EAGLES TRAINING CAMP 2017: FRANK REICH ON WENTZ, OFFENSE SO FAR
NFL quarterbacks are all under more scrutiny than any other position, when you are the No. 2 overall pick and a designated savior like Eagles signal caller Carson Wentz, if you miss the trash can with an empty bottle of water, it may end up on the evening news.
Generally speaking Wentz s having a good camp. He is the first one out in the morning, last one to leave, his passes have been accurate, but the last few sessions he seemed to be struggling a little bit when he’s moving off his spot. Offensive coordinator Frank Reich was asked if that was something he just has to continue to work on.
“I think there has been a lot of good work,” Reich said after Thursday’s training camp practice. “I think there are one or two plays that we missed here or there. For any quarterback, it’s always challenging when you get moved off your spot. I actually think he responds pretty well to that. We probably missed one or two. I think, overall, in the whole body of work, it’s been solid.”
Reich was asked about how he would feel if Wentz did make that major leap this his second season. Reich deflected the idea Wentz is on an island.
“One thing about this group here, in our offense, this whole organization, this whole team, is really it’s all about our team getting better,” Reich said. “For our team to get better, players have to make steps and make progress. Certainly Carson is one of those guys But really, as an offense, we look at it as a unit. We feel very good about the guys we have on our offensive unit. It will be a great sense of accomplishment. We have a vision and belief in what we can do this year. We’ve set out to do it. When you accomplish something like that together, [there is] no doubt a great sense of pride.”
Reich was asked about being without RB LeGarrette Blount for three days now. He is listed as being out for “personal reasons.” Blount has challenged other coaches during his career. Is a bad sign especially with him learning a new system.
“Yeah, I mean, you never want to miss — as a player, from a player’s perspective or coach, you hate missing practice,” he said. “I mean, you love ball. That’s what you’re here to do. You’re getting paid a lot of money to play ball. But you also understand that there’s sometimes personal reasons, there’s personal things that come up. That’s between he and coach. Thankfully, he’s a vet. [He has] been around the block a few times, so we’ll just pick up right where we left off when he gets back.”
The rest of the press conference:
Q. With how many young and inexperienced cornerbacks this team has, is it tough to evaluate how well your receivers are performing?
FRANK REICH: I don’t think so. I mean, it’s very competitive out here all the time. Every player that’s here deserves to be here. You have to fight and scratch for every rep, for every play. You have to prove what you can do on every play.
We’re looking for receivers that are coming off the ball, making plays when they’re coming their way. It’s very competitive on both sides. So I think that’s helping us develop at the receiver position.
Q. WR Alshon Jeffery, what kind of sense do you have of what is keeping him out and how long he will be out?
FRANK REICH: I think it was more precautionary. I just think Alshon came in and has shown us what he can do right away. [He] just got a little ding here or there. [It’s] just precautionary, and then get him ready to go pretty soon.
Q. As far as red zone work, how does that affect the way you prepare, not having guys like Alshon and LeGarrette out there? Because they are going to be a big part of that package.
FRANK REICH: Yeah, Alshon and LeGarrette are a big part of the red zone package. So, yeah, you want them in there. We’ll have plenty more red zone periods when those guys are here. We’ll get a lot of reps. Got some good reps with them in OTAs to try to figure out some things we can do with them. In the meantime, it gives other guys a chance.
The package doesn’t just revolve around those two. Those two are certainly key opponents of it. But it gives us a chance to work other things as well.
Q. G Isaac Seumalo has been the starter now for 10, 11 days. Have you seen an elevation in his play?
FRANK REICH: I have. I really have. He’s rising to the challenge, going against [DT Tim] Jernigan every day. He’s [Tim Jernigan] a pretty good player. I see Isaac getting better. He’s going up against a very formidable foe every day in practice.
I think he’s done a good job and gotten better.
Q. Would you say Seumalo has gotten better from spring?
FRANK REICH: Yeah, I would.
Q. In the past, you have experimented with different guys at fullback. Now, it looks like T Dillon Gordon is getting just about everything. Assuming he is on the team this year, would he be the guy?
FRANK REICH: I mean, obviously with his background, we know he can catch the ball. He sees things pretty good from back there. I think we want to continue to give a handful of guys reps back there. Dillon has been the focus. We’ll probably continue to rep some other guys back there. We want that to be part of our offense.
So Dillon has done a nice job. We know he can catch the ball. He actually has a pretty good feel finding holes back there. He’s done well, but we’ll continue to evaluate several people at that position.
Q. Is that the same as, go back to a situation when you have former NFL QB Peyton Manning or San Diego Chargers QB Philip Rivers as a quarterback? Or is it different because you are taking a young guy and working him up?
FRANK REICH: Yeah, I mean, your point is well taken. You got a young quarterback. He had a pretty solid first year. You want to see continued growth. That position gets a lot of focus. He gets a lot of focus. So no doubt he’s got that on his shoulders. I’m confident he’s going to take those steps.
