushing the passer, and they're playing at a high level. I think Kayvon continues to grow and get better every game. There's something new that stands out, and same thing with Azeez. Number one, I was happy he came out of there with no nicks and bruises, or just nicks and bruises. So, that'll be something I can tell you at the end of the year. It'd be more fair to me anyway.
Q: You've mentioned something stands out differently about Kayvon each game, what stood out about his last game?
A: It's just little things that people don't even see. Like, when he was the free runner to the quarterback which everybody thought in the stadium we had a safety, I know I did. He just came right off the edge where before he'd hesitate a little bit. Just little things like that. When you become a free runner like that and you're not used to being a free runner, you feel like you're almost falling off the edge of a diving board. You're waiting for somebody to get you and then your like 'oh, I'm free' and he doesn't hesitate, he knew he was going to be free.
Q: Was there something that (cornerback) Zyon Gilbert showed you specifically to get that call up and that heavy playing time last week or was that game plan to crazy jump guys?
A: It's a little bit of both, that's a good question. With the injuries that we've had we had to bring him up to have a corner out there and he's been practicing well really the last month. I can remember saying something to him a month ago. His red zone one-on-one coverage he was getting after the receivers, and it stood out. He's really starting to grasp the system and understand it, it's important to him, he wants to play. One of the best characteristics you can have as a secondary player, especially a corner, is tackling. He tackled and he was aggressive. It was fun for me to watch and I was really happy for him.
Q: How do you slow down (wide receiver) A.J. Brown?
A: Whew, got any ideas? It's like they've got (wide receiver Terrell Owens) T.O. back there playing again. He's a problem. We went against him when he was in Tennessee and he's a big physical receiver that you'd have to fight every play. I told (defensive backs coach) Jerome Henderson if he was a defensive player, he'd be an outside backer that's how physical he plays at wide receiver.
Q: (Cornerback Fabian) Moreau's never faced him. So, when you have a corner that's never faced a really good receiver is that a problem or not that big of a deal?
A: All I'll tell you is Fab studies tape like crazy. He'll study it and know all the receivers inside out, so we'll wait until Sunday to see where that goes.
Q: What did (cornerback) Nick McCloud show you to become for what looked like at least for a week the solidified number two corner.
A: He's just a football player, because it's not just number two corner. We play him everywhere. If you look at it, on third down, he goes inside, outside, doesn't matter just wherever we want that matchup, and I told you guys that after the Dallas game. We doubled 88 on the play and he got beat by the tight end, I said that was just a good throw and catch bud. But he is a football player. You can count on him, you can trust him, he works at it, he studies, he asks all the right questions. I'm really excited for this kid and his career.
Q: I was thinking yesterday and looked out and some of the guys, obviously (safety) Julian (Love) gets a rest day, (defensive lineman) Dex (Dexter Lawrence) gets a rest day. You guys start to put together your plan yesterday, how strange is that and how do you compensate for that, or do you, to make sure that those guys are ready. You're not just throwing away a day of practice for guys who obviously need the rest.
A: Well, the two that you mentioned definitely need the rest, with Dex and Julian and they're both two of the smartest guys on the defense. So, they can get their mental reps watching it, listening to the calls, so I'm not worried about that. I think that's a question that you'll probably be asking me every December because you get those guys that get high on the rep counts you've got to give them some time off so they can fill the gas tank back up to go on Sunday.
Q: After (safety Xavier) McKinney's appointment yesterday does you have any different kind of optimism about his status? Will he play this year?
A: I haven't even asked, I didn't even ask what's happened, where he's at or anything with it. I don't want to sound callus to that when I say I haven't asked because you know Dabs is going to take about all the injuries anyway. It's just one of those years where you just walk around shaking our head like I can't believe this because you're playing so many different guys at different spots with the injuries that we've had. That's why I like when I stand up here and say that I was proud of how hard we played as a defense last weekend, I've been proud of that all year. Whoever the 11 is that's out there I can guarantee you one thing, they're going to play hard. They're going to represent this city and they're going to represent this team the way it should be represented.
