The Eagles are back to work on Wednesday and are shifting their focus toward a tough road matchup against the Saints on Sunday. Head coach Doug Pederson spoke to reporters before taking the field, and talked about their focus heading into the weekend and specific things the team needs to work on moving forward.
Here’s what the head coach had to say:
Injury and Personnel Updates
Pederson noted that Sidney Jones is still day-to-day and that they’d re-evaluate things at the end of practice on Wednesday and see where he’s at — but he will participate in practice. If he is ready to go, the head coach said Jones would line up both inside and outside, while pointing out that Avonte Maddox will probably continue to work in the nickel and they’ll ease Jones back in.
Timmy Jernigan will be back on the practice field this week and will take on a little bit more, but he’s still day-to-day and while they are optimistic he might be ready to play on Sunday, Pederson didn’t appear too confident in that possibility.
The head coach was asked if the team had learned anything about the players on IR after designating tight end Richard Rodgers to return. Pederson noted that Joshua Perkins had a knee injury and will miss substantial time. On whether Rodgers would be ready to play against the Saints, again Pederson said they were optimistic but that it’s day-to-day.
(Are you sensing the trend yet?)
Later, he was asked what his expectations for Darren Sproles were this week and — after Pederson shook off a surprised look — said that he’s just going to continue rehabbing and get healthy.
On the state of the team
Pederson said he feels really good about the guys. He went on to say that he spoke to the leadership committee earlier on Wednesday and asked them their thoughts on how the team was feeling and how they are handling being 4-5 on the season. The committee admitted that they are all disappointed, obviously, in their performance in a division game, but they are eager to get back on the practice field.
He went on to say that the team is excited about what’s ahead of them, and that they understand the need for urgency in practice. He clarified though that it’s not a panic or anything, but just a sense of urgency in knowing what their jobs are and doing it collectively, and that they just need to take things one play at a time.
Summed up though, he feels like the guys are in a good place, and are positive about moving forward. Later on he listed off some signs he looks for to indicate this, and he included that the guys are showing up on time, and are actively participating in practice, as well as how and when they are communicating.
Pederson went on to say that the team understands where they are, and quite frankly, they dug themselves a hole that they need to climb their way out of.
He also talked about what he expects from the veterans on the team, and Pederson explained that helping the young guys is a big thing. And not just telling them what they are doing wrong or right, but also getting them out on the field and showing them by example ways they can improve their games.
On what they need to fix
Right now, the focus for the team is finishing plays late in the game, whether it’s the offense executing a game-winning drive or the defense getting an offense off the field. Pederson said he pointed these issues out to the guys, and how important that particular part is to a win or loss, citing the Jacksonville win and Dallas loss as examples.
Pederson admitted that there’s a lot of frustration around where the team is right now, but said that they are so close. He went on to say that if you look at their output and production on offense, it’s very similar to what they were doing last year.
The difference is: 1) creating turnovers on defense, and 2) scoring in the red zone.
He said those two things are kind of staring the team in the face, because most of the other things are close to what they were doing a year ago. They need to finish better and score more points.
It was later pointed out that early in the season, the coaches were calling on self-inflicted mistakes as the reason for some of the losses and sloppy play, but that against the Cowboys, there weren’t any penalties. He said all those things contribute to scoring points and finishing strong, but that all the other areas he noted that need improvement are part of that overall picture as well.
On Golden Tate and the offense
He talked about Tate being in late against Dallas, even during the uptempo offense, and Pederson said they had worked out a couple late-game plays that he was included in. (In reference to Pederson’s comments on Monday that Tate’s lack of targets was because they switched to their uptempo offense early, which Tate was still learning the lingo for.)
On Saints prep
Pederson called the New Orleans defense multiple, they give a lot of coverages and are good at defending against the run. Those stats might be a little skewed since their offense is scoring at an astronomical rate, so other teams are having to pass more than they run.
He said they’ve got a good third down defense, including some familiar faces like Kurt Coleman and Eli Apple, and Pederson also touted Cam Jordan as a “tremendous” pass rusher and can line up anywhere on the line.