On the offensive line stemming off sacks lately: "Yeah, there's been a lot of - I don't know if turmoil is the word, but there's obviously been a change in personnel at a lot of spots. [G] Evan [Mathis] went down in the first game and then [G/T] Allen [Barbre] went down, and then we started mixing and matching, then J.P. [T Jason Peters] got thrown out of the game. [G/T] Todd [Herremans] has played guard, [T/G Andrew] Gardner has played tackle, but I think those group of guys that have all had an opportunity to play have really done a nice job when they were in there. I think part of it is how we train and give those guys a lot of reps in the preseason, hoping that we're developing depth from that standpoint, and then I think when those guys got an opportunity to get in there, whether it be Gardner or [G/T Matt] Tobin or [C David] Molk or whoever has really stepped in - and [G/T] Dennis Kelly - have done a really good job when they were in there. The biggest thing is just the continuity is always an issue. If it's a new guy next to you, how in tune are you to each other's calls and making sure that you're making the right decisions. How many times have you gotten reps at it in practice. But for those guys, I think it's really a credit to them that they've been able to do, on a consistent basis I really think, a pretty good job up front."
On offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland's role in unifying the makeshift offensive line: "I think it should go for any coach, any position coach. I think you kind of see that kind of show itself through in terms of who you are, whether it's Stout with the O line, or Azz [assistant head coach/defensive line coach Jerry Azzinaro] with the D line or the play of [LB] DeMeco [Ryans] and [LB] Mychal [Kendricks] and those guys with [inside linebacker coach] Rick Minter. I think when we put this staff together, we wanted to get a bunch of really good teachers, and I think that's what all those guys are, but I think Stout is integral in terms of what we're doing up front."
On defensive coordinator Bill Davis and what he does behind the scenes: "I think he's very thorough. I think I've said since we hired him, he's really intelligent. He's got a great grasp of defensive football. I think he's been in multiple coaching situations where he's coached different types of football, too, and I think he's not always just this where he's labeled as a 3 4 guy or whatever. I think he's been in systems where he's coached a 3 4, he's coordinated a 3 4, he's also coached in 4 3 defenses. I think he can coach the secondary, he can coach the D line, he can coach the linebackers. He's got a really, really good background in terms of he's diversified on the defensive side of the ball, and he's a real good communicator, and I think he does a really good job with our players."
On whether his decision to shorten practices was based on player feeback: "No, we've always done that. As the season goes along, we kind of start off when we're on the field a little bit longer from a developmental standpoint, and as we move, we adjust it. Sometimes we do it on a weekly basis if we've got - looking at our feedback from a science standpoint that we need to back off a little bit, and that's always been part of it, no matter where I've been, we've adjusted our practice schedules."
On what he saw from the red zone offense while self-scouting during the bye week: "We're not getting the ball in the end zone, to be. Really. We've got some open receivers and we've got to put the ball on them. We've got a couple drops when we've been in the end zone. It wasn't one thing. You know, it's a lot of different things, you know, and then sometimes you get a zone popped on you when you were hoping it was man. So we've got to do a better job play calling, we've got to do a better job of putting the ball on people, and we've got to do a better job catching it from a receiver standpoint, and I think it's a combination of everything. There was a lot of different little teeny things that we need to continue to work on in terms of how people are approaching us down there and how we're approaching it down there."
On whether teams that thrive in open space have a hard time producing in a condensed field, like the red zone: "No, because I think the field is the same for everybody. So if you don't thrive in space, when you get inside the 20 you're not going to thrive inside the 20, either. I think the field just shortens for everybody. It's a lot less area to cover. You don't have to be you don't have to worry about getting the ball thrown over your head so you're going to see a lot more press and man [coverage] -- people in your face -- just because, 'You can't beat me deep because the ball is on the 2. How far are you going to beat me deep?' I think it just tightens up there for everybody."
On defensive end Fletcher Cox: "I think Fletcher has done an outstanding job. I think he's really caused a lot of problems for people in the run game, been a real force, and he's been a force in the passing game. I think people get caught up too much in the sack numbers. It's not the end all, tell all that that person is a great pass rusher. I think how disruptive he can be -- maybe he's eliciting a double team and freeing somebody up so somebody else gets a free rush at the quarterback and ends up getting the sack. That guy gets, quote unquote, the headlines, but Fletcher was the one who freed him up. I think on a consistent basis, in every single game, he's really, really stood out to us as a defensive lineman. I think he's having an outstanding year."