Q: Did you like (safety Jason) Pinnock's game the other day?
A: Yeah, I think he's coming along, he's doing some good things. I think that's great for him too.
Q: What is it about Hurts that makes him such a good runner?
A: I think it's the power and balance he has coming out of his cuts. So, he can get you running and when he sits down and makes a cut, he comes out of it with power, compared to a lot of guys. The thing that makes him so tough to go against, he's still looking to get the ball downfield until that last second where he says, 'no I'm going to go'. It's going to be a tough challenge for us.
Offensive Coordinator Mike Kafka
Q: Can you take us through the thinking on two series in that last game? The one right before the end of the half where the third and one you didn't throw the ball, ran and basically ran out of time and then the one at the end of the fourth quarter where you threw three straight passes with like two minutes left which I haven't seen you guys do in a close game in the fourth quarter all year.
A: So, the short yardage one – we had a couple of plays in mind. We thought that was the best play for that situation given the circumstances of the situation.
Q: Did you think you could score a touchdown there? Is that the idea?
A: Yeah, that's what we thought was the best play. The one at the end of the half, just giving our guys an opportunity on the ball. Obviously in the two-minute situation, there's plays that you talk about. Taking shots or underneath. If you get an opportunity, you take it.
Q: In that second situation you guys only used 17 seconds off the clock. Were you conscious of trying to run some clock there?
A: We were just trying to give our guys the best chance to make a play, make an explosive play. It didn't work out for us, so we went back, evaluated that and work to get better.
Q: Those two throws, the two long throws by (quarterback) Daniel Jones, were those about as good as you could have hoped for in those situations? It looked like they were right on target.
A: 'DJ' was doing a great job in the pass game. I know he hit a big one early to (wide receiver Darius Slayton) Slay and that, I think, gave everyone a lot of confidence to be able to have those types of throws. I think he did a really good job with the accuracy on those.
Q: Do you come out of that situation, even though that didn't work out, are you still confident that the big plays in the passing game can be there if and when you need it in a big spot?
A: Yeah. I'm very confident in the skill group, quarterback, running back. The skilled positions have done a great job, and my confidence is high on that group.
Q: You said you had a handful of plays in that situation at the end of the first half. From up top in the press box, it looks like (wide receiver) Richie (James) got the first down. I know you're up top too. Does it change things? Obviously, you called a timeout, I would assume thinking maybe a first down getting more shots.
A: There's absolutely a couple of scenarios that come up depending on the clock, the time. We used a timeout there, but there's definitely some plays that we were discussing, and we decided to go with the one we went with.
Q: It seems like teams have taken away the crossing route or the bootleg option for you. Do you feel like that's something that they've, for lack of a better word, taken away from you guys and how do you adjust to that?
A: We have a lot of different – I know what you're describing – we have a lot of different ways to get that done with different people from different personnel groupings. I think it goes back to just making sure we're executing it right and detailing it right from a coaching side. That's why we practice and go through that process each week.
Q: You haven't really gotten (running back) Saquon (Barkley) in the passing game maybe as much as people thought coming into the season and the screen game, haven't really seen a ton of it recently. How much is that something you would like to add and why do you think it hasn't happened so far?
A: Each week, we talk about those things and how we can get him in the most ideal premier look. It probably just hasn't shown up as much as we'd probably like to. Those things present themselves each and every week and that's what we look for as a staff – how we can get those things done over and over and over again. That's part of our evaluation process on the week to week.
Q: Did you think coming into the season that you'd be able to use that more?
A: Each week is different. Each opponent you go through, depending on what their defensive structure is, is different. You got to go into each week with a fresh mind and think about how you can attack a defense in the run and pass game.
Q: Obviously every week you're kind of toeing that line between aggressive and reckless is the term you guys use. Is there any thought that maybe you guys have gotten too afraid, not afraid, to weary of interceptions and turnovers? I go back to that situation at the end of the first half, that you're not being aggressive enough because a mistake could kill you guys.
A: I understand the question about it. I think each week is different. Each week, you go in with a plan then depending on what happens during the game, you have to be able to be flexible and adjust your plan.
