DEFENSIVE BACK DEVIN McCOURTY
November 13, 2019
Q: Tom Brady mentioned earlier in the week that he still hasn’t gotten over that Super Bowl LII loss to the Eagles. Is this something that still sticks in the back of your mind?
DM: Yeah, I think any time you play in that game – I still remember [Super Bowl] XLVI when we lost to the Giants, still remember when I lost the state championship when I was 12. You don’t forget any time you play for a championship and you don’t win it. It’s just something that sticks with you. You always want plays back; you want to do things differently. It doesn’t control your day-to-day, but you always think about it.
Q: Is this a bigger receiving corps that you’re going to see between Alshon Jeffery, Nelson Agholor, Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert?
DM: I think they use two-tight end sets more than really any football team. The two type of tight ends they have, both those guys are four-seven, four-six guys, they run great routes, they split out wide. Whether you call it 12 with two tight ends, or is it 11 with three receivers, they have that kind of versatility. When you put in [Mack] Hollins and Jeffery, those are two big receivers now. So, it’s definitely a bigger group and I think because of their size and their skill set, they’re able to do a lot of different things from a versatility standpoint that you don’t see from a bunch of teams.
Q: How good is Carson Wentz and what does he do well?
DM: I think he’s really good. I think he’s able to obviously make plays when he has to with his legs and escape in the pocket. I think he has very good pocket presence. He does a good job of looking guys off and delivering the ball where he needs to. So, I think when he’s in there you can see the control, you can see the different “check-with-me” stuff at the line of scrimmage that he’s in control of. I think he’s a very talented young quarterback.
Q: This morning, you guys announced the Social Justice Fund donation. Can you explain how that came about with the players and the contributions that were made?
DM: It was awesome. Way back in the beginning of the season, we met during the preseason, during training camp, and I just explained to guys that there’s a social justice matching fund that any money we raise, Mr. [Robert] Kraft and the ownership would match up to $250,000. Guys were very open and wanted to donate and wanted to make a change. I think it’s a credit also to Mr. Kraft, no matter what we raised he was going to give the full amount that he could. I think to be able to raise money as a team and to give back in the community we play in to show we care, to show we want to help be a part of the change is an awesome feeling. I think we have certain guys that get a lot of the headlines for it, but I think something like this shows that it’s a true team effort. This was every guy in the locker room reaching in their pockets no matter how much saying, “I want to give something to contribute to this.” So, it’s one of the things I’m super proud of to be a part of this team and have a group of guys that say “I want to go make a difference and make a change.” We did polls and everything of different things we wanted to give to so I wanted to make sure it was a true team thing of things we all wanted to give to. Very impactful and great to be a part of.
Q: Statistically, you guys have been great defending the deep ball this season. What are some of the keys for you that go into this?
DM: You have to do it each week. I’m like the one guy – I don’t care how we played against the deep ball because you could play great against the deep ball and then you could play in a game and give up eight of them and lose. So, it always comes down to the fundamentals, technique, understanding the coverage we’re in – is it man, is it zone, who’s the deep guy? Who’s the short guy? It’s everybody knowing their role and doing it on a consistent level. When you talk about deep plays, it doesn’t matter if you do it right 80 percent of the time because that 20 percent – they’re huge gains, they’re touchdowns, they’re 60-yard plays. I think it’s something that we have to continue to be conscious of, to think about who is supposed to be defending the deep part of the field on every play, and if you are, you’ve got to get it done. I think we’ve had a good mentality so far, but we’re going to play a team like this that does a great job of not always just lining up and throwing the ball deep, but creating some type of traffic or some matchup that they like, where it’s not going to always be easy to just have someone deep and control it where we’re going to have to just be prepared and make plays in one-on-one situations.
Q: What did the news of Colin Kaepernick’s workout being scheduled and happening on Saturday mean to you?
DM: I think that’s awesome for him, a guy that’s been fighting to try to get back in the league. I think, from a player standpoint, a lot of guys have watched him play football and truly believe he deserves a shot to be in this league. I think it’s cool to see and I just hope something comes out of it. I hope people show up. I hope he gets consideration for an actual job in the NFL because he played good football when he was out there. When you look across the league, from a talent level standpoint, everybody that watches – we know this guy can play on Sundays. I think for us as players, it’s not as big of a deal. I think for him though, that’s what matters. Because everything he’s given up to stand up for something he believes in, I think it would be awesome to see him get signed and get to play football again.
Q: Does any of your social justice work ever connect or overlap with Kaepernick?
DM: I think from the standpoint of we all probably believe in the same thing. I’ve talked to him a couple of times, but I wouldn’t say we’ve done something together, from that standpoint. But, I support him and what he stands for.
Q: You guys haven’t played in two weeks, you haven’t known the feeling of winning for three weeks. Can you talk about missing the feeling?
