Super Bowl winning head coach Doug Pederson spoke with reporters for over an hour on Tuesday morning during the NFC coaches breakfast at the 2018 NFL owners meetings. You can watch Pederson’s entire press conference by clicking here. Here are some key takeaways from what Pederson had to say.
Carson Wentz is progressing well
Over the weekend, Doug Pederson said Wentz is “ahead of schedule.” On Tuesday, the Eagles head coach said he’s “very encouraged” by his quarterback’s recovery progress.
Doug Pederson says he’s “very encouraged” with where Carson Wentz is at in his recovery. No timetable. #Eagles— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) March 27, 2018
With that said, Pederson noted there still isn’t a timetable for his return. He also said he doesn’t expect Wentz to participate in spring practices, which isn’t a surprise. Nick Foles and Nate Sudfeld will handle a bulk of the reps in his place.
Pederson did say that he plans to have a conservation with Wentz about the importance of longevity and staying healthy. (That’s a funny concept. “Hey, Carson, please stay healthy.” “Got it, thanks coach!”)
The Eagles are interested to see what they have in Nate Sudfeld
Pederson talked about how he’s “ecstatic” the Eagles are returning all three quarterbacks from the 2017 season. He seemed especially intrigued by the development of Sudfeld, who is set to enter his first full offseason with Philadelphia. Wentz’s absence will allow Sudfeld to get more reps than usual. What they see from him could impact how they feel about Foles being expendable when it comes time to consider a trade.
Doug Pederson on Nate Sudfeld: “The things we saw in practice gave us a lot of confidence he could go in and sustain the role.” #Eagles— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) March 27, 2018
Mack Hollins and Sidney Jones are viewed as Year 2 “step up” candidates
Hollins and Jones are intriguing young talents. The team likes their potential. But they won’t just be handed starting jobs. The Eagles want them to earn their roles, which is a good approach.
The likely avenue for Hollins is that he remains as the team’s No. 4 wide receiver behind Alshon Jeffery, Mike Wallace, and Nelson Agholor, but maybe he can shock some people and get more playing time than expected. Even if he remains at No. 4, there’s still room for him to play more often than he did as a rookie last season.
When it comes to Jones, there’s a starting role available for the taking. Ronald Darby and Jalen Mills aren’t going to give their spot up without a fight, though. The Eagles said Jones was a top 10 pick on their board (based on talent) last year. He needs to show some of that ability in order to start this season.
Pederson also mentioned some names for the No. 5 and No. 6 wide receiver spots below.
When asked if anyone could be this year’s Nelson Agholor (in terms of stepping up), Doug Pederson mentions Sidney Jones and Mack Hollins. Also says one of Greg Ward, Rashard Davis, Bryce Treggs, Shelton Gibson will emerge. #Eagles— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) March 27, 2018
Doug Pederson says he sees Mack Hollins taking a step forward this year. He’s excited to see the progress he makes. Sees him as the fourth WR / important special teams guy. #Eagles— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) March 27, 2018
Doug Pederson says whether Sidney Jones becomes a starter or not is up to him and how he performs this offseason. #Eagles— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) March 27, 2018
How the Eagles plan to replace Patrick Robinson at nickel corner
Jalen Mills seems to be the most likely replacement for Robinson as of right now, especially because there’s no other obvious answer. It’s possible Mills could even start on the outside and shift to the slot with Jones coming off the bench to play the boundary in those situations.
The feeling here is that Worley and Bausby are more outside guys. Killings is an intriguing under-the-radar name to watch in the slot. And not just because his name is cool.
Doug Pederson on replacing Patrick Robinson: “That’s an area we have to address this spring.” Mentioned Jalen Mills, Daryl Worley, De’Vante Bausby, D.J. Killings (in that order) as possible candidates. #Eagles— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) March 27, 2018
Wendell Smallwood might not be a goner just yet
This is a big offseason for Smallwood. There was thought he could have a big season in Year 2 last year. Some around the team even believed he’d be the team leader in rushing yards. Clearly that wasn’t even close to being the case. Smallwood got phased out of the rotation entirely after the Eagles traded for Jay Ajayi.
