When you scored the touchdown to go ahead, did you feel like they had more than enough time on the clock to go down there on the other side of the field and score?
“No, I mean I thought our defense did a really good job in the second half, and the kickoff obviously hurt, giving them a start to get over the 50, and that it made it a short field. You were just trying to get 15, 20 yards to put yourself into field goal range. I thought after we scored, if we could pin them down deep and then get a start, I thought we had a shot at it.”
Were you able to tell what happened on that kickoff return at the end?
“I know it bounced out to their sideline so I couldn't exactly tell you, but we didn't get enough depth on it. We didn't hit the ball very well on kickoffs all day. The ball obviously in this weather wasn't really traveling very far.”
What do you say to your team after a loss like this that ends this season?
“I just told them I was proud of them, and for us being together for such a short amount of time, how they acted and how they came to work every single day, as a staff how much we appreciated them, how they made this from a work environment standpoint, a really special feeling every single day when you go to the Novacare Complex and just thanked them for that.”
Why did take so long to get DeSean Jackson going?
“Yeah, we had some things called early, and their rush got to us a little bit, took a couple sacks. It was one of those deals. We tried the first couple of plays at the beginning of the second half were trying to get the ball to him, but we took sacks again and didn't get the ball out in time.”
Were they doing anything special coverage wise?
“No, they played a little bit more zone than they had coming in, but I'll give credit to Rob Ryan. Rob did a nice job. They had a really good game plan.”
Their running game had a pretty good night. What did you see?
“Yeah, and I thought their backs ran extremely hard. They were running downhill. If you told me going in we were going to hold
When you look at the scope of the season and obviously some of the things that have happened, where is your confidence in Alex Henery going forward?
“We'll address that moving forward. We're not playing a game tomorrow.”
You guys actually won the turnover battle and lost the game. That might be the first time this year.
“We did a good job of protecting the ball but we didn't do a very good job offensively of capitalizing off of their turnovers. We had the one where Fletcher got down in there and then we got the 1st down and then screen pass went backwards, then we got a sack and took us out of there. Part of the turnover thing as I've talked about before is if our defense does create them we need to do something with them offensively, and we didn't capitalize offensively the way we need to when our defense creates turnovers like that.”
What were the Saints doing to bottle up LeSean McCoy at the beginning of the game?
“They were just doing a good job of getting off of blocks and making plays. There were some times that it could have probably been locked up a little bit cleaner, but there were some other times where it looked like there were some things there. We're trying to get him going. We know we're a run team. I don't know what he finished with carries wise, but I thought we could get him moving a little bit better, but they did a better job than us in executing from that phase.”
How much do you think Nick Foles was affected by the moment early in the game?
“I didn't sense any of that from him personally. I think there's some plays everybody wants back, but I didn't sense that there was anything from him on the sideline that he was affected by the moment.”
He made a lot of smart decisions all season long. A couple of the sacks that he took, the intentional grounding, did they kind of surprise you? It seemed out of character.
“Yeah, I just think we didn't play well enough to win, and that's on all of us. I've got to put him in better position calling plays, and I think that's something that all of us when we go out of here there will be a lot of plays as a play caller and as a person executing them you're going to probably all want back.”
Not many people expected the season to turn out the way it did. I know it's difficult with the loss, but can you reflect on what you did, taking a 4‑12 team, turning it around, winning the NFC East and getting a field goal away from reaching the second round?
“You're probably right that it's probably a little too soon for that. I thought we were going to be a good team when I met these guys for the first time because I know how hard they worked and how hard they wanted to invest in this and then I watched it firsthand them come to work every day and really invest in this whole process. It's just disappointing right now. But I don't think us winning the division or getting to the playoffs was a surprise to us. I just think everybody is really disappointed that we're not moving forward.”
You're big on points off of turnovers. Can you talk about the second quarter sequence that ended with the missed field goal by Henery and had the Nick Foles sack in there, what you saw?
“Yeah, we didn't execute well enough to ‑‑ we need to come away with seven instead of three to begin with, and we ended up trying to kick a field goal, and I don't even know how long that was. 48. It's the same thing. I think they did a better job than us at executing in those situations, and their red zone defense was better than our red zone offense.”
Any thought of kicking the field goal rather than going for it on 4th down in that sequence you were just talking about back at the start of the second quarter, you went for it on 4th down.
