Head Coach Joe Judge
November 11, 2020
Opening Statement: We shifted our preparation over today, obviously, to Philadelphia. We’re full speed on Philly. Today will actually be a walkthrough practice. We’re going to take the time today to kind of get our guys moving on a lot of the install that apply to early downs and getting some third down stuff, give us a jump on that. Tomorrow we’ll be on the field full speed and have a normal Friday. That’s the plan for the week.
Obviously, dealing with Philadelphia, it’s a division opponent, so there’s a rivalry aspect to this. You can take the records out of it, it’s really irrelevant at this point. All that matters is competing against Philadelphia and playing our best game on the field. I’d say in relation to our last game, to us, it’s really irrelevant, the result of anything that happened last game. All that matters is we’ve learned from our experiences on the field and that we play a better game and a complete game as a team. But this is a different team, this is an improved team. They got a lot of their guys back off of injury. They’re an explosive offense, one of the top defenses in the league, and obviously, Dave Fipp does a tremendous job on special teams. We have a lot of respect for this opponent. We need to have a good week of preparation, and we have to go ahead and make sure we execute on the field on Sunday for 60 minutes. That being said, I’ll open it up to any questions you have.
Q: While the result of the last game might be irrelevant, what did you learn from that? Doug Pederson noted in his press conference today that you basically had them beat with five minutes left in the game. What do you think you need to do to get that to the finish line this time?
A: The part that he referenced, those last five minutes are the most important part in that game. We have to finish as a team and play a complete game. You can’t fall asleep on Philly. They’re an explosive team, they do a great job in situations. We already knew this team is a very good team on third down, in the red area, in two-minute drives. They do a great job in terms of scheming you up in the game plan element. Doug does a great job in terms of starting the game out fast, creating explosive plays and really finding things that you struggle with and looking to expose them. We’ve known this opponent for an amount of time. It really just confirms what you know about them already, about how dangerous they are and how they can score at any point in time. You really have to play a complete game to finish. You have to win upfront with your offensive line and your defensive line. This team can run the ball very well. They can get after your passer and stop your run game with negative plays as well. You have to play good upfront on both sides of the ball.
Q: With Evan (Engram), how much of an asset is it with him that you can play 12 personnel, but give it so many different looks as you can line him up in so many different spots?
A: Yeah, I think just because of his athletic ability, you can be in 12 personnel, but it’s really kind of like 11. You can be in 11, it’s kind of like 10 personnel. You can do a lot of different things with Evan. He’s a guy that we’ve obviously used in some different roles throughout this season. Jason (Garrett) has done a good job of moving him around as a chess piece, playing him some in the backfield, flex him out wide like a receiver, and then playing him attached as a tight end. To have a guy like that on the field that you can do a lot of different things with really kind of presents some issues to the other team at times. The biggest thing is really identifying how they’re going to play you within that game and your personnel sets. How are they treating Evan on a game by game basis? That may change based on down and distance. First and 10, if it’s 12 personnel, you may see a lot of nickel defense right there treating him more as a receiver. Whereas if it’s third and short, you may see more base defense at times if it’s 12 personnel to stop some kind of run game. It all depends on who the opponent is and how they’re matching up, but he’s definitely a guy that has a lot of versatility.
Q: What is having Logan (Ryan) and Jabrill (Peppers) essentially playing the same position but not necessarily playing the same roles do for your defense and kind of add to that versatility that you guys like, especially on the backend?
A: I think both guys really have different skillsets but similar at the same time, if that makes any sense. Their ability to really play different spots gives Pat (Graham) a lot of flexibility and freedom in how he calls the defense but then also how he designs it and adjusts it within a game. I think that’s probably one of the biggest strengths right now for us defensively is between Pep and Logan, we can make a lot of adjustments within the game because both guys are highly intelligent, both guys really see it conceptually and know the game. Within a game, if they’re getting a tendency on us, we can flip them in terms of responsibility or we can adjust something based on what they’re doing game plan wise that really helps us out. But both guys have been… Pep has really improved this season in terms of playing a deep part of the field. He’s really been an asset back there. He’s always been up playing the box. Logan’s a guy that’s had a lot of flexibility, whether it’s playing that nickel position right there in the slot, whether it’s playing the free safety role or that strong safety role down in the box. He’s a good tackler, he’s a savvy player, he has good vision inside. Both of those guys give us a lot of flexibility.
Q: I would imagine you would agree that the best quarterbacks can be cautious and aggressive really at the same time. Where is Daniel on that spectrum? Because you want him to be cautious and be careful with the ball, but he’s not making enough plays really offensively aggressively. Where is he there?
