As the Eagles try to keep the energy they had in their win over the Rams, head coach Doug Pederson spoke to the media on Wednesday ahead of practice to talk about players voted to the Pro Bowl, how Nick Foles makes the adjustment from backup to starter (both physically and mentally), and gave some injury updates as well.
Here’s what the head coach had to say:
On Pro Bowl players
Pederson wasn’t interested in talking about Pro Bowl snubs, and understands that it’s subjective, but did say that he’s happy for the three players who did get voted in and those named as alternates. And then, said that he’d love to keep playing and that’s their goal — versus being available to actually play in the Pro Bowl.
He was then asked to evaluate the kind of season Brandon Brooks is having. Pederson said that Brooks has been real consistent for the team and the Pro Bowl nomination includes votes from defensive lineman, so it’s a real credit to him and the work he puts in during the week. The head coach continued to laud Brooks’ preparation and said it translates to field, and he had a good performance last Sunday against the Rams.
Pederson continued to talk about how important his consistency this season has been, especially given the other injuries throughout the offensive line. He said that Brooks, along with Jason Kelce, has brought some good continuity to the line and have been the glue to keep that group together.
On the QB room
Pederson was asked about flipping the switch as a player from backup quarterback to starter. The head coach said it’s a little different than the “next man up” philosophy with other positions. He went on to say that in Nick Foles’ situation, things were in their favor given his time playing at the end of last year and the beginning of this season, which helped keep him in that mental space.
As for the coaches, he said it’s up to them to shift their focus to Foles and provide him with the same help support that they’d give to Carson Wentz, including keeping him clean, going over the game plan and keeping things simple for him to go out and execute.
In terms of physically for a quarterback to make that switch, Pederson said it’s a little different because you’ve now missed several weeks of making throws with your guys. Mentally, it changes, in terms of taking every snap and the ball being in their hands all the time. Overall, Pederson thought Foles handled himself really well.
Pederson was later asked about Foles’ ability to get a win when they need it most, and the head coach first noted that it’s a credit to the quarterback and that it’s also related to his basketball background. Foles treats his position like a point guard and it’s his job to distribute the ball. Pederson also noted that the QB is a veteran player, and has a lot of in-game experience, and has been a starter in the league.
He went on to say that Foles just wants to win, and he doesn’t care about credit and all that, and he’s helped the Eagles do that before and again. Pederson also elaborated on Foles being prepared and taking mental reps each week at practice, even if he’s not the one making the throws, so he puts a lot of pride in being ready to go at any point.
Drawing off his own experience going from backup to starter, Pederson said it was really important for Foles — and other QBs in that situation — to slow the game down. They’ve got to mentally prepare for all the different situations, that way on game day when there are emotions involved, things don’t get away from them and start moving to fast.
On Fletcher Cox
Pederson was asked about a report by NBC that he went up to Fletcher Cox last week and told him that they’d need a career game out of him. After joking about whether or not he really said that, Pederson explained that when he gets a chance to talk to those players, they all understand their role and the magnitude of the situation.
He said Cox has been an impact player for this team throughout the season, and he just wanted to put that confidence in him that if he just does his job, good things will happen. And he did. Pederson noted that he was dominant against the Rams and called it probably Cox’s best game of the season.
On where they are as a team with 2 games left
Pederson said that this season is different than last with regards to the team fighting for their spot in the playoffs. He said that, with what they’ve gone through this season with two games left to go, to be in this position, they are trying to control what they can control. He said they’ve got to play good again this week as they host another playoff team.
The head coach was asked how he keeps his team motivated when it seems like the rise up when they’re counted out. Pederson said that they can’t drown out all the noise, if you turn on the TV or radio the guys will hear things, so they understand where they’re at and what they have to get done — it’s no different than last week, it’s a one game season for them.
He did agree that sometimes they play better when they’re backs are against the wall, and that it can create a heightened sense of awareness for what they need to do. Pederson also said that they had success last week simplifying things to allow the guys to go play, and it worked for them.
Pederson was then asked to explain the reasoning behind the odd practice schedule this week and last, and the head coach explained that it was his decision. He explained that if you go back two weeks against the Cowboys, for example, the defense was out there for 90-plus snaps, and then they had long travel two weeks in a row, so it’s important for him to keep the guys as fresh as he can, especially this time of year.
He was asked why Chris Maragos (PUP) underwent surgery this week — as the safety posted on Twitter — but Pederson wouldn’t get into the details, although he did confirm it was a second knee surgery.
He went on to say that it’s unfortunate Chris has had to deal with this throughout the whole season and now will miss the rest, but that he’s been instrumental for the team and has stayed involved on both defense and special teams. Pederson also lauded his leadership and said he’s an inspiration to a lot of guys on the team. He wrapped up noting that it’s unfortunate, but that Maragos is a great guy and a great teammate.