Eagles head coach was in a great mood on Wednesday morning when he took the podium to speak to reporters. The team will head to Green Bay later in the day for their Thursday Night Football matchup, but the head coach had some injury updates and some good news about guys who had been sidelined in Weeks 2 and 3.
Here’s what Pederson had to say:
The head coach said he expects Alshon Jeffery to play on Thursday, and was able to take part in the limited reps they did in practice this week. Jeffery “feels good” so Pederson expects him to go, and it gives their offense a bit of a lift from the standpoint of having a veteran player out there.
Pederson was asked about Dallas Goedert only getting 8 snaps last week and whether Jeffery would see a more full compliment of reps than that. He noted that Goedert was a game time decision last week and the game plan was already kind of put together, but the mindset this week was that Jeffery would be able to go so they game planned with that in mind.
Derek Barnett is also doing well, and is another guy Pederson is expecting to play against the Packers.
Corey Clement is “getting better” and after Wednesday, Pederson said he’s hopeful that the running back is willing and able to participate in Thursday night’s game. Clement being available would not only be a lift to the offense, but to special teams as well.
Pederson was asked about what it means to have Kamu Grugier-Hill back on the field, both on defense and special teams:
“One, he brings a lot of energy to the defense. He’s a very energetic and excitable guy. And then of course his leadership there, and what he’s done and shown us through the offseason, through training camp. And then obviously, special teams, we know he’s a great special teams player and again, gives us a little bit of a boost there.
And again, with a guy coming off of an injury, we still gotta be smart and make sure that he can handle a full 60 minute game. At least on maybe a limited basis, but we’ll keep an eye on him as we go.”
Pederson also said that if Nate Sudfeld were needed to go into the game, the head coach feels confident he’d be able to play.
On his success in short weeks
It was pointed out that Pederson is 3-0 in Philly in short-week games — which prompted the head coach to knock on wood — and the head coach was asked what he does to have that kind of success, particularly since they weren’t exactly easy games either.
“I think it’s just being able to focus on this week’s opponent.”
He went on to explain that they put an emphasis on quickly putting the last game behind them and being focused on the next opponent. But, Pederson also noted that on short weeks, the game plans are maybe a little simpler and get back to their core stuff.
“And maybe that’s a wake up call to us as coaches to keep that in mind as we go.”
But, Pederson emphasized that it’s a credit to the players for how they handle a short week both physically and mentally.
The head coach went on to talk about their practice schedule and how each rep gets them prepared in a short week, and during the walk-thru schedules, they’re able to get through maybe three-times the number of reps that way. Guys are getting multiple looks even if they aren’t getting a full-speed rep, and it’s important for them to get more of the mental aspect of the game over the physical at this point.
On the offense vs Green Bay
Pederson talked about how having Jeffery back should open things up for the other receivers, and he noted that it’s good to start getting their guys back. Jeffery specifically will draw attention, which will be helpful with the two young corners that the Packers have. And since Jeffery and JJ Arcega-Whiteside lineup at the same position, the rookie wide receiver would move to the backup role this week.
He emphasized that having him available does open things up for guys like Nelson Agholor, Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert. Pederson said being able to spread the ball around and find the opener receiver is critical to their passing game.
The head coach also talked about the Packers defensive improvements and the challenge they present:
“One, they’re opportunistic; they’re creating turnovers, and that’s the biggest thing through these first three games. That’s what you see. They were able to get pressure on the quarterback.
And then, this is a defense, when you get to third down -- and even some second downs -- but third downs when they start bringing in a bunch of these DBs and linebackers and you don’t know who is a D-lineman or who is a backer. They try to cause a little confusion for you up front and it can be a problem.
So for us, being able to handle that is important. That’s what they’ve done in these games. They’re also scoring off of those turnovers, and that’s obviously a big part of the why they’re 3-0.
Related to that Pederson said that the offensive line has been playing well. He did mention that aside from the Atlanta game, the line has allowed them to run the ball, and protected Carson Wentz, and they’ll continue to improve as they gel together as a group.
The head coach also raved about Brandon Brooks and how he handled himself and tackled his recovery to be able to come back in Week 1.
“This guy is just -- he’s a pro in everything he does: the way he attacks the day, the way he prepares, obviously the way he practices. He doesn’t take practice reps off -- unless Stout [Offensive Line/Run Game Coordinator Jeff Stoutland] gives it to him -- and he just gets better every week.”
On their season this far
Pederson had mentioned in the past that during streaks like this — being 1-2 — that they like to go back and evaluate what they’re doing and simplify things. As he noted earlier (above) that’ll happen anyway on a short week, but aside from that he just needs players to make plays and coach better to allow them to do that.
“But sometimes you get in these situations where we’ve dropped a couple games now. You know, you look at it, is it play design? Is it too many plays? Are we getting too creative? You look at that stuff.
But then you look at the games, and listen, this game has always come down to players and players making plays. That’s kind of been the case in our couple of losses here. We just have to coach better, we have to focus better, detail our work better, and then when the players get opportunities to make plays, they have to make them.
For me, that’s the exciting part of being a coach, is we get to coach on the field, coach the things that we see, and watch these players make these plays in the future.”
The head coach also echoed what Carson Wentz mentioned about being just a few plays away from being 3-0. Pederson said that notion is something he reminds the team of, and while they’re ultimately judged by wins and losses, he’s at least able to pinpoint certain plays here and there that could have made a big difference.