DM: Hopefully we can get it Sunday. I haven’t thought about that, as you say that, but obviously you don’t win in a wall. You guys see how much fun we have. Playing football is about winning; that’s what happens at the end of the week. You put in all this work. When you don’t win, it’s not a good feeling, so you want to get back to it and try to win. I think for us, that’s been our goal this week to just continue to try to execute out there in practice, continue to talk, communicate on what we’re going to need to do and realize we’re going in a hostile environment. We’re going to go out there and try to get a win. It probably doesn’t matter how much we miss it; it comes down to what we’re going to do about it and go out there and try to play well and execute.
Q: How long did you hold on to the disappointment of Baltimore before you let it go?
DM: Quick. Holding on to it doesn’t really do much. I’d probably say I was talking about it on Monday after the game, getting my family group chat and my mom, it was probably that night was like, “Hey, you know someone has to win, someone has to lose and tonight you just lost.” And I laughed about it and moved on. It’s about watching the film, breaking the film down and understanding how you need to improve – not harping on all your bad plays or what we could have done better, you know that. It’s about now, how do I change that when it comes back up? I’ve tried not to ever harp on a loss, especially now, 10 years in and you realize if you harp on one loss, then one loss turns into two losses, three losses. You have to move on and try to be a better player the next week so you don’t have to worry about worrying about another loss.
Q: Is that similar to what your mom told you after you lost the state championship when you were 12?
DM: Yeah, I held on to that a little longer though. I wasn’t as mature to understand, but like any other 12-year-old, I thought it was all the coach’s fault. I told him if you had just given me the ball more, we would have won.
Q: How similar does the Eagles offense look to the team you faced in Super Bowl LII? I know different quarterback, different running backs but same receivers, tight end, offensive line. Is there a lot of carry over there?
DM: I think there’s som. I think it’s a very similar offense. [Doug] Pederson’s really an offensive guy, like the OC. He’s still there, they’re still running a lot of similar things. I would say it’s probably very similar. We still have Josh McDaniels here, we still have Tom [Brady] here. Obviously, things are going to change because personnel changes and what they do, but there’s definitely some similarities. Going back and trying to learn from that game to move forward definitely helps you. Obviously, in this league, nothing ever stays exactly the same. But there’s some similarities I think.
Q: How important is it to have versatility on defense when playing against a versatile offense, especially within the tight end room?
DM: I think you just have to know what we want to do as a defense. Like, we could sub in another group, we could – you don’t know. And as much as you kind of want to have that planned out going into the game, sometimes the game dictates what you end up in. You don’t know how the game’s going to kind of turn out, so we could practice all week like, “Hey, we’re going to do this,” and then the game kind of develops and we’re like, “Oh, we don’t like that, let’s do this.” So, I think it’s understanding who’s in the game, what they’re trying to do, and then what we’re trying to do and then mesh all of that together. I mean, it sounds simple, but within that, knowing what they want to do and what we want to do, that’s the tough part about playing in this league.
Q: On top of the tight ends, you have Myles Sanders and Darren Sproles on the field. How do they complicate things?
DM: It creates five-wide. You know, I think that’s the tough thing. Like, you can come out there in 12 [personnel] and if they go empty, you now have five receivers on the field. So, again, it comes down to kind of understanding that, understanding where guys are aligned, how they want to attack us, who’s the threat in what situation. If we can help, where do we want to help? I think understanding, again, what they do and what defense are we in, how can we kind of get the defense exactly how we want it? That’s what’s tough about this league, and I think especially when you have an offense like this with [Doug] Pederson, and how they’re able to game plan and dial things up. They do a really good job of creating things that they want from an offensive standpoint, so we have to be prepared and ready to go defensively to know what they want to do, and then be ready to adjust on some of the things that we just haven’t seen that they’re going to bring up. You know, they had a bye week, so they’ll have some stuff that we haven’t seen that we have to be ready to adjust to.
Q: Was it harder to do that in the Super Bowl because they had re-done their offense with Nick Foles?
DM: Well, we gave up 41 points, so I would say everything they did was a challenge for us defensively. I mean, you give up that many points, you can’t stand up and say it wasn’t a challenge. I think they obviously outplayed us and did a better job, but some of the stuff they did was what we saw on film, but I think that’s anytime. Anytime you have a long gap between a game, like right now – bye week, a Super Bowl game – no offense is going to come out and do the same thing they had done for 17 weeks, nine, 10 weeks. They’re going to do a lot of that, you know, that’s going to be the meat and potatoes, but they’re going to have some different things in there that when they do call them, they don’t want it to gain three yards, four yards – they want those to be big plays. So, I think off of that, that’s why you always have to be ready. And that’s what’s tough about playing defense in this league is you have to be ready to adjust and do things differently than maybe you thought.
