The Eagles are back to work a day after Thanksgiving, and with Dallas beating Washington, Philadelphia still has a shot at a late-season comeback to take the NFC East. The first step in making that push for the division comes on Sunday against the Giants.
Head coach Doug Pederson spoke to the media for the final time leading up to the matchup, and as always gave some injury updates, and what they’re focused on heading into Sunday’s game.
One item he didn’t want to comment on was the differing opinions by Malcolm Jenkins and Fletcher Cox on the team’s demeanor last week. Pederson noted that he had addressed the comments on Wednesday, and that he isn’t going to keep talking about something that happened five days ago.
Here’s what the head coach had to say:
On whether they expect to have any combination of Jalen Mills, Avonte Maddox, Rasul Douglas and Sidney Jones back in the lineup for Sunday, Pederson noted that they are all day-to-day.
Pederson talked about the soft tissue injuries affecting the team this year, and said that when they compared it to last season, they were at the same number. He admitted that when you look at the totality of the injuries, there’s more this season, but with soft-tissue injuries specifically, they were on pace with last season and on pace with the rest of the league.
On Giants prep
Pederson was asked how he can replicate the same type of success the Eagles had against the Giants earlier this season again on Sunday. He said as a playcaller he has to go back to what they’ve had success doing in the past, but also to get back to who they are, including running the ball and some of Carson Wentz’s strengths in play action and moving the pocket.
Later on, it was mentioned that they played the Giants earlier in the season on a short week which required a bit of a simplified game plan, and whether that was something they’d consider this week as well. Pederson agreed that it would be somewhat similar with Thanksgiving this week, and although they practiced on Tuesday and Wednesday the little break on Thursday can help reinvigorate the team.
He also noted that they are still working to integrate Golden Tate in the game plan and as they simplify things for him, it’ll simplify things for the entire offense, and Pederson thinks that can allow them to play faster.
On the run game
Pederson noted that Corey Clement and Wendell Smallwood have experience and that Josh Adams is getting better each week. He went on to talk about how the offense as a whole runs on timing, and sometimes rushers may overrun a tackle or a shaded nose, and it can mess with the timing, but those are all things they have been focusing and working on.
He echoed his earlier sentiments about getting back to what they do well, and that they’ve seen a lot of inside zone and mid-zone scheme, and that kind of who the Eagles are as a run team.
Pederson also noted that he hears OL Coach Stoutland talk all the time about surfacing blocks and making sure they don’t do that, and making sure all the techniques are sound.
On the secondary
The head coach pointed out that it’s a great opportunity for the young guys on the roster — like, Tre Sullivan, Chandon Sullivan and DeVante Bausby — and that they are always talking about the next man up, and those are the guys.
He said that the young group has worked really hard this week in practice, and it’ll be a great opportunity for them to step up and really help the defense against an offense that’s playing well right now.
Pederson said that the biggest challenge with integrating these young players is the continuity and rhythm of the defense, and the little things like reading each others body language that they pick up during OTAs.
He noted that it adds an extra layer of responsibility for the veterans, particularly Malcolm Jenkins, to make sure they get lined up right and know what their role is. But Pederson did say they expect those guys to do their jobs.
On Carson Wentz
Pederson wouldn’t say that Wentz’s issues last week were mechanics related, and that sometimes you’re going to have a game like that, but that he just needs to get back to work and re-focus on the Giants.
The head coach noted that of course Wentz was disappointed in the loss and his performance, but that he was eager to get back on the practice field and fix areas of miscommunication and focus on the little details.
He was asked if he had considered pulling Wentz once the Saints game had gotten out of hand, and Pederson admitted that he considered it, but that he chose to let those guys fight it out and was hoping that it was let his quarterback at least get a little confidence to carry into the next week.