Eagles’ head coach Doug Pederson spoke to the media on Thursday, and did so with a hint of attitude. He discussed the messaging to the team, the decision to get rid of Mack Hollins, and how they go about evaluating the staff at the end of the season.
Here’s what the head coach had to say:
On his relationship with the players
Pederson was asked about his approach with the players this week and how to get them motivated in a must-win situation.
“The main message is, we’re in a must-win situation. We know that. It really started last week and really coming out of the bye if you want to think about it going back a few weeks.
For me, I have to stay the course. I have to stay transparent and have to stay as honest as I can with the team. The integrity, talk about the character of the team and all that with them and say, ‘Listen, guys, we’re in that must-win situation right now.’
It’s as much on us as coaches as it is players, and so I look to that as well. We’re responsible for how our players play, and that starts with me. So I hold my coaches accountable first and then obviously it goes down to the players.”
The head coach was also asked whether he felt he still had the locker room behind him, and he acknowledged he did.
“I can just sense and feel the energy of the group. Listen, we’re all disappointed and we’re all sick to our stomach, but they also understand we have done this to ourselves obviously and they’re ready to go back to work. I sensed that yesterday and I sensed it again today. And of course, again, it’s my job to -- I have to bring that energy, bring that juice, so that they can see me in that light, and then that’s what spreads out through the rest of the team.
But, yeah, these guys are with me.”
On Mack Hollins and roster moves
Pederson said that roster moves are not made without Howie and himself having a discussion — even though Howie does ultimately make the final decision.
“We also feel like some of our younger players, JJ [Arcega-Whiteside], Greg [Ward], have earned or at least deserved an opportunity, and, again, you have to make some tough decisions.”
He disagreed that there was a disconnect between the front office and coaching staff given that so many players who were cut had significant playing time the week before. Pederson emphasized that they were making decisions in the best interest of the team.
The head coach said that from a locker room standpoint, players and coaches both know what type of business they are in.
“I think that, again, if I stand in front of the team and keep constantly saying that we’re going to make decisions in the best interest of the Philadelphia Eagles and the players that are in the room, then we move on from it. We understand that sometimes tough decisions have to be made.”
Pederson then thought it was ironic that he was being asked questions about releasing guys who had so much playing time when in the week’s past, he’d been asked so many questions about production. But, then, the head coach backtracked and said that wasn’t the reason for the cuts.
“No, it’s not the answer, but, I mean, we were talking about production and now I have some young guys that are playing and contributing. We talk about every player on our roster obviously. We have to make decisions, and they’re tough decisions for the team.”
On self-scouting and coach evaluations
Pederson was asked how he holds coaches accountable. He explained that it’s based on how their position plays and he goes through and evaluates everyone at the end of the season.
“And I’m up front with the coaches from day one, from -- all the way back to OTAs when we’re coming out of that off-season before OTAs. I make a statement with the coaches. I’m probably giving you more information than you need, but I want to be up front with them as well.
Say, ‘Listen, your performance is based on your players and how well they perform.’ Obviously they can’t control injury and all that. That’s where it starts.”
The head coach admitted that it’s hard to do the evaluation mid-season, but that they do it when the season is over.
Pederson later on got snippy when asked about his own self-scouting. He retorted that the season isn’t over, and that they have a game on Monday and would rather wait to discuss performances until the end of the year.
On Carson Wentz’s development
“I think as our relationship has grown and he getting to know me and me getting to know him, I think we can be hard on each other. I can be hard on him and he can be hard back on me.”
Pederson explained that having that open dialog and communication allows him and Wentz to work through both positive and negative issues. He used several examples throughout the league to support his notion that having that rapport and relationship between coach-player-playcaller leads to success.
The head coach was also asked about Wentz’s passing game recently and whether something might be off. He said that they’d love for quarterbacks to be at 100% completion, but there are a lot of factors that go into throwing a football.
“t’s not just the quarterback and having a good arm and making good decisions, moving in the pocket. The protection has to be right. The receiver has to be dialed in on the right route. We have to coach the quarterback. His eyes have to be in the right spot. So there are a lot of factors that go into the passing game, and all that can affect accuracy.
But at the bottom line, as a play caller I can help that. I can help that with maybe moving him out of the pocket like we did a little bit in the game on Sunday or these last couple weeks with screen passes or, short to intermediate throws where the quarterback can get into a little bit of a rhythm. It kind of settles everybody down.
Tempo offense. So there are so many factors that can go into that that can help a quarterback be a little more successful there.”
Jordan Howard’s status hasn’t changed, and he’s still not cleared for contact. Pederson, however, said that he doesn’t think it’ll be a season-ending issue.