Q: What happened on the third-down play when Richie and Saquon ran into each other?
A: Again, I hate to keep on bringing it back to this. It was one of those things where we didn't execute it well enough, didn't coach it well enough, and I take full responsibility for that. That's why we practice, and that's why we're doing it right now and excited for the other opportunity here against the Eagles.
Q: Did you approach that as if it might be four-down territory? It seemed like (head coach Brian) Daboll even said he was weighing that.
A: Dabs, again, will be the guy who tells me if we're going for it on fourth down. All those things are being discussed. We didn't get it done on that play, so it didn't work out for us.
Q: Any specific feelings or memories coming up? You were drafted by the Eagles, right? Any specific feelings about that team?
A: I have a lot of respect for the organization. Obviously (Philadelphia Executive Vice President/General Manager) Howie (Roseman), he drafted me there when I was there with coach (Andy) Reid. A lot of respect for the organization, owner (Philadelphia Chairman and Chief Executive Officer) Mr. (Jeffery) Lurie. They do a great job, they have a really talented team, so it will be a great challenge for us. We got to put together a good week of work.
Q: How many times are you going to face a defense where you they get to the quarterback, and they have two corners playing at a high level? Talk about some of the challenges you see when you look at these guys.
A: They're really talented, they're aggressive, they play with confidence, and they play fast. You see a lot of things that show up on tape. They're creating turnovers, interceptions. They have a ton of production in the pass game, in the run game and they're the best team in the league.
Q: It seemed like when you used those two running back packages whether it's Saquon and (running back) Gary (Brightwell) or Saquon and (running back) Matt (Breida) you've had success, but it hasn't been a staple of the offense. Why have you not incorporated that more based on the fact that it has been as successful as it's been?
A: Each week is different. That's not to say that we can't go one way or the other. Each week, we look at the personnel groupings that we like, that we think is advantages for us, and we go with those.
Q: How much have you guys missed (guard Ben) Bredeson in the running game especially?
A: Bob (Ben Bredeson) is working through the injury stuff, and whenever he's ready, we get the sign off from the trainers and Dabs, and when we want to move in that direction, we'll make a decision.
Q: What was it like having (tight end Daniel) Bellinger back in there?
A: He did a great job. It was great. He's a guy that plays with confidence. I think he gives the offense a lot of confidence and does what we ask him to do. It was great to see Bellinger back out there.
Q: You guys haven't been as efficient in the running game the last few weeks. Do you feel like it's just a matter of execution or do you need to vary the approach to where you can get to some of your runs a little bit more?
A: I think it's a combination of both. I think you have to, each week we go through it, go through our process. What are our favorite runs? What are our favorite looks? Personnel groupings? Really detail all that stuff out. We go with what our guys do best. We go and we practice it, we detail it up, and that's what we end up going with each week.
Q: With a player like (Philadelphia defensive tackle) Javon Hargrave, he's not a guy who gets a lot of attention. He seems like he's the guy you need to watch out for when it comes to their pass rush. How much do you see that when you look at him on film?
A: We're well aware of where he's at, and really that whole d-line does a really phenomenal job. I was there with – (Philadelphia defensive end) Brandon Graham was in my draft class. I got a lot of respect for Brandon and he's still playing at a really high level. It's great to see him playing. That whole front seven, they do a phenomenal job.
Q: Has that happened for you before? Going against a guy you were drafted with and trying to scheme up against
A: I'm trying to think from my draft year. There's only a handful left, but Brandon (Graham) is at the top of that list.
Special Teams Coordinator Thomas McGaughey
Q: Did you think (kicker) Graham (Gano) had a real chance there from 58 (yards), or was that because you had no choice?
A: I think we really had no other choice in that situation. The wind was pretty (strong). It didn't look like it in the stadium, but it was constant going in that direction. If you look at the kickoffs that were going that way, they were coming up short. Obviously, (Washington Commanders kicker) Joey (Slye) missed one early in the game from 52 or 53 (yards) – whatever it was. It was more of a desperation kick. Probably five more yards, we might've been alright.