On the Cardinals' ability to get to their defensive plans despite the Eagles' up-tempo offense last year: "Yeah, Todd [Cardinals defensive coordinator Todd Bowles] does a really good job. They get in and out of everything. I don't think anything we did affected in terms of them, and they showed a lot of different looks, a lot of multiple looks, and did a real good job in defending us last year."
On how much he looks at previous games against similar opponents: "No, we had the question the other day. Any time we play a team that has the same staff from a year before, we look at it. So when we played the Giants, a week ago or a week and a half ago, whenever we played them, we looked at both the games we played against them because Perry [Fewell] was still the defensive coordinator. Whenever we play anybody in the following year, we're going to look at the game from the year before. So we look at all the games they played this year and certainly our game against them last year. So it's just from an analyzing standpoint. But we're not going back and waxing nostalgic over plays we made or didn't make in terms of it. It's just cut and dry, hard and fast of what are we getting in 3rd and 3-to-6, what are we getting in 3rd and 7-to-10, what are they doing in the red zone? Just putting that together with what they do this year and kind of seeing are there any differences, are there any wrinkles, is it personnel driven, because some of the personnel that played against us last year isn't the same personnel this year? Just trying to figure out how they're going to approach us."
On the Cardinals' defense against the Eagles down the stretch at the end of last year's game: "Yeah, we were just trying to work the clock a little bit more, so we were running the ball, and I think everybody in the stadium knew we were running the ball. So they went to some zero-blitz stuff and kind of crowded the line of scrimmage. But you're still working the clock. If you throw the ball in those situations and it's incomplete, you stop the clock. You're in that bleed the clock - you're obviously trying to get first downs to stay on the field, but there's kind of a risk-reward situation if you say, 'All right, now let's just throw the ball over the top.' They are forcing you to throw it over the top, if it's an incomplete pass it stops the clock, also."
On the pros and cons of running the ball from the shotgun versus under center: "I think there's benefits to both. So there's pros and cons to both of them. It's just there's a lot of different paths and angles that you can get in both. So I don't like one over the other."
On running back Chris Polk being able to adapt to fewer touches and a role on special teams instead of offense: "I think it's prototypical of a lot of guys in the NFL. [WR] Brad Smith was, I think, the all time leading quarterback in NCAA history in terms of all purpose yards, and then when you get to the NFL, what role are you going to play? Do you want to stay in the NFL and give yourself an opportunity? I coached a back at New Hampshire, Jerry Azumah, who was the all time leading rusher in I-AA history, and got drafted and played defensive back for seven or eight years in the NFL. I think it's, 'Do you want to play in the NFL or do you want to be a running back?' If you want to be a running back you can go in the arena league or some other league, but I think it just tells you that they're versatile athletes, that they're really good football players, and that they find a role to make a team in the National Football League and actually contribute, and I think that's what Chris does. Chris has been a really good special teams player for us. [TE] James Casey is another example. I think James had 100 catches in one reason when he was at Rice, but now he's obviously not catching 100 balls a year in the NFL, but they're contributing. It's just kind of [about] how do you make a team and how do you stick? Some of those guys can make outstanding careers for themselves. Sean Morey, who was here, played 11 years in the NFL and I don't know if he had more than 25 catches, but he was the all time leading receiver at Brown University. But his niche in the National Football League was as a special teams player."
On linebacker Mychal Kendricks: "Mychal has been running around. Kind of watching him get acclimated back into drills and get into the team settings and how does he fit in in terms of what we're going to do as we move forward? But we've still got three more training sessions to kind of figure out how much he can contribute or can he contribute."
On Kendricks, running back Darren Sproles being limited: "Whatever the trainers tell us they can do, we can do."
On the red zone offense being a priority moving forward: "No, I think everything is a priority. So I don't think we go in and say, 'Hey, let's get real good in the red zone, but then we never get to the red zone. We didn't do a real good job upfield.' So I think there are areas on the offensive side of the ball where we need to improve on everything: third down percentage, first and second down, so we're in better and more manageable third-down situations. You're out of many third-and-longs if you do a better job on first and second down. We analyze everything -- spend a lot more time in the off-week doing it -- but in terms of, 'How do we improve and how do we get better?' we've left a lot of yards out on the field that we need to convert into points."