A: I would disagree with that. I think he’s doing a lot of things aggressively. I think the way this guy stands in the pocket when the rush is collapsing on him at certain times or makes plays with his feet extending outside the pocket, the way he’s willing to pull the ball in some of the zone reads and run downfield and take a big hit. I see a lot of aggressiveness in Daniel, and I like the way he plays. The team rallies around him right there. When it comes time to take our shots, we’ll take our shots offensively. Sometimes we have to be a little bit more calculated about how we want to systematically move the ball down the field. You have to have a good balance of both within a game plan. That being said, look, I think Daniel is a developing player. I think he’s shown a lot of promise, he’s making a lot of gains this year, he’s done a lot of really, really good things for us, and that he gives us a chance to be competitive within games. I see him improving on a weekly basis, and I love having that guy in the huddle right now being our signal-caller. I know the team around him does as well.
Q: If you don’t like the word aggressive, do you see any tentativeness in him at all when he is processing things in his mind?
A: No, not at all. I think he has really done a good job of sitting back and dissecting the defense at times this year and finding the right receiver. At the same time, when we go ahead and we put scheme-type plays out there to isolate a certain player, he’s done a good job as far as getting the ball distributed to those guys and make sure he gives them a chance to make a play with the ball in their hands.
Q: Their personnel has changed a lot since the last time you played them. In terms of your team, do you feel like you’re a different team than you were just a short couple weeks ago when you played these guys?
A: I feel we’re getting closer and closer to what we want to be as a team. I think we’re improving every week and I see that, the players see that when we turn on the tape. When we turn it on, we want our identity to be something that jumps off the tape at us when you watch it. There doesn’t need to be volume on the tape for a reason. That’s because all you have to know is what you see. We turn the tape on, our players see it. They understand what they’re doing, what they’re improving on. We’re also very transparent and very blunt about what we have to correct and make sure we get better on a weekly basis. We slice it up every which way possible for our players to show them what we’re doing well, what we have to improve on. Do I think we are a different team? I think we’re an improving team. I see strides made with all the players on a weekly basis. I’m very pleased with the way they come to work, how they have already started off today. Getting on the field and we’ll make strides today going forward.
Q: Is it fair to assume since they weren’t designated to return that Oshane (Ximines) and (Xavier) McKinney are going to be on the other side of the bye?
A: We’re kind of milking that a little bit right now for it being a walk thru today. We’ll actually take a look at these guys with the trainers today and see how much strides they’ve made, if we think it’s realistic to get them in the game this week. You get that 21-day window to return, and there is really no advantage to just pushing them back that day early to get them into a walk thru when essentially, they can get what they need in the meeting anyway.
Q: With Austin Mack, I’ve noticed he is not afraid to get into it with cornerbacks. They start to cover him, he doesn’t back down. He’s willing to get in there and block. Is that something that stood out to you during training camp?
A: Yeah, absolutely. He’s definitely a scrappy dude. One thing about Austin, and I’ve kind of told him this directly, ‘look man, you’re the kind of guy that hangs around a lot. You make plays and you do things. You block for us, you make tough catches. You’re going to help us in the kicking game at different times.’ He just keeps showing up. He’s a guy that at times he may not flash all the time but does something that just jumps out at you. He just keeps making play after play and he shows up on a regular basis. For a young player, this guy is a smart player, he’s an instinctive player. He’s a guy that Tyke (Tolbert) can take at any point in practice and if someone needs to come out for a rep, he just throws him in that position. It doesn’t matter what it is. He knows everything on the field. He’s very aware of what’s going on around him. He understands what his strengths are, he understands what he needs to improve on as a rookie. I think Jason (Garrett) has done a really good job incorporating him into the game plan. This guy has earned everything he’s gotten so far. He keeps coming to work every day and giving us reasons to put him on the field.
Q: You guys waived Corey Ballentine yesterday. What went into that decision? Why has it been kind of a struggle to get consistent cornerback play on the other side opposite (James) Bradberry?
A: Obviously, that’s a challenging position. I see a lot of improvement from the guys on our roster. We’ve gotten a lot of improved play throughout the season. We had some things early on in the season that we had to clean up and correct. I think that’s improved as we’ve gone. That being said, you’re going to keep seeing top players across the ball from you every week. It’s the National Football League, there’s always going to be good skill players who run routes and work to get open, good quarterbacks who are going to throw them open at times. We’ve got to keep improving at all positions in the defensive backfield. I see those strides every week. Specifically to Corey, we like Corey a lot. We have a list of roster moves we have to make throughout the season. We did what we thought was best for the team