“No, because it was close. The 4th down that we got? I thought we should have got it on 3rd down, so maybe it was a reaction of if we're going to win this football game, it's the same feeling I had in the Vikings game, we've got to be able to gain a half a yard, and we did, but we had a screen that went backwards and then took a sack that pushed us way back. Those are things that we talk about but we didn't do a good enough job in executing.”
Is there a number that you had as far as pregame kicks, what he could do?
“Yeah, we talk about that in every game.”
What was that number?
“We felt like inside of 50 he would have been OK because that's what he kicked in warm‑ups. So could we get the ball to the 30, which ended up being a 40‑yard field goal, 48‑yard field goal.”
On that sack would you like Nick to throw it away in that situation?
“Yeah, I don't know what was going on in his mind. I don't know where the coverage was and those things. But obviously we'd rather be back to the line of scrimmage if we can in those situations. He knows it. We talked about it when he came off after that drive.”
When you look at certain plays that you weren't able to get, does the one catch that Riley Cooper could have had over the middle, that seemed like it would have been a pretty big gainer for you guys.
“Could have been, but we didn't lose this football game because we had a drop in the third quarter. I think we all contributed to it. You can go through every play and look at it and say, if we did this or did that there may have been just a block we missed here or a cut we missed there, and it's the same thing. But obviously that was something that's uncharacteristic. I thought Riley made some really big catches for us today, too.”
Saints had 20 of their 26 points in the second half. Do you attribute that to Brees just kind of regaining his form?
“No, it was a combination of a couple things. I thought, again, they ran the ball really well, which I thought especially with Thomas being out was a little bit different. You got a little bit more of Ingram, but I thought Ingram, first time I've really seen him in person, did a really good job. I think both of us kind of got our feet underneath us a little bit in the second half. We got a chance to go down there and score and take the lead, but we couldn't stop them.”
Do you think the weather was affecting the quarterbacks at all?
“I think a little bit. I don't think the ball traveled, whether from a kick standpoint or throwing standpoint just because of the cold. It's always the same for both, so it's not an excuse. Drew dealt with the same thing that Nick dealt with.”
What were you able to do defensively against Graham?
“I thought Billy had a good game plan going in, in terms of trying to take him out of things, but I'll give Sean and Drew credit that I think they realized that and went to some different things. You still have to defend the whole field.”
Owner Jeffrey Lurie on looking back on this season:
“There were a lot of high points. I would say, to see this team come together was a high point. When you make a coaching change, you have to transform to a new culture. These players and the coaching staff just formed an incredible bond, ability to prepare and an ability to win. That can take years and they did it in six months. That is what is so great here. We are all crushed to be eliminated. We are in this because we love it so much, but I have no doubt that we will be back and that we are more confident than ever, now that we know what we can accomplish.”
On whether this year, being head coach Chip Kelly’s first year, felt different than other first years of previous coaches:
“There is just so much promise with Chip, his staff and this whole group. We have a young dynamic coaching staff, merged with a young terrific group of players, who really want to win. They do it with class and they do it with great chemistry. They love each other. They will do anything to train and be better. This will only serve to motive them further. They know now that they are good, now they just have to get better.”
On what needs to happen for this team to take the next step:
“I think we have to get off to a better start of the season. This year we had a young team and they were just finding out how good they were. I think if we can get a first round bye next year, that would be the goal. I think we will aim to win the division and get a bye. But, this group is awfully pleasing to us and the fans. It is such a great group of guys, the players and the coaches that you can’t help but root for them because they try so hard. You can see this in May, June and July. You could see this coming together. It didn’t reflect in the record early, but once you saw what they could do, coming back from 20-7 in a playoff game tonight. It was heartbreaking.”
On whether he thinks the team has found their franchise quarterback in QB Nick Foles:
“I don’t want to comment on any player, but how can you not be impressed with Nick, with everything he has accomplished, including tonight. He had no turnovers and led us back from 20-7. He is incredibly impressive.”
On whether anything about Chip Kelly surprised him this year:
“Well, I am not totally surprised, but I was reminded weekly of how dedicated, intelligent and dynamic he is and how much he has a feel for players. It’s not just about his X’s and O’s, we know it’s pretty dynamic. But, his ability to rally and bring people together for a common cause is very impressive and is going to serve us great starting next year.”
On whether Kelly has surpassed expectations this year:
“My expectations were more about making sure that we had a terrific coaching staff that could transform a roster and a group of young players into something special. That was is. It was not about wins and losses. I was incredibly impressed by how quickly Chip and his staff were able to get this group together and perform extremely well. There is just so many good, young players around this locker room that will be incredibly dedicated when they come back next spring. We know that.”
