HEAD COACH LOVIE SMITH
"When you have a press conference and it seemed like we talked two hours ago, we have a had a chance to watch the video. Not much is going to change from what I thought during the game. As I said yesterday, when you do have disappointment like that, the good part is you get to play a game sooner than normal. This Thursday game can be a blessing in disguise a little bit. We realize who we are playing. The only undefeated football team in football. You start watching them and you see why. All three phases. Statistics are top of the league. Offensively and defensively, they do a good job of protecting the football, number one, and taking the ball away. A lot of things that lead to wins. Jalen Hurts is just playing outstanding football. It starts a lot of the time with what the quarterback is doing. Running backs, good football player. Fletcher Cox has been one of the best players in the league for a long time, so we realize the challenge we have. Excited about the Battle Red game for us. New helmets, jerseys and different things that the guys will see for the first time."
Did the functions of yesterday's struggles remain the same when you watched film?
"No, I think similar to what I said yesterday, they won the game up front on both sides of the football. That makes it hard for the quarterback to function, for the running game to get going. I feel the same way right now. That's not saying that Davis (Mills) played his best game. Most of us on the football team didn't player our best game, so we have a say in that."
What was the reason behind taking DB Jonathan Owens off the field later in the second half?
"If we take a player out, we feel like he's maybe not doing something we would like for him to do, and we think that we should look at a different option at the time."
Who did you put in to replace DB Jonathan Owens?
"Eric Murray played an outstanding game. He came in. You know some days, we have a baseball team playing, you need to bring in a relief hitter. I think you need to do that in football sometimes too, and that's what we did with Jonathan. He's still our starter and all that, but the move we made yesterday, Eric came in and tackled well."
Are there other ways to find success on offense when the run game is not working?
"No, it's a run and pass game starting off right away. I think running the ball well helps the passing game, but it's not just 'Hey, we've got to run, and run and work.' No, it's a combination of both. It's just that I think most teams are defined by the run or the pass. On normal downs, most teams would like for the run to be a part of that. It's no more than that. We need to be able to get them both going. Yesterday, run or pass, we weren't able to get them going."
Would you like the Texans to take a similar trajectory over the past several seasons as the Eagles?
"We would like to be heading in that direction, absolutely. But I think it is good to look at history a little bit on things that have happened in our league and how things we would all like for it to happen right away. Sometimes it takes a little bit longer, but you stay the course, try and improve. Every time you play a game, you find something different that you didn't know. That's what we're going through right now. I think most of the time I've come up here and talked about how we had a great chance to win in a game. I thought the Titans were in control, even though the score was down, I thought they were definitely the better team yesterday. That was a learning experience in a lot of different ways."
How will you decide if you will continue to start rookies on the defensive line? Do you expect any other changes?
"I think we are still going through that. We're going to play the guys we think give us the best chance. Back to the initial question, if we take someone out, we think that we need to look at someone else. The rookies, that's who we have right now. Those guys had their moments too. When the Maliek Collins, the Mike Dwumfour, some of the guys that normally play, Jonathan Greenard, aren't out there, it's the next guy's time to step up. Sometimes the play is not exactly what we want it to be, but they will get better as they keep playing."
What are the chances of WR Nico Collins and DL Maliek Collins being available for Thursday night?
"It will be harder. If you had a few more days, they'd be in a little bit better position to play maybe. If we look at injuries, we knew when they got hurt, and we knew that this game was coming up. For some of the guys, maybe we kept them out a little bit longer before. Yeah, we'd be happy if there was more time, but we won't put any of the guys out there until they are ready to go. We'll see how it goes. I know the rehab is coming along well."
Did you expect to start eight rookies for a game this year and how do you balance that?
"No. I mean, the reason why some of the rookies were playing was because of injuries. You don't plan on that. If a guy is on the 53- or the 70-man roster, you know there's a chance. The odds say that eventually some of them will play. Maybe I didn't know the number was eight. Maybe not all at the same time, but hey, that's a part of it too. And all these guys that play, we like them, and they're going to be good football players."
With so many rookies playing, how does the developmental aspect come into coaching?
"You asked about the development part last week, and what I said then is that we're not in the development stage. Yeah, we want guys to develop, but what's the best option that we have to win the football game? It's no more than that. If you're playing young guys, they are going to develop and get better each time they play, but don't look any further than that with it."
Is DB Tavierre Thomas trending toward the right direction?
"I think you can look at the pattern we're going on a little bit. Yes, he is. He was able to practice last week. Teagan (Quitoriano) was also able to practice last week, so they're trending in that direction, yes."
How do you keep the moral up?
"That's pretty deep, looking into it that much. We have a season that you play football and you're paid to do that. You do your job then. In the NFL, most things don't last or stay the same. It's kind of simple as that. That's just the part of how the game goes. It's hard to keep the majority of the group intact for long periods of time. We're no different than anybody else. Hopefully guys aren't looking much farther than the Philadelphia Eagles coming in a few days."