Q: You had a low kickoff going the other way for a touchback. Was that intentional?
A: Just mis-hit it. He just mis-hit it. It was a squirreled touchback. It was not a great – it was not one of his best efforts. He'll be the first one to tell you that, too.
Q: We saw (wide receiver) Marcus Johnson last week returning kicks in practice. How much of that was something you were thinking about, or was that just with (running back) Gary (Brightwell) being under the weather at that point?
A: Exactly – Gary being under the weather, always having a contingency plan. He's (Marcus Johnson) done it before. We've worked him throughout the year a little bit. He wanted to do it. You've always got to be prepared just in case. He'll do it again this week just in case – you just never know. We'll continue to work him back there. But you're exactly right.
Q: We've talked a lot about (punter) Jamie's (Gillan) inconsistencies. The last two weeks, is this about as good as he's put together back-to-back?
A: It's the act of continuous improvement. A word that we use in our room is 'kaizen.' That's something that – he's a young player. His maturation process is coming along. We've just got to start stacking those days and then stacking the games. He's doing a really good job of just taking care of the little small details of his job. And he's getting better.
Q: What do you have to be wary of in the Eagles' return game?
A: When you look at them and how they're built, they've always done a good job – (Eagles special teams coordinator) Michael Clay has always done a good job. (Eagles wide receiver Britain) Covey's an issue – the little guy. (He) has really good short-area quickness. You just always have to be alert for those guys. They can get you all kinds of ways. We've got to make sure we're doing our job of leveraging the ball, keeping the ball inside and front, not letting them break the perimeter. But they're an issue. You've just got to make sure that we focus on what we do as opposed to with them, because if we do what we're supposed to, we should be okay. We've been doing a pretty good job in our coverage the last couple weeks.
Q: In your own return game, I know you probably aren't getting as much as you would like to get. You talked about it earlier in the year, but is it still a matter of blocking of the opportunity of creating lanes for these guys?
A: A lot of it has been, punt return-wise, we're in the plus area a lot. It's a lot of what we call gray team, to where it's you don't get a lot of return opportunities. Then some of the other situations have been you're up in the game, you're guarding for a fake, you're not as aggressive as doubling both gunners, so you have to manage the game as it comes along. So, when that happens, the gunners are singled on the outside. Now, that's a hard block for the corners on the outside. It's been kind of just a lot of that stuff. It might be, over the last two games, maybe one or two legit return opportunities where you can vice a guy up on the outside and you can maximize your blocking – if that makes sense.
Q: And kickoff return?
A: Kickoff return, it's getting better. We had one, I thought, that probably could have got out. But again, it was timing, spacing, the ball being caught at the 10-yard line and that kind of being off a little bit. But it's coming along. It's not exactly what you want for sure, but it's trending in the right direction.
Q: When (safety) Julian (Love) plays as many snaps as he played last week, I know the gumbo theory – whoever they tell you, you got. Do you almost have to go to Dabs (head coach Brian Daboll) and be like, 'Look, you can take some of the other guys, but we need Julian as our core guy in some of these packages that we have'?
A: That's something we always talk about. It's always a fine line. Julian has really blossomed this year and taken off. Last year, the last two years, he's been a bell cow for us. He's a core guy for us, and he's really taken off as a defensive player. We're extremely happy for him. But he's also the quarterback of the punt team, and there are some other positions that he's really, really, good at that we don't have him do because obviously, he's our starting free safety. It's something we always try and manage. When we can give him a break, we're going to give him a break so we can maximize his performance. But you're right, he brings a lot of value to our football team, and he does a lot of jobs for us.
Q: Where have you seen Julian grow the most? You mentioned him blossoming this year. Where has he grown?
A: I think more than anything, just in his leadership. He's always been a very mature young man, but you see him more now as a leader. I think that's really helped his game. He's playing with more confidence because he knows that people are looking to him, and he's always done a great job of preparing. He's always done a great job of being a really good teammate. As a man, he's starting to grow up. As a leader, he's starting to take control of the locker room.
Running Back Saquon Barkley
Q: Can you talk about The Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award and what that means to you?
