Read the transcript from Head Coach Mike McDaniel's press conference on Thursday, Aug. 25, 2022.
(Prior to the 206 questions you're going to get about stomach flu, just to get two things out of the way. We haven't seen LB Andrew Van Ginkel in two days. Does he have a serious injury that will sideline him into the season? And CB Nik Needham we saw walk off with trainers. Does he have a serious injury that will sideline him in preseason?) – "Van Ginkel had an unforeseen appendix issue, so we removed him of said issue. And he should – he's feeling great. I just talked to him recently and we'll be moving forward. There's some significant optimism that shouldn't affect anything in the season. But I know he's going to do his best to get back as fast as possible. So I'm excited to move forward with that."
(And CB Nik Needham?) – "He's day-to-day. It's nothing super significant. I'm really happy for him because I feel good about where he's at and it's nothing to be concerned about."
(Can you tell us about the situation today in practice?) – "So yeah, that was kind of a unique curveball early this morning. It was just an accumulation of some players having having a stomach bug that we don't really know totally where it was coming from and we're just trying to be overly cautious so that we didn't further affect players on the team, as well as we had to think of the best interest of the Philadelphia Eagles as well. We couldn't, in good conscience, just move forward and try to limit reps in practice. We just wanted to make sure that – really, it all comes down to wanting to be able to fully play the the preseason game as planned. So the best way to do that with the unknowns were to just keep everyone away from each other because clearly it's some sort of contagious. But it appears to be the normal symptoms that I'll allow you to detail if you'd like of stomach bugs."
(How many players are we talking about that are ill right now?) – "There's more than a couple players. So it's not half the team by any stretch, but that's what I was trying to prevent, is I didn't want to have half half the team drained out from a stomach bug, fight through the heat and then have depleted performance in the preseason game because for a lot of guys, it's the most important game of their career, and I hold a strong amount of value to that and didn't want to compromise that in any way."
(Is it limited the players or are there staff also?) – "There's a couple of staff members too, which is why the decision was easy just because I really didn't want this to linger and the best way to nip in the bud was just aggressively act, erring on the side of caution."
(With COVID and other viruses and any other type of illnesses that could pop up during the season, what are some things that I'm sure you've thought about relative to "Ok, if we lose a player or a play-caller on a Thursday or Friday, we have our contingency plans?") – "You have to think about this stuff. It's kind of your job. So that's very natural and organic because it's the same protocol. Football, by its nature, you can't predict the future and you have to be ready to adjust. So you're always doing that with with the roster in general, and we're all very well-versed in COVID. So those types of things, an unintended consequence of that is you end up naturally thinking of contingency plans because no one – the bottom line is the organization has to operate at its best and no one cares about extenuating circumstances. So this was a random curveball, but I've said on record before, I look forward to any sort of adversity in general because I always think there's something to take out of it. In this case, guys can get a little perspective. Maybe my team meetings are actually more entertaining than they realized. (laughter) Missing their teammates, an opportunity to really rest and recover and regen. These are all things that I spoke to the team about virtually probably an hour ago because it's not about – you just don't worry about what happens. You worry about how to handle things, and how you handle things that are really unforeseen."
(Do you have any feelings about how this could potentially affect who plays on Saturday?) – "Feelings, I wanted to share feelings. I actually was pretty excited about today because upon waking up and driving to work, before I got said news, I was excited to talk about my feelings and maybe some announcements. (laughter) This unfortunately, and with all seriousness, I kind of had something in my mind and I was ready to go with it. And sure enough, the world told me not to get ahead of myself. So it's just like any sort of football-related injury where now you just have to really reassess tomorrow, when when you get everyone in, and and make sure everyone is not put in harm's way and then take it from there. So it may or may not affect – I'm hoping the whole intent with having the guys not come in and not practice today was to nip it in the bud so that it wouldn't be affected. But we'll see. That's not something that really rattles me. I'll just adjust. That's kind of the nature of my job."
(Do you know if you guys have identified the origin of this illness and have addressed it so it won't recur?) – "I don't wear multiple hats of MD or athletic trainer. But luckily, we employ a lot of people that are taking care of that. When you don't know exactly the total cause, you make sure that you take the necessary measures to not perpetuate the whole deal. So without knowing exactly what it is, I know they're doing their best to figure it out. That's why you keep people out of the building. And that's really what was the strongest motivating factor for me, because it wasn't like they were extenuating circumstances of ailments. People have stomach bugs. And then when all of a sudden you have an accumulation of those over one night, you're like, 'Hey, we don't want this to spread anymore.' So they're diligent and hard at work. So I trust in my teammates and that's where I'm going to keep my trust."
(What steps, if any, are you taking that you wouldn't normally take inside the building? When I say you, I mean, the organization? Is it possible to like, sterilize anything?) – "Again, an unintended consequence of COVID. Like those measures, you just have measures that you can apply. So in the short term where you don't have any information other than symptoms, you can move forward with those same types of protocols to make sure everything is up to snuff with sanitation, etc, etc. But that's not – these are measures just because we're trying to be overly cautious and make sure nothing continues to trickle moving forward."
