Q. So S K’Von Wallace was able to block that field goal, did you guys see a look on tape? Or was that just a great play by him? (Mike Kaye)
MICHAEL CLAY: It was a really good individual effort out of [S] K’Von [Wallace]. On the first one, their first PAT, he kind of squeaked in there. And it was something that we had seen on tape that we talked about as a group on Friday saying, ‘Hey, this may be an opportunity.’
And the first one K’Von got through, didn’t block it. He came off the sideline after and we went the other way the next time and he said, ‘Hey, give me another opportunity. I think I can get it.’
So, similar to Carolina, something we saw on tape, they came off, seeing we have an opportunity. And, you know, it was really hard, especially on such a short field goal to get – especially the second widest guy to get his hands on it, but he did a heck of a job.
Same with [LB] Shaun Bradley, he attacked that outside arm on one of the guys. And to be completely honest, [DE] Derek Barnett has so many blocked field goals, they probably specialized on him, ‘Hey, 96 is around here,’ so he probably thought he may get through there. But it helped out and K’Von had a heck of an effort to one, clear his feet between the wing and the end right there and to get his hands up in such a quick manner to block it.
We would have loved [LB] Alex [Singleton] to go back to his catching days from Little League baseball, but didn’t get the scoop and score, but got the opportunity to get the points off it.
So, just a great individual effort from K’Von. But it’s a whole, Friday seeing something; Derek, Shaun, and [CB] Zech [McPhearson] rushing off the edge to give him that gap to get through.
Q. Are blocked field goals or extra points, are those something that you scheme? And as you interviewed, was it a point of pride for you? Was it, the blocking of field goals and extra points, is it something, I guess, you discussed? (Zach Berman)
MICHAEL CLAY: In terms of kind of interviewing, no. A lot of it is just chance. And some guys have a knack for it, getting their hands up.
You can see [Ravens DE] Calais Campbell has a few of them. Derek [Barnett] has a lot here. Some guys just have a knack for it.
But there are some things where you go into a scheme and you’re reviewing the call, you’re going to the same call, same call, then you may throw a little wrinkle in there, and a guy falls forward and they get their hands on it.
In the Vegas game, we had one and Derek got through and he just tipped it, didn’t get the full hand on it. Some guys just have a knack for it, but there is stuff we scheme up and try to get these guys to get their hands up.
And you never know, just like that, it’s a momentum swing taking three off the board right there and hopefully turning it into seven.
Q. When you bring up DE Derek Barnett having a knack for it – Ravens DE Calais Campbell, obviously, he’s really long, he’s got that tremendous size. Derek, not so much. What kind of knack is it? Is it just seeing a sort of weakness in the gap? What do you think it is? (John McMullen)
MICHAEL CLAY: When you watch Derek [Barnett] on his field goal block, I mean, he blocked – when I was in San Francisco I believe in 2018, he blocked it here in that rainy game.
He has the swim move that’s really good. It’s very powerful and it gets guys kind of off-balance a little. And he’s a pass rusher, he can squeak through and swivels those hips in and gets his hands up. It’s just one of those knacks where, as a pass rusher, you do it for so long and you can still do it on a field goal block. And he gets through and he gets his hands up really quick. He doesn’t get it every time, but a lot of times, he does get his hands up.
And when a kicker sees somebody there, it may affect him the next time. And he may push it, he may pull it. So, it’s just one of those things some guys have a knack for it.
Q. When it comes to LB Shaun Bradley, what makes him so effective when it comes to special teams? And the energy, it seems he’s talking when it comes to right before kickoff returns. What experience does he bring to the special teams unit? (Chris Franklin)
MICHAEL CLAY: To play this game, you got to have some sort of edge to you. And Shaun [Bradley] has that edge. Obviously, he’s born and raised around here.
We really rely on Shaun because he does bring great energy every day. Shaun is the same person every day. And just having conversations with him throughout the offseason and preseason and just seeing the athletic ability, I mean, you saw on that punt coverage rep, he ate up a lot of ground real fast and he had a good hit on the returner.
Shaun’s just been outstanding, and he wants to be great at whatever we ask him to do on special teams. And he’s been doing a heck of a job for us. Obviously, he’s tied in the NFC for the most special teams tackles. And he takes pride in that. He wants to do it. He wants to go out there. He wants to make plays.
But the best thing about Shaun is he’s not getting outside of his own body to get these plays. He’s doing everything we ask, he’s staying disciplined. He’s just getting out there and making a heck of a play in the coverage and the blocking phases.
So, it’s all kudos to Shaun, really, taking advantage of this role that he has. And he’s one of those guys that we’re going to rely on for this stretch right here and I think he’s up for the challenge.
Q. We don’t really talk about kickers being competitors or having a competitive spirit. What stands out to you about K Jake Elliott as a competitor? And I know you’re a big golfer. Have you guys gone out and hit the ball? (Mike Kaye)
MICHAEL CLAY: With Jake he’s a very athletic guy. Sneaky athletic guy. You probably see him as a smaller kicker, but he’s probably one of the most athletic guys on this team and in all sports.
Before this season started, myself, [Eagles Special Teams Quality Control Coach] Tyler [Brown], [K] Jake [Elliott], and [P] Arryn [Siposs] all went out and played at Liberty. I mean, he’s got a sweet stroke and everything.
But his competitive edge, he wants to be great. Which is going to allow him, mentally, to take him to the next level. And I think he’s having a really good year in terms of being within himself, staying within the basics what got him to the spot right here.
And his competitive edge – even on game day, it’s like a light bulb switches and he’s in there and wants to put as many points on the board as possible to help this team win.
And he’s done a fantastic job the entire season in terms of when we call on him, he steps up to the plate and he’s been delivering for us.