A: It's special. I'm honored that the Giants selected me this year. It's something that I wanted to accomplish from the moment I got drafted. Through my foundation with the help of my parents, family and friends we were able to do some pretty cool stuff and have an impact in our community. It's an honor to be represented for that.
Q: What made you get involved in that charity?
A: I work with a couple of charities, but the Covenant House started when I got drafted into the league and we were like, 'What's something we can do to make an impact and make change?' We found Covenant House and said let's bring Covenant House on to the games, and we started bringing them to the games and having them on the field before the game and talking to them after the game. It kind of just grew. Obviously, I have a past. I don't like getting too much into myself, but I've been homeless before, I've been through a little bit of stuff. Knowing the people in those positions and wanting to have an impact and make change, that's kind of where it started. I fell in love with it and became really deeply involved in it.
Q: Did you ever envision when you came in this league that you would be up for The Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award one day?
A: Yeah, that was a goal of mine. I wanted to make change on the field and off the field, I wanted to have an impact. Like I said, it's an honor to be a nominee. I want to say shout out to all the other 31 guys. I think it's a really cool award and hopefully we win the whole thing.
Q: The fact that you can relate to those kids, does that make helping them more special?
A: Yeah, I guess you could say it makes helping them a little more special. At the end of the day, I just want to have an impact. I want to make change and it's something that my parents taught me as a little kid. I know the opportunity that I have, and I know the platform that I have. I just want to try to use that to the best of my ability.
Q: Do you remember the touchdown pass (wide receiver) Odell (Beckham Jr.) threw to you as a rookie? Tell me what you remember about that play.
A: It was against Carolina.
Q: In Philly, right?
A: He threw me a touchdown pass in Philly?
Q: Okay, scratch that, Carolina.
A: We threw a screen pass to 'O,' I snuck out the back and 'O' threw a dot. I just remember that I was right in the sun. I was just like, 'Oh no.' I stuck my hands out and he threw a dime and we were able to score.
Q: Just general thoughts about the Philly defense?
A: They're 11-1 for a reason. All phases of the ball – especially on defense – every single level they're talented with Pro Bowl-caliber players to be honest. As a competitor, you look forward to that. You look forward to going against the best. We know we're going to get their best and it's going to be a great game against Philly. Home, in December. The stadium is going to be rocking so it's going to be fun. It's going to be a challenge and we're looking forward to it.
Q: What stood out about how the Eagles defense was able to keep (Tennessee running back) Derrick (Henry) under 30 yards rushing? Specifically, because you would expect him to be a little more prolific on the ground.
A: The first thing that stood out to me was how the corners were tackling. (Philadelphia cornerback Darius) Slay and (Philadelphia cornerback James) Bradberry were putting their face in there on a couple of the runs. They did a really good job of establishing the line of scrimmage. That's what football is about. Games are won up front on both sides of the ball. They're really talented up there and they did a really good job of establishing the line of scrimmage, making plays and making tackles they needed to have.
Q: What can you guys do to get you more involved in the passing game? It seems like that has not been as big a part of your game as in the past.
A: I don't know. I'm really not too caught up in that. I'm willing to do whatever the team wants me to do. When the opportunity presents itself, I've got to try to be there and make the plays. That's the only thing I can really focus on. (Offensive coordinator Mike) Kafka, (Head coach Brian Daboll) Dabs, all those guys every week find creative ways to not only get myself the ball but put our offense in a spot to be successful. That's the only thing that matters. At the end of the day, as players we've got to go out there and execute. That's my main focus.
Q: Do you like that role? How do you look at yourself as a pass catcher as part of your arsenal?
A: I think I've shown that in my career, the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield. But you know, every season, every week is a new challenge and you've got to show something different. So far this season, I really haven't had to be that. There's more physical in between tackles. Carry the ball 31 times, however many times I've done it so far. Do whatever it takes for the team to win. As the season continues to go on, could that probably be in the near future? You never know. Whatever they ask me to do, go out there, play to the best of my ability and when the play is called try to make a play for the team.
