HEAD COACH LOVIE SMITH
"We knew who we were playing. Some people will argue the best team in football right now in the NFL. I thought our guys played hard from start to finish. We didn't always play smart football, and there are some mistakes we have to eliminate, but I like the way they fought. Offensively. First, offensive line. I thought offensive line did an excellent job. Of course, Dameon Pierce did what he normally does, run hard, an outstanding job. We got the running game going pretty good. The turnovers hurt, simple as that. I like what Phillip Dorsett and Chris Moore did stepping up. Teagan (Quitoriano) getting his first action getting a touchdown. There's a lot of good things for us to like from our offense. Defensively, you know, I think they were four-for-four down in the red zone. Didn't take the ball away enough, but I liked the way our guys fought. Jerry Hughes played the type of game he normally plays. He is going to play hard, and he is a legitimate outside rusher. Again, we did some good things, but it wasn't enough. We wanted to get it to the second half and then see what we could do, and some of those critical plays really hurt us. But I saw improvement in our ball club. That gives us a lot of hope going forward."
Where do things stand with WR Brandin Cooks?
"Brandin (Cooks) will be back in the building tomorrow on the team."
On Wednesday and today, was WR Brandin Cooks' absence excused?
"I told you last week he was excused for personal reasons. Part of the personal reason was some of the things that were going on. I, more as a coaching decision, didn't think that he was ready to play. When you don't practice through the week, I don't think you're ready to play through the game."
How would you evaluate your team's defensive performance containing Eagles QB Jalen Hurts?
"I thought the guys fought hard. Statistically, when I talked about them getting touchdowns in the red zone, I mean, that really hurt. We saw improvement, though. That's an excellent offensive team we just played. And we had a few guys, of course, in the front that are still out, but I thought the guys fought hard. Gave us a chance to win."
Do you expect WR Brandin Cooks to play in the next game?
"(Brandin Cooks) is going to be in the building tomorrow, and everybody that's in the building on a football team. He will be back on the team ready to go tomorrow."
Is WR Brandin Cooks still a team captain?
"You know what, guys, I think we've talked enough about it. Brandin (Cooks) didn't play. All right? I told you he will be back in the building tomorrow. If you want to talk about the game, we can do that. As far as the captain, we have two offensive captains each game. Today LT (Laremy Tunsil) was our captain. I thought he represented the team well."
How pleased are you with TE Teagan Quitoriano's progression?
"Very pleased. We played a lot of rookies, and he was the last one injury-wise that we wanted to see. We've seen some signs of that in practice. But, you know, he can block. That's supposed to be his strong suit. To get his first catch, first touchdown, that was pretty big. But we have four tight ends that we liked, and we were able to use all of them."
How good was it to see RB Dameon Pierce bounce back from the performance that he had last week?
"I can't remember a lot about last week, but what I remember is every time Dameon (Pierce) stepped on the field, same type of effort he gives. He is hard to stop. You know, I wouldn't want to be a defensive back with him having a full head of steam running downhill. You know, when I say just continuing to go, keeping his legs moving, moving the pile. What we want to be, a running football team. Physical running attack. Our tail back kind of says it all in what we would like to be. For that to happen, as I said, offensive line I thought throughout the game I thought we got good push. Of course, we know what Troy Hairston is going to do too. And I think talked about Phillip Dorsett and Chris Moore earlier, but outstanding job by them. In football there are injuries and different reasons why guys don't play. It's always about the next guy stepping up. So, it was good to see those guys have that kind of game."
What changes did you see offensively from last game to this, and where is your confidence in Pep Hamilton as a play caller?
"You know, we're growing each week. But, first off, we talked about starting fast. We haven't really started fast. The first and the fourth quarter we haven't played our best ball. But to get that touchdown right away, I thought that was big for us. Even throughout. You take away those turnovers, and I thought we had a game plan that would allow us to win the football game."
When you looked at the younger players, how important is it for them to be on the field working with the first team unit because they are potentially the long-term future of this organization?
"Well, that but that's secondary. They're on the football field because we think they give us the best chance to win. We start with that. Are they our future? Yes. You really get excited talking about all of the young players that we have that are contributing right now getting better weekly."
Can you talk about the pressure that your defensive line was able to get on QB Jalen Hurts, and also the way your defensive backs played?
"First off, Jalen Hurts, I made a statement this past week. I think he has improved maybe more than every player in the NFL. Outstanding player. He can throw the ball. He is mobile. A big guy to bring down. But led by Jerry (Hughes), I thought they did a good job of keeping him contained for the most part. That was a great play by him on that third-and-long, that last draw that he ran, but great players make those type of plays. But liked a lot of the things we were doing up front and really the front seven."
