Mike Groh can’t wait to pick the brain of longtime Vikings safety Andrew Sendejo, now a member of the Philadelphia Eagles, prior to their trip this weekend to Minnesota. He also likes rookie wide receiver J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, he just doesn’t like him as much as everyone thought he might by now.
Jim Schwartz is not into statistics, except when he is. He’s also not going to be trapped into criticizing defensive end Derek Barnett, no matter how many idiotic penalties the third-year player may commit.
Welcome to the first installment of what will be a regular feature here in which we attempt to find the true meanings that sometimes can be hidden between the words of offensive coordinator Groh and defensive coordinator Schwartz.
Groh on Tuesday simply smiled back at the reporter asking about the value Sendejo brings in helping the offense prepare.
“No, we wouldn’t ask him anything,” Groh said with a coy smile.
After a relatively long, pregnant pause, Jimmy Kempski of Philly Voice followed up.
“What can a guy like him — how can they help?”
“Well, like you said, he was there a long time," Groh replied. “He knows the calls, he played against us before. He’s in our system now, defensively, so it’s not as fresh to him. But, you know, there’s some things here and there that he might remember.”
It’s also safe to deduce from listening to Groh on Tuesday that fourth running back Corey Clement will have a tough time getting on the field with the offense even now that Darren Sproles is out indefinitely with a quad strain.
“I think we’ll just have to figure that out as we go,” Groh said. “We like to mix all the backs in there and keep them fresh, so I’ve got a lot of faith in Corey ... in all phases, protecting the quarterback and running the ball or, you know, as a receiver out of the backfield. He can do all three of those things well for us, and I know he’ll be ready when his number is called.”
Translation: “Fantasy players, stand down. He’s already fumbled away a kickoff and muffed a punt return, and now you want him to be promoted from special teams?"
Groh was asked about whether Arcega-Whiteside, limited to two snaps with the offense and none on special teams, will get more of a chance to contribute in the near future.
“Yeah, I think it’s week to week. It’s ongoing,” Groh said. “He’s a developmental player for us and he’s ready to step in like he did with Atlanta and Detroit and play lot of snaps. With [tight end] Dallas [Goedert] being healthy, we play more in `12′ personnel, so that reduces the role of the third wide receiver. ... We’ve got a lot of confidence in J.J. and his his development and what he’ll be able to do for us as well.”
Translation: “J.J. is not who we thought he was. At least not yet. He can’t even get on the field ahead of Mack Hollins (10 catches, 125 yards) and he doesn’t seem to have the skill of Terry McLaurin, who went 19 spots after Arcega-Whiteside in this year’s draft and already has 19 catches for 308 yards and three touchdowns in the four games that he’s played.”
Meanwhile Schwartz’s disdain for statistics is every bit as strong as his use of them to prove points.
Here he is on defensive tackle Fletcher Cox: "You know me, I’m not a big stats guy. It’s about stopping drives. It’s about winning games and limiting scoring and things like that. Rodney’s [McLeod] interception [on Sunday against the Jets] was all Fletch. ... I would much rather have the interception there than the sack. All due respect to Fletch. I know he would rather have the sack.
“... There is no stat for team defense, there is no stat for guys doing their job, doing it tough and doing it physically. Fletch did that in this game, a tackle for a loss. I know fantasy football and Twitter and all those things, we tend to put a big emphasis on stats and fantasy points and all that. It’s a team game when it’s all said and done, and he played well in this game.”
Here’s Schwartz on the importance of stopping the run: “I saw something this week that there were like nine 300-yard passers in the NFL, and I think their teams were 4-5 this week, 50/50 proposition. I saw there were eight 100-yard rushers and their teams were 7-1.”
Translation: “Don’t pay attention to sack numbers, but do pay attention to yardage figures. They can reveal a lot.”
Here’s Schwartz on Barnett’s latest unnecessary penalty, a personal foul during teammate Nate Gerry’s 51-yard interception return for a touchdown on Sunday: “It’s so hard to make plays and get interceptions or scoop fumbles. The last thing you want to do is take that away with a penalty. Derek knows that. He just has to balance playing with that chip on his shoulder and playing tough and physical and hustling — all the things we love about him — and just make sure we don’t cross the line into doing something that hurts the team.”
Translation: “Nothing we tell this guy penetrates his thick skull, but we traded Michael Bennett away, allowed Chris Long to retire and let Seattle get Jadeveon Clowney, so we have to ride him as far as he can take us."
Finally, one last tidbit from Groh, who was asked why they are working with just two ends on the active roster now.
“I think that’s a really good question for Coach [Doug Pederson] and [GM] Howie [Roseman],” he said, “but obviously we feel really comfortable with Dallas and Zach [Ertz] and the receiving group that we’ve had and the running back group that we’ve had available and putting different packages together for the guys that are up.”
Translation: “Cut me a break! We lose one cornerback to injury every five minutes around here, so we can’t afford to carry three tight ends anymore. Besides, Alex Ellis was injured anyway. And so was Richard Rodgers. We’re on to Minnesota."