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Game Vs. Steelers: Eagles Defense

Posted Sep 25, 2016

Eagles DT Fletcher Cox

On the pressure on Ben Roethlisberger:
“It’s a compliment. We know Coach Schwartz is not going to blitz. We know he likes to rush up. We have to have four, really eight guys that are ready to rush. I think we did a great job of getting to the quarterback. He made some plays, which we knew they would make some plays. We knew he would move around the pocket and throw the ball which he did. It was just a matter of time before we started hitting him.”

On what it means for the defense to not allow any touchdowns:
“We still can be better. We can grow. We’re not comfortable. That’s what I think about this team. Nobody is comfortable or patting themselves on the back. We know we can be better. We just have to take this bye week, take a little time off to come back and get ready for Detroit.”

On if he wants the bye week:
“I don’t control it but we’re all coming from training camp and it’s good and bad at the same time. We know the guys will be smart during the bye week and take care of their bodies and get ready to come back.”

On whether he thought the defense would be this effective:
“It’s really just our mentality to get them off offsense keep them out of the end zone.”

On if the aggressive defense fits the personnel:
“There are a bunch of new faces on this defense. I think the guys are doing a really good job of playing together and communicating with each other. Everybody is on the same page which makes a great defense.”

On how he doesn’t get too excited after this type of win:
“We will go and watch the film tomorrow. I’m sure there were a lot of mistakes including myself to correct. Everybody stays focused.”

Eagles DE Connor Barwin

On the Eagles’ 3-0 start to the season:
“We understand that it’s only three games, we have 13 weeks left, but it’s definitely the way you want to go into the bye week.”

On whether he knew the defense would have this much success coming into the season:
“To be honest with you, I really didn’t know.  I thought we were talented.  I really felt that we had a good team, a good group of guys that all liked playing with each other but all through summer and OTA’s, you don’t really know until you go out there and play.  So far we’ve been playing together as a team, we’ve been pretty disciplined, played smart and played hard.”

On the secondary’s improvement over the last three weeks:
“They’re real good back there, they did a good job they made [Steelers QB] Ben [Roethlisberger] hold the ball.  That’s one of, if not the best receiving group in the league, [they are] definitely up there with anybody so they had a huge challenge today and stepped up and played great on the back end.”

Eagles DE Brandom Graham

On dominating one of the best teams in the NFL:
“For us, I was just happy we stayed together, we played together, and the outcome was good. Hats off to Pittsburgh because we did a lot of planning for them. We respect them a lot. I am just happy. This is my first time ever beating them like this because every game has been close, other games have been preseason, and we ended up losing one game by a field goal. I am just happy to get this win and I am happy in the style we did it.”

On if this team is for real and making a statement after beating Pittsburgh:
“It was a start. It is early on. Everybody is still getting acclimated with the system. But I am just happy we stayed together as a team…We try and make big plays in the red zone and we came out with a win today.”

On so many guys contributing to Jim Schwartz’s system to stop an offense:
“It is a good thing because when you rotate, you do not want to drop off. The backups are just as good as the one guys. When you have a good rotation, that means you have a good bench. You don’t want it to drop off. Then it carries on later down the season when you are fresh. Offensive linemen stay in most of the time and never get a break, so for us, we need to make sure we stay fresh.”

On switching spots with Fletcher Cox and rushing from the inside:
“It just gives them different looks and stuff that they have to worry about because the guards inside usually can’t move from side to side. They can’t change directions real good, so I feel like that is a good match up for me sometimes. The center kept coming down on me so I just stayed outside most of the game.”

On Ben Roethlisberger trying to find escape routes and not being able to get there:
“From film study, we know what he likes to do. He likes to step up and extend plays. He likes to stay back there a little bit and find open guys. His eyes are always down field and we have to be relentless and stay after him and stop 84.”

Eagles LB Jordan Hicks

On feeling sorry that the bye week is now:
“Yeah, I mean we are rolling and it feels good. It was a great win tonight. Our team is excited, and we are going in the right direction.”

On Defensive Coordinator Jim Schwartz alternating guys:
“Everybody contributes and everybody has a hand in this win. It does a lot when you have that type of depth. Guys get a rest and feel better going into a big-time situation. We are constantly rotating and constantly learning. Like I said, we have things to improve upon, but everybody has a hand in this win.”    

On what has surprised him about Jim Schwartz:
“I don’t know. He is who is, and he doesn’t really have any surprises. He is the same person with you guys as he is with us, and I think that is what makes him so great is that you know exactly what you are getting and he holds you to an extremely high standard.”  

On whether or not Pittsburgh was getting frustrated with what the Eagles were doing defensively:
“Absolutely. We made them one dimensional. They couldn’t run the ball. They had to throw the ball down field. Our defensive backs were doing a great job; we were doing a great job in underneath coverage. We made them one dimensional, and when that happens, our defensive line eats. Our defensive line just goes and goes, and it is tough to stop.”

