The Eagles were back to practice on Wednesday, and the team’s head coach, Doug Pederson, spoke to media ahead of taking the field. There was a lot of speculation that he would announced the starting QB for Sunday — despite Groh confirming the team already knows — and he opened with news that Nick Foles will indeed be the Week 2 quarterback.
Here’s what else the head coach had to say as the team prepares to face several former teammates and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
On Nick Foles in Week 2
Pederson opened with the news that Nick Foles would be the starting quarterback against the Buccaneers — with just a hint of snark given the contentious subject the past two weeks.
He then continued to talk about how they can try and get Foles into a rhythm, which the QB has repeatedly said is critical to his performance. Pederson noted that moving quickly at the beginning of the game can help, and hurry up tempo is a good way to get any quarterback into a rhythm.
The head coach was asked if it hurt Foles to not have the full compliment of reps during training camp — due to splitting reps with Wentz. Pederson noted, if anything it affects timing with guys, but “you’re talking about two veteran players”.
He continued about how Foles had a great week in practice before the Atlanta game, and that the Falcons defense was just good and was able to stifle them a bit.
Carson Wentz isn’t cleared yet, but he has been working out with the scout team while he works toward getting back on the field. Pederson wouldn’t commit to a timeline to get Wentz back on the field once he finally is cleared, just that he’s taking things one day, one medical appointment, at a time.
Pederson was also asked how he determines what to communicate to the QBs via the headset. He emphasized that he tries to keep things short and simple. He doesn’t want to overload them with too many observations or scheme comments, but in certain situations he does add some extra information.
On Buccaneers prep
Pederson said it should be very similar to last week. Atlanta has a speed guy, a big guys and a tight end, and Tampa Bay has the same type of lineup. The head coach said they just need to keep improving as a team and focus on getting a win.
He also talked about having to focus on defenders like Gerald McCoy and Jason Pierre-Paul, both incredibly formidable defenders, not to mention the former Eagles they have lining up.
Pederson also spoke about keeping the guys hydrated and prepared to go into a hot and humid environment down in Florida, and he noted that the message to the players started on Monday.
He was asked about DeSean Jackson and how they plan to limit his big plays, and Pederson lauded his speed and talent. The head coach talked about having to review his film from Tampa, as well as his short time in Washington, especially since he’s been used differently following his time with the Eagles.
Jackson has a unique ability to get past the secondary and can also set up defenders, and those are things he’s used to his advantage despite his size. Plus, he’s got Ryan Fitzpatrick slinging the ball down field and creating more opportunities for the receiver.
On the WR position
Pederson was asked how he viewed the wide receiver position, especially given some of the players they’ve had in for workouts and then signed to either the practice squad or roster this week.
He said last week Markus Wheaton was a good fit for them schematically, but that the personnel department does a good job at looking for potential additions week-to-week. He likes being able to add some more depth, and specifically guys that can also bring experience and some special teams ability, like Kamar Aiken.
“Gives us the ability as a coaching staff to work with a new face, and really see what these guys can do,” Pederson said.
He also noted that Alshon Jeffery will be back on the field for practice this week, but mostly in individual drills and no 11-on-11.
Pederson was also asked about Mike Wallace not having any receptions last week, but the head coach wasn’t concerned with his production. Pederson pointed out that they had game planned to get Wallace a few targets, but the coverage didn’t allow those to pan out.