You're essentially at the midway point of the season. How do you evaluate the defense at this point, especially against the run?
"Well, I think we know what the stats say right now. I look at our last effort. I thought we did a pretty good job against a pretty good offense today, so I see improvement. How do I judge? I kind of judge it based on the last game that we played. That's how I look at our football team. The last game that we played against a very good football team, we had a chance, about as good a chance as any, besides the win that we had. I like the direction that we're going in all phases. That's what I would say about the evaluation of the run defense and everything else. We're trending in the right way now."
QB DAVIS MILLS
At the midpoint of the season, how would you evaluate the offense?
"The record is what it is, but I think we're at a good spot. Came and played arguably the best team in the league right now, and our guys battled. Especially the offensive line played really well up front. Run game was flowing all night long. Passing game, guys were making plays. Obviously the two turnovers, I've got to protect the ball better. Tried to force some plays when I guess they weren't there. Just be smart with it. Puts our defense in a bad spot. But I think we're in a good spot. We're getting better each week. Just got to find a way to get over the hump and finish some games."
Can you talk about seeing RB Dameon Pierce rush for a career high today? How much does his ability open up the playbook for the offense?
"I've been saying it all year. The run game helps a lot with the total offense, helping the pass game and opening up other runs. But Dameon (Pierce), I don't even know if he thought coming into this year how well he would do, but seeing how hard he works, it's not very surprising. He is putting in good game after good game and continues to do it, fights hard for extra yards. A lot of it goes, and he will tell you too, to how well the offensive line is playing. And Troy (Hairston) at fullback opened up some holes. I think it's a full effort, but you can't deny his talent and his will to go out there and put up a bunch of yards every week."
Can you talk about how some of your wide receivers stepped up tonight with WR Brandin Cooks and WR Nico Collins out? And your thoughts on TE Teagan Quitoriano in his first game?
"I think all the guys really stepped up and came to play today. People making plays. Had a really good game plan without those two. Obviously, having them out takes a little bit away of what we are capable of, but really confident in the guys who were able to step up. Really the whole room was ready to go out there and play any position. I felt like we did well. They were getting open. Teagan (Quitoriano), his first career catch, I guess, was a touchdown. That's pretty cool for him. He is a true wide tight end. Helps a lot in the run game and does a lot, surprisingly, in the passing game because he is going to go and separate with his speed, and it catches people off guard how fast he is. It's going to be exciting to see how he develops and keeps getting better each week."
In particular, how did not having WR Brandin Cooks affect the game?"I don't know if it changes too much. I know a lot of defenses, when they see 13 out there, circle him and try to find ways to double him. Maybe that might have worked a little bit to our advantage. But not having (Brandin Cooks) out there, he is a threat on every play. He is going to make a play, but I think the guys who were able to fill his role – the main guy right now, Phillip Dorsett, was able to step into that position and make some plays. And some of those plays, we had scripted for Brandin this past week. When we realized he wasn't going to be in, Phillip was able to take over those roles and go out there and make some plays."
Did you say anything to WR Phillip Dorsett before the game?"I wouldn't say anything in particular. We're all extremely confident in (Phillip Dorsett's) ability, and it's good that he knows he is going to go out there and make plays. I think it puts us in a good spot for the rest of the season that we have a lot of guys in that room who are going to contribute into big roles."
At what point did you know that WR Brandin Cooks wasn't going to be part of the game plan?"Later in the week. Probably similar to you guys. It was a day-by-day thing. I think it's going to be good because we'll have (Brandin Cooks) back starting tomorrow, so it should be good for the rest of the season."
How do you expect having WR Brandin Cooks back will help the offense?"It will be great. (Brandin Cooks) is one of the leaders on this football team. Obviously, his talent and playmaking ability speaks for itself. It's going to be exciting to have him back for the rest of the year."
The team scored 14 points in the first half. What do you think the offense needs to do in order to stay consistent and continue putting points up on the board?"Just go out there, keep straining to sustain drives, limit penalties and limit turnovers. If we do that, I think we can play with anyone."
At the midpoint of the season, how would you evaluate your performance so far?"It's hard to think too much. Obviously, I've got to see the film from this past game, but my goals are just to continue getting better each week, protect the football. Could have been better at that tonight with the turnovers, but continue leading the guys on offense and just go out there, do my job and try to find ways to get the ball on an edge to playmakers."