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7 Eagles things we learned from Doug Pederson’s NFL Combine press conference

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On Carson Wentz, Jason Peters, and more.

Philadelphia Eagles v Carolina Panthers Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

Philadelphia Eagles head coach Doug Pederson met with the media for the first time in over a month on Wednesday. Here are some things we learned based on what he said at the 2019 NFL Combine. [For takeaways from Howie Roseman’s press conference, CLICK HERE.]

Doug isn’t putting much stock in the Carson Wentz report from PhillyVoice

Pederson was asked quite a few questions about the Eagles’ starting quarterback. Unsurprisingly, he was very supportive of Wentz.

He nit the nail on the head by emphasizing that the thing that matters most is how Wentz performs on the field. It doesn’t matter if Wentz is the best teammate in the world if he totally stinks.

“Listen, we know how we all feel about Carson. Carson’s our quarterback. I love everything about Carson Wentz and the way he attacks his job every single day, the way he competes, the way he embraces the locker room. And so, I don’t put a lot of weight in that, a lot of stock in that. It’s [about] his performance on the football field, obviously. And he understands where he’s at. He understands he’s got to stay on the field, obviously, he knows that. But at the same time, guys really rally around him, support him. Listen, he’s one piece. He’s not the entire football team. We do this thing as a team and he’s a part of that.”

[…]

I think what he’s doing and what he’s been doing kind of speaks for itself. The guys really respect him. His play on the football field, obviously, is the ultimate factor. I think that’s where guys can rally around him and what he’s shown us in three seasons. Listen, when you’re the guy, you touch a lot of people. And you’ve got to continue to touch a lot of people. And reason out to a lot of people. And no different in my case as the head football coach. I’ve got to continue to build relationships and just bring those along. So he’s the quarterback and we just continue to grow together in that realm.

[…]

I learned, too, when I was a player in this business, I played with one of the greatest players in a Hall of Fame quarterback, Brett Favre, and Dan Marino. And, you know what, they had success because you’re not always going to be buddy buddy with everybody. You build relationships with everybody, yeah, but you hold everybody to a high standard, including myself. And we’re not in a feel good business. We’re in a business to win games and ultimately a championship, and that’s our goal. So if people get offended, I’m sorry, it’s just the way it is. You can’t make excuses for it, but at the same time, at the end of the day, you walk out on that football field, and we’re united, and we play the game.

[…]

Yeah, I think [Carson giving input to the offensive game plan] is one of his strengths. For him to be able to come to me, come to Mike Groh, with ideas, things that can help us win the game. That’s what we’re all about. It’s about being open, being honest, being transparent. Not that we have to accept every idea that he brings to the table. But at the same time, we’re going to listen. If we can implement it into the game plan, we will. If not, maybe we’ll save it for the next week. I think that’s one of [his] strengths. And as a play-caller, you’ve kind of got to crawl into the head of the quarterback a little bit, and see it through his eyes. So having these conversations with him during the week gives me, as play-caller, a good insight how to how he’s also seeing our opponent that week.

Nate Sudfeld wouldn’t just be handed Nick Foles’ old role

The Eagles aren’t making Sudfeld their No. 2 quarterback by default. Pederson said Sudfeld, who is set to be a restricted free agent this ofseason, will have to earn his job as Wentz’s backup.

Philly could look to bring in a vet to compete with Sudfeld but Pederson said the Eagles don’t necessarily need to do that. The feeling here is that Sudfeld will be Wentz’s backup in 2019.

“Nate’s done a great job. Nate has really put himself in position to compete for it. We just don’t go around and give out jobs. But at the same time, we want him to compete for that spot. We feel like he’s earned the opportunity to do that. I’m comfortable with him, what he’s done. He’s been with us now for a few years and understands our system. So, yeah, it’s a matter of him embracing that and moving forward with it.

[...]