On whether he feels that the team is in good shape to get better next year:
“Oh, for sure. This is just the tip of the iceberg. It’s a missed opportunity and it’s the tip of the iceberg. I think that everyone in this room knows it. It’s a very young team and at the same time, they already learned what it takes. Now they just have to execute a little bit better, have a better start of the season, and I think that they clearly feel as though they have what it takes.”
On whether he is optimistic about what new players the team can bring in next year:
“Oh, sure. I am very confident.”
On how impressed he is with the last two draft classes:
“It’s been the unwritten story of the season. When we streamlined the draft process, allowed [general manager] Howie [Roseman] to bring in great people and the last two draft classes speak for themselves. We are poised for a really good draft this year. At the same time, the atmosphere here is great and I think it will attract terrific players around the league. If you are a young player, wouldn’t you want to play for Chip?”
On what the one positive thing he takes away from this year:
“Again, this team has an incredible chemistry. We have excellent young talent and wonderful coaches. That is a powerful combination. If you combine those three things, you can go anywhere. There was a missed opportunity tonight, we were a dangerous team.”
On what QB Michael Vick has meant to this team over the past few years:
“Michael has been as impressive to all of you, I am sure. But, to us, internally, he is so incredibly mature; he’s a great teammate and the ultimate leader. He is somebody who has helped Nick tremendously. He has been a joy to have. He has represented the team always with class. I didn’t know a lot about Michael before he came. I had heard a lot and he has been very impressive.
QB Nick Foles on taking a sack on the final play of the first quarter during a drive that resulted in a missed field goal attempt:
“I was trying to make a play. They dropped into coverage, and every time I had a guy open, they swiped and they kept swiping. At the last second when I was thinking about throwing the ball away, the guy grabbed my leg and sort of spun me, and at that time it was hard to really throw it away. It was a bad decision by me. I definitely should have thrown it away in that situation. That was tough, but I felt like we kept fighting throughout the game. I was proud of the team and all of the guys in that locker room. They continued to fight and we continued to fight back on all sides of the ball. That’s what this team is about. We’re going to fight until the end. It didn’t turn out our way today. The Saints played a great game and they obviously finished it out, but at the end of the day I’m very proud of my team. I’m very proud of their fight. In a football game, things are not always going to go the right way. We’re going to make mistakes, but I thought the guys really did a great job of continuing to work through it. We continued to make adjustments. I made mistakes. People are going to make mistakes, but I know that my teammates and I are going to keep fighting. We’re going to look at the pictures and talk about it on the sideline, correct them, and get better because of it. That’s why I love this team. There was never a point in the game where the guys put their heads down. Everyone was in it the whole time. We were going to fight throughout the entire game, we’re going to make adjustments, and we’re going to play like we have all year. We’re going to play for each other and we’re going to play until the whistle blows. It didn’t turn out our way today, but I am very proud of my teammates for the way they fought and for what they did.”
On what he was doing on the sideline during the Saints final offensive drive:
“We always go over photos because you want to make adjustments. There was still time on the clock. When there is still time on the clock, you always have to be ready to go. At the end, they happened to get good field position so I began to throw. You always want to make sure you’re warm. If we stop them, I’m going to be throwing. I was throwing on the sideline to keep my arm warm because you want to play until the whistle blows and there is nothing left on the clock.”
On why it took so long for the offense to get into a rhythm:
“We just weren’t executing. I was missing throws and the Saints defense was doing a great job. We just weren’t executing as an offense. That’s where it comes down to making adjustments. Just because it doesn’t work one series, or doesn’t work two or even three or four, you have to keep working and making adjustments. We have great coaches here that do a great job. We have players that can recognize what’s happening on the field. That’s where communication on the sideline is key. We had great communication on the sideline to where we were making adjustments. We knew that we had to keep running this offense because it was going to start clicking and we were going to start making big plays. We have too many playmakers not to make big plays. We have a great offensive line, and we know the defense is going to give us the ball back. I have all of the faith in the world in our defense. That’s the mindset of our team. We’re going to keep getting better and we’re going to keep building. This doesn’t feel good. We wanted to keep playing, but it is what it is. I’m proud of my teammates. I’m proud of the crowd today. They were great and they did an awesome job. They were loud, and I know that it was hard for [Saints QB] Drew [Brees] to hear. I’m proud of the city of Philadelphia for this season. They were behind us the whole year. It’s tough to lose and it hurts. I’m hurting inside right now in my heart, but I’m going to keep my head held high because I love my teammates, I love this city, and I’m going to keep fighting for this city and keep playing. This team is going to keep playing. I know that this season is over, but we’re going to keep working and growing as a team. I love playing here, I love this city, I love this team, and I love this organization because I know the heart of it. The heart of it is the heart of Philadelphia. Like Coach Kelly said, we fight, and we’re going to keep fighting.”
