Michael Clay

Q. What do you do in a game like this where the weather might be a factor? (Dave Zangaro)

MICHAEL CLAY: Yeah, you know what, the very fortunate thing I just finished watching the 2013 Detroit-Philadelphia game. Obviously you guys probably know how that snowstorm kind of affected things. So just going back and just kind of watching that game and just having some ideas what can potentially happen, how do you play it? Things of that nature. So, you know, just kind of going back and trying to relate to some possible games that have had bad weather and just seeing what other teams did – what other coordinators have done. So, it was just really relying on all the features we have here in this building to get acclimated with potential bad weather and for all we know it could change two days before and it’s going to be a nice winter day. But we’re going to be ready for that. Just going back and just seeing some things of that nature.

Q. What are your takeaways from the special teams performance against Arizona? (Tim McManus)

MICHAEL CLAY: From when our number was called, I thought they did a pretty good job in terms of – punt coverage was good flipping the field. [Eagles P] Braden [Mann] has been doing a really good job of that. Our coverage has been doing a pretty good job. [Eagles S] Sydney [Brown] and [Eagles CB] Josh [Jobe] do a good job of commanding double teams and allowing some guys on the interior to make some plays. You saw [Eagles CB Eli] Ricks had another big tackle for us and that first one and then [Eagles LB] Patrick Johnson did a really good job on the second one. You know, kind of flipping the field from our 32 [yard line] to their 22 [yard line]. I thought they did a good job, but I thought the coolest play was [Eagles CB] Eli Ricks and [Eagles LB] Ben [VanSumeren]. And kind of communicating, seeing something was a little bit different from Arizona’s kickoff team, and just communicating, ‘Hey, there’s something happening right here and you saw Eli was aggressive and charged the ball on the surprise onside kick. And you know, like I’ve kind of said all year, we’re just trying to do anything to help this team in any capacity we can. When our number’s called, we’re just going out there to do it at the best of our abilities.

Q. What did you see on the onside kick? (Martin Frank)

MICHAEL CLAY: What really changed was, at first, the first few kickoffs they went three on the interior to outside the numbers and if you look at it, they went three outside and two on the interior. So [Eagles LB] Ben [VanSumeren] and [Eagles CB] Eli [Ricks] were over there, saw that, and you can see kind of on the wide All-22, Ben’s signaling to Eli, ‘Hey, it’s coming this way.’ Eli takes on it and he gets on top of it which is really cool to see especially out of two rookies. If you saw veteran guys do it, you’re like, ‘Oh, they’ve seen it. But having two guys locked in at that point of the game, go out there, and make a huge play for the team was really cool to see.

Q. Were some of those kickoffs by design or is it that time of year where it’s hard to get the ball? (Ed Kracz)

MICHAEL CLAY: Yeah, you know, very similar to that Miami [game] when you’re kicking into that side of the tunnel is just the wind kind of blows back and we have to go cover regardless of the situation. Did some good things. I thought we missed a couple tackles at the point of attack, where we could have stopped them instead of them gaining four to five extra yards. But [Eagles CB] Kelee [Ringo] did a really good job on one of the returns, filling in from the safety spot to make the play but again here, in the Northeast and Lincoln Financial [Field], that wind tunnel kind of beats the ball down a little bit.

Q. From previous tape study, did you think that look could lead to an onside kick? (Tim McManus)

MICHAEL CLAY: It’s more just, you know, from myself, [Eagles special teams assistant] Tyler [Brown], and [Eagles assistant special teams coordinator] Joe [Pannunzio], we’re just trying to get these guys ready for any situation. Going against [Cardinals special teams coordinator] Jeff [Rodgers] in San Francisco, understanding that he does do a couple of fakes or surprise onside kicks. They did in 2018 versus Kansas City on their second kickoff where they did a surprise onside kick. Just showing them that film like, ‘Hey, they are capable of doing something to steal possession.’ So again, it’s just kudos to the guys in here you know, understanding and paying attention and really believe in like, ‘Hey, at any point they could do something.’ So going out there and executing that play right there.

Q. Was it special teams related to have Eagles CB Bradley Roby down with Eagles CB Avonte Maddox back? (Zach Berman)

MICHAEL CLAY: No. [Eagles executive vice president/general manager] Howie [Roseman] and [Eagles head coach]  Nick [Sirianni] do a great job. Whoever they want up on game day, we’re going to get anybody that we possibly can trained up to do special things. Whether it’s Roby, whether it’s Avonte, we’re going to try and get everybody involved in any way we possibly can.

Q. I guess a better way to ask that question, is there a special teams role for Roby, if needed? (Zach Berman)

MICHAEL CLAY: Yeah, if needed. I think we’re doing a pretty good job right now of our special teams personnel and, you know, don’t really want to try and mess that up. But when Avonte or Roby are needed there, they’re willing to do whatever we ask them to do and their capacity and we’re not going to put them in a role they’re not familiar with are ready for. That would just be a disservice to them. But everybody on this team has a role in my eyes on special teams into playing at a high ability. So, you know, whether that situation comes up whether it’s punt return, kickoff coverage, being a safety, we’ll train them up and be ready for them put in there just in case their number is called.

Q. There was a little bit of wind on Sunday from left to right. What distance were you comfortable with for Eagles K Jake Elliott heading in that direction? (Jimmy Kempski)

MICHAEL CLAY: Yeah, I mean, we always have kind of a set number. What we feel comfortable but, you know, I think I’ve said multiple times – when Coach Sirianni says, ‘Field goal is up.’ Field goal is up. We’re ready for that and that’s just a conversation that we have pregame throughout the game. Jake goes out there at the flip of the quarter and feels the wind. Sometimes that wind flips. At that situation, at that point, we felt confident if our number was called to go out there and make a kick at whatever distance it was.

