The Eagles are still in the playoff hunt thanks to Sunday’s win over Washington, and head coach Doug Pederson spoke to the media on Monday about the play-calling and developing relationship between Carson Wentz and Miles Sanders, and also gave some injury updates.
Here’s what the head coach had to say:
Lane Johnson is going to be a day-to-day thing, but they don’t expect to see a lot from him until later in the week.
Nelson Agholor and Jordan Howard are in the same situation as Johnson.
Derek Barnett “is doing better”.
Ronald Darby showed up on the injury report, but it’s a lower body issue that should be fine with some rest.
“Bottom line is I’m not going to risk further injury with anybody for a game. But if they are capable of playing in this football game, then we’ll make that determination later in the week.”
Pederson said that they had way too many third down situations on Sunday (16) even though they were more successful than in previous weeks.
“A couple of them were due to some penalties that backed us up, and so it put us in some third-down situations there, some third-and-long situations.
But we had a couple of negative rush plays on first-down. A couple of screens that went for a negative or no gain. Those are the types of things that kind of set you up for a third-and-3, four, five, maybe even a third-and-2. So we have to do a little bit better there from an execution standpoint on first-down to try to stay ahead of the chains that way.
But it’s not a major thing that we were focused on. We did overcome some of those penalties in the game yesterday and thought that, really, our third-down rushing yesterday was probably the best we’ve had all season, too.”
The head coach was also very complimentary of Carson Wentz and his clutch performances the past weeks. Pederson said that the quarterback is understanding the offense better and where everybody is, and noted that the running attack and screen game has helped.
“He’s just maturing that way and it’s really good to see. He’s understanding the game, and it takes time. With young quarterbacks and young players in this league, it takes time, and that’s where he’s headed and it really has been good to see the last couple weeks, especially the overtime win there with New York and then this week to really put the team on his shoulders and say, ‘Hey, let’s go win the game.’”
Pederson also said that limited personnel doesn’t force him to be more creative, and he just calls what is on the sheet. They had 7 different personnel groups against Washington, and were moving people around and using different combinations of guys.
“The thing is, you have so much tape out there and coaches and teams are going to study your tendencies and your personnel and they are going to have a beat on you. So you have to be a little creative and move some guys around and use different personnel groups and use the strengths of each player too, to your advantage. That’s what we’ve been able to do the last couple of weeks that’s helped us.”
He said that they don’t want to get too creative with some of the young players on offense, and don’t want to make things more complicated. But, at the same time, they want to take advantage of some of their strengths.
On Carson Wentz and Miles Sanders
Pederson said that the touchdown pass from Wentz to Sanders was one of the most impressive throws he’s seen in his career — as a player or coach.
“I mean, it was just an impressive throw. Impressive, probably more so the catch, obviously, where Miles was. There were, I believe three Redskins and an Eagle all lined up in a straight line, basically, between Carson and Miles.
Just a tremendous play by both of those guys, by Carson, to extend the play. Just unbelievable, unbelievable play in that game and one that we needed.”
Pederson also talked about how the relationship between the quarterback and rookie running back is encouraging, for the remainder of the season and the future. In order to be successful in the NFL — and sustained success —, you have to have that kind of relationship among all the skill players and the quarterback.
“You saw the potential. You saw the talent, obviously. But this is — I don’t want to say it’s a surprise, but it’s just encouraging to see the success that Miles has had, because really, when you go back a few weeks when Jordan [Howard] was in there, you didn’t see Miles, right, as much, or making some of the plays that he’s making now. And now that he’s kind of been the guy, you’re seeing more and more of him and his versatility both running and catching the football has made an impact and really helped us win these last couple games.”
On Greg Ward’s success
“I think on the inside, we know the type of player that Greg Ward is, because we’ve seen it day-in, day-out.
It’s a little bit of a tricky situation, because as you’re trying to construct your roster for each game, he was on practice squad to start the year and you’re trying to maybe – “Ah, is this the week that we can get him up?” And then there might be an injury in the game that we have to make a move and bring somebody else in a spot maybe on the defensive side or the offensive side or whatever it is, and it just didn’t work out until here in the last three, four games.
We’re excited that obviously had a chance to bring him up. We know the type of player he is, and he’s proven that on the field.”