Doug Pederson spoke with reporters for over an hour on Tuesday morning during the NFC coaches breakfast at the 2019 NFL owners meetings. You can watch Pederson’s entire press conference by [clicking here]. See below for some key takeaways from the morning session.
Doug is on the mend
The Eagles’ head coach will be on wheels for four more weeks. More details on his exact injury below:
Because I know people are wondering ... head coach Doug Pederson is wearing a boot on his left foot after having surgery to repair a bone that was shaved off of his heel. The bone was protruding into the Achilles’ tendon. Wearing boot for the next few weeks. pic.twitter.com/vxGg2bUQbr— Dave Spadaro (@EaglesInsider) March 26, 2019
Carson Wentz should be ready for OTAs
Wentz is still recovering from the fractured vertebrae in his back that caused him to miss the Eagles’ final five games of their 2018 season. Back in January, ESPN reported he’d likely be healthy enough to participate in the team’s offseason workout program. Pederson confirmed that sentiment on Tuesday.
“Well, obviously, he’s still rehabbing and getting himself healthy and strong. And, again, just like we’ve done in the past with him, we’re just going to be patient and let him get strong. As you know, we’re not putting any timetable on him, and when he’s ready, he’s ready. We’re optimistic that he’ll be ready to go for OTAs but again, we’re not going to push it and force anything. [...] I’m optimistic that he won’t miss that much time.
It’s a big year for Wentz. Having a (mostly) full offseason should help get him ready for a critical 2019 season.
Doug thinks maturation will benefit Wentz
“Well, first of all, I think everyone can be a better teammate. I can be a better coach. I think being a better teammate would just be being a little more vulnerable, be a little more accessible. You’re obviously committed to your craft and developing your skill, but, it’s like, you want to walk across the aisle and talk to the other side. And that’s all part of maturation process, a growth process. It’s something that you learn through time. I watched it with some of the greatest quarterbacks I’ve ever played with. I saw it through Dan Marino, I saw it through Brett Favre. For them to become better teammates, they embraced the entire team and take on that personality and people follow. And Carson’s got that in him. He’s got it in his DNA. That’s what we’re excited about.”
This is a key point that we’ve previously discussed on BGN Radio. We saw how Nick Foles matured over his career. When he first got traded in 2015, there was talk about him having confidence issues. Foles had no such issues as he helped the Eagles win the Super Bowl in 2018. The adversity that Foles went through ultimately helped him and it’s possible the same could be true for Wentz. Wentz realizes he can improve as both a player and a teammate.
The Eagles will practice against the Ravens
Alexis already wrote a story about this topic but I‘ll just add that this dynamic makes training camp more fun. It’s unfortunate the practices (likely) won’t be open to the public but it should be good for the team. This development also suggests the Eagles will be hosting the Ravens in the third week of the preseason. We’ll find out the rest of the schedule in April.
There’s no panic at running back
Doug trotted out the same line that Howie Roseman used on Monday evening when discussing the lack of running back additions this offseason. Paraphrased version: “We acquired three running backs after the 2017 NFL Draft that helped up win the 2018 Super Bowl.”
There’s some merit to that point; running backs aren’t exactly impossible to find. At the same time, the Eagles currently have the worst backfield in the league. So it’s very understandable that people are anxious about fixing that spot.
Darren Sproles might be back?
Doug said he still wants Sproles back in 2019. He also said that he’s unsure if Sproles still wants to play.
The feeling here is that Doug is being genuine; I’m sure he’d love to have Sproles on this year’s roster. I also feel like Sproles is open to playing again, especially since ESPN reported as much. The only question: is the front office willing to re-sign Sproles? Roseman made it sound like Pederson had to convince him to bring back Sproles last year. Now Sproles will be turning 36 in June as he comes off another injury-plagued season.
I’d think the front office views Sproles as a backup plan if they can’t address the running back position adequately enough by the end of the 2019 NFL Draft. We’ll see, though.
Doug has praise for Josh Jacobs
There’s some buzz that Jacobs could be the Eagles’ pick at No. 25. Philadelphia will certainly have good information on him considering that Eagles director of team development Joe Pannunzio was Jacobs’ running backs coach at Alabama last year.
