Eagles’ head coach Doug Pederson spoke to the media ahead of Tuesday’s joint practice with the Ravens, and had a lot to say about certain players and how they’ve been working to start faster on both offense and defense.
Pederson is nothing if not consistent and said that they haven’t figured out how the quarterback position will look in Thursday’s preseason game, and that he doesn’t make that decision until closer to game time.
The head coach also talked a bit about how productive the joint practices are, and that they get some good reps and experience out of them. He also noted that having more joint practices and less preseason action seems to be the trend in the league right now, emphasizing points he’s made the past few weeks about practice reps being just as good, if not better, than preseason snaps.
Here’s what else Pederson had to say:
On Carson Wentz
Pederson was asked about Mike Groh’s comments and accolades regarding Carson Wentz and how he’s done during training camp, and the head coach agreed. Wentz is getting through his reads faster as part of his progression as an NFL players, and also seeing things faster and re-directing his protection. But emphasized that all these improvements are expected for someone now with a few years of experience in the league.
On Miles Sanders
Pederson was asked about Miles Sanders and based on what the running back has shown so far this training camp and preseason, how much they think he’ll realistically be able to contribute as a rookie.
“As much as we give him,” the head coach quipped. “I think he’s done a great job for us so far. Biggest thing, obviously, concern coming into camp was the health issue with coming out of the spring injured a little bit, but I think he’s checked that box.”
He went on to say that it’s nice to have two guys back there who are different types of runners, and give the offense “that running game that was missed a year ago”.
On starting games faster
The head coach was asked how they have been working on trying to score earlier in games and start off faster, and Pederson noted that they work on it everyday in practice. He said they work on it from both sides of the ball, because often if they win the coin toss they defer, and the defense then will need to get the team off to a quick start.
On offense, though, Pederson said that he emphasizes it often, and that they have to be open minded, but they also have to be committed to starting faster. He said that they scored 41 points in all of the first quarters last season and that’s just not good enough, so it is something they talk about and work on, on a daily basis.
Pederson noted that the biggest things they look at as ways to improve is penalties and turnovers. Those two things were the biggest culprits last year. The head coach said they’d get down the field and into the red zone and then there would be a penalty or a sack or a turnover and would kill their momentum.
He said that they weren’t capitalizing on those situations and so some of the biggest messaging was controlling what they can control and executing their offense.
It was then pointed out that most of Wentz’s interceptions and fumbles took place in the first quarter of games last season, and what might have changed for the quarterback heading into this season.
Pederson explained that as a quarterback, sometimes you want to come out of the gate and hit that homerun play, but that it’s just part of the learning process. The head coach said that he could probably do a better job play-calling in those situations, and rather than go for a big play, work on the quick game and get Wentz into a rhythm first.
Another area the coaches have identified as wanting to improve was with their red zone efficiency. Pederson said that he feels great with the personnel, especially with the addition of JJ Arcega-Whiteside and getting Mack Hollins back, but that also going up against the Eagles defense — which was one of the top red zone defenses in the league last year — has helped them step up their production.
- Pederson said that he still expects Lane Johnson back for Week 1 of the regular season, and nothing has changed since the initial injury.
- Same goes for tight end Dallas Goedert, nothing has changed and is still expected back Week 1.
- There was no update yet on tight end Richard Rodgers — who went down in practice yesterday — but Pederson said he’s undergoing a few more tests and they should have a better idea following Tuesday’s practice.
- Pederson said Jalen Mills is doing extremely well in his rehab, but he doesn’t know yet whether he’ll be ready and what his role will be in Week 1. “Feel very confident he’ll be ready to go, maybe,” the head coach said with a chuckle — so take that for what it’s worth.