Eagles CB Nolan Carroll

On what made the defense come together and click today:  
“We were in the mindset early on. It wasn’t during camp when we started, it was right when OTAs started. Right when we got back the first day. [Defensive Coordinator Jim Schwartz] was like, ‘This is how we’re going to do it. And I’m going to give you the tools that you need, but you guys need to own this defense. You guys need to take this over.’ And I think that’s what we did.”   

On how the defense is feeling after three blowout wins:  
“I still think we have a lot of room to grow. We can’t get too far ahead of ourselves. It’s three games, but I feel like every single week we keep improving, keep fixing our mistakes. Regarding the feeling, it’s just we really play with a different type of attitude.  I think we need to continue to do that every single week and just focus on one game at a time and it’s going to help us down the road.”

On the aggressiveness Schwartz’s defensive scheme:  
“He’s very aggressive. You’ve seen it on the field every single week. When we come in on Mondays and watch film, we can see it. I’ve seen it. The coaches see it. And he tells us when things aren’t up to par. He doesn’t let anything slide by. He does a good job of putting the responsibility on us to get it done.”

On whether he could sense the frustration of Pittsburgh’s offense on the field:  
“A little bit. It wasn’t until around the third quarter, towards the end of the third quarter, when we could kind of tell that they were getting frustrated. They’re bread and butter stuff wasn’t working. They couldn’t run the ball. We knew that. Our run defense is pretty good, so we knew that all we needed to do is stop the pass and really try to suffocate Big [QB] Ben [Roethlisberger] and not let him really throw the ball down the field and I think we did a good job of that.”

Eagles CB Ron Brooks

On the secondary’s surprising high-level of communication, especially with a lot of new faces:
“Yeah, [CB] Jalen [Mills] is the youngest. With the exception of Jalen, everybody else is pretty much a veteran or an older guy, so I think it is just our leadership that we have in our room, again, on our defense and on our team.”

On rarity of a new group coming together so quickly:
“I can’t speak for anyone else or on anything else that happened before [this season], but we are just playing ball, having fun, and kicking ass while doing it.”

On whether or not he thinks the Eagles are winning people over with this win:
“I am not worried about what people think, or how they feel about my team. My team isn’t worried about how people feel about us or how they look at us. We go out and we prepare each and every day to come out here and try to win big just like we did today. We did a great job of going out there and executing today all the way from the defensive line, to the linebackers, to the secondary, to the offensive line, to the running backs to the quarterback. Everybody is playing good ball right now. We just have to do a good job of continuing that.”      

On whether or not he felt their pressure in the third quarter frustrated Pittsburgh’s offense:
“Anytime you put pressure on your opponent, it makes things hard for them. You have to see how they are going to react. The things they were trying to do, sometimes they worked and sometimes they didn’t. We really wanted to come out and set the tone for the second half, because we were not just going to relax because we were up. It was a new half and we were going to finish faster than we started.”

Eagles CB Jalen Mills

On what he said to Steelers WR Antonio Brown after the game:  
“Where was he drafted? In the fourth round? Or in the later rounds? And now just his work ethic and what he’s become now – if not the best, one of the best receivers in the NFL and telling him ‘Thank you for the game, for the experience and really just showing me now what I can improve on.’ Because it is a learning experience throughout the game and even after the game watching the film. I feel like it’s best that I was able to line up against him and this early in the season, for sure.”  

On whether covering Brown was a good lesson for him:  
“Sure. He definitely came up to me and told me that I was battling him. I was competing against him and he did like that I didn’t back down from him even though I am a rookie. But for sure, I have a lot of respect for him and he told me he has respect for me, too, and just keep grinding and stay focused and stay healthy.”

Eagles S Malcolm Jenkins

On what he learned today about the defense:
“The biggest thing is that we’ve got a really good front four and a lot of guys that love to compete on the back end, a lot of hungry guys with a chip on their shoulder that aren’t afraid to take on a challenge.”

On the team’s progression:
“Just focus on the things that you can handle [and] taking it day-by-day. It would be offense, defense, special teams sticking to the formula of just working day in and day out and cutting it lose on Sundays. Obviously, we have had a lot of success but it’s not by chance. Our offense has done a great job of taking care of the football [and] not turning the ball over. Defense has been getting big stops whenever we get the opportunity. Getting pressure on the quarterback; doing a great job stopping the run. And as a team we just are staying patient in these games and as soon as our opponents make mistakes we pile it on. Just a patient team.”

Whether this start to the season is going better then he thought it would:
“I mean it’s going how you would want it to go. We work hard to win. You know, no you’re not going into it thinking you’re going to win every game, all 16. But every game you step into, you step in to win. We knew that this was going to be a tough game against a quality opponent. The Pittsburgh Steelers are a physical team. They know how to win. They have a great quarterback, great offense, [and] solid defense that gets after you. So we knew we were going to have to show up and this was going to be a test of where we are right now and I think guys answered the bell.”

