FRANK REICH PRESS CONFERENCE ALL ABOUT START OF PRESEASON GAMES
Q. First preseason game on Thursday. What are you going to be looking for out of the offense?
FRANK REICH: We’re looking for just good execution and good football. Smart, disciplined, tough football, really, to start it out. That’s what you want to do. We’ll keep it simple for them. [We’ll] let them play fast, play disciplined, play smart and play tough.
Q. What is the biggest goal for you coming out of the first game?
FRANK REICH: We always want to win the game even though it’s preseason. But for us, as coaches, there’s a lot of evaluation going on and a lot of competition at roster spots. So I guess [we want to] win the game, but, in the bigger picture, we’re also trying to put together a 53-man roster.
Q. How would you evaluate QB Carson Wentz and his performance to this point in training camp?
FRANK REICH: I think he’s had an excellent camp. His whole off-season has been excellent. [He’s] really throwing the deep ball well, he’s seeing things well. [I’m] very pleased with his progress.
Q. Is WR Jordan Matthews’ spot up for competition?
FRANK REICH: Every spot is up for competition. The way we kind of roll things is we’re always looking for guys who make plays. So [WR] Nelson [Agholor] has had a real strong spring and camp. So the way we do it is it’s kind of by play. Sometimes we’ll switch guys up. We’ll see what a defense does from a coverage standpoint, and then we want to attack that coverage. Then, within that coverage we have match-ups, and within those match-ups there are certain matches that fit certain guys better than others. So Jordan — we play to the players’ strengths. And the good thing is [is] we have some players who have strengths to play to.
Q. Is that different from last year where it seemed like Jordan was the slot guy?
FRANK REICH: I mean, I think, right now, the whole receiving room is more competitive. So yeah, I think it is a little bit different than last year.
Q. As far as WR Nelson Agholor, the separation seems to be there on a consistent basis. Do you think he has gotten over that hump in catching the football as far as consistency goes?
FRANK REICH: I really do think Nelson has gotten over the hump and had a great spring and a great training camp. He’s just making a ton of plays out there. I mean, we’re always going to have a miss or two. Every position does. But we’re very pleased with how he’s playing, [and he’s] making a lot of plays. You know when he’s on the field. I think the defense knows when he’s on the field. I mean, he’s been a threat.
Q. What is it about Eagles wide receivers coach Mike Groh that’s allowed the receiver group, as a whole, to develop the way it has in this off-season?
FRANK REICH: Mike is an excellent coach. He’s really — he pushes them hard. He coaches them hard. And he’s done a fantastic job with fundamentals and technique. You can’t underestimate that. I think it’s also been aided by — we brought in some new — you bring in [WR] Alshon [Jeffery], you bring in [WR] Torrey [Smith]. Those guys have made the room better. [There are] good leaders on and off the field with the guys that we had here who were already strong in that area. So it’s been a good dynamic.
Q. When Nelson plays the slot, what does that mean for Jordan? Where can Jordan play?
FRANK REICH: Jordan can play outside. We can be in four receivers and have two slots. We don’t want to take our tight ends off the field too much. We have a bunch of different personnel packages, and we’ll just continue to mix them up week by week.
Q. You did work a lot of three tight ends last year. Do you expect to use the tight ends more this year, differently?
FRANK REICH: I think last year we used them pretty well. You know, I think [TE] Trey [Burton] had a good year. [TE] Brent [Celek] is always going to play the way he plays. He’s a great player. And [TE Zach] Ertz had a good year, as well. We’re going to mix in those packages. It’s going to be a week-by-week, almost a series-by-series thing in how we can attack [and] what match-ups we get. We have some really good, play-making tight ends. There are times where that’s an advantage to us to do. Then there are times where we’ll want to be in four wide receivers or three wides. [We] just got to keep mixing it up, keep teams off balance. They don’t know what we’re going to do, and play to the strengths of our players and the plays that we run.
Q. It was kind of an odd thing, WR Torrey Smith seemed to be limping back to the huddle. What’s going on with him? He obviously would have come out if he were really hurt.
