Eagles’ head coach Doug Pederson spoke to the media on Monday about some of the injuries and plans for certain positions on a short week. He talked about his messaging to the team, why he’s encouraged by the offense and some of the younger players, but also why his veterans are extremely important to overcoming adversity.
Here’s what the head coach had to say:
Pederson didn’t have any updates on injuries yet on the guys who had issues yesterday — Miles Sanders, Malik Jackson, Jack Driscoll, K’Von Wallace —, but said he was optimistic about guys like DeSean Jackson, Alshon Jeffery, and Lane Johnson. But, he mentioned that it’s a short week and you don’t know how guys will respond physically — especially since they keep things more as a traditional walk-through rather than getting contact reps in practice.
If Miles Sanders isn’t available on Thursday
The head coach said that hopefully Sanders is okay and is available this week, but if not, they’ll use Boston Scott and Corey Clement in a committee approach, as well as Jason Huntley. He noted that Adrian Killans is an option for them as well, depending on the rest of the roster in order to promote him from the practice squad.
As far as getting Jalen Hurts more involved in the run game, Pederson said that they’ve had some success with the unscouted plays they’ve run with him this season, and they’ll continue to explore different ways to use him.
On the right guard position
“We got some options, maybe as crazy as that sounds. We do have some options at guard. Obviously, [Sua] Opeta can play, [Nate] Herbig can move in there, we have Jamon Brown. We’re hopeful [Matt] Pryor, with being on the COVID list — I believe we can get him back this week, as well. So, we’ll have some options there, moving into this week, and we have to do what’s best for the football team, what’s best for the offense, and we’ll make those determinations here pretty quick.”
Pederson wouldn’t say whether it would be Pryor’s starting job if he’s allowed to play, especially since he missed out on a week of practice reps.
Leaning into injuries as motivation
He does use injuries occasionally as part of his messaging, but he doesn’t like to focus too much on one specific player and rather prefers to keep it focused on the team as a whole.
“Individuals play, but teams win.”
On preparing with a short week
Pederson admitted that having a short turnaround between games can help them shake off the past few weeks a bit quicker. When they get out on the practice field Monday afternoon, it’ll be with a focus on their Thursday night opponent — the New York Giants. This is especially true as they face an NFC East opponent with the division still largely up for grabs.
They’re focusing on figuring out how to win again and how to get guys healthy to play, but the short week does give them a sense of shaking off the past and focusing on what’s ahead.
The head coach was later asked about his history of success on short weeks, even with a lot of injuries.
“I do think that there’s some validity, so to speak, to keeping it simple. To going back to some of your training camp-type plays. Utilizing all your personnel. And a lot of it, too, falls on the players. It’s more of a narrow focus, a laser focus for a couple of days. Focusing in on the game plan. It’s all about mental preparation over the physical. And really, we just keep — I talk about the preparation and hard work all the time. Well, weeks like this, it’s going to take preparation and hard work to get it done again with where we are as a football team.”
On Carson Wentz
The head coach was asked about Wentz pulling off impressive feats late in several games, now, and whether that was something they could harness through the first three quarters. Pederson explained that you don’t really want to have to get into the 2-minute offense quite as early as they did yesterday, but that offense and going up-tempo also helps.
He also touched on the fact that at that point late in the game, they had a better understanding of how to protect and attack — but, also, they had to be careful because they lost Jack Driscoll and had a new piece to the offensive line. So, going into the 2-minute offense helps, and also focusing on some of their one-on-one matchups, like Travis Fulgham on the outside.
On the potential of the offense
“The last couple of weeks, even going back to San Francisco, a team that was in the Super Bowl — and I know they had some injuries on defense, but it’s still a really good defense, and you come away with a win there. And then Pittsburgh, what you did at Pittsburgh, and then of course Baltimore being, I believe, the No. 1 defense in the National Football League, statistically speaking. To have, really in all three of those games, you win one and had chances to win the other two. So for us, that’s the part that we have to stay focused on, right? We have to stay focused on the positive and keep coaching our players.
We’ve got some young players that are getting valuable experience. I think of John Hightower who has just shown massive improvements each week, and even though maybe one play yesterday could have made a difference, you know what, he came back later in the game and Carson found him again for another 50-yard completion. Those are the things that we’ve got to build on, and Travis Fulgham and Greg Ward and some of these young players that are playing.
I even think about the defensive players, K’Von Wallace getting valuable experience at the safety spot and playing special teams and our young linebackers played yesterday. All that is encouraging moving forward and we know that we have got some of our veteran players that are getting healthy and hopefully we get them back soon and it will kind of solidify everything for us.
We’ve just got to keep it together, keep it tight, keep focusing on one week at a time. But I am encouraged by what we’ve done, even though we haven’t necessarily won the game.”
Pederson echoed what he said earlier on the radio, that he could’ve called a timeout before the final 2-point attempt to maybe get in another play. But, he said they didn’t execute as an offense — and wouldn’t point directly to any one specific missed assignment.
“That didn’t lose us the football game, obviously, it was a big play that could have tied the football game. You know, we had opportunities throughout the course of the game to really make a difference in this football game.”
He also talked about how it’s extremely important that some of the older guys on the team have experience overcoming adversity and aren’t panicking when facing a losing record and a long list of injuries. With such a young roster, Pederson leans on guys like Brandon Graham, Rodney McLeod, Jalen Mills and Carson Wentz as the veterans on the team to rally the troops and bring the young guys along. Even for those who might be facing their first injury, someone who has been through something similar is really valuable.