Offensive Coordinator Mike Sullivan
December 29, 2016
Q: What do you want to see out of this week?
A: Would like to see us have a consistent game, where we show improvement and put ourselves in a position to be ready for the playoffs. That's really what we're looking for, we've had flashes of it offensively. There's been times where we've looked great, there's times when we've really hurt ourselves, haven't had the consistency we need, whether it's the turnovers or the penalties, just across the board. So really, a consistent, complete game would be great for us to see on Sunday.
Q: Whether it's this Sunday or the first round of the playoffs, how confident are you that it can materialize right away?
A: You look at those instances this season where we've shown that progress, we've shown that type of improvement. Certainly, you talk about a guy like Eli, he's been there before and has the ability to play well, play at a high level when the games are on the line, when you talk about the playoffs. We're working real hard, had a really good practice today and feel confident about what we need to do, what our focus is as far as this Sunday, first and foremost, with that and then obviously when we find out who we're playing, we'll move on from there.
Q: Can there be too much dependency on Eli to say he's done this before and he can carry us again?
A: I think it is about all 11 guys. It's hard for Eli, even if he's playing lights-out football, if there aren't other members of the offense that are doing their job, whether it's the protection or the route execution or the running backs and in the same sense, you don't want to sit there and say, it's not about the quarterback. The guy touches the ball every play, there's a reason why those guys tend to get a lot of the criticism as well as a lot of the praise when things go well. I think it's just a matter of the unit collectively just having the precision, having the detail, eliminating the mental mistakes, the turnovers certainly, and I think that will make everybody better and will raise his [Manning's] game and he can help raise everybody else's game.
Q: What did you take away from that Eagles game offensively?
A: I think when you look at that Eagles game, obviously, it was a while ago, and in terms of the outcome, certainly not what we wanted. I think there were some things that we did from a run game standpoint which was improvement. There were some things that we liked that we saw and there were some things that we didn't like that we saw from the run game in terms of some long runs that could have been even longer if we do a better job finishing on the perimeter. I think anytime you're in a game like that where the situation is one in which you have essentially three two-minute drives and you have 20-some-plus, 22 I think, third-down plays, just an awful lot of drop back passing, which is tough against anybody, let alone that front four. I think it comes down to we identify those areas that have come into play at times in the past that can shoot ourselves in the foot, so to speak, in terms of the turnovers, in terms of not finishing some of those mistakes. I think collectively, despite all of that, for us to be in that position, to still win the game at the end just shows that guys have some grit, have some resolve, we just have to make sure that we have the consistency that we need through the first three quarters so we're in a better position.
Q: Have you changed the way you view the offense? The offense all year has only scored about 20 points a game. Have you looked at it and said that maybe we're not going to be what we thought we were but we can be a winning offense if we just do these things?
A: No, not at all. Hopefully I understand your question in terms of, have the expectations maybe been lowered or changed?
A: Has the expectation changed because either personnel or because of scheme or because of whatever A, B, C or D? In all honesty, we take a look at it and we sit there and turn on the tape and there have been so many instances where we've been our own worst enemy. Some of the reasons we're not having those points we want to have is because we're turning it over or because we have that penalty at the absolute wrong time that sets us back. You have those flashes like we've all seen, you guys have all seen and talked about and tweeted and all those other things in terms of taking an opening drive down and scoring, having a game where there's no turnovers, but then you have these other instances. I think we just focus more on those positives, knowing that the potential is there and it's not a matter of getting frustrated or throwing our hands up, it's just a matter of working harder, having more of a resolve to say, we worked hard, we didn't win the lottery or eat all the cracker jacks to get our prize to get in the playoffs, we earned our spot and so now we've got to take it to that next level. It starts with us having a great game down here in Washington and focus on being at our best, improving and going down there to win.
Q: If you look at the last couple of games, Paul Perkins seems to be slowly gaining confidence and yards. Is he deserving more carries at this point?
A: Well we have three backs, as you well know, and each of them brings something to the table. He certainly showed an ability, I think if you look at one thing that would jump out from last week, an ability to make some guys miss, whether it's being able to have a move or be evasive, allude the tackle or break some arm tackles, so that's good. He continues to show improvement in his pass protection, both awareness and knowledge of who to block and technique. And Rashad has shown some ability to break some tackles and his pass protection, he has that awareness. And, of course, Bobby Rainey comes in in those two-minute situations and on third down. So each of them brings something to the table and we're going to need and we'll continue to use all three guys moving forward.
Q: Are you a believer in regular season Eli being different that playoff Eli?
A: Oh gosh...regular season Eli versus...I certainly have wonderful, happy memories of postseason Eli, two times, two specific postseasons. I think we talked about it a little bit earlier in terms him and the rest of the offense, can he raise the level of the other players or is it a situation where he's going to really depend upon them to get his game going. I think it really is a combination of both. He has the knowledge, the expertise, he's very aware of the opponent, scheme, as well as what we're trying to do offensively. He still has the same poise and resilience and the concentration, the mental toughness. It's just a matter of trying to put it all together in terms of having that consistency in some of the run game, certainly as you get into the playoffs and the weather gets cold and windy and so forth. I think having the type of consistency, and I keep saying that word, but it really is important for us so that we're not in a situation where we're having those setbacks and turning the ball over and having those foolish penalties. I don't know if I answered your question in terms of, do I believe...I can't remember, what was the question?
Q: Regular season vs Postseason Eli?
A: Who do I like better?
Q: Do you believe there's a difference?
A: I believe he is a great football player, he's someone that we depend upon and we have all the confidence in the world in him this Sunday and moving forward.
Q: Besides crowd noise, what is difficult for an offense on the road?
A: You mentioned crowd noise and that's certainly a challenge because you implement the silent count and if you have some of these premier rushers, they're able to get off, so to speak, as far as getting a rush on the quarterback and it can be their advantage. That's probably the biggest one, because it's not just the count but also the communication that takes place. Everyone likes to talk about as far as the snap count but particularly in our offense, there's an awful lot of visual and verbal communication that has to take place and guys have to ratchet up their focus in terms of being able to not just hear, because that can certainly be a challenge, but to also see some of the signals. So communication along the same lines, just with the snap count, is probably the biggest challenge. I don't know if there's really any other tangible or measurable differences. It's still a football field, itís 53 and a third yards wide and a 100 yards long and whether it's grass, artificial surface, I really couldn't say. I know teams have some much bigger coaches locker rooms than some stadiums but I don't want to waste our time with that. As far as the players and the game itself, communication is probably the biggest issue.
Q: When we ask you critical questions about the offense, that are critical of the offense not living up to it's potential, does part of you want to say, Ďhey, we're going to the playoffs, we have 10 winsí or do you understand the idea and the questions based on the talent you have about this offense really not being as explosive?
A: Absolutely, it would be the latter. I'm going to try and do a better job answering this question than the last one. I absolutely feel that there are things that are frustrating to all of us as coaches, the players are frustrated because we do see, as we really dig deep and you sit in this room and look at the tape and go into individual meeting rooms. You sit there and you see where we're so close, and hate to keep saying that as well, but we do sincerely feel that way and we've seen those instances when we can be that type of an offense. It's a frustration, but it's a healthy frustration because it's not one where there's desperation, 'oh, woe is us, what are we going to do,' it's more of a, 'hey, you know what? We have it, let's just keep grinding, let's just keep scratching, clawing, fighting and it's going to come.' The important thing is that we're in that position, where now the stakes are going to be very high and certainly the room for errors is not very great. We are optimistic and we're, like I said, make sure it comes across as a positive frustration. We know that there's potential there and we're working hard to get it fixed and we're excited about the opportunities.