Eagles head coach Doug Pederson is coming off a big win in Chicago and the team is still alive in the postseason. Next weekend they’ll head back to New Orleans to face the Saints for the second time this year, but Pederson noted that it’s a different team with a different mentality this time around.
Here’s what the head coach had to say:
On facing the Saints and what’s different
Pederson said you’ve got to take a look at where they’ve come and what they’ve done in the weeks since their first loss to the Saints. He went on to say that the way this team has come together late in the season, and having been counted out with a few weeks left to play and still winning out and earning a playoff spot (with a little bit of help).
The head coach explained that they’re a different team than they were back then, it’s a different mindset and they’re a different group and have learned from it, and have gotten better since.
On what has changed, Pederson noted that in the playoffs everything matters. He said you might be able to get away with something in the regular season, but it’s a one game season now. Everything from rest to nutrition, how you practice and how much meeting time, it all matters now and correlates to winning or losing games.
On carry over from the first Saints game
Pederson said that immediately after their loss to New Orleans you shake it off and put it behind you, but now they are able to go back and revisit some things and use it as a resource to evaluate scheme and personnel. He said it is good that they’ve played them because now you have that on tape, but that you have to re-evaluate it from a purely X’s and O’s standpoint.
On all the personnel changes
Pederson talked a bit about they’ve had so many new faces on and off the squad throughout the season, pointing all the way back to Trayvon Hester who they activated off the practice squad early in the season, and he had “a big hand” in their win last night — tipping the kick and leading to the missed field goal for the win.
He went on to name a lot of players who have been on and off the practice squad, and guys they’ve brought in like Golden Tate, who have all had some kind of contribution to the team. Pederson said it’s a credit to the coaching staff to get the guys ready, and while it’s always been the next man up philosophy, this season it’s sometimes been the next or second man up with all of their injuries.
The head coach also noted that these guys have now been playing a lot more minutes together, so they’re getting more comfortable with the scheme. He even pointed out Rasul Douglas and noted how well he’s been playing and tackling and said that he’s been a much more physical corner lately. Pederson also named Avonte Maddox the rookie, who is playing through an injury right now, but he’s still playing really well.
He said they’re all just coming together at the right time.
On Golden Tate
It was pointed out that there was a stretch when Tate wasn’t being used very much, but Pederson said that last night was indicative of the player they knew they were getting. He went on to talk about how Tate went from being a starter to a bit of a role player for the Eagles, and had to kind of take a step back, but as the coaches put together the game plan they try to figure out ways to incorporate their playmakers.
Pederson said that each week, Tate showed that he could handle more and more, and he just keeps getting better and is really good at the type of catches he made on Sunday. He went on to note that he’s strong with the ball, and they know he’s strong at yards after the catch, strong breaking tackles and played well against the Bears.
Later, Pederson was asked about the big hit Tate took in the second quarter and what that said about the receiver’s toughness. The head coach noted, “he’s tough,” but then elaborated and talked about how that’s just who he is and has that running back mentality. He said, quite frankly that the first guy usually doesn’t bring him down and that catch on Sunday was a big play in the game, but that’s who he is and that’s what they expect from him.
On the offensive line
The head coach was asked about the o-line stepping up against some of the best defenses in the NFL during their recent win-streak, and he credited it to the guys rising the challenge. He went on to say that anytime they hear a lot about their opponent, especially the guys up front, the guys embrace the challenge and have been going hard in practice and putting in the work needed to face that kind of opposition.
Pederson also noted that practiec squad Joe Ostman has been lining up as Khalil Mack and Aaron Donald during practice, and he’s been giving the offensive line great looks, which goes a long way in their preparation. (The new Steven Means!)
He also talked a bit about Jason Peters, and said that the big thing is that he’s feeling better which helps, and has benefited from the extra rest that they’ve given him. Pederson went on to say that Peters is a professional and he gets himself prepared, more mentally during the week than physically, and he’s an All-Pro left tackle and continues to play at a high level.
Later he talked about how having guys like Lane Johnson and Peters does make it a little easier for him as a play-caller because he knows that they are controlling the line of scrimmage.
Pederson said that they came out of the win over the Bears healthy and that they didn’t need to re-evaluate Nick Foles and his rib injury following the contest.
The head coach noted that Carson Wentz is doing well, but he’s still getting healthy and Nate Sudfeld is still the backup.
“Well, listen. We keep winning. We keep putting ourselves in a position to be successful. You never know what next week might hold. So we just keep that up. We’ve done that a lot this year. We kept Darren [Sproles] up all season. We’ve done it with other players this year. Sidney Jones is another one we keep alive. So, we keep these guys coming and we’ll see where they’re at in another week.”
On their decision to only have Josh Adams in on one snap, Pederson said it was more game-specific. As well as their decision to run more 11-personnel.