Q: How important is that people across the spectrum have a vested interest in the social justice fund?
DM: I think it’s key. You know, I’ve had multiple conversations with Chris Long. I still talk to him all the time of how important he is and was when he was in the league and speaking out against different things. And that’s what I loved about the social justice fund is because now everyone can contribute, but you can kind of contribute how you want, how you best see fit for yourself. We’ve had guys that have stepped up like David Andrews that’s come to a panel discussion to just learn more, and I think that’s always exciting when guys are able to step out on a line and say, “I just want to learn. I want to educate myself. I want to see what it is different people go through that maybe I haven’t been around or experienced.” So, it’s an exciting time across the league because I think guys are more aware of what’s going on, and guys want to make a difference and so many different platforms. Whether it’s some type of charity with a medical situation, or it’s bullying, or it’s domestic violence, or it’s social justice. Guys want to get involved and make difference, and I think it’s great just to see individually a bunch of stories you see throughout the league, but also when teams do things collectively and try to make a change in the communities they’re in.
RUNNING BACK JAMES WHITE
November 13, 2019
Q: How refreshing is it to have the bye week and come back ready to go?
JW: It’s a good little break. Kind of get your mind off of football a little bit. Get refreshed, get a little healthy and come back ready to go. The back stretch of the season – we’ve got some important games coming up, so we’ve got to be ready to go from the start.
Q: Is the Super Bowl LII loss still in the back of your head all of the time?
JW: I mean, I wouldn’t say that it’s in the back of my head all of the time, but it’s obviously something that I remember. It was a good football game. They outplayed us that night, and a lot of the same guys are on the team now, some of the same coaching staff. So, they do some similar things, but obviously they can bring anything to the table. They have two weeks to prepare just like we do, so we’ve got to be ready for anything, but it’s going to be a good football game.
Q: Could that be motivation?
JW: I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s motivation or anything. I think guys are motivated on their own. It’s a new season. Like I said, we have new players; they have new players. It’s a new season, so guys will be motivated regardless of what happened two years ago. It’s going to be a good atmosphere out there. Philly fans are rowdy, so it’ll be a great game.
Q: How can watching Super Bowl LII game film be an advantage for you guys?
JW: I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s going to be an advantage, but it’s something that we can look at. Like I said, they have some similar players from when we played them a few years ago. Just look at it a little bit, but you have to watch the tape from this year. They have some new guys out there playing. They’re a good football team. It’s going to be a great challenge for us.
Q: How much do you want to set the tone for this stretch of the next four games, especially coming off of a loss?
JW: For us, we’re focused on the Eagles for this week. Like I said, it’s going to be a tough challenge for us, tough environment. It’d be good for us to get off to a better start than we did a few weeks ago versus the Ravens. So, it’ll be a great challenge for us to get out there, start fast, and just keep your foot on the gas for four quarters because they’re the type of team that they jump out on you, and then it’s hard to come back from it.
Q: What did you do during the bye week?
JW: I just sat at home with my wife and my son, didn’t really do too much. Kind of just stayed inside and relaxed.
Q: How similar does the Eagles defense look?
JW: It’s pretty similar. Obviously, they have some of the same defensive linemen, who are very disruptive, and some of the same guys in the secondary. But, those defensive linemen, they make big plays in the game, create a lot of negative plays and you can’t really let those guys get going because it’ll be a long day for you.
Q: Darren Sproles has been one of the best receiving backs in the league for a long time. Did you study him at a young age?
JW: Definitely admired a guy like that – kind of my same stature, not the biggest guy, not the tallest guy, but a guy that can do whatever the coaches need him to do. I mean, he’s had a lot of success in this league. He’s been an every down back, he’s returned punts, kicks and pretty much done it all. So, for me, myself, I definitely watched him a lot. Then my rookie year, we practiced against the Eagles when he was there, so I got to talk to him a little bit there. So, it’s been cool to see, and I mean, it’s like his 15th year – to still be doing it as such a high level is pretty cool.
Q: Is there anything you could share from those conversations?
JW: It’s just a simple, like, “I admire what you do. It’s my first year, learning a lot of stuff.” So, I’ll definitely be watching him.
Q: The Eagles got some guys back in the secondary over the past couple weeks. How much better did their pass defense look against the Bills and the Bears?
JW: I mean, they played the Bears extremely, extremely tough. I know they didn’t have many yards at halftime. It was a struggle for them. I mean, they have a good defense as a whole, not just their secondary. They have guys that make plays, and they’re going to take advantage of your mistakes. So, like I said, it’ll be a great challenge for us. I mean, they don’t do anything that’s going to over-complicate you, but what they do, they do it very well. So, we’re going to have to have our best effort out there.