Q. Wanted to ask about the punter and your level of concern with P Arryn Siposs. Obviously, his production has tailed off. What you are you seeing there? And how concerned are you? (Reuben Frank)
MICHAEL CLAY: Not concerned at all. Guy had a bad game in 18 weeks, it happens to the best of them. You’re not going to be out there – and the production, everyone is going to look at his gross punting or whatever. If you looked over the last month and a half, the offense has been moving the ball so well that his plus-50 has to come into play, which he really excels at.
I think we’ve had two or three touchbacks, and the latest one was the first Washington game, where we could have made a play and helped him. He did a good job with us, so I’m not overly concerned about [P] Arryn [Siposs], he’s been doing a really good job.
And his production hasn’t changed, it’s just a matter of the field. In the second Washington game, we had both punts from the plus-42 and plus-44. The numbers aren’t going to look great, but one of the drives was at the 6, the other at the 9. Where we look at it, we’re going to try to keep everyone inside the 10 in those plus-50 situations.
With Arryn, if we didn’t have an answer to what happened in the game then we would be a little bit more concerned, but we know exactly what happened. It was just something mechanically with his drop where it just got outside of him and just shanked the ball, which happens to everyone. Not everyone is going to hit a perfect ball, so not too concerned about Arryn.
Q. Looks like RB Jason Huntley gave you a little juice in the kickoff return game. What did you see from him? And now that he’s elevated to the 53-man roster, it’s still difficult from a gameday perspective, but how much do you push if you say, ‘This guy can really help us on something like the return game’? (John McMullen)
MICHAEL CLAY: Yeah, I thought [RB] Jason [Huntley] did an outstanding job given his opportunity. It happened Week 18, but he took advantage of the opportunity right there and he did a heck of a job. He hit the running lanes very hard, protected the ball in traffic.
Then the other guys came in and did a heck of a job. On that big one he hit for 35 yards, you see [LB] Patrick Johnson wash his guy all the way down. The double teams by [TE] Tyree [Jackson] and [CB] Tay Gowan really helped out; same with [TE] Richard [Rodgers] and [CB] Mac McCain right there.
As much as it does take a good return right there, it takes the other 10 to really help and give him that running lane. And he showed really good quicks in the hole right there to get up the field and give our offense a good starting point there.
In terms of the gameday elevation, everything is case by case, day by day, game by game in terms of that – who you’re playing against, are you going to get a return, is it in a dome, is it going to be cold weather, where you’re going to get more returns.
So, it was a big fluid talk between everyone, Coach Sirianni [Eagles Head Coach Nick Sirianni] and [Eagles Executive Vice President/General Manager] Howie [Roseman], on who we’re going to put and dress up for that game.
So, as long as Jason keeps – he’s worked hard the entire season. I know he had those rib injuries in the preseason that kind of held him back a little bit, but he came in and worked hard for us on practice squad. He’s shown ability to return against our kickoff coverage throughout the first 17 weeks.
It’s more to Jason really staying true to himself, and when he had the opportunity, he answered the call right there.
Q. Do you expect to have LB Shaun Bradley on Sunday? And if you don’t have him or he’s limited, how big of a loss would that be? (Dave Zangaro)
MICHAEL CLAY: You wish you would have an answer and have everyone healthy, especially for this playoff run. They’ve done an outstanding job to get themselves to this point and have a shot at the dance.
Like I’ve alluded to previously, in special teams, you got have to everyone ready whatever that case may be. Our job as special teams coaches is to make sure that if he does go down, ‘Well, who do we put in next?’ That’s happened a couple times this year where something has flared up on [LB] Shaun [Bradley] and we’ve had to go to a reserve right there and they have done a great job. [TE] Jack Stoll has done an awesome job for filling in for him. [LB] JaCoby [Stevens] in the Washington game did a good job in having to make a play when he got called up.
So, it’s more to those guys, everyone in the room, whether you’re on the active or practice squad, getting ready and just never know when your game is going to be called and being ready and confident doing that.
We would like to have Shaun ready and willing to go. So, we will just take it day by day, just like anything else.
Q. Sort of an open-ended question, but I guess looking back at that last game against the Bucs in Week 6, aside from guys who were injured, how are you guys different as a unit now than you were back then? (Bo Wulf)
MICHAEL CLAY: I don’t know how much there is much difference. There may be some schematic things that after the bye week, we may have changed a little bit to help put these guys in a little bit better situation.
But we also – in that game, [S] K’Von Wallace wasn’t in there and now he’s a core guy for us. He brings a good physicality and speed from the safety spot right there. And I think guys have just kept growing and growing. [CB] Zech [McPhearson] has grown and gotten better. I think our whole unit has gotten better from that situation in terms of seeing more game experiences and just playing ball, really.
But for the most part, it’s going to be a really difficult challenge. Obviously, [Tampa Bay Special Teams Coordinator] Keith [Armstrong] in Tampa Bay, they’ve always had a good special teams unit and he’s been in the league for a long time, seen a lot of ball. So, we are going to have our hands full getting ready for Tampa Bay, but we’re excited about it.
Having the opportunity to play past the regular season, I think these guys are going to be really raring to go and it all starts tomorrow when these guys are in the building, really when they get the whole game plan.
Q. It’s not uncommon for a playoff game to come down to a big field goal, a highly publicized kind of special teams play, a block, a big punt. So, when the team comes back, what’s going to be your overall message to your guys on special teams this week? (Geoff Mosher)
MICHAEL CLAY: I think Coach [Nick] Sirianni kind of alluded to it. Just because it’s a playoff game you’re not going to go out of the ordinary, out of left field or something like that. We’re going to come back and do what we have been doing. It’s really helped us. We’ve had some opportunities to help the game from a special teams standpoint. And it’s a 1-0 week, it’s a 1-0 play.
You can go and dominate for a play, but in the special teams world, you got to wash that out because the next one is coming. We just got to be ready to go out there, put out best foot forward, give great effort like they have been doing and try and help the team, whatever this is. Whether that’s a punt, a punt return, a field goal, you never know what the situation may be.
We’re going to get these guys ready and come out feeling pretty confident with the game plan, in terms of coaches, and get these players going.