Eagles’ head coach Doug Pederson spoke to reporters on Monday afternoon about some of their issues from Sunday’s loss to Pittsburgh, as well as his thoughts on some of the penalties called. The head coach also touched on Zach Ertz’s lack of production and why Nate Gerry was one-on-one vs. Chase Claypool on the Steelers’ last touchdown.
He said that they need to continue to coach in order to execute for four quarters and in all three phases of the game — noting that there is still room for improvement on kick returns for the special teams group. They have a lot of young players and each game is a new situation, but they have to get to a place where they are performing on both sides of the ball.
Here’s what Pederson had to say:
On Travis Fulgham and his success
“Well, I think the first thing is Travis has played in games, NFL games before. So it’s not new to him. Even though he’s new to us and new to the City of Philadelphia and obviously to you guys, we’ve seen him on tape. Now, maybe not the same type of production, but we’ve seen him in action. And then when we got him here to our football team, we saw him in practice make plays.
He just attacks each day ready to learn, ready to get better. He’s always throwing with Carson. Carson’s grabbing him between periods at practice and working on routes and details of routes and timing of routes and that’s what it takes with everybody and not just one guy. It’s a pleasant surprise to see him step up the way he has the last couple weeks.”
On Zach Ertz’s lack of production
Pederson was asked why Ertz has been so ineffective, even if teams are scheming for him, and the head coach said that when he looked at the tape, there were a couple of opportunities for him to make plays on Sunday against the Steelers. Wentz threw the ball a little bit high, and they had a red zone target ready to go, but they had a false start which shifted the play call.
“Carson and Zach, they have to continue to work. I haven’t seen the ball travel as high towards Zach than it is right now, and those are things as we continue to work through during the week, those two guys will be on the same page.
So it’s just a little bit of missed timing right now with those two. But I know it’s something that they will work at and work on each week to get it corrected.”
- They are still waiting on a second opinion and some reports before knowing what’s next for Lane Johnson‘s ankle injury, so for now, there are no updates.
- Darius Slay is in concussion protocol.
- Duke Riley was a little banged up, but he’s going to be fine and they expect him on the field for practice this week.
On penalties (flagged and not flagged)
Pederson was asked about the DPI called against Darius Slay, and he admitted that each week they send a handful of plays into the league for clarification on rulings, those flagged or not flagged. He explained that those explanations are valuable teaching tools for the coaches and players. Sometimes, however, the calls are just subjective.
The thing he’s most focused on is that they had 9 penalties overall on Sunday, 8 on defense, giving the Steelers 5 additional first downs. Those are things they have to eliminate in order to win games.
On offense and defense protection packages
“Our protection, I thought for the most part, was pretty decent.”
Pederson said that things were decent, especially against a stout defense with talented players. There was some internal pressure, but Wentz was able to get the ball out. And, at the end of the game, they were trying for some chunk plays and deeper throws, so Wentz had to hold onto the ball a little longer.
The head coach was then asked a series of questions about the Steelers last touchdown, and why Nate Gerry was in a one-on-one situation against Chase Claypool. Pederson credited Ben Roethlisburger and the Steelers for seeing what was going on and the Eagles’ coverage, and took advantage of that read.
He emphasized more than once that it was just a really good play by the Steelers, who were about to read the coverage and make a play, rather than an issue with the defensive play calling — Pederson also acknowledged it was an empty formation.
It was the coverage, it was the defense that was called, it was an empty formation. It’s no different when offensively, we go empty, I give Carson the play and then Carson audibles or checks to something, whether it may be a quick slant to Greg Ward or to Miles [Sanders]. He’s understanding the leverage of the defense and the matchup that he likes and so that was the case at the end of the game.
Pederson was also asked if they could have called a timeout once they saw the Steelers identified that one-on-one matchup. He explained that they as coaches have to put players in position to be successful, but he didn’t want to burn a timeout knowing that the offense would need to get the ball back and probably use a timeout on that drive.
- The head coach laughed when a reporter suggested that if the Eagles were in any other division, they’d be in the basement. Pederson said that he wasn’t focused on what the other teams in the league are doing, and — channeling his inner Bill Belichick — noted that he’s just focused on Baltimore.
- He also talked about Dak Prescott and his season-ending injury, and extended his best wishes on his recovery.
- Pederson was asked how they’ll manage getting their veteran WRs back (DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jeffery — both of whom the Eagles expect to practice at some point this week). He noted that they first have to make sure those guys are 100 percent healthy, but also admitted that they are trying to build chemistry and a package of plays that some of the younger guys are comfortable with. At the same time, you’re looking to welcome back some veteran players that could give the offense a boost.