The Eagles’ head coach, Doug Pederson, was not in a very jovial mood on Monday — despite making a few jokes. He faced tough questions against the loss to the Vikings, about his play calling and the comments he made on the radio about preparing for the Cowboys.
At one point, Pederson got defensive when asked if there was something about the team’s preparation for games that caused some of their struggles.
“Well, I know this. On the first third and two, if we block it correctly, and we have an opportunity there to make a first down, stay on the field. Who knows what’s going to happen.
Defensively, there was a false start by the Vikings that wasn’t called. Those are things that are out of our control. We got caught with ten on the field. That is in our control. So those are things that we can fix and those are things that we can correct. Those are things that are keeping us from scoring points besides taking the ball to start the game.”
Here’s what else the head coach had to say:
On not stopping the Vikings’ deep passes
After the loss Sunday, Pederson said he had to review the tape before knowing what happened with the deep passes to Stefan Diggs.
The head coach said the first one, the Eagles were in Cover 4, so the safeties were low in run support, and Diggs ran a good route and got past them. Then Kirk Cousins threw a nice ball and put it where only Diggs could get it.
For the second one, Malcolm Jenkins was out of position. Pederson acknowledged that Jenkins made some comments about that after the game and took ownership of the mistake. Still, that’s something that can’t happen and they need to be better with their communication.
Pederson is known to defer when they win the coin toss, but since they are trying to figure out a way to get the offense off to a quick start, he was asked if that was something he’s willing to change.
“Yeah, that’s something I’m going to look at. I think it might behoove us to make a change and then take the ball. Put our offense out there and try to generate points early in the game and not fall behind. I think that’s all part of trying to start fast.”
He was also asked a lot about the fake field goal, and his assumptions about how the play would’ve worked out had it been successful. The head coach was planning to get out of bounds, and continue from there.
“We were 4th and 5, right, and we would have been at the 15-yard line, something like that, 20-yard line, something in there. We had 20 seconds left on the clock, we probably would have had two shots at the end zone before we kicked it again.”
Pederson also addressed starting the game with three runs. The first was a pass that was killed to a run based on the defense, the second was an RPO, and the third was due to being third and two.
On his comments about facing Dallas
Q. This morning on the radio, you said, “We’re going down to Dallas and our guys are going to be ready to play and we’re going to win that football game.” What from yesterday makes you confident that this team is going to be able to right the ship?
DOUG PEDERSON: I also said that people on the outside of this building think the sky is falling and everything is just crumbling.
We’re tied for first place in the NFC East. We have a great opportunity against a great football team on Sunday night to go down and attempt to win a football game. Our goals don’t change, to try to go 1-0, and you put the tape on this morning and you watch it, and we’re just missing on a couple little detail things and obviously it starts with the coaches and it starts with me. We have to make sure that there’s great communication in the meetings, in the walk-through and how we practice and what we do in practice to make sure that we don’t make these mistakes in game. For instance, the coverage that we talked about, the blown coverage in the secondary, or the communication up front on run plays or pass protection, things of that nature.
There’s enough good and positive that came out of this game from that standpoint to get better and that’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to continue to improve. Again, Dallas is a great football team. They are reeling like we are and they are going to come out and play hard. They always have. They beat us twice last year. We have a lot of things stacked against us going down there, but as the head football coach, I’m going to stand here and show confidence in my football team because that’s what I have. I have confidence in my football team, the guys that are on the football field, and it’s our job as coaches to prepare them, get them ready to play and we go play.
Q. Did you guarantee a win?
DOUG PEDERSON: Never said that. I never said that.
Q. People are interpreting it that way.
DOUG PEDERSON: Never said guarantee a win. I’d never do that. No.
Q. You told us, ‘Attempt to win a game,’ but on the radio you said, ‘We’re going to go down there and win a game.’ Do you regret the way you phrased it?
DOUG PEDERSON: No, because again, that shows confidence in our football team and I promise you [Cowboys Head Coach] Jason Garrett is going to say the same thing with his team that they are going to win the football game, as well.
I’m not going to stand up here and go on record and say, “We’re going to go down there and try to win a game. Man, hopefully we can go win this one.” It just doesn’t show confidence and I want to show confidence in our players.
We have a ton of confidence in them. We are going to put a good week of preparation in and go play.
Q. How much were your comments an effort to set the tone for the week and kind of send-off a motivating message to your team on this Monday as you get ready for that Dallas game?
DOUG PEDERSON: It’s Monday, and we’re still putting the final touches on yesterday’s game as a staff but at the same time, I want the guys -- they have to understand that we’ve played six games, and sure, the season hasn’t gone so far the way we’d like it. We’ve had opportunities in a couple games to win those games and it could be a different outcome right now.
But I can say one thing to the players behind closed doors that I’m not going to say in front of you guys, right, or to the fans, because -- and I have to show that confidence, right, because I believe in our guys. I totally do. And we’re close. When I say we’re close, we’re close, in a lot of areas.
We are playing some young guys in some spots. They are getting better every week and we’re going to continue to work and we’re going to get better.”
Pederson said he’s expecting to get a little more information today about Jason Peters and Nigel Bradham. The head coach also said that they’ll be sending the information off, as both want second opinions — and “obviously” the team will grant that. But for now it looks like a day-to-day situation for both of them.
With Peters struggling to make it through a game already this season, Pederson was asked, if for continuity it would be better to get Andre Dillard reps. The head coach lauded Peters for battling and pushing through some issues to stay on the field, He also noted Dillard gets a lot of practice reps, and when he gets in the game it’s not like it’s the first time.
Pederson went om to say that Dillard will be ready if needed next Sunday. He also said the rookie had some good and bad plays against the Vikings, but he was going against a talented defensive end.
In terms of other players trying to work back from an injury, Pederson mentioned Jalen Mills will get back into the fold a little bit at practice, and they’ll see how he does this week, but there is a chance he’s active this Sunday. The head coach also said Ronald Darby will ramp up his work load and see if he might be able to get back.
“You have to be careful with Jalen [Mills], number one. He hasn’t played in a while. That’s why the practice is so important this week for him. I think you still have to have a plan. Obviously if he can’t go 60 minutes, I don’t think it would be smart on our part to put him out there for a full 60 minute game if he’s ready to go.
I think [Ronald] Darby on the other hand, you probably could do that just because he’s played and he’s played this season. So, probably two different guys, so I would expect Darby to maybe play a little more if he’s healthy and ready than say Jalen.”
DeSean Jackson is still day-to-day, so they won’t know more about his availability until later in the week. The wide receiver won’t practice on Wednesday, but will still do conditioning work as he’s been doing.