(Are there sort of three, four or five roster spots that are really just not decided at all at this times? Or give me an idea, if you can, on where the roster sort of stands.) – "There are some jobs to be settled and it's not as easy as who has the most tackles, who has the most yards. You're talking about an accumulation of – I look at like this, each position is coached by a position coach that is accumulating points of emphasis during the course from May on, and you see how people adjust. The longer that you get into camp, the more specific those things get. In that process, you're seeing how people respond. And by nature, especially with a competitive roster like we have, where there's multiple – we have more NFL players than spots. That's the bottom line. So yeah, there's too many to count on a hand with things that need to be ironed out. Unfortunately, we missed an opportunity on the field today. But then all that means is guys have an extra day to – with that extra day of preparation, we get to see a product on Saturday that is not result-based. It's an accumulation of how people have handled coaching points and how they've really evolved and got better, because the bottom line of an NFL game is you're looking for players and units that are their best in January. So that is the prerequisite of teams that win. And if you're trying to be a winning team, one of the things all the players have to be able to do is continue to get better. So it's it's a really fun process that you're exhausting, where you get to see this final product at play after all of these different coaching points, and that's why you you don't try to rush the process with a lot of those undetermined spots that we're trying to finalize."
(There was a report earlier this week that TE Mike Gesicki's name has come up in trade conversations. Is that report accurate? Is he assured to be on this roster in Week 1?) – "These reports are tricky to me because I'm like – again, I've alluded to this before, at the beginning of the offseason. Durring training camp and during the offseason in general, GMs have work to do. And they're not just watching us coach. So when people report that somebody is – when they use the that loose verbiage of 'his name has been brought up,' or whatever, the report is kind of misleading because there probably should be a lot of names on that report. All I'm focused on is regardless of what people try to drum up, I'm focused on coaching Mike and Mike's focused on getting better. People have made stuff about this, that of the other. Whether you are a receiver or a tight end or we even have running backs do it – you have to be able to do stuff with the ball and you have to be able to block for other people that are doing stuff with the ball. And we continue to work those techniques with everyone. He's had a great week of practice this week, which tells you a lot about that individual because there has been random noise that he's hasn't listened to clearly. He's putting his best foot forward and that's all I'm concerned about. It's my job to coach the players on the team and I like coaching Mike. And beyond that, it's kind of a no-ends process of talking about did someone talk about somebody else with (so and so). That stuff happens more often than it doesn't?"
(Is there an update on WR Jaylen Waddle? We know he's been out for a little while.) – "He's still mad at me. (laughter) He got a little indy work and that was intentional because we knew that he had – not only is he yearning to compete and do his job, which he loves to do, but also I'm aware enough to know he has some close ties on the opposing team. So if we were practicing against ourselves, would he have practiced? There might be a stronger chance maybe. I'm just very acutely aware of even if a guy says, 'Alright, I'm going to take it easy,' you have to protect people from themselves. I saw him on the field for my office after practice catching JUGS with his buddy that I knew he'd probably try to perform in front of. So yeah, he was out there and it wasn't because of any setbacks. We were just making sure that we took it step-by-step and didn't go zero to 60. The rest has been awesome for him and I'm really fired up and expect to see him on the field sooner than later."
(On the offensive line, I know they're not a finished product. But for the first part of the season, I'm wondering how you manage them. Do you figure out four or five things they do well and play to that until they develop later in the season? Or how do you manage that?) – "You're always trying to do stuff that your players are good at as best you can. I'm happy with how each individual is progressing. If it was – if you're striving to be really good at something, that process is never complete and it should be hard. There's a lot of things that go into both of their responsibilities, protecting for the pass and blocking for the run. I thought that's one of my favorite things about joint practices, is you get that – like Philadelphia, for example, their defensive line penetrates a lot. They're very good and I was very happy with how they responded yesterday in practice, in terms of adjusting to techniques. I've told you guys before, that's a huge part of their job. So yeah, I try to -that's the whole idea of the entire offense in general is that you don't leave offensive lineman on an island. You try to do what they're good at. Just yesterday, there were a couple – in jest, there were a couple of really good Philadelphia defensive linemen that were poking me a little bit like, 'Why don't you drop back more?' I'm like, 'You would like that, wouldn't you?' So I think they're in a good stage of where they're developing. And I'm confident that at some point in time moving forward that the results will reflect that. But there's a lot of compounding variables for those results, which is up to everyone, even the quarterback. He has a job on run plays too. If you don't see Tua (Tagovailoa) carrying out his fakes, make sure you get on (Quarterbacks/Passing Game Coordinator) Darrell Bevell."
(You mentioned the competition on the final roster spots. How did players react to missing this key practice, the last one in training camp…) – "That was an unintended consequence of the Zoom meeting this morning. Guys were in the tank. Guys wanted to practice. Guys were doubling down asking to come into the building. So I didn't know this whole, 'stomach bug gate' to be something of gathering information, but every circumstance that you you incur, there's something to be gathered from it. And I learned that they wanted to be in the building. I thought that but you don't know until you see their faces and they're just like, 'Well…' And I'm like, relax. So it was tough on all of them. I think they're all aware that there are opportunities missed. But in turn, they are also feeling the responsibility of 'Ok, well I better use this day to rest, recover and also make sure I am completely square on all responsibilities that I'm going to be held accountable for on Saturday. So you just try to use what can be perceived as a negative and turn it into a positive. It's the same message that I preach daily that I don't even care if it gets old. I'm going to keep pushing it because that's what I believe."