The Eagles had a big win on Monday Night Football against Washington, and head coach Doug Pederson spoke to reporters on Tuesday to talk about the things that finally worked on offense, how they got off to a quick start, and what players might be back from injury for a tough game against the Cowboys on Sunday.
Here’s what Pederson had to say:
Timmy Jernigan is “doing ok, he’s doing fine” according to Pederson, and will still be in the mix. They expect him to be available this week, but they’ll see on Wednesday at practice.
Jason Peters got rolled up on late in the game on Monday, but Pederson mentioned he’ll be ok — he will be listed as day-to-day, but he should be fine.
Jordan Hicks and Avonte Maddox are getting close and have a chance to play this week but are both still day-to-day. Jalen Mills is a little bit further away from returning.
On offensive success against Washington
Pederson wouldn’t go so far as to say that what you’re seeing now from the offense was what they had expected early on in the season, but he did say that it’s trending in the right direction. He talked about seeing some of those flashes of exciting plays, and seeing those more frequently, but it still wasn’t perfect.
He went on to say that there are things they need to clean up from the Washington game, but overall they had more opportunities to score, but that wasn’t always the result, so they need to spend some time working on their red zone efficiency.
Pederson said what we’re seeing now is the offense coming together, and he noted that it starts up front and that the Eagles offensive line is playing at a high level right now which allows them to ride them with the run game. The head coach said that the run game is pretty consistent right now too, so while it may have taken longer than expected to get things clicking, he’s happy that they are playing their best football down the stretch.
He was asked about calling more screens on Monday, and he said that he’s seen that they’ve had success with them over the past few weeks, and made an effort to include more. Pederson also said they got some good gains from them, but there were some in which they could have gotten even more.
On the offense’s fast start
Pederson has preached all season about needing to start off fast in games, and that they’ve struggled to do that most of the season. On Monday, however, the Eagles were able to score on their first drive which created some momentum heading into the matchup.
The head coach said they have a lot of confidence moving forward, and that part of the success was due to a really balanced run and pass attack. He went on to say that the offense was missing just a couple of small things throughout the season, but that against Washington things came together.
Pederson gave the players credit for it all finally clicking, saying that they’ve taken it upon themselves to clean up a lot of their issues and are focusing on the smaller details.
On the run game with Josh Adams and Darren Sproles
Pederson was asked about the relation between finally having success in the run game and winning their last two games, while also scoring more than 25 points. He said that it definitely helps and that you have to have that run-pass balance.
He went on to say that it opens up some options in the play action world and getting QB Carson Wentz on the perimeter. He said it goes back to the offensive line and how well they are controlling the line of scrimmage.
With Josh Adams and Corey Clement getting most of the carries, Pederson was asked how to integrate Darren Sproles without messing up that rhythm. The head coach noted that as we saw against Washington, you get Sproles a few touches throughout the game. He explained that he didn’t want to put Sproles out there right away and run him a lot, partly because of the success Adams has been having.
Pederson talked about Sproles’ 14-yard touchdown and said it was good for the running back to get back into the game and get banged around again from the physical aspect. He wasn’t willing to say how they would use Sproles throughout the rest of the regular season, and that it’ll likely change week-to-week with their game planning.
One of the sentiment’s shared by the offensive coaches has been that there’s only one ball and a lot of targets, but Pederson said that Sproles is a big part of what they want to do this season and will probably see a gradual increase in carries.
On Zach Ertz being targeted too much
Pederson didn’t really talk much about reports that some — even some among the locker room — think that Ertz is being targeted too much. The head coach did say that as long as they win the game, that’s the most important thing.
He went on to say that Ertz is a tremendous tight end and is doing great things this season, and also that he’s clearly clicking with Wentz, which is important.
Pederson did note that against Washington the ball was spread out a bit more than it has been this season, which is all part of expanding roles and having more time to move the ball around.
On changes since the Saints game
Pederson opened by talking about the loss to the Saints a couple weeks back and how that was a catalyst for where the team is now. He was clear to point out that the team that lost in New Orleans was not indicative of who they are, and it put them in a must-win situation throughout the remainder of the season.
He went on to say that he’s been impressed with his players who have been working hard at practice and studying the game plan. The head coach also noted that they suffered some injuries during the New Orleans game and what you’re seeing now are those young guys who stepped in being more comfortable and confidant with their roles.
And, on offense, he said that they are starting to find a rhythm and the results have been two quality wins over division opponents.
Later on, Pederson talked about the young DBs and specifically pointed to Rasul Douglas who made some really nice plays for the Eagles on Monday.