Eagles head coach Doug Pederson wasn’t exactly thrilled with some of the comments made earlier in the week by Kamu Grugier-Hill, and he and quarterback Carson Wentz have maintained they have a lot of respect for the Dallas team they will face on Sunday. Rivalry or not, bulletin board material or not, Sunday’s matchup should be filled with energy as both teams compete for the NFC East and look for a path to the playoffs.
For the final time before Sunday’s game, Pederson spoke to the media and gave some injury updates as well as talked about the team’s preparation and state of mind.
Here’s what the head coach had to say:
- Rasul Douglas will practice, Avonte Maddox is getting close but they’ll have to see where he’s at after Friday’s practice — but Pederson wasn’t confident that Maddox would be ready to go.
- Jordan Hicks and Jalen Mills are both still a ways from returning.
- Timmy Jernigan’s back spasms are still there, so the team is making sure those calm down before they put him back on the field. Pederson said they’ll have Friday and Saturday to see where he’s at and make that decision closer to game time. The head coach deferred questions about the spasms being related to his back injury to the medical staff.
- Jason Peters will be out of Friday’s practice for personal reasons, but Pederson said the veteran will play on Sunday.
On the use of screens
Pederson was asked if the increase in screen calls lately was due to a healthier offensive line, or if that group just had better chemistry now than at the beginning of the season. The head coach admitted it’s a little bit of both.
He continued to say that they view screens as an extension of the run game, and that there’s obviously different screens but that the offensive line is a part of them. Pederson also noted that you often get more success on screens if the run game is working.
The head coach also said they are timing plays and it’s something they are getting better at each week, and they’ve just got to continue on that track.
On players with big game experience
Pederson talked a bit about the value of having so many players on the roster now who have experience in big games and rivalry games, especially compared to last season’s group. He noted that those players are able to keep things in perspective for the young guys — on both good and bad plays — and are able to keep them motivated for a full 60 minutes.
On Kamu’s comments
Pederson said he did pull Kamu aside to talk to him about him comments earlier in the week, and emphasized that the Eagles organization and himself personally have a ton of respect for the Cowboys. He noted it was unfortunate the comments were made, and that he’s told the team they don’t need to give any extra motivation to their opponent.
He did however talk about how he doesn’t really think “bulletin board material” really applies anymore, given that constant influx of information players get by way of social media. Pederson joked that back in the day they’d literally cut out articles and pin it the bulletin board, but there’s just too much information available these days for that to matter as much.
Pederson said at the end of the day, the guys know what this game is about, and it’s us versus them and they just have to do their job and play for 60 minutes.
On his messaging to the team this week
The head coach doesn’t like to give too much away, and would rather keep these things behind closed doors, but did say that he’s been emphasizing that they need to be playing their best football in this last month of the season.
Pederson noted that he challenges the guys to play so they have no regrets and leave everything out on the field. He admitted that coach speak — like, telling them to take it one play at a time, and to do their job — is amplified in week’s like this.
On the rebound from the Saints game
Pederson said that he saw and heard how his players reacted to that loss in New Orleans, and was confident that they were going to put in the work — as much extra that was needed — to be sure they didn’t play that poorly again. He went on to say he credits the leaders on the team for not letting that loss derail their entire season, but rather use it as a point to bounce back from.
The head coach then talked about how there’s a lot that goes on outside of the Eagles complex — citing wildfires and shootings — and that all of those things are bigger than losing a game and it all helps put things in perspective. And while players themselves may not be affected by some of those struggles, their relatives throughout the country may be, so while they’re not happy losing, at the end of the day there are a lot of things more important than a football game.
Related, Pederson was asked if he’s been in touch with Derek Barnett, whose older brother was killed in a car accident earlier this week. He said that he had and it’s a tragedy, and that’s the kind of thing he’s talking about. Barnett is back home in Nashville with his family while they deal with this devastating situation.
On lessons from the first Dallas game
Pederson said one of the main takeaways from the first time they faced the Cowboys this year, was that they needed to execute better and tackle better on defense. He said they knew going in they were going to get a healthy dose of Ezekiel Elliott, and they need to find a way to get him on the ground. Offensively, it emphasized that they need to get out to a fast start. Overall, he said there were too many mistakes in that game.