Q. What went into the decision to have K Jake Elliott kick short of the goal line? (Jeff McLane)
MICHAEL CLAY: Wasn’t a decision. It’s Mother Nature that made that decision for all of us.
Q. How did you feel you guys responded to that? (Jeff McLane)
MICHAEL CLAY: Obviously, we alluded to last week. Covered a couple of kicks.
The first one they got us we needed to do better of just being in our coverage lanes and keeping it how we teach it. We want to keep that bottled up where you can’t have a straight line shot.
After that first one, the short kicks obviously it was tough kicking into that area of the stadium, but I thought some of the guys did a really good job of covering. The 21-yard return, 25-yard return, if have you seen those at the goal line, you’re pretty happy about it, but it’s just how it came down where it was a little bit short, but it doesn’t matter who it is.
They had to cover as well going into that direction. You saw all six kickoff returns that happened in the game were going into that direction. It was just how the wind was blowing.
But you have to keep growing and continue to get better at that. Obviously being in the Northeast you’re going to have to cover some kicks later in the season. I thought some guys did some really good jobs.
[LB] Christian Elliss, [LB] Nolan Smith coming out of the half did a really good job making a good tackle on a really good returner in [Dolphins WR] Braxton Berrios. I just heard [Eagles Defensive Coordinator] Sean [Desai] say, ‘It’s all a process.’ And we have to keep getting better in our kickoff coverage knowing if our offense scores a lot of points and the weather is going to change, we have to make sure we give our defense a long field to cover.
Q. On the short kicks with your guys, you think it was the weather and not something they weren’t doing? (Zach Berman)
MICHAEL CLAY: No, it was definitely the weather. Northwest wind coming out of there, coming out of the tunnel, it was going to be tough. You could see a little bit in pregame. A few hours before it was actually really gusting right there. You saw it going the opposite direction towards our tunnel. If you had the wind with you, you were going to get touchbacks for the most part.
Regardless, Mother Nature is undefeated, but we have to make sure we go down and cover on kickoff.
Q. RB Boston Scott had an opportunity to hit it pretty good. What’s he so good at since you made that move last year to make him the kick returner? What do you think makes him so successful? (John McMullen)
MICHAEL CLAY: Very dynamic in terms of one cut, get down the field. He has really good vision. Obviously being a running back, he does a great job of seeing the cut.
A lot of the times, as good as Boston is, the patience he had to go six weeks without getting an opportunity to return one and then to finally get one and get all the way to the 39-yard line speaks volumes to him with just the patience, the communication, and the, hey, we may not get it this week, let’s just be honest right here.
But going into this game we thought we had an opportunity, especially with the weather, knowing what the wind was doing.
He does a great job. A lot of the times, very similar to punt returner, has to happen with those ten guys ahead of them. It’s almost a blessing in disguise. You had six weeks of doing a lot of individual getting ready for that opportunity and it’s all the guys buying in like, hey, if we have an opportunity, we have a really good returner in Boston Scott back there that can really flip the field, and a lot of good blocks happen.
OZ [WR Olamide Zaccheaus] did a heck of a job kicking out there, one, to really spring Boston on that inside. The double-team of [CB] Mekhi [Garner] and [CB] Kelee [Ringo], two young guys going against [Dolphins CB] Justin Bethel, who has been doing it a long time, very productive.
So, it’s more our technique on the frontline and back end and just the true belief that if Boston has the opportunity to return one, we have to help flip the field and help our offense with a starting field position.