Way prior to that, though, Smallwood was looking good in training camp last year. He easily looked like Philly’s best back in practice. The problem is he’s been unable to stay on the field due to lingering injuries and he hasn’t proven himself enough on game day. With LeGarrette Blount and (potentially) Darren Sproles moving on, there’s room for Smallwood to step up. But this is likely his last shot.
Doug Pederson says he likes Wendell Smallwood and is encouraged by him. Said it’s another good draft at RB though. Jay Ajayi and Corey Clement the top 2 RBs. #Eagles— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) March 27, 2018
Don’t rule out a Darren Sproles return
My impression from hearing Pederson speak about Sproles is that the 34-year-old veteran isn’t in a rush to sign anywhere. It sounds to me like he wants to spend the offseason spending time with his family instead of grinding in OTAs and such. Perhaps the Eagles hope to see what they can do in the 2018 NFL Draft before really reaching out to Sproles to try to bring him back. If they get a rookie pass-catching back who can also return, they can go with their youth. If not, they can give Sproles a call.
Doug Pederson says the Eagles have had some conversations with Darren Sproles in free agency.— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) March 27, 2018
“We’ll see where it falls out.” “I want him to be an Eagle.”
The new Eagles QB coach is a “real smart guy”
Pederson talked about how Press Taylor really impressed him with his detailed scouting reports of opponents in 2017.
Doug Pederson says new Eagles QB coach Press Taylor is a “real smart guy.” Points to how he did a great job with scouting reports on opposing teams.— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) March 27, 2018
Derek Barnett is a starter who might not start
Pederson didn’t commit to the Eagles’ 2017 first-round pick as a starter this year in part because he feels like the Eagles have so many starting caliber players at defensive end.
I’ll also note that Pederson said “we already know what Derek is going to be” when asked about the aforementioned question of which young players could step like Agholor did last season. That seemed like a good sign to me.
Doug Pederson wouldn’t commit to Derek Barnett as a starting DE. Talked about how the Eagles have 4 starting quality ends in Graham, Long, Bennett, and Barnett.— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) March 27, 2018
The Eagles have their eyes on tight end prospects in the 2018 NFL Draft
Philadelphia has shown a lot of interest in tight end prospects this offseason. That comes as no surprise given that Brent Celek was released and Trey Burton left in free agency. The Eagles need some more depth behind Zach Ertz. The Birds will almost certainly select at least one tight end given that Pederson said he wants at least three guys at the position on the 53-man roster.
Doug Pederson says “it’s a good tight end draft.” He wants to have at least 3 tight ends he can count on going into the season. #Eagles— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) March 27, 2018
Mike Wallace is a Torrey Smith replacement
Doug Pederson sees Mike Wallace having a similar role to Torrey Smith. “He’s an excellent slant runner.” #Eagles— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) March 27, 2018
The Philly Special is retired
You won’t be seeing the famous play from the Eagles’ Super Bowl victory this season, according to Big Balls Doug.
Doug Pederson says there’s no way he’ll call the Philly Special again because it’s already out there.— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) March 27, 2018
“You’re probably not going to see it this year.” #Eagles
Or will we?
That’s the thing. Pederson could be saying this just to trick everyone. But some teams will realize that he wants them to think they won’t run it.
So basically something like this:
A PUNTER BATTLE IS NIGH
Sounds like the Eagles plan to give 2017 undrafted free agent signing Cameron Johnston some competition this offseason. That’s probably a good move when trying to find the heir to Donnie Jones.
Doug Pederson says there’s a chance they bring in another punter to compete with Cameron Johnston. #Eagles— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) March 27, 2018
Doug is happy that he has his own day named after him
Winning the Super Bowl has changed Pederson’s life.
Doug Pederson said Moorestown naming a day after him was the coolest Super Bowl congratulations he received. https://t.co/SUytLU3o8x— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) March 27, 2018
Doug Pederson said it’s still hard to fathom how he’s a Super Bowl champion. #Eagles— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) March 27, 2018
Doug is ready to get back to work!
In fact, he’s been ready.