Q: Did it feel like the offense opened up a little more in the of that game? The one that comes to mind is the series after Washington tied the game you threw the two bombs to (wide receiver Darius) Slayton and then another pass on third down. They were all incomplete, but it seemed like – maybe got a little more aggressive, maybe opened up more, maybe wasn't as predictable. Then in overtime, (quarterback) Daniel (Jones) was throwing the ball a lot too. Did you feel that?
A: No. I just feel like we went out there and took what the defense gave us. I think DJ's been doing a great job with that all year, not the first drive in OT, the second drive. Four minutes on the (clock), game is on the line and we're trying to go down and score. I think a lot of people made a lot of plays. Obviously, we've got to be better. Especially on that third down, executing it better as a team. Yeah, we did a little bit of different things to get the ball in space and catch the ball whether it was me catching a swing or getting the ball downfield. We showed that we were able to do that and look forward to the rest of the season of that happening. To be honest, that just helps everything. Helps the run game, helps the offense. If we can continue to do that, more plays will be out there and more plays we'll be able to execute on.
Q: Do you guys talk about the importance of reestablishing yourselves as a force in the division in particular? You've won some games this year but kind of re-announcing to teams like the Cowboys and the Eagles that you guys are here and you're here to stay.
A: No. That's not our focus. To be honest, we're just trying to win football games, go out there and play for each other. At the end of the day, you want to put yourself in the position to play meaningful football games in December. We've done that. We've got to execute; we've got a great opportunity ahead of us especially this week in Philly. We get to go against the best team in the NFL. To me, that sounds like a fun challenge.
Q: Did the bye week refresh you or rejuvenate you in any way?
A: The same way it would do for everyone to be completely honest.
Q: How do you feel physically now?
A: What week is it? 13, 14? I feel like it's Week 13 or 14 in the season no matter if I had 200 touches or 10 touches. It's a grind. It's the wear and tear of the mind, the body. That's the nature of the NFL but also the beauty of it. I know people saying slow it down – I really don't see it like that. I think we play some tough teams. I think it's been November, December football and we've been playing meaningful games, going against some really good teams and they've been doing a really good job. Now, it's on my side where I've got to continue to reflect on myself and see what I can do better and take advantage of the opportunities that are out there.
Q: What the Eagles did defensively against the run, did it look familiar to you as far as what you've been able to look at it and decipher as far as how to get around it and be productive? Seeing what they do and saying, 'I recognize that, I know how I've gotten around dropping corners,' or whatever they were doing to Derrick?
A: Yeah. I think definitely, especially with the way we've been running the ball this year. Some similarities. At the end of the day, it's a copy-cat league. Everyone does pretty much the same thing, you just dice it up in different ways. Duo is duo. Inside zone is inside zone. Outside zone is outside zone. Like I said, watched the film, one thing that really stood out is not just how the corners, how the DBs came up and how they tackle, how aggressive they are and how they establish the line of scrimmage. One of my favorite players to play against and not to play against is (Philadelphia defensive tackle) Fletcher Cox. You can see at this year, whatever he's in – he's still balling, still making plays at a high level. Every single one of them guys from (Philadelphia defensive end Josh) Sweat – all of them. All of those guys are pretty talented, not pretty talented – very talented. It's going to be a tough challenge, but I think if we go back to what we do in executing and focusing on the little things and take it one play at a time – when the opportunities are there and the play is to be made, that's when myself and all the other guys have to make a play.
Q: Why is Fletcher one of your favorite players to play against?
A: You appreciate talent. I'm a fan of the game. Like I said, at the same time, not one of my favorite guys to play with because he's a wrecker. He always makes plays.
Q: I was curious if you guys chirped at each other? That's kind of what you were referring to.
A: I get it more from (Philadelphia defensive end Brandon) Graham. He talks a little more than Fletch. Fletch is a little more quiet. He'll say something here and there but it's Philly, it's fun. At the end of the day, the NFC East it's a rivalry or whatever you want to call it. It's a fun game and they're the best team in the league right now. It's December and we're playing meaningful football right now. Like I said, it's a challenge that we look forward to.