Q. QB Jalen Hurts told us after the game that on that third and 14th play he couldn’t hear you. Can you give us from your perspective what happened and how he handed it? (Jeff McLane)
SHANE STEICHEN: Yeah, sometimes the headset sometimes go in and out every once in a while. Got it in a little bit to him. It was a little fuzzy there, but he knew the situation. That was from the game plan, the preparation part of it. That third and long, that was the call. He got to the exact call we wanted, and then he scrambled and made the huge play to [WR] Greg Ward, so it was awesome by him.
Q. So it was the call that you called in? He just happened to know what you would want in that situation? (Jeff McLane)
SHANE STEICHEN: Yeah, that was our third and long call in that situation. He got it wired up. It was awesome by him.
Q. How much have you guys worked on the scrambling drills for those plays to happen? (John Clark)
SHANE STEICHEN: That’s a great question. We put a couple into each practice. That was a big focus on us early in the year. We thought we could have got more chunk plays off the scramble, so each week in practice we try to get a couple of those every week, and it’s starting to pay off so it’s been good.
Q. How much has Jalen Hurts grown in the passing game, especially since that 2 and 5 start where he kind of struggled a little bit? It seems like he’s doing a little bit better job keeping his eyes down field when things get a little unorganized in the pocket. (Chris Murray)
SHANE STEICHEN: You know what? He’s been awesome. He’s been tremendous, just the growth you’ve seen from him week in and week out. I mean, it was big to see even this week. We had some chunk plays down the field. He was able to check it down to [RB] Boston [Scott]. We had the big check-down to Boston. He went down the sidelines for about 15 or 20 [yards]. Those are huge chunk plays.
When you can check it down to the back and you don’t have it there, that’s great. He’s also able to use his feet, as we know, but when you can get it to the back as well and you don’t have to run and take those big hits, I mean, those are big plays, so it’s been really good to see.
Q. Just to go back to that play when there was the miscommunication or no communication, was it like a malfunction of the headset or just because the operation itself was a bit behind schedule? (Bo Wulf)
SHANE STEICHEN: We were just trying to get it in. I don’t think he heard it completely, and then he knew exactly what we had to get to in that situation.
Q. Is that something that happens very rarely, just sort of often in the course of… (Bo Wulf)
SHANE STEICHEN: It’s rare that happens, but every once in a while in every game you got to be ready to adjust. Like we said, when we go through our preparation week in and week out, we know those calls we want in that situation. That’s due to his preparation. He knew the call we wanted there.
Q. Getting back to the scramble drills, when you go through film study with Jalen Hurts and maybe point out some plays where you thought there were some opportunities early in the year, how receptive was he to some of that criticism? (Dave Zangaro)
SHANE STEICHEN: He’s great. He wants to be coached hard and know the why on everything we do and have the answer for everything, and so he’s been great with all the coaching that we’ve been giving him and it’s continued to show up week in and week out and he continues to get better.
Love where he is at right now.
Q. When you have running backs who have such willingness to fall forward to pick up extra yards, how much does that weigh into your play calling when you do consider an outside run or an up-the-middle run, especially on short yardage plays? (Mike Kaye)
SHANE STEICHEN: Obviously you look at those situations, the different style of backs we have, what they do well, if they’re inside zone runners and how they hit the holes. I think you look at all those situations with all those backs.
I talked about it last week. You guys asked about Boston, and Boston continues to show up. He was tremendous on Sunday. He did exactly what we wanted him to do. He made big plays throughout the game. He had two touchdowns there, the two fourth and goals. He hit it good on the inside zone one and then we hit it on the outside one, so he had a hell of a game.
Q. To follow up on that, especially the fourth downs, when you don’t have success early, the first fourth and two doesn’t work and you still have confidence to do it down at the goal line with a player like RB Boston Scott who has been really effective but he’s a backup player. Is that a philosophy going into the game? Is that a feel in the game with and you Nick Sirianni? How does that work? (John McMullen)
SHANE STEICHEN: Yeah, no question. I think those things are talked about throughout the week. We always talk about that, hey, in this situation, you know, we get down in there, we’re probably going to go for these in this situation. Those are talked about during the week. Obviously, we didn’t get that fourth and two early on the first drive. Obviously, we would like to convert there, but we get down in there, we’re tight on one- or two-yard line, and we have faith and trust in our guys that we’re going to go get it there, and that’s what they did.
