Well, Sunday’s NFC matchup between the Philadelphia Eagles and New Orleans Saints was embarrassing for the reigning Super Bowl Champions, and with a whole new host of injuries to work around, there are more than a few question marks heading into Week 12.
Head coach Doug Pederson spoke on some of the team’s struggles during their failed road test, and also talked about what the organization is planning personnel-wise with several additional cornerbacks going down this week.
As expected, things were tense, but here’s what Pederson had to say:
Injury updates and personnel plans
The head coach opened with updates on injuries suffered against the Saints including:
- LS Rick Lovato is in concussion protocol
- Jordan Hicks is going to be more week-to-week
- Sidney Jones is week-to-week — he was totally healed from his previous injury, so the one suffered on Sunday was totally new.
- Avonte Maddox and Rasul Douglas are day-to-day
- Jason Kelce “is fine”
Later, Pederson was asked about the depth of the team this year compared to last year, and he noted that last season injuries mainly affected one guy per position group. This year, however, one position group — particularly the secondary — is completely gutted, which is different.
He was also asked if any of the recurring issues for players is due to issues with the medical staff. This line of questioning has come up a few times in recent weeks, but Pederson has seemingly no patience for it. He says they are happy with their (new this year) medical staff and some of the injuries facing the guys are happenstance.
On the offensive failings
Pederson was asked what stat bothered him more, the 48 points the Saints scored or the seven points the Eagles scored. He didn’t hesitate in answering that it was the seven points the offense scored, and noted that after re-watching the film on Monday there were several plays that were left on the field.
He talked about heading into the game, knowing that the Saints have an impressive defense and that they would need to score points in order to stay competitive — which didn’t happen. So, the seven points by the Eagles was more disappointing coming out of the matchup.
Pederson was asked about the perceived drop off in the chemistry and rapport between quarterback Carson Wentz and receivers like Nelson Agholor and Alshon Jeffery. The head coach said that they talk a lot about ownership among the team, and it starts with Pederson and the play calling and play design, and that carries over to the players. That means that they need to coach better and they need to execute better on the football field.
He continued to talk about things from a quarterback perspective, specifically in the situation they were in on Sunday, where everything begins to spiral and the QB feels like he needs to make each and every play, but still stay within the confines of the game plan.
On what he says to Wentz in those moments to get him grounded, and Pederson noted just reinforcing to let the offense work for you and trust your targets.
Pederson was later asked if he’d consider, not benching Wentz, but bringing in Nick Foles for a few plays here and there to shake things up. The head coach said that isn’t something they would do unless it came near the end of a game in an effort to protect Wentz if a game had gotten out of hand.
He did talk about plans on being more aggressive against the Saints, but pointed to those being on fourth downs and 2-point conversions. He didn’t go for it during the early 4th-and-1 because of the timing, although he did point to that play as one he might do differently in hindsight.
On defensive depth
The head coach was asked if the team was aggressive enough going against an explosive Saints offense. Pederson mentioned that there was a fine line there, and that there were times he felt like they needed to stay on the field, and other times where they tried to back them up and get a stop and try to get the ball back. He admitted it’s unfortunate that those things didn’t happen.
Pederson talked about how they are only given so many roster spots, so when looking at outside help means having to get rid of someone, that isn’t their first choice. Instead, he said they have to look at the next round of guys and get them prepared to play.
Message to fans and team
Pederson said his message to the fans were the same as what he told the team after the loss: Don’t hang your head.
He went on to say that anyone who is getting down on the team or isn’t buying in to what they’re doing, the Eagles don’t need them, because Pederson believes in the team and the group of guys and coaches in the locker room.
Pederson continued, “It’s a group that is hurting, quite frankly. And it’s a group that will get themselves, pick themselves up this week, they’re not going to feel sorry for themselves and we’re going to get ready for the Giants.”
When asked if he meant that the group was hurting emotionally or physically, Pederson noted “both”.
Later on the head coach was asked if his message — which has been consistent all season — is getting lost in translation, or whether he needed to change his focus. He said no, and that he’s going to keep preaching the same areas they need to improve, and hopefully if he does it enough, something will stick.