On whether he thinks he’ll regret some of the decisions he made in the game upon review of the film:
“It’s tough. You’re going to make mistakes. You’re going to make mistakes in life. Nobody goes through a day and it’s a great day all of the time. I’m going to make mistakes. I made mistakes tonight, but I’m going to keep playing and keep fighting. It’s tough. You don’t want to do that, but you have to keep playing to the next play. You can’t let a mistake like that – taking a sack or an intentional grounding – defeat you on the next one. My guys are depending on me to go out there and make plays. They’re going to look to me in those situations. When I look at the film, it’s going to be like, ‘Man, I should have done that.’ But I’m not going to hold onto that. I’m going to keep moving forward. I’m not going to let that play defeat me and make me a worse player. I’m going to use that play to learn from it so that next time I won’t do it. There might be a time again when I do have an intentional grounding or I do take a sack, but I’m going to keep playing through it. That’s what the guys can count on from me. I’m going to keep playing. They know I’m going to keep fighting for them because I’m playing for my teammates that are next to me, and they’re playing for me. When you know that, you can’t help but just move forward and onto the next play.”
On his go-ahead fourth quarter touchdown pass to TE Zach Ertz:
“It was just a little naked out to the right. They brought I believe a zero blitz, so they added an extra guy on, and Zach did a great job of reading it and he got out quick. They took [DeSean Jackson] in the flat, so Zach just sort of popped right there, so I just sort of put my foot in the ground and flicked it to him. He did a great job, he had a great rookie year and he’s going to be a tremendous player for this team in the future.”
On the team’s future:
“We have a great team. We have a great team because we have great people here. We have great people that are going to work hard and play for each other. We have a great coaching staff because they believe in us, and they want to make us better people and better football players. We have great personnel all around the NovaCare facility. They’re great people, and it’s a great place to go to work. That’s why I know that this team is going to continue to improve and we’re going to continue to work hard. That doesn’t guarantee wins, but it puts us in a position to be successful. I know the heart of this team, and it’s going to hurt. It’s going to hurt for a long time, but I know that everyone is going to keep their head held high, as the city of Philadelphia will. We will continue to work, we will continue to fight and we will continue to get better because we have great people here.”
On whether his illness during the week contributed to his play tonight:
“People get colds all the time. I got a little sore throat. I’m sure there are people in the stands right now that were out there cheering us on that have a cold, but when I’m out there playing, I’m 100 percent.”
On how difficult it was to watch New Orleans drive for the game-winning score:
“That’s when you just have to have faith in the defense. They did a great job all night. They gave us opportunities that we didn’t capitalize on. We win as a team, and we lose as a team. It’s tough. It’s tough to sit there, but in those situations, you just have to have faith. It didn’t turn out our way tonight, but looking back on it, I’ll have time to reflect on the season. It’s tough right now. There are a lot of emotions and I’m holding it together. But I just look at my teammates and I’m proud of each and every one of them. They fought as hard as they could. The coaching staff did everything to put us in a great position, and they coached as hard as they could today. It didn’t work out for us, but we’re going to keep our heads held high and we’re going to keep working hard to be a great team. We have to continue to work hard.”
On whether he watched the Saints game-winning field goal:
RB LeSean McCoy on how much this loss hurts:
“It hurts a lot. We put so much into this since the offseason. We trained and worked so hard to get to this level and lose a game like this.”
On whether he feels like the offense could have done more:
“Yeah, I feel like we let the team down. The first half we couldn’t do anything. We didn’t capitalize on any of the turnovers we got. We won the turnover battle and we could have done more.”
On what he was feeling when he watched the Saints march down the field at the end of the game:
“It sucks, because there was nothing we could do, but watch. They killed us slowly. It was a terrible feeling.”
