OC Mornhinweg Talks Kolb, RBs, O-Line and More
By Lance Epstein
An area that is a major concern for the Eagles offense heading into the season opener on Sunday against the Green Bay Packers is their offensive line. Training camp and the preseason was supposed to be the time that the unit gelled and became familiar with one another.
On Thursday, offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg acknowledged that he has to get his offensive line up to speed. Especially since only his starting tackles took a significant amount of snaps in the preseason and training camp.
It is not just about getting the unit to mesh with each other, but working center Jamaal Jackson back into the starting lineup after his torn ACL. Mornhinweg said that fans might see backup center Mike McGlynn take a couple series at center as the Eagles gradually work Jackson back form his torn ACL.
Besides the offensive line, Mornhinweg discussed the Packers defense (particularly cornerback Charles Woodson), his running back’s pass protection and his young quarterback Kevin Kolb.
Here are his press conference quotes:
"We have a great challenge ahead of us here, Sunday, with the Green Bay Packers; excellent defense. They cover well, they rush well, they play the run well. As you know, they were first in the league in creating turnovers with 40. So they do an awful lot of things very well and we're right in the middle of our hard work and our preparation. So we're looking forward to Sunday."
On getting the offensive line up to speed:
"Well, I think that's the key. They've played a lot of winning snaps together and now they're standing, so we'll keep a close eye on that. Other than that, they're very good in their preparation and they're putting their hard work in with their recent past history and then this week. I would expect them to play at a high level."
On what offensive line does well:
"I think this group has an opportunity to be one of the very best lines, as a group, in this league. I know that's certainly one of their goals and they've got to play well together as a unit. Everybody is getting a little bit of extra work in this first week and so that o-line is getting quite a bit of extra work in just because of the number of plays together haven't been very high."
On G Reggie Wells, his adjustment and the toughest part coming into this system:
"If he hasn't been – the terminology – the terminology will be first and foremost and most veterans will pick that up very quickly and then it becomes the calls. Are they similar or are they quite different, so he's got to learn that. Then the techniques. Some techniques are just a little bit different from team to team. Then the reps, reps, reps. (Offensive line coach) Juan Castillo is working diligently with him on all of those."
On G/C Mike McGlynn ready to give the team a series here or there at center:
"Absolutely. We got Mike McGlynn. He played well in the preseason, so that's a good thing."
On giving McGlynn a series at center:
"We'll see what happens with (C) Jamaal Jackson. I do believe that Jamaal is in excellent physical condition. Maybe the best that he's been in, however, there are different kinds of physical condition in football. Our strength men, coaches and our trainers have just done an outstanding job with all of our players, including Jamaal."
On did he ever expect a player like Jackson starting eight months and 10 days after ACL surgery:
"No, Jerry Rice started three months and something days, you know. He started the same year."
On if Rice’s was return was after ACL surgery:
"Oh yeah. He cracked his kneecap and he came back three months and something. Started against Denver. I believe it was a Monday night. Caught a touchdown pass. Some guys are built differently. Many of the guys in this game are built to play this game. Some guys get over these injuries very, very quickly. Unbelievable. Doctors, and then our training staff is just terrific, as you know. It's not surprising; it's a credit to him the way he's building all the hard work that he put in. You know going through an ACL now? That is some hard, hard, hard work. It's a credit to him."
On G/T Todd Herremans playing every snap:
"Yeah, absolutely. We play our best five right there. Play your best five until there's some possibilities there. Play our best five. And, again, I think he's in great, top physical condition there."
On QB Aaron Rodger saying defensive coordinators threw things he never saw before when he started for the first time and QB Kevin Kolb not being able to be fully prepared for that:
"Well that's true. We do some of that most every practice leading up to a regular season game. That quarterback position, there are just so many things that happen. It happens very, very quickly and he will run into during this season and things that he just hasn't seen. He will react to it. The quicker you react, the better you're off. If there's a mistake made, he'll learn from it and be better the next time. He's already done that in his very short career."
On how he (offensive coordinator) can simplify things for Kolb:
"Well, the simplifying I don't think is the key. I think that his thought process is the key. He's been here for three years. He's had a couple of starts and, so, I think he'll be fine there."
On guys stepping up:
"Well, that's the point you made there is valid. Any first-time starter or young starter for the first time at quarterback, typically when you see these men having success, they've got an excellent defense, an excellent special teams, he's got players around him. I think Kevin's got a pretty good crew around him, so I think there's a real good chance for him to have some success there."
On RBs LeSean McCoy and Mike Bell and pass blocking:
"Well, McCoy, it's 180 degrees different from last year. He was still in the learning process. He feels very comfortable there, he's a physical guy. (Running backs) coach Ted Williams has done an excellent job with his technique and his fundamentals there on the pass protection. Bell is a physical guy and he'll do a good job there, as well."
On CB Charles Woodson and how the Packers utilize him in their defense:
"Well, not to get too specific, but he's an excellent cover man. He also will play inside on the nickel and will be involved in the run game. He's a physical man that can hold up to the run and he's an excellent, excellent cover man. It's not very often, but occasionally they'll lock him up on somebody. Otherwise, he'll play on the right side and then their left side and then he'll be inside in nickel. That's normally in some cases, where you put your best cover man inside there on nickel. He holds up in the run real well, too. He's an excellent player; high level. Consistent as well."
On not having to rebuild in the NFL today with just rookies:
"I'll tell you what, it has changed and the free agency changed it. It's been a couple years ago, so you may want to check me on this, but geez, I think the average was 40 percent of your team is changing per year. There's so much change. If a player is the best player at that position, you need to play him. Even if it's at the point where, you know, he may not be as good right now, but in three weeks, or six weeks – if you could project that just a little bit he's going to be better, then you play him in today's climate. So that's why you see so many more young players playing very quickly. It's important nowadays that rookies play and play at a high level. Those individual position coaches are key to getting them prepared both mentally and physically."
On the tight end position become a key cog in offenses today:
"Well, that's a pretty broad question. I think there have been some great, great tight ends in the history of the game. You're saying there are more now?"
On tight ends being utilized more on offense:
"Well, the game has changed just a little bit. The passing game has expanded, there are a lot of empties. Then you end up getting a decent matchup with the tight end, possibly on the linebacker or safety. Some of these teams are using more of a receiver-type man at the tight end spot rather than blockers. That will be the first thing in the front of my mind."
On gameplan being influenced on opponents’ injuries:
"The good thing is when you have the preseason tape. These guys are excellent cover guys and then they're going to play. However, it does influence your gameplan, absolutely. The most important thing is what we do; our execution and our assignments. The second thing is we're going to study our opponent and then knowing how he's going to react to what we're doing. Both individually and as a unit…as an offensive unit. So there's double preparation. One with yourself and your own team. That's most important. The next phase of your preparation is knowing your opponent inside and out. Both are important, the first one is more important."