FRANK REICH: Yeah, you know, I would think so, too. Probably — who knows, it could be — I really don’t know the answer to it.
Q. You noticed it, as well, right?
FRANK REICH: I noticed one time it looked like he was almost limping back a little bit. Could be a blister, who knows.
Q. Nothing you’re concerned about?
FRANK REICH: No.
Q. He was kind of holding his groin area after a play …
FRANK REICH: Yeah, we’re out there — when they get in the huddle, I assume they’re ready to go.
Q. G Chance Warmack got some work in with the first team at both left and right guard. What have you seen from him as he’s in his first camp here with the team?
FRANK REICH: You know, I think Chance has gotten better every week. [He has] really embraced what we do and how we do it. Obviously, being reunited with Stout [Eagles offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland] has been a good thing. A great room — it’s a great culture in that room. So he’s very tough. [He is] physical. [He has] strong hands [and is a] very good run blocker. So those are the things you see in his game.
Q. In Carson’s preseason last year, you obviously lost him in the first game. What can he get out of the full preseason this year that will help him in September?
FRANK REICH: You know, it’s — obviously he’s not going to play a ton in the preseason. It’s more about the consistency of practicing every day, where last year he missed so much time. But there is something to build on the chemistry with your guys in the huddle and having some success. You want to build that confidence. We certainly are expecting that.
Q. Last year, it seemed like it was a really big effort to get TE Zach Ertz involved in the game. This year, it seems to be coming more naturally. Is that an accurate statement?
FRANK REICH: Yeah, I think Carson and Zach just really built a great chemistry last year, just a lot of confidence there. I think they’re playing at a high level and really have a good feel for each other.
Q. With a guy like RB Donnell Pumphrey who was like an every-down ball carrier in college, what’s the biggest adjustment as far as him learning to catch balls out of the backfield?
FRANK REICH: I mean, I think just developing that route tree. Like you said, he was primarily an every-down back, but — we’ve talked about this before where I think he’s adapting well and developing well at, not only running routes from the backfield, but the little bit he gets up in the slot or when we put him outside. You start with a handful of routes, and I give him credit, he’s worked hard at it. It’s important to him. He knows that’s the way he can get on the field. He’s got a flash. He’s got a flash to get on the field. We have too many guys who are playmakers. If he wants to get on the field, he’s got to show that he can do that.
Q. Back in your day, you had former Bills QB Jim Kelly and former Bills TE Keith McKeller. As a quarterback, what is it about the tight end that makes that such a favorable target, especially for a young quarterback?
FRANK REICH: Well, you work the inside of the field. Shorter throws, balls in the air, less time, you’re working against linebackers who aren’t as good in coverage, possibly safeties. You have many of these tight ends who are almost like receivers, and safeties are — there’s some really good cover safeties. We have a couple safeties that are fairly good cover guys, but it’s just going to — we just think that’s a real strong match-up when you get a guy like [TE Zach] Ertz or [TE] Trey [Burton] or even [TE Brent] Celek. Celek is a master route runner. Whether a linebacker or a safety, we just feel like that’s going to be a win for us. And then on top of it, it’s inside. So the ball is not in the air very long. [The] defense doesn’t have as much time to react, and you herd them up the middle. It’s good for the offense.
Q. Jordan Matthews was one of the franchise’s most productive wide receivers the first three years of his career. But now in Year Four we’re talking about maybe a reduced role. What do you attribute that to?
FRANK REICH: Well, I don’t know how it’s going to play out. [Whether] it [is] going to be a reduced role, [or] is it not. I think that’s to be determined. And that’s going to be determined by how things roll out, how he plays and how things play out in that room, competitively. What you see, whether it’s with receivers or backs, sometimes somebody gets a hot hand, and you just build chemistry. Last year, Jordan and Carson, early in the year, were almost like Zach and Carson were at the end of the year. We know there’s something there between those two guys [Jordan and Carson]. So we look to develop that, and certainly expect big plays out of Jordan.