Q. There were some questions about him last year, probably wasn’t his best season. I know you weren’t here, but what have you seen from him this year and how has he been able to be so steady? (Dave Zangaro)
MICHAEL CLAY: Yeah, obviously, wasn’t here last year. But just knowing Jake [Elliott] around the league and hearing his name, you always know this guy’s a very good kicker.
And it’s just kudos to him refocusing on what got him here and that’s just his fundamentals, working with Arryn [Siposs] and [LS] Rick [Lovato] in the offseason, getting that down. Obviously, it’s a new holder, so there’s going to be something new.
But they’ve been fantastic and kudos to all three of those guys, just working hand and hand and they have been operating like a well-oiled machine.
The one thing you can definitely tell between those three is, one, they like each other, which helps. And they have fun during practice.
We, obviously, have to get our job done, but they have a lot of fun doing it. And a lot of the times in our room, especially, we like to give each other a hard time. But it kind of loosens them up.
And they go out free-willing and, you know, all three of them have been performing at a high level. But especially Jake coming back from, you could say it was a down year, one of his lower field goal percentages.
But he’s coming back and he’s operating at a high level that’s helping us win. And that field goal at the end of the half was huge. It turns it from a one score game to a two score game, 20 to 10, that’s a big momentum shift.
No different from Carolina coming back from, whatever, 15 to 3 but he hits that 58 yarder and now it’s 15 to 6. A little bit of a momentum builder. We’re really going to rely on him because he’s a veteran and he’s been in those tough spots and those shining lights. It’s always good to have Jake on our team right now.
Q. They had the one return for, I guess, 19 yards, set them up on the plus-side of the field. What do you think happened there? (John McMullen)
MICHAEL CLAY: For the most part, we did a good job stringing it out. He was going about 50 yards for about a two-yard return.
But at the end, as much as – we talk about this all the time between all the players – as good as Shaun [Bradley]’s been, he kind of got out of his lane. Being a left side guy, got to the right side and, you know, his hole right there, he could’ve made the play but he was washed down.
And at the last part, if K’Von [Wallace] would’ve shot, he might have gotten a block in the back. He kind of just got pinned in there, especially being a wing.
The last two to four yards, we got pinned in, which we don’t like that. So, we got to get better at that, especially with this returner that we’re facing this week.
But we strung them out. It was a great punt by Arryn [Siposs], great hang time. We just got to make that play when given that opportunity to keep them from a backed up situation to flip the field to about the 39-40 yard line.
Q. The Saints have a couple of blocks also. What do they do well? (Bo Wulf)
MICHAEL CLAY: They do a great job, they rush hard. When I was in San Francisco, [49ers General Manager] John Lynch said a good defense is how you field goal block.
And guys have an opportunity to go out there and – it’s two seconds of free pain. It’s tough for the field goal team – it’s physically demanding as the field goal team.
But they rush hard, they get under your pads, they get their hands up, they got some guys who have some length. And if you hit the low ball, they’re going to get their hands on it.
And [Saints Special Teams Coordinator] Darren Rizzi’s done a fantastic job in New Orleans and he’s been doing a great job since he’s been in the NFL, getting those guys getting those hands up. Because it can alter the game, as you see some missed extra points.
And now, you’re thinking now it’s not a field goal game, now it’s an actual touchdown game. So, they’ve done a really good job of just kind of understanding how they can change the game with that.
Q. Pregame and post-game, Eagles Head Coach Nick Sirianni made a big deal of physicality – whatever term you use. But LB TJ Edwards for the defense, he mentioned maybe RB Jordan Howard. Is that Shaun Bradley for you, the physicality part of it? (John McMullen)
MICHAEL CLAY: I think we try to rely on everyone to play with a chip on their shoulder and be physical.
But Shaun [Bradley], brings a certain edge, as you can see on the game. As you guys alluded to, he’s talking before the kickoff, before the kickoff return, after a punt. We may have to reign him in a tad bit knowing that these taunting penalties are coming. But you have to play with a chip on your shoulder and he is a physical presence out there. And I think it helps bring the energy to everybody else.
We were on the opposite sideline, but you could hear that hit. And when you can hear a hit like that in an NFL stadium, it brings a certain amount of energy.
I know it’s not something that is seen, but [RB] Jordan Howard, on the last punt, he’s running down there and the guy tried to give him a shove and Jordan pitchforked – like, he lifted this guy and got him out the way and our sideline got so energetic and energized by it – I mean, it’s the fourth quarter, like, four minutes left.
And so, just bringing that physicality and a chip on your shoulder is just going to bring that energy that allows you to play fast and gives that momentum swing for the whole team.
Q. What does a hit like that do for your adrenaline? Like, as a coach, on the sideline, when you see something like that, what does that do for you? (Mike Kaye)
MICHAEL CLAY: For me, I’m just hoping the guy gets on the ground [laughing]. But in terms of – and [Eagles Assistant Special Teams Coordinator] Joe Pannunzio says it a lot, ‘You know, your team kind of takes its own personality after their coach.’
And I’m not saying they have my personality. But when a guy gets out there and he celebrates and having fun – I always try to relay to these guys, ‘We’re playing a kid’s game. And if you’re not having fun playing this game, it’s going to pass by you.’
To see a hit like that and the energy, everyone dapping him up and you see the defensive guys flying off, it allows you, as a coach, to see why you do it.
You see a grown adult that plays this sport, puts his body on the line, have that free energy as a kid. So, it almost is, like, as a – very accomplishing to see a guy go out there and have fun like a kid does like we were all in Pop Warner. So, for me, that’s what it brings when we see a guy make a big hit like that and see him get up and do stuff like that.