Doug Pederson touched on a number of different topics during his final press conference prior to the Philadelphia Eagles’ Week 1 home opener against the Washington Redskins. Let’s take a look at the highlights.
POSITIVE EAGLES INJURY UPDATES
Alshon Jeffery popped up on the Eagles’ injury report on Thursday with a “biceps” designation. Pederson downplayed this issue a big concern:
“He had a collision during practice. We had pads on that day. Just bumped his arm and so we just kept him out yesterday for extra treatment, rehab. He’ll be fine.”
Good to see.
Pederson was also asked about Derek Barnett, who has been limited in practice this week. Back on Monday, Pederson seemed optimistic about Barnett’s outlook:
“I feel really, really good about Derek [Barnett]. He’s been probably the one that’s been practicing the most [of the injured guys] during training camp with getting more reps each and every week. So he’s in a really good spot, so I have no issues with him not playing or being there.”
Jim Schwartz’s answer about Barnett’s status on Thursday was less convincing but Pederson reiterated his confidence on Friday:
“No, [nothing has changed]. I still feel confident.”
The Eagles need Barnett out there so that’s good to hear.
NIGEL BRADHAM WILL PLAY
Bradham’s been in the news this week since the story about him missing the Eagles’ final preseason game without telling anyone he wasn’t going to be able to make it leaked out. Bradham told reporters that he was sick and should’ve handled it better.
There’s been speculation that the Eagles could suspend Bradham but it looks like that won’t be happening.
Q: Are you comfortable with Bradham’s explanation?
PEDERSON: “I trust Nigel. He and I had a great conversation. Quite frankly, it’s behind us. I’ll just tell you this without getting into detail because I’m not going to: we had a great conversation [on] Monday. He’s focused on the Redskins just like I am and we’ve put it behind us.”
Q: Has there been discipline?
PEDERSON: “That’s an internal issue, so I’m not going to get into that.”
Q: No suspension, then?
PEDERSON: “That’s internal.”
Q: So, we’ll see find out?
PEDERSON: “You’ll find out.”
Q: Is he playing this week?
PEDERSON: “You’ll find out. (smiling) Yes, he’s playing. So that answers your question.”
The guess here is that the Eagles will fine Bradham. Suspending him to send a message doesn’t feel like a great move when Philly is already down a starting linebacker in Kamu Grugier-Hill. If anything, the Eagles could keep Bradham off the field on their first defensive snap so he doesn’t get credit for “starting” the game. I’m guessing they won’t even do that much, though.
DOES A LACK OF PRESEASON SNAPS MAKE FOR UGLY EARLY SEASON FOOTBALL?
A big takeaway coming out of Thursday night’s NFL kickoff game between the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears was that their offenses looked sloppy due to a lack of preseason reps. Aaron Rodgers didn’t play at all in the preseason and Mitchell Trubisky only played three snaps.
Does Pederson put any stock into this narrative?
“You know, as a head coach, I was excited for both defenses. I mean, these are two great defenses, too, now. So, it goes both ways. You can say the offenses struggled but Green Bay’s defense, Chicago’s defense are pretty good. And I will say that a lot of times early in the season, defenses are ahead from that standpoint as far as a timing and execution, game speed. Then offenses can kind of gain some traction, momentum as the season unfolds. But I just think ... preseason, it might be good from the standpoint that these guys played in a game, but it’s not necessarily the same tempo and speed that you’re seeing on game day. You’re not seeing the same schemes. Teams are game planning a little bit more now because the regular season is here. It’s totally different. It’s like going into the postseason. It’s a different year, a different season. So, it takes a little bit of time for offenses to gain that traction.”
No one asked me but I think people are getting a little carried away with this topic.
First of all, people are making sweeping assements based on an extremely small sample size (see: ONE GAME).
Believe it or not, last night’s Packers vs. Bears game was not the first 10 to 3 score in NFL history! I mean, the Patriots and Rams — who had a full regular season and multiple games under their belts — finished with a 13 to 3 score in the Super Bowl earlier this year. And if you want to say “well, they were rusty after having a bye before the big game,” then you need to explain to me how the Eagles and Patriots finished with a 41 to 33 score in 2018.
Jared Goff and the Rams’ starting offense didn’t play in the preseason last year and Los Angeles somehow managed to score 33 points in Week 1.
The reality is that things are more random that people like to admit. It’s entirely possible the Eagles could get off to a slow start against Washington. If that happens, people were bitch about Carson Wentz not playing in the preseason. But it’s also entirely possible he would’ve had the same performance WITH having played in the preseason! Preseason reps aren’t this magical cure-all they’re being made out to be.
Even if we accept that preseason reps ARE super important (which I don’t), being rusty is still a better option than losing key players during meaningless summer games.
JORDAN HOWARD TRADE RUMOR FALLOUT
Earlier this week, Albert Breer reported the Eagles included Jordan Howard in a potential trade package for Los Angeles Chargers running back Melvin Gordon. Pederson discussed how he handled this report with the player:
“We feel great about Jordan. It’s why we brought him here. And we actually went to Jordan when the report came out, went right to him and said: ‘Listen, you’re here. The report is false. It’s not coming from us.’ So, just wanted to reassure him that this is the reason why you’re here, to help us win games.”
It’d be hard to blame Howard for feeling some kind of way about hearing his name come up in trade rumors ... especially after only being traded to the Eagles six months ago.
Pederson was asked to assess the team’s confidence in their linebackers outside of Bradham. The head coach brought up Zach Brown first before then bringing up Nathan Gerry. If I had to rank the Eagles’ linebacker pecking order in terms of playing time, it’d look like this:
1 - Nigel Bradham
2 - Kamu Grugier-Hill (when healthy)
3 - Zach Brown
4 - Nathan Gerry
5 - L.J. Fort
6 - T.J. Edwards