“Well, I think number one, I obviously like his size. He’s got a really good arm, he’s accurate, continues to work his mobility, his pocket presence, his awareness. I think one of the things we saw this year — even though he was limited, obviously not many game reps, but the stuff we saw in practice — is how he’s really become comfortable with our offense. How he prepares our defense during the course of the week. And he’s a smart quarterback. He’s highly intelligent, he’s got great ideas, and again, somebody that we feel comfortable with competing for that No. 2 spot.”

It’s still unclear if Jason Peters will be back for 2019

The Eagles have a decision to make on Peters. If they decline his option for 2019, they’ll save $10.5 million in cap space compared to only $2.7 million in dead money. They’d also need a new starting left tackle in that scenario.

Last year at this time, the Eagles were showing much more commitment to Peters. Read into that what you will. The guess here is that Peters will be back in 2019, but it’s not a lock.

Pederson also expresed some level of interest in having Sproles back for next season.

Jason Peters is a valuable part of our offensive line. If Jason Peters … it’s a lot like Darren Sproles. We’re kind of going down the same path with Darren Sproles. If these guys want an opportunity, you love both of them, and you give them an opportunity. Jason, I feel, still has some opportunity for us. We’ll see where it goes, we’ll see how it ends up. I think, in Jason’s mind right now — and I don’t want to put words in his mouth — but I think he feels like, too, getting healthy and being 100% going into the offseason, going into training camp. He was coming off that [ACL] injury [heading into 2018]. It’s tough to play like he did, to battle through that [quad and biceps] injury every week, and the soreness, and the different things. It’s a credit to him. Moving forward, those are conversations we’ll continue to have with him.

It doesn’t sound like Doug wants to lose Nelson Agholor

With Agholor set to carry a $9.4 million cap number in 2019, the Eagles have to decide if he’s worth that. The Eagles can lower that figure by negotiating an extension with him. I think that’s the likely course of action.

Pederson had praise for Agholor and even mentioned how last year’s Tate trade kind of made things tough for Nelly.

Nelson? Oh, yeah, man, love this guy. He’s the first one in, last one out. Can’t say enough good things about Nelson Agholor and what he’s brought in the table and what he will continue to bring. I think last year, you look at the amount of guys we had, and of course we added Golden [Tate] midseason. Listen, I’m not going to stand up here and say it didn’t affect Nelson, because I think it did. The question was asked earlier about trying to get everyone the ball, and it’s a challenge when you break down a game. Nelson didn’t complain, he came to work every single day, he put in the time, he put in the work, and it was a huge part of what we did, and getting us into the Divisional Round this year. I’m excited, I love working with him and I think there’s great things ahead.

The Eagles still very much believe in running back by committee

Don’t expect the Eagles to suddenly have a running back who’s taking 20 carries every week. Pederson brought up how the Eagles “won a championship with a rotational system.” He also said to “look at teams around the league” using a “two back operation.”

Pederson said the Eagles are open to adding new running backs through both free agency and/or the NFL Draft. Philly will probably need to do that considering Jay Ajayi and Darren Sproles are going to be free agents.

Pederson was specifically asked about 2018 Eagles leading rusher Josh Adams. Here’s what he had to say:

“I think this will be a really good offseason for him […] Showed some flashes last year.”

I don’t think it’s a lock that Adams is on the 2019 roster, though he’ll have a chance to prove himself once again this offseason.

The Eagles know they need to get Dallas Goedert more involved

Pederson said Goedert really came on as the 2018 season went along. He said that getting Goedert more touches is a “source of topic” among the Eagles’ coaching staff heading into 2019.

This is encouraging to hear. Hopefully they follow through on it because Goedert is too good to be underutilized.

Doug values continuity on the coaching staff

We already knew this based on last year’s coaching hires but Pederson stressed that he’s “big about promoting from within.”

He specifically said he was comfortable promoting Phillip Daniels to defensive line because of Daniels’ experience as a former NFL player. When it came to discussing new wide receivers coach Carson Walch, Pederson cited Walch’s experience with Mike Groh and Alshon Jeffery as reasons why they like him.