Eagles’ head coach Doug Pederson was in a good mood on Friday ahead of practice, making jokes and smiling big as he met with the media. He gave some injury updates, and spoke about the young skill players stepping up, and his overall record against the Cowboys.
He also explained the weird practice schedule this week, including having the day off on Tuesday and a walk-thru on Wednesday. Pederson noted that he did this the past couple of years, and this time of year it’s more about the mental part of the game, and the guys can use the extra rest.
Here’s what the head coach had to say:
JJ Arcega-Whiteside felt something lower body, and so they kept him out as a precaution, but he’ll fine for Sunday’s game.
Derek Barnett is “doing well” and he’ll do a little bit more work during Friday’s practice, so he’s progressing.
Lane Johnson is trending in the right direction, but they’ll see where he is at the end of the day. He’s optimistic, but it’s also something they have to be really careful with.
Nelson Agholor is still dealing with swelling in the knee, and they’re starting to have those conversations about whether or not to shut him down for the season or see if he’ll be able to return. But, he’s another player that they are optimistic about and are hoping he can push through and get him back.
On the young skill players
Pederson was asked how they know whether some of the younger guys are ready for a moment as big as Sunday’s game against Dallas. The head coach said you just kind of have to throw them out there and see how it goes. But really, that’s the only way, because they can’t go back to any of the injured guys.
“They kind of grow up in a hurry. We’ve seen that with the young guys that have played. It’s good for them. It’s good for us because we get to see who they are and what we have, but it’s a great opportunity for them at this point.”
On his record against the Cowboys
Pederson said that he does think about how they haven’t been successful against Dallas in his 4 years as head coach, and noted that at the beginning of the season every coach says that their goal is to take care of the division.
“The Cowboys have been a team we’ve struggled with, honestly. And, it’s something we just gotta continue to work, and try to overcome. They’ve had our number here recently, and really since my time here in Philly. It’s something that as we look at the tape, and how I prepare the football team, and get ready to play and all of that, I look at all of that.
But at the end of the day, we’re focused on this game, and one game, and hopefully we can turn things around. We do well with the other teams, it’s just this one team that kinda has our number right now.”
He later said that looking back on their first game this season, turnovers were a big issue and cost them big. But even going back to the past couple of years, they were down early in the games and had to fight their way. They’ve emphasized stopping the run and also offensively put points on the board early on this week.
Bigger picture, the head coach also said he thinks about going from 13-3 to at least a 7-loss season. Pederson noted that they’ve had high expectations the past two seasons, but this season has been unique from the injury standpoint, much like last year. It’s something that he’ll look at when he evaluates the roster, his performance, and his staff at the end of the year, and that they need to find some answers to.
On the Philly crowd
“I look back to my first year, we had two games remaining — we had the Giants and Cowboys — to end the season. We were, what, 5-9 I think at the time, had two games left, and the crowd showed up and helped us win really both those games at that time, and finished 7-9 that first year. And they were such an impact and affecting our opponent, and that’s what our players also feed off of, right? They feed off the energy of that crowd.
And then of course in ‘17, ‘18, and even this year, the crowds that we’ve had — I think about when the Patriots were in here this year, Seattle was in here, the Bears, I mean not only good football teams that come in here, but our crowd shows up. They’re in the stands at kick-off and they’re there at the end of the game.
And that’s what we need, we’re gonna need that again this week, with a 4:25 kickoff we’re gonna need everybody in there loud, and we’re gonna need everybody at the end, standing on their feet, yelling, screaming, and doing what they can to disrupt. That’s an advantage to us.”
On hot dogs and diet Coke’s
This exchange happened earlier this week:
Q. Obviously every team has injuries. It’s a violent sport. It just seems like you guys have been really hit hard this year, the last couple years really going back to the Super Bowl year. How much do you guys look at that and try to figure out why this keeps happening, or do you just chalk it up to it’s a violent sport?
DOUG PEDERSON: You have to look at a lot of things. As a coach and as a team, as an organization, you want to be playing deep into either the post-season or the Super Bowl every year. That’s every team’s goal and dream and aspiration to start the season. In our last couple years we’ve played into February and then well into January, and it’s a lot of games and it’s a lot of wear and tear on bodies. These types of things are going to happen. The amount of contact and the amount of collisions and things that go on, not only during the week but also during the course of a game, are unbelievable. I know you guys sit way up there and eat your hot dogs and diet Coke’s, but if you were on the field listening to the collisions and the things these guys go through, that’s why I appreciate what every player does. Injury is part of it.
Which prompted this funny exchange at the beginning of the presser:
This is how Doug Pederson’s press conference started today pic.twitter.com/Mze4L6DYbi— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) December 20, 2019
Doug is feeling loose ahead of the biggest game of the year.