Offensive Coordinator Mike Sullivan
November 3, 2016
Q: 12 Eagles have gotten sacks. Where are they getting all this pressure from, the front four and they're just mixing guys in?
A: Most of the pressure is coming from the front four. Prior to the Dallas game, they had 20 sacks and 15 of them came from the front four, excellent players. Brandon Graham obviously is playing at a high level on the edge and Bennie Logan inside and I know he's fighting through some injury issues. And, of course, Fletcher Cox is a dynamic defensive tackle so they are able generate a lot of pressure with the front four. Mixed in a little bit more pressure against Dallas and they have that as a part of their arsenal. Having Malcolm Jenkins, who does a heck of a job both from a coverage standpoint and a pressure standpoint. They're able to apply quite a bit of pressure just with their front four and that makes it a challenge.
Q: When you were able to the self-scout last week, what were some of the biggest things that stood out that you want to improve on?
A: From a scheme standpoint, I think it's no mystery; we would like to run the ball better, we need to run the ball better. There's situations in terms of the red zone area of the field where we've had opportunities and we’ve got to a better job getting touchdowns, getting points. And then of course the turnovers. So taking a look at those issues, how can we try to solve them? We really took a hard look at scheme, at personnel, personnel groupings; are there ways of maybe showing some different looks rather than just the traditional what we call our zebra personnel, with the one back, one tight end and three receivers. In terms of just some of the players, maybe some guys getting more opportunities, some guys getting less opportunities. So, really just a kind of a thorough check under the hood to see how we can solve some of those problems.
Q: Coach McAdoo also spoke about you were going to take a look at how defenses were attacking you. Did you see a common thread with how they were attacking you?
A: Not really. I think teams have their identity and if they have a very variation of, if they want to hang their hat on one high man coverage and be a pressure team; Baltimore would come to mind and they've stuck with that. Other teams that maybe have had a little more of two-man, two high zones, two high-mans and have felt that they could try and stop the run with a six-man box and try to commit an extra player to Odell if that's been a part of who they are. I think on certain teams, Green Bay and Minnesota come to mind, they just kind of accentuate that. There really hasn't been a specific coverage or front or scheme that's been a problem. I think it may have been, we've kind of looked, in so many cases we've been our worst enemy. Particularly the past couple of weeks. We really wanted to try to get off to a fast start and had the turnover the first play of the game a few weeks ago. Turnover the second play of the game over in London. We've got to straighten that out so we can get more opportunities, more snaps and try to get some kind of rhythm early.
Q: You obviously made a decision to keep your receivers in the same spot. Sterling Shepard primarily in the slot and Odell Beckham Jr. and Victor Cruz on the outside in the first half. How important is it to you in the second half to move them around more?
A: I think that you have to take a look, as we discussed, in terms of what we've done but also trying to put your defensive coaching cap on to see how we're being viewed. If there are things that we've shown over and over again and it's worked sometimes and it's been shut down other times, then we as coaches have to be ready to adjust and say 'how can we give a different look,' or give something that looks the same and then hey, surprise, surprise it's something else. That's certainly a topic of discussion; something that we took a hard look at in terms of moving the receivers around, whether it’s Sterling playing a little bit more on the outside, Odell playing more on the inside, being in a wide variety of spots. So we had some really good numbers, some specific numbers I should say, in terms of when we've had those various looks and if there are opportunities where we can go ahead and try to create some problems. We're going to certainly explore those possibilities.
Q: You guys went into the season at running back trying to establish more consistency with one guy and Rashad Jennings at the time. If you give someone else more of an opportunity, say its Paul Perkins, would you try to make him the exclusive guy to have consistency back there or are you comfortable rotating backs in and out to try and improve the running game?
A: I think we started off the season picking up where we left off last year with Rashad having a hot hand and doing a lot of things to get himself ready to go and starting the games off for us and really being the featured back. Of course Shane Vereen having his role and then having the ability to have other guys come in and step up but then of course with the injury, that changes things. Now, there's been more opportunities and yet there's other facets of the game, special teams responsibilities, they're the guys who are involved with it. So just trying to find that mixture, that blend. Obviously a guy like Paul Perkins, we're excited about the progress he's made and I think it really comes down to us doing the things from a fundamental standpoint upfront and really trying to make sure we're executing our blocks. Us, from a coaching standpoint, schematically trying to put our guys in the best positions, create angles, whether it's through formation or whether it's through different personnel groupings. Whatever we can do to try and give them the best possible advantage. So it's really twofold that we take care of business upfront and then help them schematically so that it really doesn't matter who the particular back is. We've always felt that whoever's being most successful for us will be the feature carrier.
Q: In London, you guys put in Perkins and he’s making some really nice plays and he comes out of the game...
A: In that particular game, as you recall, that was a great defensive front and we got another slow start and they just had more three and outs than we'd had all year and just trying to get that type of consistency. He's certainly someone that we're excited about moving forward. Like I said earlier, we have to make sure we're doing the things we need to do from a scheme standpoint and from a fundamental standpoint so that whoever is carrying the football has an opportunity to be successful.
Q: What is it about Perkins that excites you?
A: I think there's some versatility that he has. We've seen him do some great things catching the football; obviously he had a heck of a play there at Minnesota on the screen, so he has the ability to catch the ball. I think he's a hard runner, he has good vision and has the versatility that you look for in terms of guys that can run some inside zone concepts or some gap scheme concepts. As he's been able to catch up, if you will, because he missed so much of the spring because of UCLA and having to be in that core system, has a greater awareness of pass protection and that's so critical. When all's said and done, that guy, he's got the big sombrero in terms of the adjustments and how Eli can change the protection. If a guy can't do that and he can do the other things, that's going to limit the opportunities. I think, to answer your question as far as excitement, he's shown some progress and some versatility in being able to run it, catch it and a primary for us to protect the quarterback.