Fighting the Elements with Correll Buckhalter

Chris Steuber checks in with Eagles running back Correll Buckhalter in this week's edition of "Fighting the Elements". Buckhalter discusses the team's inconsistent offense, what the Jets present defensively, and what the Eagles have to do to get a win. Plus much more…

Chris Steuber: What is the offensive game plan entering this week’s game against the Jets?

Correll Buckhalter: The plan is for us to go in there and take one play at a time. We have to execute. Our offense has been getting off to a slow start. We are looking forward to taking one play at a time and getting the momentum on our side.

Steuber: How does the Eagles offense get back on track this week?

Buckhalter: We have to take it one play at a time. We have to know that the man lining up next to you is going to give it 100-percent. And we just have to have fun. You practice throughout the week so you can go out there on Sunday and play mistake free and have fun. I think that’s what we’ve been missing, and I think everybody knows that, so we’ll be ready to get it going again.

Steuber: Coming off a bye week when you start the season 1 – 3; did the bye week come at a good time or a bad time?

Buckhalter: I think it was a pretty good time [to have the bye week]. We had a couple of our key players who needed that extra week of rest to get back out on the field. I think it was at a good time for guys to refocus and get ready to come back and play these twelve games. We just have to take it one game at a time and one play at a time.

Steuber: What has the coaching staff stressed to you guys all week at practice?

Buckhalter: This is our job and on Sundays they expect us to go out there and give it our all. I think the previous games that we lost; I’m not questioning anyone’s effort because I think everyone gives a good effort, but I think we have to give a little bit more effort and just have fun. When we’re having fun, for instance, the game against the Detroit Lions, you can see what we’re capable of. I think when this team has fun there isn’t anything we can’t do.

Steuber: How can this offense score 56 points one week and not score an offensive touchdown the next week?

Buckhalter: When you come out flat and you’re not playing with any emotion, that hurts a team. We didn’t have any emotion on the field when we played the Giants. With a week off, coming back knowing we’re 1 – 3, our focus is we have to get it done. I think guys know that we’ll get it done if we’re having fun on the field.

Steuber: Coach Reid said that he was going to reevaluate what he and his coaching staff are doing to this point during the bye week. Do you notice any changes in philosophy or game plan during practice this week?

Buckhalter: No, no, no, no… that’s one thing, in my seventh season with the Eagles, Coach Reid stays the same. He doesn’t change stuff. He stays the same, and I think that helps us a whole lot. We know what to expect, and we’re gearing up to have a great run.

Steuber: The Jets defense has struggled thus far and are ranked 28th in the league. What have you seen on film that you can take advantage of?

Buckhalter: Despite their record [1 – 4], the Jets are a good team. The games that they lost were by a very close margin. Just because they’re ranked 28th in the league, doesn’t mean that you’re going to go into their place and do what you want against them. But at the same time, if we come in there with all eleven guys giving 100-percent and we’re out there with emotion and having fun, we can do what we want with them.

Steuber: How does the Jets run defense look on film?

Buckhalter: Their D-Linemen are doing a lot of shifting. Doing a lot of shifting can throw a team off, so we’ve been getting some good looks at that at practice this week. It can throw you off if you’re not ready and prepared.

Steuber: The Eagles haven’t had much success against a 3-4 defense in recent memory. How do you think you match up now against a 3-4?

Buckhalter: I think we matchup very well. We have a great offensive line. I think it’s going to be a great matchup. There tends to be linebackers on the outside rushing in a 3-4, so I think that’s an advantage for our offensive line. We have two of the better tackles in the league, and I think the advantage is in our favor.

Steuber: Losing William Thomas last week, what does he mean to the running game and the offense as a whole?

Buckhalter: He means a lot. Tra has several Pro Bowls under his belt. He’s a ten-year veteran. He knows the game in and out. With him out there you just know that he’s going to be there and have that left side protected. If any of our starting linemen go out it’s difficult, but you just have to hope that the player the coaches replace the starter with can go out and be just as good as the starter.

Steuber: What is your take on the Eagles receiving game? Why has it been so inconsistent?

Buckhalter: Those guys give a great effort every week at practice. I don’t think the focus is just on our receiving core. I think it’s the offense as a whole. We win together and we lose together. It goes back to all phases of the offense: tight end, running back, receiver, lineman, fullback, whatever the case might be. I don’t think you can just point the finger at the receivers.

Steuber: Personally, you were having a lot of success against the Giants on the ground. How surprised were you that the coaching staff didn’t utilize the running game more against the Giants?

Buckhalter: When I was out there, I was just concentrating on what I had to get done. Whether I was running the ball, catching the ball, picking up a blitz – I didn’t really think we needed to run the ball more. We were down and the Giants had momentum, so I was just focused on what play was called, giving 100-percent, and doing the best I could do.

Steuber: What’s the mood in the locker room entering this game against the Jets?

Buckhalter: It’s great, man. We’ve had great practices all week. Guys are flying around and having fun. When we practice like that it carries over on Sunday.

Steuber: How big is this game for you guys mentally?

Buckhalter: Every game is big. We don’t look too far down the road; we take it one game at a time. Not one game is bigger than another. In this league you have to win in order to make the playoffs, and it starts this week. This week against the Jets, we want to come out and focus and have our game face on and come out with a “W”.

Steuber: Do you feel any more pressure this week than any other week since you’re 1 – 3?

Buckhalter: It isn’t necessarily pressure. We just don’t want to have that feeling of losing. It’s not a great feeling. When you’re winning, everything is much better. It’s just a feeling that guys don’t want to have.

A member of the Pro Football Writers of America and the Football Writers Association of America, Chris Steuber is the Editor in Chief of WarNest.com and an NFL Analyst for Scout.com. Steuber has provided his analysis of the NFL and NFL Draft prospects on the web and on the radio since 1999. If you have any questions for Chris, email him at: csteuber@scout.com.


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