Eagles head coach Doug Pederson was in a great mood Friday morning ahead of practice. He spoke to the media and addressed some of the anonymous comments about the offense that surfaced the past few days, as well as talked about preparing for Dallas, and some injury updates.
Here’s what the head coach had to say.
On the Carson Wentz report
Pederson was asked about the comments being reported about the use of checkdowns by the quarterback.
“I’ve seen them, and I’ll tell you this: For those of you who know football and watch football, a checkdown is a part of the game. But, what people sometimes don’t understand is you may lose your back in protection, he may get caught up in the wash of the protection, and he may not get out. And so, it is an aspect of something we teach, that when the throw is not there down the field, then if you have the availability of a back or a tight end in that position we will utilize it. So, there’s a lot of factors that go into that, and it’s not on the quarterback.”
Aside from the comments specifically, Pederson was then asked if it bothered him things were coming out of the locker room with anonymous quotes.
“Yeah, you don’t like to have anonymous guys, but at the same time — I hate to say it — but we’re focused on the Cowboys right now.”
It was pointed out that comments also suggested the offense could be too complicated at times, and the head coach was asked if that’s fair. Pederson asked what he meant by “too complicated” and he
“I’m not a smart guy, and I can figure out the offense. It’s not that complicated, it’s not that complicated.
Listen, this is a tough sport, it is a tough sport. And I’ve gotta have the right play, hopefully at the right time, against the right defense, and I’m asking 11 guys to execute that play, and we trust those guys to make the right decisions. And if there’s complexity in that— yeah there’s complexity in that because you’re going against 11 guys who are really, really good and trying to execute that one play. That’s why we wear the ‘C’ on our hat for Coach, we gotta continue to teach and get our guys prepared every week.”
Pederson also said that he hasn’t addressed the comments with the team OR with any individual he thinks may have made them. The head coach also joked that this is first time he’s heard anyone complain that there should be more checkdowns.
And, with a big smile, joked, “Never heard that one before. We’re not throwing it deep enough, and now we’re not throwing it short enough. I don’t know, I don’t get it.”
He was also asked if this put any sort of divide or crack within the locker room.
“I love that about our team. Things get thrown at them all the time, and it’s kind of funny because we play a game. We play a sport. And we’re all judged and critiqued on this sport we play and coach, and it seems like everything is about the negative with players or with coaches. There’s not enough positive. And so, for me, to be able to be positive with the guys, to me, that’s what they need to hear.”
On the linebackers this week
Pederson noted that he does expect T.J. Edwards to step up, but that he really expects all of them to take a step forward. He said that this was a great opportunity for all the guys in that room to increase their performance and play time. These guys are also core special teams players, but this is a good opportunity.
On going against Dallas
The head coach was asked how much time he spent in the offseason thinking about this specific matchup, and Pederson admitted that they think about the division games. He explained that they set aside some time during their offseason program to study the division opponents, and you might not know the roster makeup until this moment, but they begin formulating a plan that they can even execute during OTAs.
Pederson then spoke about where they start in terms of preparing for Dallas’ defense.
“Obviously it starts with their front, I know this is a really good, aggressive defensive line. Their edge rushers are really good. I know Lawrence is playing well, Quinn is playing as good as I’ve ever seen him play. So, you kinda gotta start with that and then progress. It’s a good group, it’s a really good group. They’re fast, they’re flying around. They’re an opportunistic group, so yeah, our work’s cut out for us Sunday night.”
Ronald Darby and Jalen Mills have been working this week and doing “extremely well”, but Pederson really wants to test them both in Friday’s practice to see where they’re at. When they are ready to return, Pederson said that he thinks they’ll be the starting corners moving forward — they would still rotate based on how they feel, but they would assume those roles.
Nigel Bradham is a bit more of a long shot for this week, having not practiced at all. Pederson said — like the others — they’ll see where he’s at on Friday, but it’s not looking good.
On Jason Peters and developing younger talent
On whether Jason Peters would be playing on Sunday, Pederson said that they are going to continue to evaluate him, but it’s a little more extensive so they have to get through Friday and Saturday to find out.
Later on, Pederson spoke about Andre Dillard potentially looking at his first NFL start, and that he often likens it to Big V stepping into that role a few years ago. They’ll keep things simple and just want him to be able to go out and play his game.
The head coach also talked about how Peters was instrumental in helping develop and prepare Big V back in 2017 and has taken the same mentor-type role with Dillard. He talked about Peters being an invaluable resource to these young players as someone who has played left tackle for so long and faced these opponents.
On DeSean Jackson’s return
Pederson had a lot of praise for DeSean Jackson and how hard the veteran wide receiver is working to get back on the field.
“He wants to get back on that football field in every way possible.”
But with that being said, both the team and Jackson don’t want him back before he’s 100%, so they don’t want to push him or rush him.
“I don’t know anything about the injury [core muscle injury], I’ve never had one. I’m not that fast, I don’t know how to run that fast, so I don’t know what he’s feeling. But, I know this — the guy’s that’ve had them, they’ve come back and they’ve come back well.”
The head coach also wouldn’t put a timetable on Jackson’s return (which he never does) and didn’t want the receiver to feel any pressure to hurry back before he’s ready.