The Eagles are just a few days away from their Week 3 matchup with the Detroit Lions and head coach Doug Pederson spoke to the media one last time before the contest. He talked about limitations with skill players, the running back rotation and 12-personnel, as well as what he’s seen from Matthew Stafford and the Lions.
Here’s what the head coach had to say:
On skill players
Pederson was asked what the minimum number of skill players he needed on offense, and he noted that similar to the offensive line, a lot of their players are versatile and can be moved around. Whether that means moving a receiver from the outside to inside, or with a guy like Darren Sproles, who can play running back or slot receiver.
He did say that typically they carry 5 on game days, and the 4th and 5th guy are usually special teams guys in that case. But, at minimum, if they have 3 skill players, plus two tight ends, and a Darren Sproles-type to factor in, they can definitely make things work.
The head coach was asked if the Eagles had enough players to filla full 46-man roster, and Pederson laughed, said “heck ya,” and seemed a bit thrown off by the question. He went on to say that they have seven days in between games and that’s time for some of those guys listed on the injury report to get healthy.
“So, yeah, we have plenty of guys.”
He did confirm that DeSean Jackson will miss Week 3’s matchup with the Lions, but said he was optimistic that Dallas Goedert and Alshon Jeffery might be available on Sunday.
Fletcher Cox had mentioned this week that he feels better now than he did the first two weeks of the season, and Pederson talked about how that was evident in practice. The head coach explained that with Cox missing those reps in training camp, he’s finally getting his legs under him, his body is feeling good, and they’re seeing that explosiveness from him.
Pederson also pointed out that he thinks a lot of guys are in that situation.
The head coach had said during his first few seasons that they would have to talk to Carson Wentz about protecting himself and to make smart decisions when it comes to avoiding injuries. He said that while they have accepted that scrambling out the pocket and trying to extend plays is the kind of quarterback he is, they do still have those conversations about being smart about it — and that’s with all the QBs on the roster.
On the running backs
Pederson was asked about Jordan Howard, and whether they have to check in on him as he was accustomed to a certain workload over the first three years of his career, and that’s seen a considerable dip in the first two weeks with the Eagles. The head coach said that they did, but that they check in with all the players, but RB coach Duce Staley does a great job managing that room.
He also mentioned that now that they are without Corey Clement, all of their workloads will see a bit of an increase at this point. Pederson also said that they brought Howard here for a reason, and it’s a long season, and they’re just getting started so they should hopefully see more of him.
Later on the head coach was asked about Miles Sanders and whether he’d like to see him be a bit more decisive — like OC MIke Groh had mentioned earlier in the week. Pederson said that Groh’s comments were fair and that it also comes with experience.
Pederson talked about how he was going through a few of the plays from the Falcons’ game with Sanders in practice, and once he saw it on tape — and even knew it in-game — knew what changes he needed to make. Specifically on one play Jason Peters opened a hole, and Sanders ran to the outside, but Pederson noted that sometimes holes are going to be tight, but Sanders has the ability to slither through those and that’s what they want to see.
On running 12 personnel
Pederson was asked whether the team wanted to run more 12 personnel this season because they liked how the offense looked in that scheme, or whether it was to get Dallas Goedert on the field more often.
The head coach answered, “Yes,” and confirmed it was both.
He further explained that it was a way to get both Goedert and Zach Ertz on the field at the same time, and sometimes it comes down to the matchups they’re looking at when game planning. Pederson said they obviously want Goedert on the field whenever they can, but they also have three good skill guys that they want on the perimeter at the same time.
So, it’s really a week-to-week situation based on the defense they’re facing.
On Isaac Seumalo
Despite his performance against Atlanta, Pederson said that it wasn’t time yet to make some changes with Isaac Seumalo on the line. He explained that everyone is going to have a bad game and one game does not decide someone’s season.
He went on to talk about how making a move like that is something that is either based on cumulative performance or injury, and it’s not something he does lightly. Pederson said that they still have a lot of confidence in Seumalo and are definitely not thinking of making a move there.
On facing the Lions
Pederson was asked whether he sees Detroit finding their identity in Matt Patricia’s second season as head coach, and he admitted that he does. He explained that if you go back to a year ago and look at their execution on tape compared to this year, they are flying around the field more and are more confident in their positions and where they need to be.
Those are things you see from Year 1 to Year 2, and how fast they’re able to play as a result, as well as how eager they’re playing and confident.
The head coach was also asked about Matthew Stafford, who is in the Top 10 players of pulling off 4th quarter comeback wins.
“He’s obviously developed over time, being the leader of that football team and playing the quarterback position. As we know, his arm strength is really good, especially at the end of games, being able to make all the throws. He has the capability of extending plays with his legs once he’s out of the pocket, and just has a mentality of winning. He’s got a demeanor of finishing football games, and he did that to us a few years back.”
Pederson went on to say that with guys like that you really have to come prepared to play a full 60 minutes, and they have to stay focused on every down through four quarters.