How important is it to have multiple good receivers and have you seen a trend in adding receivers?
"It's important to have multiple guys. If you're asking do quarterbacks play better when they have better receivers, yeah, I'd say it's a big part of it. Just looking at Jalen Hurts' development, last year, we saw that development throughout. Have to be patience with quarterbacks a little bit, the ones that have all the things you're looking for. I've just seen him get better and better throughout. He's one of the best quarterbacks in football right now. It's good to see a pattern on how you do things."
As a head coach, how nerve racking is it around the trade deadline?
"Is that what's going on right now? I know the Astros are playing this week. I know for us, on a personal note, Philadelphia is coming into town. When I say that, we talked about getting players when you have a few days. Just think about preparing and game planning together. All of your thoughts immediately went from that game yesterday, started yesterday, trying to prepare the team right now. It's no more than that."
Can you talk about the dynamic between QB Jalen Hurts and RB Miles Sanders? Is there a team who you've played that has a similar dynamic?
"Yeah, I think you can, the Bears. I would say a little bit quarterback-wise, but Jalen Hurts, I would say he's an outstanding passer, outstanding thrower on what we're seeing from him, running game to back that up. I'm talking about the athlete at the quarterback position brings another dimension of them taking off and running the football. A part of why they're one of the best rushing teams is based on what they do running the ball at the quarterback position too. Miles Sanders, just an excellent player. What's his weight? Smaller guy, almost 210, 220-pound guy, good size, can make you miss in the open field, can catch the ball out of the backfield. Whenever you have an athlete like that, they can do multiple things and you put the quarterback into the mix, that's really hard. Why Philadelphia is so hard is what they do passing the football too, with their receivers. We hadn't talked about the former Heisman trophy winner (DeVonta Smith). We haven't talked about A.J. Brown, I think he's there too. You can go down (the list), tight end-wise. Best tight ends in football, especially catching the football. Bring all those things into it, it's a pretty special offense."
How much emphasis do you put on communication when the offense goes to their triple option run?
"The communication, that's a base part of what they do. The key should tell you that, will take you to the ball, what we do. We'll mix up coverages to try to, if we think that they're doing special things like we do always, but you have to have sound defenses that take care of those situations, and you know that they're coming as much as anything. That's the change from a traditional week of more, they're going to run more RPO's than any other team we play. That's what we're getting ready for."
With the trade deadline tomorrow, have you talked with GM Nick Caserio about any last-minute acquisitions?
"Nick (Caserio) and I talk always. Nick and I talk always about it. We're always trying to improve our ball club, yes. We're always talking to improve the ball club, but I'll say there's a lot of things going on. That's no different. I know the trade deadline is coming up, but we're always talking about improving our ball club. We have guys working out weekly. You're always looking for ways to do that."
DB STEVEN NELSON
How are you feeling heading into this Thursday night primetime game?
"It'll be fun. It'll be fun playing them. For me personally, everybody knows I was there last year. I know a lot of guys on that team. It'll be good to play."
What do you think helped propel the Eagles to where they are right now?
"I think it's chemistry. They have all the guys. The core, a lot of core guys. They went out and got A.J. Brown, one of the top wide receivers who is making a lot of big plays. (Jalen) Hurts doing his thing. It's meshed really well."
Why is the Eagles offense difficult to defend in today's game?
"It's a lot of threats. It makes it hard to keep the bottle on it. You've got to defend multiple guys. They give you a lot of different looks."
After seven games, what are you noticing that needs to be fixed for you guys moving forward?
"We've just got to watch film and critique ourselves. Be very critical about some of the mistakes and just try to get better."
What challenges does Eagles QB Jalen Hurts present?
"Tremendous leader. He has the respect of all his guys. Competitor. He can get it done a lot of different ways on the ground and with his arm as well."
Do you think the Eagles have taken on QB Jalen Hurts' identity?
"Most definitely. When I was there, I was just watching him day in and day out. He was always in the gym working out. Going back, it looks like that has always been his makeup. Even in college. Working out."
Can you take us through your interception yesterday?
"We had been getting that look all week. They like to throw the ball over the middle of the field. I just kind of read it, saw where he wanted to go with the ball and made a play."
How would you describe how you and DB Derek Stingley Jr. have worked together so far this year?
"It's been good from a vet and rookie standpoint. I'm just trying to give him pointers and help him out. When I was a rookie, older guys would do the same thing, so it's going really well."
What are some of the things that you've been able to share with rookie DB Derek Stingley Jr.?
"Just situational football. That's one of the biggest things. When the offense is trying to attack and when they are trying to milk the clock, position on the field. Things like that. Just having awareness so you can put yourself in the best position."
What are the challenges of preparing to face a player like Eagles WR A.J. Brown? Have you faced him in the past?
"Yeah, I've played tons of guys. I've played A.J. (Brown) before. He's always an explosive athlete, competitor. He has that dog mentality in him. Tough run after the catch guy as well. It's definitely going to be a challenge."
What's the mentality like in the locker room right now?
