The Eagles are now 1-4-1, but despite the 30-28 loss to the Ravens on Sunday, head coach Doug Pederson said he was proud of the way his team battled back — especially considering their growing list of injured players.
At one point, Pederson took a deep breath before answering about the offense’s struggles for the first three quarters, and lack of first downs. He pointed to the dropped 3rd down deep throw (to John Hightower), the turnover, the missed field goal — all self-inflicted wounds, and disastrous against a team like the Ravens.
Here’s what the head coach had to say:
On the team’s resiliency
There were only two offensive starters left at the end of Sunday’s game, Carson Wentz and Jason Kelce, and Pederson would argue that they were banged up as well — it was a physical game, he pointed out.
“My message to the football team is basically, you know, there’s all the shoulda, coulda, wouldas out there, plays that we missed in the first half, turnovers, whatever it might be, but this group, every healthy body that we had played in this football game. And, I’m gonna tell you, it’s hard to win in the National Football League, okay, and you guys know exactly where we’re at health-wise, and these guys have battled their tails off today and still had a chance to tie this football game — really, had a chance to win this football game, against a healthy, healthy football team.
And so, as the head coach, I can stand here and I’m proud of those guys in the locker room, and I know they’re going to get beat down this week, and that’s your job. But my job is to encourage them, and say hey — I get it, there are no moral victories in the NFL, there’s no moral victories at all, and we’re all graded on wins and losses, but for this team to hang together on the sideline, to not point fingers, to battle, to be in this position with all the mistakes that were made in the first half, really offensively, and then we missed the kick, the field goal at the end of the half, and those are differences in games. And, those are things we’re going to learn from, and we’re gonna get better from.
So, I’m proud of the guys for the way they battled today.”
On the play calling
Pederson was asked about the failed two-point conversion at the end of the game, and he said that he can do a better job getting the call in and putting the guys in a better position. He credited the Ravens for the getting the stop there, and they “were just a little bit short.”
When asked about it again, he would only say that the play call was his decision and he could put them in a better position. He wouldn’t answer directly about the execution of the play.
The head coach was later asked about going for 2 points after their first touchdown of the game, when they were 17-6. He explained that it gave them the best probability to win the game in that situation.
On Carson Wentz
“Carson played a heck of a football game. He played tough, played smart — resilient, resilient guy, resilient group. Rallied his troops, made some tough throws against a really, really good defense. Proud of him for hanging in there, you know, amidst all the, again, some of the injuries we had. You know, losing [Jack] Driscoll there at the end of the game, and then Miles [Sanders] came out for a little while, so I thought Carson played really tough today. Played a good football game.”
Pederson later talked about how Wentz is the type of guy to put the team on his back, especially when they’re faced with adversity. He mentioned that Wentz and Travis Fulgham stepped up in the second half and made some plays, and so did John Hightower and Richard Rodgers. Wentz being tough is what kept them in the game.
On utilizing Jalen Hurts
Pederson noted that Hurts is part of the game plan every week, and he just felt like it was the right time to get him in during the second quarter.
“At the time we had been struggling a little bit offensively, especially running the football, and gave us an opportunity to do that with him. And, it kind of calmed the defense down a little bit, too. There wasn’t as much pressure with him in the game at quarterback. Just had to find a spark and got him in the football game.”
Later, he was asked why they didn’t play Hurts more after, and Pederson admitted that he provided a spark at times that they needed it, and they’ll continue to keep him involved moving forward.
On the ever-changing OL
The head coach said that both Jack Driscoll and Brett Toth battled their tails off on Sunday, and they have to quickly evaluate where they are as a group with injuries — on a short week. He admitted that they are getting thin at the position, but he’s hopeful that a couple of the offensive line guys will be back this week, but they’ll have to see over the next few days.
On Miles Sanders
Pederson agreed that Sanders has really come on the past few weeks, and has often been a three-down back for the offense. The head coach said that Sanders is a spark that you need, he’s got great energy and enthusiasm, and they’ll have to check out his injury Sunday and Monday to see if he’ll be available on Thursday night.