C Nick Gates
October 19, 2020
Q: You now have six games of playing center under your belt. How much better are you now than you were those first couple of games, in your mind?
A: I feel like I’ve done a lot better than I did the first couple of games. I’m a lot more comfortable in there making the calls and just being able to snap the ball not having to think about it anymore. I think I’ve excelled pretty decently.
Q: In retrospect, for someone who’s in your position, how big of a disadvantage was it to not have a preseason this year? Did it really feel like those first couple of games were almost like preseason to you?
A: To a point. I think the first game was definitely something I needed to learn from. Everybody knew I didn’t have the greatest game against them. It was definitely different being out there at center. Yeah, it takes a couple of games to get used to a different spot.
Q: What are the challenges for an offensive lineman with a running quarterback? We always talk about the challenges for a defense. Are there challenges for an offensive lineman? You never know when Daniel’s going to hand it off or pull it and run himself.
A: We know when Daniel’s… that’s what the plays are designed for. You know when he’s either going to give it or pull it. You don’t really know exactly when he’s going to do it and when he’s not, but you know what play you’re running and if he’s going to usually give it or pull it. I wouldn’t say it’s too difficult. It’s kind of nice having an athletic QB who can break the pocket and get away from a sack or a hit or something like that and take off. I think it helps.
Q: When you guys looked at the play where you got to the goal line, I think it was a third down run, you got to about the one or the two there. Is there anything that could have happened there that could have gotten him into the end zone when you broke that one down?
A: I think I could have probably attacked and gotten on my guy a little faster. I just didn’t see both guys aside of me. I didn’t want to go and lunge out at him, I miss and DJ has to pick a side and try that. He couldn’t really pick a side with both guys coming from both his left and his right. Looking back on it, I wish I would have gotten on him, just ran right up on him. But hindsight is 20-20.
Q: Joe Judge said last night it was great the players could see tangible results to what he was teaching and getting a win. Is that something that as a player is really like a sigh of relief or a breath of fresh air that you do have that tangible result and that all the corrections you make are leading to something?
A: Definitely. It’s always awesome to get a win, especially when we’ve been 0-5 the last five weeks. It’s not fun going to work every day and being 0-5. It’s frustrating. But I’m glad we could get our first win and try to keep it rolling and try to stack a couple on top of each other.
Q: Some of these fourth downs, whether it’s fourth and short and you’re kicking a field goal near the goal line or fourth and two at the 38 and you guys punt, don’t you want to go for those? As an o-lineman, do you kind of give Joe Judge or Jason Garrett a wink and say ‘come on, put it on us. Let’s go’?
A: Coach Judge knows what he’s doing. He has a plan. We just need to respect it and just follow the plan he has because he knows what he’s doing.
Q: We asked Coach Judge this and I’m just kind of curious how it applies to an offensive lineman. When you have a short turnaround like this, do you start studying your opponent before the actual week? How does that kind of work, especially for an offensive line which depends on that cohesiveness against the defensive line?
A: No, I don’t study them the week before a game is done. Today is a big day for getting in there and watching film, especially at home. We all, I think we only had to go and lift. The o-line met I think for an hour by ourselves and just watched film and tried to get a little bit ahead before tomorrow. But it’s more of we have to stay on top of it ourselves this week. Just watch film at home and be able to see the schemes. The coaches aren’t going to be able to give you every single look this week just being a short week and being walkthrough practices instead of contact, live practices. I think it’s more on the players this week.
Q: As a follow up, is there an introduction done in the offseason? I’m sure the coaches, they start studying the teams, but do they just say ‘hey, we’re playing the Eagles in Week 7 and this is their anticipated battery’? Do they kind of give you an overview?
A: They’re in the division, so we play them twice a year, so we kind of know who they are and what kind of defense they run and their scheme already. It’s just seeing what new things they put in this year versus last year, what different personnel they have and players they got. That’s probably the main thing. But the Eagles are pretty much, they run the same defense as last year to this year, so that helps us.
Q: Last week, Marc Colombo had mentioned that when Matt Peart goes out there, he has like the biggest smile on his face because he just loves playing football. I’m just curious what was it like seeing him get the start? How did he handle that? Was he smiling? How cool was that moment for you just seeing your teammate get to play as much as he did?
A: It’s awesome. I remember my first start going in there. I had the biggest smile on my face. It’s great to see guys go in there and get experience firsthand. It’s a dream for everybody in the league to go out there and play on Sunday. He got to experience that dream. He’ll be playing for a long time, I feel like. He’s definitely a pro and he handles himself really well. It seems like he’s not a rookie sometimes.
Q: I just have two questions, one is really short. What goes through your mind when the defensive tackle is so offsides he says ‘I’m just going to knock him on his a**’?
A: It happens. You can’t really think... He just came off and the next thing I knew, I was rolling backwards.
Q: You don’t say anything like ‘thanks’ or anything?
A: Thanks for the five free yards, appreciate it.
Q: The other thing I was going to ask, more serious, is have you noticed in the last couple of weeks that the inordinate number of plays where you guys lost yards on a handoff has been decreasing and you’re starting to have less tackles for losses?
A: I think that’s a big thing of non-negative plays. At least if you can’t gain yards, at least try to get back to the line of scrimmage and help yourself out, and play in front of the chains instead of from behind. You get penalties or MA’s or tackles for losses, those hurt you. A lot of the time, you can’t score touchdowns or score points on a lot of those drives where you have either penalties or tackles for losses.