Howie Roseman and Doug Pederson spoke in tandem on Tuesday to wrap up the 2018 season, and spoke with confidence about Carson Wentz being their quarterback moving forward, and Pederson claiming all three coordinators would be back for 2019.
Roseman opened with some words about the organization, and specially giving credit to owner Jeffery Lurie and the culture he’s established with the Eagles. Roseman specifically pointed to the character and resiliency of the people in the building, everyone from the front office to the coaching staff.
Roseman continued to say that when they started off slow, especially coming off a Super Bowl win, that it would have been easy for them to throw their hands up and say it wasn’t their year, but instead the players rallied around each other and the coaching staff, and he’s proud of the group. He noted their record over the past few years and all they’ve accomplished and noted that “there’s a lot of good going on” in Philadelphia.
Roseman then talked about the fans — of note, he wasn’t reading off of any prepared material during his opening remarks — and specifically pointed out being 6-7 on the road in Los Angeles, and the Eagles fans took over the stadium. He also talked about the unbelievable crowd at home against the Texans, and then taking over Washington’s stadium. He said it’s a really special time to be part of this organization and this city.
He knows, however, that they’ve got a lot of work to do this offseason, and need to improve the roster, and Roseman noted that they are looking forward to that challenge and aren’t wasting any time in getting started.
On the quarterbacks
The first question of the day was about whether Carson Wentz is still the Eagles quarterback going forward and what that then means for Nick Foles. Pederson stepped up to the mic and without hesitation said that, yes, Wentz is the QB moving forward.
He said with regards to Foles, they’d like to have everybody back, but as he’s said many times, it’s not about one guy, it’s about the team and they’re going to do what’s best for the team.
Later on Roseman was asked about the timeline of Wentz’s injury, but he’d only say that the QB and Pederson have talked about it before and he stands by their accounts of the situation. He acknowledged that they all meet together in those moments, but wouldn’t elaborate, and would only refer to what the other two had said on the matter.
He was also asked about whether or not they were looking to extend Wentz’s contract this offseason, and Roseman said that they like to keep those discussions close to the vest — as they will with any player — but that their overall goal is to keep good players with the team for as long as possible, noting that guys in their prime and guys they drafted are a priority.
Roseman was asked how Wentz not being available during the past two postseasons factor into their decision making in regards to the future of the position. He said that they have a lot of confidence in Wentz and his ability to be their franchise quarterback, and to hopefully be a 19-game starter when they look at what they’re trying to do. That being said, Pederson has always been clear that quarterback is a priority position for the Eagles, and they’re always going to make sure that the group is a deep one.
Pederson noted that he doesn’t think that there were any lingering issues with Wentz’s knee that kept him from playing at a high level early on in his return, but rather the missed time in OTAs and training camp and establishing that chemistry with his teammates that probably hindered him the most. The head coach did say that the young quarterback has taken his time on the sideline to really observe and learn from Foles, especially in some of the bigger games.
Speaking of Foles, Roseman was asked how hard it is to make those decisions about a guy who has done so much for the team, and is a guy they respect. Roseman admitted that it always has to be the best decision for the team, but there is a respect factor for some of those guys, but the bottom is line is that they have to do what’s best for the Eagles.
Roseman also said that they’d “love to keep Nick Foles” as an Eagle in Philadelphia, but that they haven’t really gotten too deep into those discussions with the quarterback yet.
On staff and roster evaluations
Pederson admitted this is a week of evaluation for the entire team and staff, but that he was able to say with confidence that his three coordinators (Mike Groh, Jim Schwartz, Dave Fipp) will be back in 2019.
Roseman was later asked how he evaluates a team that went 4-6 to start the year, and whether he separates that from the last eight games. He noted that he goes back even further when evaluating the success of a season, and looks at things they did in the offseason and training camp. He talked about how they had a lot of players coming back from season-ending injuries and didn’t have a lot of continuity throughout the year, and how that factored in to their overall record as well.
Ultimately though, Roseman said their goal is to win championships and they fell short of that this year, so they have to work to improve the team rather than sit back and lean into some of the things that may not have gone their way.