If he expected this defense from Jim Schwartz:
“Yeah, I mean it starts up front and as soon as those guys can take over a game it changes the dynamic of it. We saw early, when Ben [Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger] was able to get out of the pocket and extend the play they had some success and moved the ball a little bit. But once our D-line started to kind of close him in that pocket, get pressure on him, get hits and sacks, we started getting big stops [and] getting them into third and longs where the situation becomes a little more advantageous for us. And then the next thing you know, we’ve got guys in coverage being able to make plays on the ball. So it starts up front and they have been playing really well.

On the importance of the fourth and five play:
“I mean, it was huge. Fourth and five in the plus territory, that’s a big gamble. One that, if they convert that they’ll probably at least get a field goal. But from a momentum standpoint, to stop them right there and they came up with no points was big. So if they’re going to gamble, we’ve got to make sure we make them pay for it.”

Whether he watches Wentz and the offense more because of their success:
“Yeah, I watch them all the time. I mean, it’s impressive what he’s doing man. I think everybody’s waiting to see him fall off or see the bad decisions or see the rookie mistakes. But so far they haven’t come and it’s been a key reason why we are 3-0.”

If “everybody” in previous answer means outside or inside the team:
“I mean inside, everybody in this team has been a rookie at some point and we know that there are things you haven’t seen as a rookie and you make mistakes. But we haven’t seen them.

On whether he can even believe what he’s seeing from Wentz:
“No, I mean what he’s doing is great. It’s just amazing. It’s something that I think he will downplay but there is no doubt about it; what he’s doing is special.

On Eagles defense slowing down the Steelers offense after the 1st quarter:
“We knew they were going to make plays.  This is an explosive offense.  They got a couple of plays down the field and they earned a few.  We wanted to make sure they tried to drive it down the field over and over and not give up the easy big play, and we got some big stops in the red zone to keep them off of the board.  Then after a while, I think our defensive line started to wear them down and started getting more pressure.  We sat back in zones to make sure that he didn’t have any quick reads and couldn’t get anything over the top.  I think we had a good game plan going into it.  I thought our guys executed on every level whether it was the D-line to the linebackers and secondary.  Pretty much every level had a big game.”

On Defensive Coordinator Jim Schwartz:
“His big thing was, he knew he was going to have to adjust at some point in the game.  And early on, they were having some success.  [Steeler WR] Antonio Brown was getting some targets and [Steelers QB] Ben [Roethlisberger] was extending the plays.  If you pressure him, it makes it easy for Ben to carve you up.  If you sit back in zone he has more time to buy time so we kind of had to adjust.  The biggest thing was staying in front of the curve and staying in front of the next adjustment.  I thought as the game went on we adjusted and tweaked some things, and disguised some things, and it really put us in a position to have some success.”

On Jim Schwartz giving compliments to the players:
“Oh yeah.  I mean Jim’s not as big of a jerk as people think.  Game day he’s actually calm and fun.  It’s during the week he gets on his antics”

On QB Carson Wentz continuing to not make mistakes:
“We’ll win a lot of games.”

On making the Steelers offense frustrated:
“Offenses want to move the ball and want big plays and want to put the momentum on their side and get you on your heels.  I think our patience and the ability to keep the ball in front of us, to make stops when we needed them… it forces an offense to be patient and take what you get.  We kind of dictate the tempo then.  As the game went on and you just continue to keep swinging and keep coming at them it’s frustrating [for them].”

On if being 3-0 puts a target on their back:
“We kind of enjoy flying under the radar, but I think obviously a win like this against a team like the Steelers will open some eyes around the league.  For us, nothing is different.  We’ll keep our preparation the same, stick our heads down and focus on the work day to day, and understand what has gotten us to 3-0.”

On feeling disappointed bye week is coming up:
“No, not at all.  I’m going to enjoy bye week.  I think it’s at a good spot.  We had a really tough training camp.  Even the first three weeks of the season and practices being pretty tough, and that Monday night game coming back on a short week.  I think we need the rest right now.  Obviously we have a long way to go after the bye week.  I think it’s fallen at a good spot.”

Eagles S Rodney McLeod

On the team’s mindset going into the bye 3-0:
“We came out victorious, but it doesn’t end here. We’ll go back and watch film because we still have a lot of work to do. Detroit is another talented offense after the bye week, so we’ll be prepared.”

On the defense staying consistent through all four quarters:
“It’s a bend but don’t crack mentality around here. They might get down into the red zone, but we’re going to fight to the end. As you saw, they got down there during the first series but our special teams got a big field goal block to keep those points off the board. We just carried the momentum. The offense carried the defense and the defense carried the offense. We were able to get the win.”

On what went right tonight for the defense:
“It was just guys being locked in. Keeping guys in front for the most part. You know [Steelers WR] Antonio Brown is going to catch passes, but we kept saying ‘next play, next play’. Guys did their job. [Eagles CB] Jalen Mills had a big task on his hands all day, and the guys all held up. We bent but didn’t break. I’m proud of the guys and how they handled this game, and I’m looking forward to the rest of the season.”

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