Doug Pederson on Josh Jacobs: “He’s a great back. H’es athletic. He can give you 1st-2nd down productivity. He’s exciting to watch. He’s going to be a good player.” #Eagles— Zack Rosenblatt (@ZackBlatt) March 26, 2019
Doug has some young players on his radar
Doug talked about the benefit of young players being able to step up with injured veterans missing time in spring practices.
Doug referred to each of those guys as players with opportunities to play in OTAs while starters are hurt.— Jimmy Kempski (@JimmyKempski) March 26, 2019
- Pryor in for Brooks
- Jones in for Mills
- Sullivan in for McLeod
- Sudfeld in for Wentz
- Mailata in for JP, who will likely skip OTAs. https://t.co/Na1yNiKFjk
Also, that doesn't mean that Wentz won't be ready for OTAs, to be clear. Doug addressed that separately. (He didn't reveal much.)— Jimmy Kempski (@JimmyKempski) March 26, 2019
But the other guys will all be out.
Jalen Mills will be playing at cornerback ... whenever he’s healthy
Every year, there are questions about Jalen Mills and/or Rasul Douglas moving to safety. Every year, the answer is that they’re cornerbacks.
Doug Pederson on Jalen Mills: “I love him at corner right now.” Aka not safety #Eagles— Zack Rosenblatt (@ZackBlatt) March 26, 2019
Regarding Mills’ health status, it sounds like he’s going to miss spring practices but might have a shot at return in training camp.
Doug Pederson says Jalen Mills could maybe be ready for training camp. Mills still recovering from foot injury that occurred during 2018 season.— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) March 26, 2019
No set spot for Avonte Maddox
Where will Maddox line up in 2019? It sounds like he could be used everywhere.
Doug Pederson said he sees Avonte Maddox as a versatile player (as opposed to being locked in to one position). Says Maddox can line up at nickel, outside corner, safety as he did in 2018.— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) March 26, 2019
Doug mentioned nickel first so maybe that’s where we’ll see him start out. But Cre’Von LeBlanc also drew praise for his slot performance, so Maddox could be used elsewhere as well.
The bottom line is that Maddox is too good and versatile to not be getting playing time somewhere.
Ronald Darby is viewed as an important piece
It’s clear the team has hopes for Darby being an important player for them in 2019. Both Howie and Doug talked about re-signing him as a key offseason move.
Doug Pederson says Ronald Darby was having a great season prior to getting hurt in 2018. Bringing him back “really solidifies that cornerback position.” #Eagles— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) March 26, 2019
Why Stefen Wisniewski is gone
There was some surprise when the Eagles declined Wisniewski’s option for the 2019 season. The guess here is that Wis probably wanted out given how he’s talked about feeling his benching wasn’t performance related. Doug supported that notion by talking about giving Wis an opportunity to become a starter again now that Isaac Seumalo has taken over at left guard for the Eagles.
Braxton Miller could be a name to watch
When asked about young players at the wide receiver position, Braxton Miller is the first name that Doug mentioned. He also then added Shelton Gibson and Mack Hollins, so that’s really just all the noteworthy young Eagles receivers.
Still, it will be interesting to monitor Miller during offseason practices. He spent nearly the entire 2018 season on Philly’s practice squad. Miller could compete for a roster spot as Nelson Agholor’s backup in the slot. Perhaps his former quarterback background could earn him some involvement in trick plays.
Doug shared a funny DeSean Jackson anecdote
Doug seems glad to have DeSean back on his side.
Doug Pederson gave us more about the story from the Tampa game with DeSean.— Dave Zangaro (@DZangaroNBCS) March 26, 2019
When DeSean scored, he yelled to Doug that they should have never let him go. Jackson said "I wasn't even here!" Later joked with DeSean, asking him why he was mad at him.
Doug helped recruit Bryce Harper to the Phillies
Forget the 13-yaer, $330 million contract. The REAL reason Harper came to Philly is to be in the same town as the Eagles’ Super Bowl winning head coach.
Seriously, though, it is cool that Pederson helped recruit Harper to Philly.