Q. TE Jack Stoll played something like all but four snaps on Sunday. I know obviously backups like him have to play in every phase but that’s a lot of snaps, high percentage. What does he do that you like? (Reuben Frank)
MICHAEL CLAY: With Jack, we really like what he did in college in terms of his tape at Nebraska. What Jack does every day is he comes in with — he’s a Colorado boy, he comes in, hard hat. He’s ready to go.
What he really does well is he cares about what he has to do. He knows his role on this team, whether that’s playing special teams, whether that’s backing up doing the dirty work on offense, and he cares about that. He wants to get better and better as the time goes on. He was just in our offense talking about the game; what he could have done better, what this week is looking like, where I have him playing at this week. So, he just cares so much about his role and excelling at it. So, I think that’s really what kind of boosts him into playing all those snaps is one, we trust him in what he does because he cares so much and he studies so hard, and at times, he does excel what he does in what we ask him to do.
Q. We saw early on in the game when the Lions punted and also on their field goals is that you guys played in a couple safe formations. When you prepare for a more aggressive team like that and when you see recently that they can go for those attempts, is there anything different about your preparation or is that emphasized in practice? (Josh Tolentino)
MICHAEL CLAY: No, it just goes over to the overview of what your opponent creates. And obviously against the Rams, they had a couple punt fakes, the comeback route on the punt and the PP sweep. So just stuff we always want to give those guys an early heads up, like, ‘Hey, it’s in their territory, what do they have to lose? They may try to steal a possession here, so just be alert for the throwback or something like that.’ It’s just preparing and getting ready for that. I thought the guys did a really good job in terms of understanding where we were on the field, the down and distance, playing that.
And if you look at it, [DE] Josh Sweat and [DE] Derek Barnett are doing a heck of a job rushing out of that D stay look, putting pressure on the punter, hey, I can’t just sit here and throw it; I actually do have to punt if they do have a fake on or not.
Q. It’s been a couple of years, but LB Eric Wilson broke into the league as a special teams guy. What does he need to do to have a role on your special teams or a bigger role on your special teams? (Zach Berman)
MICHAEL CLAY: Eric comes in every day and he’s willing to work. We know when he was at Minnesota, he was a very good special teams player. And he still is. One of those things we’re trying to give everybody as much reps as possible. During the course of the week, how it unfolds, we only have so many people on the roster that can suit up and everything.
Eric has done a fantastic job. We’ll keep giving him the reps that is going to make him eligible to play on Sundays.
Q. What’s this week like for a coordinator? You have so much success on the field. You’re so dominant. People talk about handling adversity versus success. How does the week change for you when you guys had so much overall success as a team? (John McMullen)
MICHAEL CLAY: It doesn’t change whatsoever. From a special teams standpoint, it wasn’t our best week in terms of our coverage unit. We always want to come back and get better as the season goes on.
As I alluded to last week, the weather is changing. The ball won’t travel as far. We need to tighten up our coverage units to help our defense with a longer field. It’s not one of those things where we’re feeling good — there’s always something to get better at.
In terms of that, we don’t change what we do from week in, week out. After the Carolina blocked punt, it wasn’t like we were sitting on our high horse with our feet up. We were trying to get better each week and we have to get better this week in terms of our coverage units to help our defense.
I thought our punt return did a good job kind of flipping, saving a first down and a half by [WR] Greg [Ward] when they did hit a good punt. So, we just have to keep playing disciplined ball. Have to eliminate those penalties that do hurt our offense. Just getting better and better each week regardless of the outcome of the previous week.
Q. Is there a coach you’ve been around that’s a good comp for Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni in terms of like a style of coaching or leadership? (Tim McManus)
MICHAEL CLAY: I think it’s your style and leadership just changes. No one’s going to be carbon copy of the same. So, it’s really interesting to see how many people I work under and just their different coaching styles. So, with Nick, he’s very up front. He’s honest. Energetic, which is great.
I think everyone I’ve been around has been energetic and they all care about it. So, it just comes in with who you’re dealing with, because different personalities, different people, but no one is one in the same.
Q. What makes him unique? (Tim McManus)
MICHAEL CLAY: Obviously, it’s just how he approaches every game week. He doesn’t change, regardless. He’s going to be upbeat and let you know when things have to get better. He’s upfront with it.
So, working for Nick has been outstanding in terms of just understanding. Obviously, I didn’t know him very well until the interview process, but getting to know him since I took the job in late January, early February, he’s always the same guy each week regardless of the outcome of the game, regardless what’s happening in the offseason, he’s always going to be the same guy. And it’s always comforting to know I’m coming into a work environment with the same guy coming in day in, day out.
Q. You don’t have WR Jalen Reagor this week. What determines who fills those roles? (Dave Zangaro)
MICHAEL CLAY: Just how practice goes and everything. Like I said, we always try to get people ready regardless of the situation. You saw Jalen go down in the first quarter. Greg Ward came in, didn’t miss a beat, had a 12-yard return that helped save us there.
Injuries do happen. That’s the beauty of special teams, you have to be prepared to get the people behind them ready to go. When [T/G] Jack Driscoll went down, I had to shuffle the guys on the field goal team. Didn’t miss a beat.
When [WR] J.J. [Arcega-Whiteside] went down, [TE] Richard Rodgers took his spot on some of the punt returns. Didn’t miss a beat. It’s one of those things where it’s our job as coaches, myself, Joe P. [Eagles assistant special teams coordinator Joe Pannunzio] and [Eagles special teams quality control coach] Tyler [Brown], to have everybody ready who may be active on Sunday to fill in at any point.
When Jalen went down, [WR] Quez [Watkins], you be the kick returner; Greg, you be the punt returner for this. Greg did a heck of a job fielding it, making one guy miss, getting vertical and making a big 12-yard return for us.
Q. We saw the Lions pick up that leverage penalty in the second half. As a special teams coach, how tough is it to see these guys with vertical abilities to jump over the lines versus potentially picking up a penalty –? (Chris Franklin)
MICHAEL CLAY: It goes, for field goal, everything comes down to technique. It’s only a two-second play. And it’s physically demanding, those two seconds. You get a defense that’s trying to keep points off the board, and you’ve got to know, when you are blocking that, if you do have a guy that has the ability to jump over the pile or over the line, you want to rise with power. Maybe you clip him and he doesn’t get his hands up right there.
It just goes to the technique, everyone just going back down to the technique we’ve been teaching since OTAs to help deter that. And obviously we were able to get the leveraging.
Herbie [G Nate Herbig] and [OL] Landon [Dickerson] did a great job. He couldn’t get high enough, so he had to put his hands down on [LS] Rick [Lovato] right there, so that’s an extra 15 yards and an extra possession for our offense.
At that point in the game, the game was pretty much handled at that point. But you never know. When it’s a close game and they do do that and we do get the leveraging, it gives our offense the opportunity to turn 3 into 7 right there.