On what kind of learning experience will this year be going into next year:
“I don’t know if it’s a learning experience. I have been here before. You can only pick up so much from this. We just have to get better. I think we have to execute when we need to. We needed to keep riding that hot streak. I thought we were hot. Obviously, we weren’t.”
On whether this loss is as tough as he has ever experienced:
“Yeah, we had to answer. We picked up the slack when we needed to. That return really killed us. They just milked the clock and kicked a field goal.”
On why he thinks the offense struggled to get into a rhythm tonight:
“I am not really sure. It just wasn’t clicking.”
Wide Receiver Riley Cooper
On the offense leaving too much on the field in the first half:
“I don’t know, I am not sure. I really don’t know what happened. I would have to go back and look and see what we did.”
On putting the dropped ball behind him:
“Yeah, it is a part of the game. It happened at a crappy time for sure. It was my second drop of the year. It’s tough, but there isn’t a receiver that catches them all.”
On his touchdown catch:
“It was just an in-route. Nick [Foles] just sat in the pocket and waited until I got all the way on the other side of the field and then he threw a great ball.”
On how Foles had so much time to find him for the touchdown:
“Yeah the line did a great job. I was the last read on [that play]. Nick went through all his progressions and ended up finding me in almost a scramble mode.”
On the team fighting back after being down 20-7:
“That is who we are. We do not give up. We are going to take it play-by-play and drive-by-drive and game-by-game. That is how we are built.”
On coming back next season:
“Yeah, I want to be back next season. I love the coaching staff. I feel like I fit in the system. I just love playing the game hard. I love blocking, I like the whole game of football. I definitely hope I am back for sure.”
Defensive Coordinator Bill Davis on how they defended Saints TE Jimmy Graham:
“Sometimes we were jamming him at the line and covering behind him. We played man on him, threw zones at him sometimes. We chipped him too. We gave him and [Saints RB Darren] Sproles the most attention.”
On why the defense was not as strong against the run as they had been all season:
“That is on me. I made the calls so their passing game wouldn’t result in big plays. There was a lot more split-safety and pass oriented calls. Some of the runs leaked out. I could have called a more of a run heavy defensive game and shut that down, but we were trying to keep the points down and the big plays off us. That run game comes down to me, not the players.”
On whether he was surprised the Saints ran so much:
“Yeah, I was. But that’s a credit to them. But we adjusted back and by the fourth quarter, we knew the run game was calling and went back to some of the run calls. The whole thing is about keeping the points down and the big plays off of us. That was our goal.”
On why the Saints were able to get positive running plays when the defense knew they were coming:
“Before they got into field goal range, it was a run or pass situation. They could have done either. But once they got into field goal range, that’s when you saw them run. We were in heavy run calls. But they still had Graham and Sproles out there and we were still playing the game. It came down to them making one more play than we did. The guys played hard and played well. We got turnovers and kept the deep balls off of us for the most part.”
Linebacker DeMeco Ryans
On how difficult it was to not be able to get a stop on the Saints final offensive possession:
“It is very disappointing. The game came down to us as a defense making a stop and we knew it was going to come down to that. That is what the playoffs are all about. Whoever is on the field last has to stand up and make a play. Defensively, we didn’t make the play to get off the field.”
On the run defense:
“They did a good job running the ball, credit to them. We didn’t stop the run well enough to win the game. Essentially, that is what it came down to. They ran the ball well, and we did a poor job of stopping the run.”
On how surprising it was that they struggled against the run when it was strength for a majority of the season:
“It is surprising to have a letdown at this point in time in the season where we needed to step up the most and we didn’t play to our strengths and stop the run.”
On the disappointment of not playing their best game of the season:
“It came down to the point of the game where the team was counting on [the defense]. The team was counting on us as a defense to rise up, and get them the ball back and sit on it and win the game. It is disappointing to me as a defensive player to not be able to stand up and make a stop or knock the ball out or make some type of play. It is a disappointment.”
On what he saw was making it difficult to adjust to stopping the Saints running game:
“I think they were successful on first down. They were successful on first down running the ball and that is where they got us.”
On the little things in the game meaning the most:
“Of course, it is always about those little things. No matter how big the game is on the outside when we step across the white lines, it is all about fundamentals. Fundamentally, we were not sound enough to win the game.”
On how far the defense has come throughout the season:
“We came a really long way. As a team overall, we really came together as a true family, a true brotherhood. It was a very special team that we became throughout the ups and downs of the season. Everybody kept working and fighting. Nobody gave up. Everyone always kept believing. That is what was special about this group.”