Defensive Lineman Leonard Williams
Q: We asked you so much the last couple weeks about the anticipation of your first playoff game. What was the experience like, and do you think that helps you now that you have that experience, and you're going into another one?
A: It was an amazing experience. The atmosphere in the stadium was incredible. Their fans were super loud. Everybody had all their family in town and stuff like that. Then not only going into my first playoff game, but winning it, it felt incredible. Just seeing everybody's smiles and coming together and (being) happy for one another. Then quickly moving on to the next team and knowing (that) every team's goal is every season is in arm's reach of us at this point, it's super exciting.
Q: Even just that one game helps you and the team more? The novelty of the playoff thing is over.
A: You hear a lot before that playoff game that not a lot of players on our team had playoff experience. But we talked amongst ourselves and amongst each other we're like, 'It's a football game at the end of the day.' Most of us have been playing football since we were eight years old. So, we've got to go out there and just treat it like a game. With that being said, it still is a different feeling in the playoffs. Now I feel like we have a little bit of that playoff experience and a win under our belt and just a little more fire and attitude going into this next one.
Q: What made it different last week when you first played? Did it feel different during the game?
A: I mean the difference is that a mistake is magnified, and you need your best players to play their best in a situation like that. You know it's all on the line, so everything is at a higher level. Whether you're making a mistake or making a play, it's just at a higher level. I think we did a good enough job of staying together and playing play after play. If their offense scored on us, we weren't hanging our heads down. We were ready to go out there for the next play. I think that type of mentality that we had has to keep going in the next few games.
Q: NFL films put together a little highlight video of (defensive lineman) Dexter (Lawrence) in that game. There were times it looked like he was playing against a high school team or something. Do you sometimes marvel at the way he's able to dominate like that?
A: I do, actually. 'Gamers play game' type of thing. Some of the stuff that I've been able to see him do this year has just been like, 'Whoa.' I've seen D-tackles do a swim move or do a rip move or do a long arm or do like all these things that will get them free. But I'm like, 'Okay, I've seen another D-tackle do that before.' Whereas he's doing things that I'm just like, 'I've never seen (any) other D-tackle in this area do that.' He's a one-of-a-kind type of player, a generational player in my opinion.
Q: That first matchup, you guys gave up 250-plus yards on the ground to this team. How much do you put that on the defensive line's shoulders to want to limit that run game this week?
A: I mean, the defensive line always takes the credit for everything. Whether we're not getting enough pressure on the quarterback, whether we're not stopping the run, we're going to put it on our backs at the end of the day. That obviously is not going to be enough going into this playoff game if we allow them to do that again. It takes all of us, though – not just the D-line, the whole front seven, safeties, everybody to stop the run. That's our goal this week is to try to make them one-dimensional and stop the run as early as possible.
Q: You've played a lot of quarterbacks who can move. What's the key to dealing with (Eagles quarterback Jalen) Hurts?
A: I think once he becomes a runner, just treat him like a running back. I think that's a big thing about Jalen Hurts. He's a strong runner. He doesn't run like a quarterback once he's in space, and I don't think you should approach him as a quarterback once he is starting to run. I think you need to treat him like a running back, take the right angles, put your body on him and tackle him strong. Try to fluster him when he's back there standing in the pocket.
Q: You didn't play in the first two Eagles games. What have you observed looking at the tapes of those games, and also, what about their offensive line specifically, going against (Eagles center Jason) Kelce?
A: I haven't been able to play against him the two times that we played them this year yet. I'm looking forward to this one. I feel like their offensive line works well together, starting with Kelce. He's a really good center. A lot of people call him the (Buccaneers quarterback) Tom Brady of centers because he knows protections. He just has feelings for pressure and blitzes and all type of stuff like that. Give him credit where it's due. He's a good guy, he's a good center. We're going to have to attack this offensive line.
Q: Given the fact that you guys were banged up in that first matchup and resting a little bit in the last matchup in Week 18, do you feel like that provides you guys with a little bit of an advantage because they haven't seen your best shot yet?
A: I mean, I don't know about advantages or weaknesses or anything like that. I do know we do have a more healthy team this time going around. I'm looking forward to most of our guys on defense – a lot of our guys on defense were banged up the last few times we played them. I'm looking forward to playing with a complete team this time around.
Q: I just talked to (safety) Xavier (McKinney), and he said that you're going to walk in through the tunnel at the stadium, and it's going to be crazy. But he said you guys were kind of able to tune that out. The fans aren't playing, you are. How do you handle that, because obviously this is one of the most heated rivalries in sports?
A: I guess everybody looks at it in a different way. I don't really tune it out, I just make it my own noise. When I hear crowd noise, I don't see it as, 'That's the opponent's crowd.' I'm just like, 'It's a crowd cheering at end of the day.' Whether I'm in my own stadium or someone's stadium, it's just crowd noise. I almost channel it and make it mine. When I hear the crowd getting fired it, it fires me up. I don't really care if they're rooting for the other color or not. I take it as my own. I actually love that type of environment. The last game we played in against the Vikings, they just had an incredible environment and I loved it.
Q: You guys appear really loose during practice, dancing around and whatnot. How important is that not to make too big a moment of it? How much does that come from your head coach?
A: I think that's huge. I think that's something that I really value in this team is we're serious when we have to be. Obviously, we're taking this seriously. But at the same time, I think we have to be loose and have fun and remember that it's a game. Be where you're supposed to be and know what you're supposed to do and all those types of things. At the end of the day, I feel like when we play with that type of fun and looseness that we play with a different type of swagger, and it allows us to play fast.