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Doug Pederson talks his messaging to Carson Wentz, scouting the Eagles’ Week 1 opponent, and more

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Hear from Philadelphia’s head coach.

Philadelphia Eagles v Jacksonville Jaguars Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images

In another sign that football is right around the corner, Doug Pederson had his first Wednesday morning press conference of the 2019 regular season earlier today. The Philadelphia Eagles head coach touched on a number of topics ahead of the team’s Week 1 game against the Washington Redskins. Let’s take a look.

No plan to “ease” Carson Wentz in

The Eagles held Wentz out of their preseason games but there’s no internal worry that he’s rusty or anything like that.

“I don’t necessarily believe in that. I don’t think you ease anybody in. I think you have to go in fully prepared and that’s why we practice. It’s why you’ve gone through a grueling training camp, especially at that position for Carson. And so, I don’t necessarily believe in easing anyone in. I think that’s how you have a little passive mindset, especially as a play-caller, and that’s not who I am, and that’s not who he is. So, I don’t foresee that.”

Messaging to Carson Wentz

Wentz’s play-making ability is a double-edged sword. On one hand, his ability to make things happen out of structure can be impossible to defend and you don’t want to neuter that special talent. On the other hand, Wentz needs to be smart and not play too much hero ball. Pederson stressed the latter point on Wednesday.

“My message to him — and really, to the team — is let the offense work for you. Let the team work for you. You don’t feel like you have to do things yourself. And that’s the thing that, going back to all the toys that we have question, you’ve just got to let those guys work. And same on defense. Let the scheme sometimes take over where you don’t feel like you have to do everything yourself. Make the plays when they come to you, don’t go searching for them. Because that’s when you get out of alignment, that’s when you miss an assignment, you line up wrong. When they come, you make them. And that’s all it is.

With Carson, even though he touches the ball every down, just make the plays when they come and use the guys around you. Don’t feel like you have to do it yourself.”

Washington scouting report

Pederson highlighted several names when asked about the Eagles’ Week 1 opponent.

We know Josh Norman, he’s going to follow Alshon [Jeffery] like he has the last couple of seasons. So that’s something we’re obviously we want to continue to monitor and watch and check out during the game.

[Ryan] Kerrigan is a guy that can … he picks his spots. He’s talented. He can rush and he get after the passer. He’s a good player. And they move him around a little bit. I think with him and [Montez] Sweat now on either side, this is a pretty good pass rush on defense. So that’s obviously something we have to watch out for.

I think, offensively, they get Derrius Guice back. Tremendous running back. He’s a big, powerful guy. Guy we liked coming out [of college].

And we know the quarterback [Case Keenum]. We faced him a little bit and he can get the hot hand and get going.

And depending on what happens with their tight ends and who plays, these guys can be as good as our guys. And sometimes even better. That’s just who they are.

There’s enough guys to keep your eye on. This is a good football team. It’s just going to take a good week of preparation to be ready.

Jeffery’s stats in four Eagles vs. Washington games: 23 targets, 13 receptions, 165 yards (12.7 average), one touchdown, and one two-point conversion. Considering that’s just 41.3 receiving yards per game, it’s safe to say Jeffery hasn’t dominated his matchups against Norman.

Everyone knows that Kerrigan’s given the Eagles a ton of trouble in the past. In 16 career games against the Eagles, Kerrigan has logged 58 total tackles, 20 quarterback hits, 13 tackles for loss, 11.5 sacks, six forced fumbles, two pass deflections, one interception, and one defensive touchdown. Yikes! The Eagles need Lane Johnson to bring his A-game.

It’ll be interesting to see how effective Guice will be coming off last year’s ACL tear. He was certainly an intriguing talent that a lot of Eagles fans coveted in the 2018 NFL Draft but Philadelphia decided to pass on him multiple times.

Keenum is arguably the worst starting quarterback in the NFL. He got hot in 2017, yeah, but that was clearly an outlier in his career.

A spoiler of the Eagles’ first offensive play?

Pederson had the following line in an answer about DeSean Jackson:

“It’s going to be a great welcome back for him when he makes that first catch, or hopefully a touchdown.”

Just replace Michael Vick with Wentz below:

The Eagles’ weapons are well-oiled machines, not “toys”

Pederson was asked about looking forward to finally getting to call a game with all of the Eagles’ offensive weapons: Carson Wentz, Alshon Jeffery, DeSean Jackson, Nelson Agholor, JJ Arcega-Whiteside, Zach Ertz, Dallas Goedert, Miles Sanders, Jordan Howard, Darren Sproles, Corey Clement, etc.

“Yeah, I am. I don’t really categorize them as “toys.” They’re well-oiled machines. I think having some flexibility, particularly in the passing game. And that’s the thing, we’ve got to be careful. Run, pass, who’s in the game … we’ve got to be careful from our personnel, this is why we self-scout a lot. Who’s in the game on certain plays and certain down and distances and all of that.

But it will be exciting to look at the play sheet, and listen, it has to be going your way though. We have to be executing for any of it to work. If not, it can be a long day. And so, just being able to look at your call sheet and being able to dial one put does give you a little comfort that way, but at the same time if we’re not executing it really doesn’t matter.”

No limits on Miles Sanders and JJ Arcega-Whiteside

Pederson said the Eagles’ offensive rookies are ready to contribute right away.

That’s the reason we had training camp. You mix these guys in with the ones and got them comfortable with Carson and for this reason. This is why you draft these guys. I don’t think you hold back. You plug them in and you go. They have to learn. And there’s no better teacher than on game day. Just let them experience the emotion of the game, feel the game, and then go execute how they’re capable. I mean, they’re talented enough to be drafted where they were drafted so we’re going to use them.

Running back rotation philosophy

The Eagles have heavily rotated their backs under Pederson and Duce Staley. Pederson said the reason they’ve done that is related to the personnel they’ve had but also because it’s a philosophy they believe in. So, expect to Sanders and Howard splitting carries with Sproles and Clement also mixing in.

I think it’s a little of both. I believe that the National Football League season is a grueling, grinding season, particularly on running backs. And if you don’t have a couple of guys that you can really hang your hat on, it’s hard to get through a season. And so for us here, it’s worked. And we’ll continue to do that. We also ask our guys to play special teams so that’s another aspect of the running back position. It’s a long season, so we want to make sure they’re fresh when it’s time to be fresh, especially late in the year.

The excitement of the season opener

Pederson, like us, can’t wait for Sunday.

“The energy level is extremely high. Both teams. Whether you’re home or away. It’s exciting. It’s 1:00 o’clock, or wherever you’re at in the country. Playing for us, 1:00. It’s just a different feel. Electric. I mentioned the other day it’s a little bit like a playoff type atmosphere, that first game. Emotions are running high. Adrenaline is running high for players and head coaches. It’s the excitement. It’s a new year. We’re finally here, football is back. That type of mentality. It’s a great feeling.”

Open roster spot

Pederson was asked if the Eagles could wait to fill their open roster and promote someone from the practice squad later in the week. His verbose answer:

“Yes.”