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Doug Pederson talks Dak Prescott, Carson Wentz, Sidney Jones, Concussions, and Cheesesteaks

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Doug Pederson watches high school baseball and talks football. What a guy.

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Doug Pederson cemented his image as your friendly neighborhood dad who just happens to coach football today on The Doomsday Podcast. A Dallas pod hosted by Cowboy columnist Matt Mosley (@mattmosley) and recently-released ESPN reporter Ed Werder (@EdwerderRFA), The Doomsday Podcast invited Dougie P. onto the airwaves to chat about the NFC East, Dak Prescott, Howie Roseman/Joe Douglas, and a few other topics.

Like the affable pops that he is, Coach Pederson took the call from his son’s high school baseball game, and afforded the listener with occasionally play-by-play analysis and consistent wind interference. It was a good time.

Dak And Wentz

Ed and Matt were quick to search for Dak-mania from Pederson—a disease that’s been sweeping the nation since last September. Doug didn’t take the bait:

What was really impressive with Dak Prescott was how he handled himself on and off the football field. He felt like—and he understood this right away—he didn’t have to win the game for them. He knew that he had a good defense, a tremendous offensive line, a great runner—he had some veteran players he could rely on. And he learned that early. As soon as he had the opportunity to play, you know, from Day 1. And that’s something that young quarterbacks...sometimes, it takes them a while to figure out the game that way. And that’s the impressive thing: he learned to handle that business well, utilize the people around him, and understand that he didn’t have to go win the game.

Attaboy, Dougie.

NFL: Washington Redskins at Philadelphia Eagles Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

After crediting the veteran nucleus that supported Dak through his rookie season, Pederson was asked if he and the Philadelphia front office made the acquisition of veterans (Blount, Smith) a priority, to similarly support Wentz:

Well, first and foremost, our philosophy is still to build through the Draft and acquire young talent. That’s something that we—Howie, Joe Douglas, myself, Mr. Lurie—those are things that we still believe and how we build the roster: through the Draft. That’s the first thing.

Secondly, you’ve gotta address some needs. You come out of the season and you focus on the roster. You know you’re going to lose some good players to free agency off of your own roster and you’re gonna somehow have to replace those guys. Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith were sitting there, we had opportunities to get those two guys. It was obvious last year that we were young at the wide receiver position, and we needed some leadership and veteran presence and we went out and got that with Torrey and Alshon. We still want to go out there and acquire young talent through the Draft.

Blount is a guy who gives us that big back who can come in and compete. Hopefully he does everything that he did in New England the last couple of seasons: he had 18 rushing touchdowns and over 1,000 yards. We expect that same level of performance here.

When asked if preparation for Prescott had changed, now that Dak was in his second Dak-year, and Pederson’s staff had more time to look over a full Dak-season of Dak-film, with Dak-mazing Dak-throws and Dak-runs, Doug did not flinch:

You look at that, you have an opportunity to really study your opponents and fine-tune what you’re doing, and you know, we have to get better offensively and defensively. We look at that, but at the same time, we focus more on us, as the Eagles, and how can we get better coming up this season.

And when asked about his thoughts following the Romo injury and the ensuing Week 1 start of Dak Prescott, Pederson drew the Wentz comparison, but made sure he threw an asterisk on the end:

Well, you know, we had basically the same situation, just Sam Bradford didn’t get hurt in a preseason game, so we kinda had that same reality hit us. I can speak from our standpoint—obviously we were excited. I know Carson was a number two pick overall in last year’s Draft—but they had a lot of confidence in Dak. Obviously it was something they had seen in the offseason. They saw it in training camp. They saw the maturity there and his ability to lead. Jason Garrett and their coaching staff felt comfortable with Dak—and, again, it goes back to he didn’t have to win the game for them.

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles-OTA Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Stone cold, Doug.

Coach Pederson was then asked if he saw battles between Dak and Wentz shaping the NFC East for the foreseeable future:

You know, I really do. I mean, you look at the NFC East over the last few years, the decades. Tony Romo’s been in there for many years with Eli Manning, and now you have the young quarterbacks coming in--even in Washington, with Kirk Cousins as a relatively young quarterback, and in Dallas with Dak, and we’ve got Carson...Really this is a division where I think all four teams have guys they want.

Selecting Sidney Jones

Currently suffering in Jaylon Smith-rehab purgatory, Ed and Matt were curious about Philadelphia’s injured second-round selection, Sidney Jones. How did Pederson break down the risk and reward?

You know, it was definitely a situation where we felt comfortable talking with our doctors and the teams that have worked on Sidney. We felt like he was a Top-10 pick in the first round—that’s where we had him, we had him extremely high. It was so unfortunate that he had the injury because he probably wouldn’t even have been there at #14, when we picked in the first round.

But you look at it, look at the longevity—picking Rasul Douglas, and now having Sidney and getting him healthy—just looking down the road, you have two young guys that will eventually, hopefully work themselves into starting roles and contributors on defense that are two pretty good corners. That’s our expectation and hope for both of those players.

You do take a risk on it, but you know if you do right by the player and don’t put a timetable on this, hopefully the reward is you get two top-notch corners in the near future.

After mentioning the lack of timetable, Pederson was asked if it would be okay if Jones didn’t play this season.

You know, I don’t want to put a timetable on it—we don’t know, exactly. We’re going to continue to listen to our doctors and trainers. I don’t want to push anything with this situation. Who knows? There’s no timetable and we’re going to see how it unfolds.

Quick Hitters

Similarities between Cowboy fans and Eagle fans:

Obviously they’re very similar, very passionate for their organziations, very passionate for their teams. We had a chance to showcase that this year with the NFL Draft in Philadelphia. It was exciting to see our fanbase and kinda the spirited rivals you saw when the Cowboys were on the clock, the Giants were on the clock, the Redskins were on the clock. I think that’s the same way in Dallas—they travel well, they pack that stadium out. They’re proud of their team.

Concussions:

Number one: the protocol that’s in place with concussions, and having the spotters up in the booth on game day...you’re seeing a lot more of the players self-reporting. We all know the league is trying to eliminate as many head and neck injuries as they can, but we’re seeing more players being more aware of it and policing it themselves.

Joe Douglas/Howie Roseman dynamic:

I can’t speak to what happened in the past; I wasn’t here. But I know when I was hired, Howie was extremely involved again, and hiring Joe Douglas on the personnel side has really strengthened our group. Everything we do is a collaborative effort. There’s a lot of dialogue with and about players. We have a great relationship, there’s been an open-door policy—even Mr. Lurie has expressed his opinion from time to time and wants to be involved. It’s a great collaborative effort, it’s a great building, and we work together well right now.

We’re excited. We feel like we’ve put together, in the past two year, really solid drafts. Hopefully we can do the same—minus Sidney—and have some of our guys play this year.

How many wins until Doug can call Mr. Lurie by his first name:

I’m gonna keep calling him Mr. Lurie until we stand on that podium and host that Lombardi trophy.

Running the Rocky steps:

I’ve done it a few times now. When you get to the top of the steps, and you turn around, and you look right down that parkway, right into Center City and the cityscape of Philadelphia, you can’t help but raise your arms.

Favorite Cheesesteak:

I like ‘em all. We’ve hit ‘em all, but I’m a provolone guy. I gut provolone and all the onions on there, and there’s nothing better.

If you’re interested in hearing the full interview, which includes more depth on concussions in sports, Doug’s family, and high school baseball, you can find it here.