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Doug Pederson: It’s ‘hard to re-wire’ Carson Wentz to avoid contact

The head coach wants his rookie quarterback to take fewer hits.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Doug Pederson addressed reporters at NovaCare on Wednesday morning. Here’s what he said.


Zach Ertz (rib), Leodis McKelvin (hamstring), Mcyhal Kendricks (fractured nose/quad strain) and Isaac Seumalo (pectoral) will not practice Wednesday.

Seumalo, who practiced last week, is still dealing with the pectoral injury he suffered a few weeks back.

“It’s still sore, basically,” Pederson said of Seumalo’s injury. “It’s healing, but the strength is not back yet, necessarily, so we want to kind of just give him this week and sort of monitor that, get him all the treatment we can, and get him through the bye and we’ll see where he’s at.”

Pederson said he didn’t think Seumalo’s injury would hold him back from being ready to play left guard if/when Lane Johnson misses games due to his suspension.

“I don’t think so, not at all,” Pederson said. “I think he’s had a lot of reps in there, and there’s preseason reps in there, and it wouldn’t set him back. He’s one of the kids, a very sharp kid, studious kid, so it wouldn’t set him back at all.”

On Wentz taking hits, and convincing him to avoid contact

I think it’s hard to re-wire him. You just have to constantly keep talking with him, and showing him the plays on tape. Just making him aware of, ‘Hey, as I mentioned before, we don’t need the extra yard here. It’s okay to throw the ball away, it’s okay to step out of bounds or slide.’ And just keep showing him, over and over again, not only for his longevity, but the team’s as well.

On the Steelers’ defense

The biggest thing you see on film is the aggressive style. They love to get after the passer. They’ll bring those two middle backers, Shazier and Timmons, they’ll bring both of those guys. One thing you notice, too, is they love to keep their eyes on the quarterback and vision on the quarterback. It becomes, for any quarterback, where you’re looking in the progression is - you’ve got to be able to look off, and do different things that way. Really, teams who play man, I don’t want to say it’s easy, but man coverage is many coverage: you know what you’re going to get. With zone, it’s a little bit harder. You’ve got to be a little more detailed with your routes and your progressions.

Similarities between the Browns’ and Bears’ defenses, and the Steelers?

The Steelers actually play a true 34. You’ll see more of that with this group. They still play their under front, their over front, and they mix it up a little bit in their blitz packages.

On Carson Wentz’s drive

That’s one of his strengths, obviously, is he wants to get better every single day. In here this morning, he and Chase and the quarterbacks are starting again on Pittsburgh. His own motivation. He wants to be good. He wants to be one of the top quarterbacks in the National Football League at some point. He looks at the games and goes, ‘Man, I could’ve done that better on that play,’ or, ‘My eyes could’ve been here,’ or, ‘I could’ve sped my feet up on this drop.’ Those are all things that come with playing, and with time. Again, he attacks every day that way. It’s a true sign of a professional, that he can handle his craft and wants to develop his craft that way.

On Ben Roethlisberger

He’s such a smart guy. They’re on almost a different level, how much they’re on the same page, he and his receivers and backs. You see him get the ball out of his hand extremely fast. Not getting to the quarterback, defenses aren’t getting to the quarterback just because he’s so smart, and it’s fun to watch him, really, how he manages that offense and kind of commands that team. Everybody rallies around him, and he’s obviously a big leader and a tough guy to get to.

Ben is one of the best quarterbacks in the league at extending plays. Many things he does well, but one of them is keeping his eyes down the field, and it’s something, as defensive backs, sometimes you get caught looking in the back field, sort of let your coverage down. This is a week, with the weapons they have, you’ve got to just stick to your guy throughout the entire play.

On the Eagles’ red zone play calling

You’re seeing a ton of drop-eight, teams are throwing it so much down there. The run game kind of becomes really important. The RPO things with the quarterback become important down there. Our decision making, our timing, our accuracy: we talk about that stuff every day, and particularly in the red zone, where Carson has to be on point. And then utilizing your strengths and utilizing your personnel. DGB’s a tall receiver, Jordan’s a tall receiver. The other day, the screen inside the five. You kind of keep things mixed up and use your versatility.

On Wendell Smallwood’s involvement

He’s in a good position right now, and having four running backs available on game day is awesome. It helps Ryan, it helps Darren, if they’re not taking a pounding every single play. He and Kenjon Barner both give you that explosiveness you want. One thing Wendell has, too, is he has great hands and he can catch the ball out of the backfield.

Four RB rotation going forward? - Yeah, I think so. You’re seeing two of those guys on the field at the same time, and you have more opportunities to put athletes on the field and create match ups. This whole league’s about match ups.

How do you choose who to use? - If a guy’s rolling in the run game, I’ll want to keep feeding him, unless it’s a big run in which case we’ll give him a break and make a change.

On how the quarterback room operates

I wish I was there now. ... I spend quite a bit of time there. That’s where all the dialogue begins, and I want to hear what they’re thinking. After practice when they’re watching film, I’ll have a chance to get in there and watch tape, things like that. As often as I can, I’ll be in there.

DeFilippo, Reich, Pederson, all the QBs in one room? - Yeah. It’s a tight room.

How does the hierarchy work? - I let John go, I let the quarterbacks coach run the meeting. If I interject, I interject. The way it works is I send my message through Frank, and Frank through the position coaches, and at the same time if I want to interject something, I interject. It’s about making sure there’s one voice in the meeting room, and they’re not hearing three different answers from three different people. The message is the same.

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