Q. LB T.J. Edwards kind of said about the blocked punt, you guys saw something during the week. Could you kind of take us through what happened there? (John McMullen)
MICHAEL CLAY: Yeah, it’s one of those things where myself, [Eagles special teams quality control coach] Tyler Brown and [Eagles assistant special teams coordinator] Joe Pannuzio, that’s what we do, we spend time looking at protections and say, ‘Hey, if we see something here, we have the personnel to say, hey, let’s get this look.’ The great thing about it was we ran our specific stunt one time, and it came directly off the sideline. Hey, we can get them with our check, so luckily, we have the opportunity to get another punt rush, and in my mind just having the conversation, like, ‘All right, here we go. This could be one.’ So having the conversation with [LB] Shaun [Bradley] and [LB] T.J. [Edwards], I’m, like, ‘Hey, let’s do our rush, but go to the check.’ They went to the check. They ran it perfectly, and at first I thought T.J. overran it because it got so clean, and it hit him in the bicep, but luckily, I think we paid a little bit of our dues, and we finally got one. It helped swing the momentum for the game, and it helped us win, which is all we want to do being that special teams unit.
Q. What’s LB Shaun Bradley’s role in that play? Is he supposed to get a little bit of the long snapper? I know you can’t jack up a long snapper, but just get a little bit of him and then occupy the personal protector? (Jimmy Kempski)
MICHAEL CLAY: Yeah, you always want to create a numbers advantage. Just like you want to do on offense or defense, you want to create somebody having to take two. He has to take someone, and we actually learned a lesson earlier in the season against Atlanta. We kind of had one where Shaun kind of went down the middle, and he was able to take two, so we made a little adjustment, and he was able to do it, and T.J. cut it so tight he couldn’t do anything about it, but it was a great job. It was a great job by T.J. and Shaun, and we had worked on it a few times. Like I tell these guys all the time, ‘Nobody is coming to watch the game, besides maybe my parents, they come to see them play.’ So they hit it, they hit it perfectly, and it changed the game.
Q. You had WR Jalen Reagor doing punt and kick returns. What was the thinking behind that? (Tim McManus)
MICHAEL CLAY: [WR] Quez [Watkins] had a little bit of an issue in terms of his body early last week, so we kind of held him back a little bit, get him back ready for offense, and obviously, we saw what happened. He got behind — the defense helped out the offense, and Jalen took the reps.
It’s one of those things of being comfortable, and Jalen and Quez have been outstanding communicating with me, what they see, how they feel. There may be some opportunities where we like to be a little bit smarter in the kickoff return game, but it’s also one of those things where you get guys like that that want to be aggressive. It’s a double-edged sword. Obviously, we saw against Kansas City, Jalen gets the 44-yarder. Then, the first kickoff return, he is feeling juiced up. Gets it to the 22. Not going to hurt you too bad.
Probably the second one that he did return probably — and he knew it. We had our conversation before the half, and he knew it, but I would rather have a guy that’s super aggressive than having to amp somebody up, but we also got to be a smarter team to help the team in that way, and as a special teams coach, we put our offense in a bad situation. Especially what transpired after with the high snap and everything, so it felt like special teams had a big part in that. So it’s just, once again, understanding it’s a big team game with our return game. So, having Jalen and Quez back there is a blessing because it’s two really skilled athletes back there that can change the game.
Q. What is that line? When do you want them to go out, and when do you want them to not? What do you want them to see and what needs to be there for them – (Tim McManus)
MICHAEL CLAY: There’s a lot of factors that go into it. If a guy is running sideways, he doesn’t have the downhill momentum to get it going right away. He may have to take a step back. There’s going to be learning curves with it.
Jalen hasn’t kickoff returned a lot recently until the last few weeks, but just him understanding, ‘Hey, I’m running sideways, I can probably take this down, and I’ll fight to live another day right there.’ So there’s a whole bunch of different variables that does happen with our kickoff return game.
Q. P Arryn Siposs had the 16-yard punt there, but he had some pressure. What went on with that? (Ed Kracz)
MICHAEL CLAY: It was a little breakdown in protection. It had nothing to do with Arryn. Arryn has been doing a heck of a job. And our punt protection has been doing a very good job with it. It’s just one of those times where when you see a lighter box, you think, ‘All right, I got to go cover.’ But we still got to remain disciplined, and we can’t cover unless that ball is punted, so it’s one of those things, and, you know, I didn’t have to go to the guys. The guys came to me and were, like, ‘Hey, that’s on me.’
Obviously, it’s not great in the game situation, but for me as a coach the guys understanding and taking accountability, that’s just going to make my job easier. To be honest with you, our first half wasn’t our greatest performance, but I think the best part about, one of the prouder moments as a coach so far, is how they bounce back the last 30 minutes, and they really helped the team swing the momentum to get us that win in a road environment, which is great.
Q. On the punt block, which one of them told you that the check would be able to work? (Bo Wulf)
MICHAEL CLAY: They both came to me. They talked about it and came to me, and, shoot, it’s a player’s league, baby. Go and get you one. Luckily, they did, and it worked out for us.
Q. How often do those conversations happen on the sideline when a player sees something? (Dave Zangaro)
MICHAEL CLAY: I always ask the guys, hey, I can only see so much from the sideline. Tyler can only see so much from the box. Joe P. can only see so much from the sideline as well. They’re the ones playing it. If they feel something like, ‘Hey, I can get this guy,’ let me know so I’m not shocked or anything that they went rogue or something like that, but if they talk to me, hey, whatever is going to help us win the game, I’m all for. These guys have been outstanding in terms of understand what we’re trying to do, accomplish on the return games, our coverage games, so the more communication I think, the better for us, and just the more trust we have to say, ‘Hey, go out and play. Go make a play.’
Q. With K Jake Elliott the end of the first half, what’s the conversation like with Head Coach Nick Sirianni in terms of telling him where you think he will be good from? (Bo Wulf)
MICHAEL CLAY: It all starts in pregame with his pregame warmup. We felt like the wind was a little bit stronger that way to help him, so having that conversation with Nick, like, ‘Hey, he could probably hit it from this range right here,’ and they got enough yards that we felt comfortable with it, and we all know Jake has a very strong leg. He obviously holds two of the three longest field goals here in Philadelphia history, but in my eyes that field goal really was a huge play in terms of swinging the momentum. At least from a special teams standpoint.
You know, you go in, and 15-3 is way different than 15-6, so him to hit that 58-yarder and change the momentum gave us a little bit of a boost. Especially in the special teams room where it just kind of snowballed from the opening kickoff in the third quarter, they had a stop at the 16th and we were playing fast and caused a penalty. Right back at it, you talk about the aggressiveness with our returners. Jalen gets one. Short kick, and he hits it for 22 yards to help swing the momentum, I think that was great. And I think Jake really kind of started this whole momentum swing for us special teams-wise.