Q. Following up on that, in your fourth and goals earlier in the season, I think you had two touchdowns called back from penalties and then the trick play. So, this was the first time you scored on them. First time you called running plays. How much have you guys I guess learned from those plays earlier this season, and did you consider the running plays earlier this season as well or is that the evolution of the offense? (Zach Berman)
SHANE STEICHEN: I think that’s a little bit of both. I think when you go into those situations it’s like, ‘Hey, what is the defense playing on these fourth downs? What are they playing in gotta-have-it situations?’ If it’s a blitz zero situation it’s going to be hard to run the football there, but they showed us some zone coverage there in those looks, and that first one we ran it into Boston and we got what we wanted and we were able to run it in there.
The second one we got up to the line fast and we pitched it out wide and got around the edge, and it was a great play by everyone up front and Boston going to get it.
Q. The second one when Jalen Hurts seemed to have his legs tied up, from a quarterback’s perspective, how difficult is it to get the pitch off in at that situation? (Zach Berman)
SHANE STEICHEN: Yeah, it’s difficult. That just shows how athletic he is. Get a little stepped on right there and he was able to create a perfect pitch right where Boston wanted it as he would if he didn’t get tripped. It was a heck of a play by him.
Q. Just wanted to ask you about WR Greg Ward. I know this summer there was a lot of talk about he was kind of the leader in the wide receiver room because of his experience. His role has been limited, but how has he been behind the scenes? How has he helped this wide receiver room get better this year? (Ed Kracz)
SHANE STEICHEN: You know what? Greg is the ultimate pro. He’s a tremendous leader still in that room, without a doubt. Those guys look up to him, and when his number is called, he has been making plays. He made that big play in the game.
Every day he comes to work as a pro, practices hard, knows what to do, he is reliable. We can always count on Greg, and he’s been tremendous to have on this football team.
Q. It seemed like you guys played a lot of multiple tight end sets early in the game, especially in the first half. 13 and 12 and then a little bit more 11 in the second half. Was the goal there to sort of like body blow the defensive line, be a little bit heavy early on to open things up as the game went on, or is there something else to it? (Bo Wulf)
SHANE STEICHEN: I think as we look at the tape, 13 personnel, what kind of matchups do we have in that situation, what kind of matchups do we have in 11 personnel. We went into that game with a little bit of 13 personnel. We threw it out of 13; we ran it out of 13. Kind of went on the ball a little bit there and got some of the things we wanted, and then we just switched it up in the second half and went a little bit 11 personnel on the ball and did some things there.
A little bit of blend of both, just the stuff we saw on tape and went from there.
Q. We saw Boston Scott catch four balls and make some plays in the receiving game yesterday. You guys haven’t thrown a ton to the backs this year. We saw Boston have some success with it. Miles Sanders here and there. What does that give you and what does it take to make those type of plays work? Adding that dimension to the offense, what does that give you as far as being productive? (Reuben Frank)
SHANE STEICHEN: It’s big. Any time you can throw it to the back the defense has got to be accountable for the back. Obviously when you got run actions and you’re trying to throw the ball down the field and you don’t have it and you’re able to check it down to the back and create explosives like that, that’s huge, too.
And also coming out of the backfield, we hit Boston on that angle route. We had a four vertical game going there and they all sunk out of there and Jalen did a great job accelerating his vision right to the back and creating the explosive play.
So obviously the backs are a big part of what we do. When we get them in the passing game going — obviously the run game has been huge — but when we get them involved in the pass game like we did, it opens a lot of things up for us.
Q. Has Jalen Hurts gotten better at looking that way if his first read is not there? (Reuben Frank)
SHANE STEICHEN: Yes. He’s been tremendous. These last couple weeks he’s been accelerating his vision to the back and getting those guys catches. Been really good to see. That’s a great job by him.