The Eagles are just two days away from their final game of the 2018 regular season, and their hopes of making it to the playoffs rest on more than just their shoulders. Head coach Doug Pederson spoke to the media for the final time before their Week 17 matchup with Washington, and talked again about his practice schedule, as well as gave some additional injury updates.
Here’s what the head coach had to say:
Injury updates and personnel moves
Jordan Hicks did not participate in Thursday’s practice and Pederson said there was a bit of inflammation in his calf and that they wanted to give him an extra day of rest.
Same story with Jason Kelce, with the head coach noted that he likes to give guys an extra day of rest this time of the season if it will help them heal up a bit.
Isaac Seumalo is a game-time decision, and Pederson said they were going to evaluate him during Friday’s practice and try to figure out if he is ready to go and whether he’ll be back in at guard.
Mike Wallace did well in his first practice back, but Pederson noted he was limited and only participated in individual drills. The wideout will stick to that plan again on Friday, but he held up well.
On his practice schedule philosophy
Pederson then talked a bit about how he’s developed the philosophy of resting guys more near the end of the season, and he admitted some of it comes from being a former player himself, but that he’s also seen coaches reduce reps throughout the week. He went on to say that any extra rest he can provide to keep the guys feeling fresh is a positive.
Plus, he noted that they can get through twice as many plays during a walk-thru than they can with live reps, so this time of year, it makes sense to change the schedule up a bit.
The meeting schedule however, does stay the same, regardless of what type of practice they’re having.
Pederson did say that some of the decisions he’s made with regard to the practice schedule comes from the sport-science data, but he thinks ultimately you have to get a feel for the team when they walk through the door. He also said it depends on what the injury report has to say, and if it’s a longer list than normal, you might want to scale things back.
He also said that you always want guys practicing, so even if it’s in a walk-thru setting, someone dealing with a nagging injury can still participate in what the team is doing.
The head coach said he’s never had a player come up to him and ask for a lighter schedule — if anything, like last year’s post-season run, they’ve asked to be back in pads or to ramp things up.
On Nick Foles and Philly
Foles talked at length yesterday about his love for the city of Philadelphia, and how much the community has embraced him throughout his NFL career. Pederson was asked what he thought was driving that connection.
The head coach pointed out first and foremost that there’s a special connection between a lot of the Eagles players and the city, and there’s a work ethic with a lot of these guys that the city sees. Pederson went on to say that when a person is genuine and transparent, people respect that and gravitate toward it.
He noted that Foles has that kind of honesty about him, and also is playing at a high level, so people are going to gravitate toward that.
There are a lot of notable guys who might be moving on from Philly after this season, and Pederson was asked if he uses that as motivation. He said that he doesn’t, and “quite frankly” doesn’t even want those guys thinking about it. He wants to keep them focused on playing Washington and being ready for Sunday.
On Chris Long as a leader
Pederson noted that Long is a natural leader and has been since the day he walked into the locker room. The head coach acknowledged that the things Long does off the field speak for themselves, and are the reason he’s up for the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award.
He went on to say that it’s given him a platform to lead by example on and off the field, and also to lead through words and encouraging the guys. Pederson said he was very instrumental in the team winning a championship.
On the challenges of this season
Pederson said that the challenge for him this season was the number of injuries each week and knowing who the 46 guys on game day will be, and also having a big number of players coming back from injuries early in the year. And then, as the season progressed, they had a lot of new and young faces out there, who they are trying to get caught up.
He talked about staying consistent and being true to themselves and trusting the process having worked out, and now they’ve won 4 of their last 5 games and have another opportunity on Sunday to get another victory.
Pederson gave the players a lot of credit for staying focused each week, staying in the moment and taking it one-game at a time.
The head coach was asked about boarding the airplane from New Orleans and whether he thought they’d still have a chance to be playing for a playoff spot, and without hesitation, Pederson answered, “I did”. He said when you looked at the rest of the schedule and the number of games left to play, as much as it was a setback game for the team, he still felt like they were still in control.
He continued to say that in that moment, things could have spiraled out of control, but they didn’t and that’s one of the things he’s most proud of coming out of this season. Pederson noted that he leaned on the player committee — made up of Carson Wentz, Malcolm Jenkins, Chris Long, Alshon Jeffery, Darren Sproles, Brandon Graham — to make sure things didn’t collapse at that moment.