Eagles head coach Doug Pederson spoke to reporters before the team head’s west for the Sunday Night Football showdown with an equally (or worse) banged up 49ers roster. Pederson tried to explain the offense’s identity, gave some injury updates, and talked a bit about roster addition Hakeem Butler.
He also spoke about the Titans-Steelers game being cancelled, and while touching on how it indirectly affects them as Pittsburgh’s next opponent, also said that it directly affects them from the point of being more aware of their surroundings. They have to pay more attention to the protocols in place, and have to stay “ultra safe” during their trip to California.
Here’s what the head coach had to say:
On the offense’s identity
Pederson was asked how he would define the identity of this offense, and after a four second pause (and a sigh), explained:
“I would define the identity as … using the strength — number one, you’ve gotta go off the strength, I think, of your quarterback, right? And then you build your plans around that. So, obviously, the identity — you wanna be able to run the football, play-action pass, the QB movements, and then as Les [Bowen] mentioned, the screens, you’ve gotta mix in the screens effectively in your system. And you wanna be physical up front. That goes without saying. You wanna be dominant there, control the line of scrimmage and all that. And that’s where the run game comes in. But I think you’re seeing that — you’ve seen the identity a little bit kind of rear it’s head up in these games. But then it goes back down because we haven’t been as successful on first down. Been in too many 2nd-and-long and 3rd-and-long situations, which gets you out of who you are, a little bit, as an offense. So, those are the thing that we have to focus on. Continue to work at that. Go into each game with that mindset and that confidence level.”
Injury and Illness Updates
Pederson noted that the guys who were out earlier this week with an illness are all going to be back in the building Friday. He later touched on the fact that with all the COVID protocols in place, if a guy has the sniffles they have to stay away from the team just in case, because you never know. The good thing, however, is even if they can’t be in the building, thanks to virtual meetings, they can still participate off the field.
As far as the injuries to the wide receiver group, Pederson didn’t want to tip his hand with what they might be doing at the position this weekend.
“We’re excited about the guys we got, and the guys we’ve been working with this week at practice.”
DeSean Jackson is working day-by-day and is getting better, but won’t be out on the field during Friday’s practice — he’ll be inside getting treatment. Pederson said that they are still optimistic he’s able to play on Sunday. JJ Arcega-Whiteside, however, will get some work on Friday and they can see where he’s at, but he’s feeling better.
Pederson admitted that it was difficult having so many injuries, especially during the week as they try to game plan, but teams throughout the NFL are having the same issues right now. As much as he’d like everyone to be able to practice, he noted that’s just never going to happen.
The head coach also talked about Miles Sanders and his glute injury and whether it would affect his conditioning — something Pederson has talked about the first two weeks. He explained that Sanders is getting his legs under him, in terms of the playing load, and the injury is just a result of some of the sideways tackles he’s been hit with.
“I don’t have any concerns with him moving forward.”
Regarding Sanders health overall, Pederson wasn’t concerned with the second-year running back taking 80% of the snaps.
“I think it’s sustainable, but also we’ve got to be careful.”
He went on to explain that there’s a fine line between pushing enough but not too much, and they have to be smart and have a plan for how they use him.
“We know he’s a three-down back for us.”
Pederson also noted that they have confidence in Boston Scott and Corey Clement, and the two can take more snaps if Sanders needs the rest.
On Hakeem Butler as a TE
“This guy is long, he’s athletic. Smart kid. So far what we’ve seen, we’ve used him primarily, a littlie bit as a look squad tight end to get him acclimated.”
Pederson explained that Butler has the hybrid wide receiver/tight end body type and is someone that they can grow and develop. It’s early still, but he’s someone that they’re excited is with the team.
- Pederson said that they spoke with Carson Wentz about trusting his targets — as they do every week — and letting the guys do their jobs. He noted that if anything with so many new faces, there’s more communication, like there was at the end of the season.
- The head coach was asked about the linebacker position and whether they’ve done enough at the position this offseason. He simply answered, “Yes,” before explaining that they looked within their roster, at free agency, and in the draft, and he felt like they’ve added depth to the roster. Pederson also said that some of the LBs are core special teams players and that’s their way to impact the team right now — especially without much of an offseason and no preseason games.
“We gotta bring these guys, and catch them up fast, but at the same time interject them slowly into your system.”
- Pederson said that they will prepare the same way for the 49ers offense, regardless of which quarterback starts. He noted that they are pretty similar in their style and how the run the offense — they don’t do a lot in terms of mixing personnel, and let they’re players play.