Fresh off the Philadelphia Eagles earning their first win of the 2018 regular season, head coach Doug Pederson spoke to the media on Friday about some of the offensive concerns and adjustments, and some of the younger guys he was impressed by.
Here’s what the not-so-snarky Doug had to say:
On Fletcher Cox and his conditioning
The head coach admitted that the entire team looked well-conditioned in the season opener, and that despite the warm and wet conditions, didn’t struggle much.
Pederson talked about how Cox is a “tremendous player” and that with the offseason additions of Michael Bennett and Haloti Ngata, combined with Chris Long and the other lineman, there’s a little less pressure on Cox to be in on every snap. Being able to rotate those players will go a long way in keeping them healthy throughout the season.
Pederson hasn’t noticed any real difference in the player since he was voted a captain by him teammates, but that it’s indicative of where Cox is in his career and what he means to the Eagles locker room.
He also lauded Cox for showing up throughout the offseason program and showing his commitment to the team by being present. Pederson also talked about the defender’s work ethic during training camp, and that it’s rare for him to take any plays or days off unless the head coach specifically gives them to him.
On the run game
Pederson talked about running back Jay Ajayi’s slow start in Week 1, but that it was the team’s intention to ease him into the game given his lower body injury earlier in training camp. Ajayi found a rhythm and was the featured back in the second half, with the head coach saying “it was encouraging to see” and that Ajayi finishing the game healthy was a big deal.
Pederson was asked about the workload of RB Corey Clement, but the head coach admitted they have to be careful giving the young player too many touches. He pointed out that Clement is also super valuable on special teams, and they need him to stay healthy for more than just offensive production.
Similarly, last night’s effort by Darren Sproles might be the most action we see from him in one game this season, with Pederson talking about using the veteran in specific sets and in certain downs. He also referenced that Jay Ajayi is moreso the workhorse for the RB rotation, and that Sproles has a specific set of skills.
While the plan as of now is a running back by committee approach, Pederson also admitted that it’s his job as the play caller to a be a little more patient with establishing the run game.
On specific players and injuries
- Jason Peters wasn’t injured during Thursday's game, but coming back from injury was a little fatigued at the end of the game, so they brought him out. But no new injury. Pederson was happy with Peter’s performance, saying he was “quick off the ball, pass protection was good”.
- Jason Kelce had a lower body injury early on in the game, but went up to Pederson and told him he was ready to go coming out of the half.
- He also pointed out two linebackers, Kamu Grugier-Hill and Nate Gerry, who he said were specifically two young guys making plays for the team, and not just on defense but on special teams as well.
On the “Philly Philly” play
Pederson talked about how the play from last night’s season opener was very different from the one the team ran in the Super Bowl — despite both resulting in a catch for Nick Foles. He explained that it was different than the Philly Special, and they are two completely different plays and different formations.
The play from Thursday night’s game was based off a similar play the Patriots tried during the Super Bowl, but Pederson said they introduced it to the Eagles team during OTAs.
Pederson said that that type of play calling serves two purposes, not only did he think it would be effective, but it was also “a spark for the offense” that they needed.
There were 26 total flags thrown last night, but Pederson said they were pretty much all warranted. He did make note, “I think the one that was a little crazy was the punt we had, there was some confusion on the jersey number” and on the actual penalty call. He said they were petition for some explanation from the league to get that sorted out.
Other than that, he said it’s just a matter of coaching up some of the other areas that seemed to be a problem, like Kelce’s holding call, and the pre-snap lining up offsides by Derek, but that those are all things the coaches can fix.
On rookie TE Dallas Goedert
Pederson didn’t throw around a ton of compliments for his first-year tight end, and said Goedert’s first game was “pretty good, ok”. He talked about how the TE would probably like to get the pass over the middle back and that he’ll need to start making those catches in traffic — but those are things they can coach up.
He said it was encouraging that Goedert handled himself well in that type of playoff-like atmosphere, and noted that as the TE gets more comfortable, they’ll work him into the scheme a bit more, especially in the red zone. He’s a huge target and someone the coaches can make very valuable in scoring situations