Q. When you see tempers flare a little bit like they did today, is that almost a good thing to see that guys are that invested?
FRANK REICH: Yeah, it is a good dynamic right now. I think [Head] Coach [Doug] Pederson has done a great job of setting the tone and having it be very competitive. But I think guys need to know, and I think they do know, you really got to know how to compete your butt off, but still take care of each other.
Tempers flare a little bit, but that’s all part of it. Everybody knows that. You got to compete hard and still be mature enough to know how to do that and take care of each other.
Q. With WR Nelson Agholor, what has impressed you the most so far? Where is the confidence level as a coaching staff in him taking this into the regular season?
FRANK REICH: I think the things that impressed me with Nelson are two things. One, the number of big plays he’s making. Two, the consistency in which he’s making them. Not only making the big plays, but the consistency of which he’s doing everything: his route running, ball catching. He’s just at a good spot right now.
Q. RB Wendell Smallwood continues to come alive in these live tackling periods. As a coach, how do you get him to carry that over from day-to-day, as opposed to more on the live period?
FRANK REICH: I mean, I think when you get live periods — he’s just a football player, he’s got really great instincts. Everybody has good instincts. I think Wendell has above-average instincts. I think that just shows when it goes live. I think he’s been doing a good job pretty much every day. There’s always things we got to get better at and mistakes that we make. I think Wendell is making progress and we are very happy he’s on our team.
Q. What kind of trickle-down effect, on the offensive line, does having T Jason Peters out there still doing it at this stage of his career at a high level and not taking any plays off, have on the rest of the unit?
FRANK REICH: Just his leadership. You can’t say enough about his leadership. He’s in complete control out there. He’s like another quarterback on the field. He’s physically in great shape. He wants to be out there every snap. I think he sets the tone up front.
He’s a vocal leader. He’s an emotional leader. He’s a physical leader. He’s doing a great job for us.
Q. RB Donnel Pumphrey has missed a couple practices now. What impact does that have on him, especially since he is trying to learn?
FRANK REICH: Yeah, I mean, you don’t want to miss practices, especially when you’re a rookie. But it’s a long season. As one of our draft picks, you just got to be smart about it. You got to resist the temptation to want to get back too soon and re-aggravate something or reinjure something, then you’re out longer.
Obviously, our training staff is going to do a great job, kind of put the reins on players [and] make it safe. Thankfully Pump is very smart. I think he’s really into it. Even when he’s not in there, the last couple days [he’s] getting all the mental reps you can.
You got to be a big believer in mental reps. There are a lot studies out there that show if you can be standing behind the line of scrimmage and you can put yourself in the game, you can actually make your nervous system feel like you’re in the game if you can concentrate, see it, believe it.
We emphasize that with our players, just to get the mental reps when they can’t be in there.
Q. What has RB Corey Clement shown you in the passing game?
FRANK REICH: Corey has really done well. Today, he looked good in goal line. So to be able to do that in short yardage but still be able to be elusive enough…
I wouldn’t say he’s your premier-third-down kind of back, but he’s a guy who can play on third down. As long as you know your protections, he needs to clean that up a little bit, and get a little cleaner on the protection calls and being at the right place. Identifying, we had a few errors there.
I think Corey is, overall, making good progress. I think his strength is as a runner. When you put the ball in his hands, he’s aggressive, he’s elusive, and he runs strong. I think the other areas of his game are developing to come along with that.
Q. With the young players, Head Coach Doug Pederson talks about stacking the good days together. Have you seen that from [WR] Marcus [Johnson] and [WR] Mack [Hollins] and some of the receivers?
FRANK REICH: Yeah, really stacking the days together is important. For a guy who has never really done it live out there on Sundays, Sunday after Sunday [are] even more so important. Marcus and Mack have certainly been doing that.
Q. What impresses you about Smallwood?
FRANK REICH: His instincts. His aggressiveness. How smart he is. I think he’s got very good physical skills. He’s fast. He’s quick. He’s a thrashing runner. He’s fearless.
Q. Obviously, there’s not live hitting every day. How much more weight is given to periods like the one today when you’re evaluating?
FRANK REICH: You love these periods. You love these periods. I’m glad coach makes the decision that he makes to give us opportunities to do this.
As an offense, what happens is sometimes you run plays, and a defender breaks through and it looks like it’s a negative run. Then, you get in live periods, and sometimes you find out that what are seemingly negative runs are five- or six-yard gains because you actually have to tackle the guy to the ground.
It gives us a chance on offense to see our backs. Who can make guys miss? Who can keep their balance? Who can turn those negative plays into positive plays? Who can get those extra yards up inside and get a push?
I think it’s really good for us for evaluation purposes. I think it puts a different tone and tempo on the offensive line because they know backs are going to be running that much harder. Although they practice hard all of the time, I think knowing it’s live really gets it really fired up, as well.