Pederson spoke about the challenges of suffering so many injuries to key starters, but said that he wanted the team to be playing their best ball at the end of the season, which they did, noting their comeback from starting 4-6. So, as the season progressed, Pederson said that the guys were overachieving in some tough matchups and were able to do some great things to get to the postseason.
On the roster and depth
Roseman was asked about his confidence in the roster heading into the season, compared to last season, and how that was affected by the long list of injuries. He acknowledged that they were just as confident in the roster this season as last, but this league is one of attrition, and you have to be aware that you’re going to lose players throughout the year, but it’s about how many and at what position. He noted that they try to build depth where they can, but overall they did feel good about the roster and how they fit with the coaching staff.
On how they were able to get so many young guys ready to play at a high level, especially with so many injured veterans, Roseman said it was a credit to the coaching staff, and also to the scouting department for identifying players who could fill those roles. He noted that now they’re in a position to look at some of those players and see how they might be a good addition to the future of the team, and as they look at the overall situation with their draft picks and cap space, it’s gratifying to see they have some of that youth already affiliated with the team.
Pederson was asked specifically about the offensive line — with Brandon Brooks injured, Jason Peters turning 37 later this month, and the Jason Kelce retirement rumors — how that affects their focus on those position during free agency and the draft. The head coach admitted there are a lot of factors, but they were one of the top lines in the NFL this season. He said that they’re very comfortable moving forward, and they’ve talked about how they’d like to return as many as they can, and it’s also a group that benefits from continuity and established relationships.
Roseman then talked about how they expect about 15-20% turnover each season, some related to attrition and some to decisions they have to make, but they are committed to keeping their core together and maintain the culture that has been built, including the leaders they have. He pointed out that they aren’t trying to have a youth movement.
When asked about the Golden Tate trade, Roseman said there was “no question” that he stood by that move, noting that they were 4-4 at the time and looking for a spark and some additional firepower on offense. He noted that Tate is a guy with incredible character and incredible production and can fit any scheme.
Roseman was also asked about Darren Sproles leaving the door open on the possibility of returning for one more season. He noted that everyone knows how they feel about the running back as a person and a player, and that at this moment everyone needs some time to take a break and then they’ll reconvene those conversations at the appropriate time.
On the injuries
When look at how some of those injuries affected some of the outcomes of games, Roseman said it’s something they want to evaluate and learn from, and something that they want to improve on during the offseason. Because when looking at some of those injuries, he knows that it does affect their record, and Roseman specifically said that some of them could have helped in New Orleans.
Roseman was then asked about the changes in the medical staff ahead of the 2018 season and whether he felt it was correlated to their injury situation this year. He noted that there were three changes to the medical staff, all three were different reasons for the change and all three were personal in nature. He said that those were guys that had been with the Eagles for as long, or longer, than Roseman has been with the team, and coming off of a Super Bowl victory it wasn’t something they were anticipating. He continued to state, however, that they were replaced with people they have a lot of confidence in, and they have to allow them to grow in their jobs.
On the loss to the Saints
Pederson was asked about the offense during the final game against the Saints and what he’s identified as the change from their first quarter success and subsequent dip for the remainder of the game.
He said there were a couple of things, including losing Brandon Brooks early — who left with a torn Achilles — and then the interception in the second quarter. Pederson said at that point you could really feel the momentum shift, and then in the third quarter, the Saints had that 18-play drive that took up most of the quarter and kept the Eagles off the field and took some gas out of the defense too.
Pederson said that still, they had a chance at the end to drive for the game-winning touchdown, and they just came up short.
On the upcoming draft
Roseman talked about the move to trade back last draft, and how the scouts were looking forward to this particular draft class and what the strengths would be. He identified this year’s class being a very strong defensive line group, calling it historic for both ends and tackles.
He did say that this year’s quarterback class is a bit thinner than last year, as well as with the running backs. Roseman continued to talk about how now they’ve got to get the coaches up to speed with what they’ve been evaluating since last May, and that there is also a record number of underclassman who have publicly declared for this draft.