"Nobody is trying to hang their heads low. We're just trying to prepare as best we can. We're happy to play in front of our home crowd again, wearing battle red. Excited."
TE O.J. HOWARD
With the quick turnaround what are some of the things you're trying to stress mentally in the locker room?
"Obviously, it's a short week. We just have to go in, watch the film, learn from our mistakes yesterday and just get better as an overall unit offensively, defensively and the whole team. We've just got to get better. I think that's the biggest thing for us is turning the page and learning from our mistakes."
Where do you feel like your mind is after that game?
"Definitely disappointing. I feel like we put in a lot of hard work with the way we practice and the way practices are conducted. I think everybody goes hard. We do a great job everyday of competing hard. We do good-on-good periods where we go against the one defense versus the one offense. We get good work. Yesterday was definitely not our best outing. It's very disappointing for everyone I bet. That's not what we want to do."
Have you had a chance to breakdown the film with position coaches yet?
"Not, as of yet. It's different for this week. Pretty sure we'll do that pretty soon. As of right now, we haven't."
How important is it to have multiple weapons in today's NFL?
"We have a lot of guys, a lot of weapons. It's hard to double team and not leave a guy one-on-one. I bet that's what they get a lot. Really haven't looked at their offense a lot but looking at the weapons, I'm sure they get double teams with probably A.J. Brown, then DeVonta Smith is one-on-one, then you got the running backs and the quarterback can run. They definitely have a lot of weapons, and I think that's good for their offense and probably why they've been so successful this season."
How did having weapons help when you were with the Buccaneers?
"It's probably really the same thing. You've got Mike (Evans), Chris Godwin in one-on-one matchups. We had Gronk (Rob Gronkowski), he's one-on-one. It's just opportunities for everybody with more weapons. Easier to get the one-on-one matchup and easier for the quarterback too."
What's the motivation like for guys heading into a nationally televised game at home?
"I think yesterday is all the motivation we need. That wasn't our best performance as a team. Quick turnaround, that's the best thing about the NFL you get the next game. The hours come earlier than normal. Hopefully we can go out there and put our best foot forward. Like I said, these guys are undefeated, the only team left. What better way for us to go out there and get a win against those guys and turn our season around."
How did you guys try to adapt without the run game yesterday?
"I think it starts with the running game. We want to be physical. We're a running football team. We've got great running backs. I think when you can get that going it allows the passing game to open up. When you can't get it going, that's what hurts the passing game. I think when we establish our dominance in the run game, everything goes and it allows us to open up and we can probably run more three tight end sets and get the pass going a little more. It's starts with the running game at first."
How did you see Pep Hamilton try and work through that in the second half?
"I think we just stuck with our tendencies. We tried to do some script. You come in with a game plan. I think he did the best thing possible for us. You can't just run plays that you haven't practiced. That's what we had practiced, and we stayed on script."
What do think about Thursday night games and how taxing is that on the players' bodies?
"They're tough because of the quick turnaround. If you go out there and play a physical game like our defense yesterday, the running back has 32 carries. They're out there banging for I don't know how many plays they played, but that's a lot. Obviously, we had to go out there and run the ball and be physical. Then like you said it's a quick turnaround. It (Thursday Night Football) probably won't change. It's definitely tough for us players, but it's what we've got to deal with right now. It definitely can be really tough."
DL OGBO OKORONKWO
How is the team handling the quick turnaround?
"We're all trying to get our bodies back. Trying to have a short memory from Sunday and get ready to play to Eagles."
What is the biggest frustration among the defense with how teams are approaching you in the running game?
"It's a copycat league. Teams are going to see what other teams have had success against us and try to imitate those things. I think we just have to go back to practice and just clean a couple things up, get people in the rights spots."
What is it that teams are imitating?
"Not to get too much into the schematics, but we just have to be more physical and tackle better. Football is football."
What have you seen from Eagles QB Jalen Hurts?
"I think Jalen Hurts is a great player, very great player."
Do you know Eagles QB Jalen Hurts well?
"I know him. He's a really good leader. He was at two historically great programs, OU (Oklahoma) and Alabama. I've watched him for a couple years while he was in college and now in the league. It's been cool to watch him grow."
Does the possibility of beating an undefeated team give you more motivation?
"We approach every game the same, but we're all competitors, so of course we get a little bit more juice to beat an undefeated team."
Does it feel repetitively frustrating knowing that the defense knows what the answer is but hasn't gone differently?
"It's definitely frustrating. We just have to get back to work. There's no magic switch that makes it happen. We have to go out there and do the work and we have to do it on gameday."
What did you see from the rookies DL Kurt Hinish and DL Thomas Booker in their first career starts?
"The rookies are doing a really good job. Being a rookie, playing and starting, it can be a really big thing for some people. I think they handled it really well, very maturely."
What things can you point to that gives you faith about where the defense is heading?
"There's been things that we need to fix. I'm not going to call anybody out or any certain thing out. I like to look more at the positives, what are we doing well and maximizing things like that."
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