Q. A lot of young guys on this team may have not been through a challenging stretch like this before. How do you keep young guys who come from big, successful college programs engaged? (Reuben Frank)

I guess personally, for myself, you never want to be a different person regardless of the situation. You could have a high of a high and change or a low of a low and change. I tried to stay as even-keeled and I’m more of a glass half full guy more than anything else and just staying that course for myself personally. But again, I’ve been fortunate enough where I’ve gone through a season where you win the first game of the regular season and you don’t win your next one until Week 15. Everything has  to be viewed in perspective. But, you know, allow them to hear that type of, not story, but experience and be in the situation we are right now. It kind of opens up your eyes a little bit like, ‘Hey, we have an opportunity to keep playing at a high level and try to help this team [however] we possibly can and they’ve done a really good job of that through the first 16 weeks or however many weeks we’ve played thus far. But you know, again, it’s just having them understand and having a confidence like, ‘This is the game plan. If we execute this, everything is going to fall in place like we want it to. So, just keeping them confident and going against a very, you know, good team every week. You know, it doesn’t matter the record or special teams – it’s the ebbs and flows, roller coaster-type unit, but they’ve done a really good job of just playing consistently, when they’re numbers call going out there and executing some stuff that we really like. There are some times where we’ve been flawed at and we have to get better at that going forward. We still got a couple games at least guaranteed to play so it doesn’t matter the week, whether it’s September or late December, early January. Just to keep the confidence of these guys going. You know, especially these young guys, you know, there’s a long season for them. They’ve never played as many games as they possibly have to date. So just keeping them fresh and going and keeping it simple for them.

Q. What was your reaction to Eagles S Sydney Brown’s 99-yard interception return for touchdown? (E.J. Smith)

MICHAEL CLAY: Man, you pick him up and put him down on that sideline. That’s why I saw, you know, him going – what was it 99 yards? That’s awesome. And for a guy that, you know, a third-round draft pick, playing a lot of special teams and now he’s getting mixed into that defensive role which is nothing but excitement for him, you know, to get his first career NFL touchdown. To give us a two-score lead I believe at that point was awesome. And it’s funny like, he’s gasping for air and he’s like, ‘I have to get on kickoff.’ I’m like, ‘I got you on this one. We’ll give you one break to let you get your air back and get ready for defense.’ But it’s awesome to see the young guy like that make a big play.

Q. How much has Giants PR Gunner Olszewski improved the Giants return game? Does he remind you of Eagles PR Britain Covey? (Bob Brookover)

MICHAEL CLAY: Yeah, Gunner has been doing this for a long time. Remember in New England, he’s just a tough, tough runner. You saw in the LA game. There’s about six or seven guys that have him tackled and he spins out of it and he goes for 94 yards. So, it’s going to be a challenge for us. You know, regardless of the weather, this guy’s a really good returner. [He has] a great contact bounce. He’s aggressive. He’s fearless. When you find returners that are fearless, you have to be ready. You have to bring your feet. You have to be able to wrap up in the game a couple of weeks ago. I thought we did a good job of wrapping up and corralling him, but it’s a new week, so Gunner does an unbelievable job for [Giants special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey] and that Giants unit. With that 94-yard return, that unit is going to be pretty gassed up and confident going forward. So, we have our work cut out from the punt team standpoint and on kickoff standpoint. They haven’t had a lot of returns from their kickoff return but we have to know this guy is dangerous. He does have a couple touchdowns in his career. Both punt return and kickoff return so we have to be ready to go against this guy.

Q. You talk about being even-keeled. When do you know the urgency is required? (Brooks Kubena)

MICHAEL CLAY: I think urgency is always required in the NFL. You could be starting one game and then cut the next game. I don’t think that needs to come from myself. I think everybody knows in this business, it’s production based. The urgency has to be there 24/7. You can’t be relaxed or take a play off because that’s how you lose, that’s how you get whooped, being non-urgent. So, I don’t think I need to tell them that I think they feel it through the film that we show and the way we practice. I think the urgency has been there regardless, but these guys are grown men. They know that they have to put food on the table, they have to earn their paycheck. So, I think the urgency has always been there.

Q. In the moment, in that situation, do you put it in the guys’ ears that an onside kick is possible? (John McMullen)

MICHAEL CLAY: I think it’s every time I go out there and get the kickoff return, I always tell them a few notes before they go out there and one of them is always, ‘See the ball kick.’ You can’t be leaving early. Guys are upstairs looking like, ‘These guys are leaving early. We could probably get another possession.’ So, I always try to leave them with a couple tidbits, ‘Hey, see the ball kick, sprint back.’ So, I thought [Eagles CB] Eli [Ricks] and [Eagles LB] Ben [VanSumeren] did an unbelievable job of just staying true to their technique. You know, I think it’s one of our things we present to them in rookie minicamp for our kickoff return unit, you know, we’ve got these set rules that will never be changed and I thought they did a good job of staying true themselves.

Q. From your perspective, how has Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni handled the adversity over the past few weeks? (Dave Zangaro)

MICHAEL CLAY: Yeah, I think he’s done a really good job of just keeping everything in perspective, keeping everybody accountable in our building. I can’t say enough good things about Coach Sirianni. He’s been doing an unbelievable job, just trusting and having confidence in all of us to do our job at a high level. So, I think he’s done an unbelievable job of just kind of keeping everything going. And we have one more game in the regular season to put our best foot forward and get ready for whatever opponent we have next.