Eagles’ head coach Doug Pederson spoke to the media Friday morning before practice, and gave some injury updates, as well as talked about the make-up of the offensive line, how they’re preparing for the Cowboys, and why the rivalry means a lot regardless of either team’s record.
Here’s what the head coach had to say:
Pederson was asked about Alshon Jeffery’s calf injury, and he noted that he wasn’t entirely sure what happened or what rep it happened on, but it was in practice about two weeks ago. They have a little time with the bye week coming up and the head coach is optimistic that Jeffery might be available moving forward.
He was also asked about why they didn’t wait to activate Jeffery, who will now miss his 8th game, and Pederson explained that originally, they were optimistic the WR would be back in Week 4 or Week 5, but things happen, and they can’t go back and second-guess that decision.
Regarding Malik Jackson, T.J. Edwards, Jason Peters and Jalen Reagor, they’ve all practiced this week and had a good week of preparation. They have to get through Friday’s practice without any issues, and make sure they don’t have any issues ahead of Sunday’s game.
Pederson also said that it’s exciting moving forward knowing that they could get some of their starters back in the next few weeks, but until then they have to continue to coach the guys available because they’re battling their tails off — he said he doesn’t focus too much on how that affects the trade deadline.
On the offensive line
Pederson emphasized that Jordan Mailata has played well and he loves where the young player is at with his growth and development, but if Jason Peters starts at left tackle, it let’s Mailata step back and learn in a big picture kind of way. The head coach compared Mailata’s situation to what they did with Nelson Agholor a few years ago, and how his benching helped him see the big picture and was good for his development. [BLG Note: How is this situation comparable?! Mailata’s play has been encouraging while Agholor was a disaster in 2016.]
Doug Pederson compared Jason Peters potentially replacing Jordan Mailata at left tackle to the Eagles benching Nelson Agholor in 2016.— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) October 30, 2020
Full quote: pic.twitter.com/LfsZBflqrV
He later noted that Peters looks good and feels good, and he’s had a good couple days of practice this week. They not only focus on how he feels during practice, but then also the day after, to see how his body handled that kind of workload and whether it can/did bounce back. Pederson said Peters has held up well and has done a nice job on the field.
The head coach was also asked about Lane Johnson, whose knee and ankle injuries are affecting him about the same — one isn’t worse than the other — and they just need to see him out in practice on Friday to make sure he can execute the game plan. He’s had some good days and is doing well.
Pederson also talked a bit about Nate Herbig and his ability to move from left to right guard, and back again.
“Honestly, he’s a smart kid. And, he doesn’t need a ton of work going from right to left, I would say it’s pretty natural for him.”
He noted that there are some guys who can only play on one side, but Herbig, while it’s not perfect, handles changing sides well. Plus, coming into the season, he was going to be a back-up, role player who could swing from left to right, so he was prepared for either side of the line.
On deciding who will play
The head coach explained the process of deciding how to fill the offensive line or secondary (or any position with moving parts due to injury).
They come out of the previous game with a medical report on everybody and then they have to decide early in the week how they’re going to construct the roster for the upcoming opponent. By Wednesday they have a little bit of a feel for who will practice and who will be in or out — and whether someone might be able to play but still needs a couple days to get back. Friday is a big day to see guys full speed in order to make final determinations for game day.
On preparing for the Cowboys
Pederson explained that the challenge in preparing for a rookie quarterback with no NFL film is all the unknown. They had to go back and study his college film a little bit, especially since there were no preseason games to go off.
It just emphasizes that they can’t just focus on one guy and have to make sure they do their job defensively — the Cowboys do a good job on the perimeter and have good running backs. If it is Ben DiNucci at QB, they expect him to come in and execute the plays called. Pederson noted that they haven’t made a determination yet on Andy Dalton, but often for guys coming out of the concussion protocol, it takes until Friday or Saturday until they are cleared.
The head coach also knows that both teams are going to play hard, despite their injuries and struggles, and both teams want to win.
“I think the rivalry has always — it’s always one of the great rivalries in football. Listen, both teams could be sitting here 6-0 and it would still mean a lot, we’re sitting here with 2 wins a piece and it still means a lot.”
Pederson also noted that it’s an important rivalry for the city of Philadelphia and the players and team know that as they prepare for these games.
On offensive scheme
The head coach was asked about his preference for 11- and 12-personnel and what his thoughts were on 4-wides or empty. Pederson explained that they did some 4-wides last week, and it’s something he likes if they have the four guys to do it, but he also has to take into account who the edge rushers are and the defensive front they’re facing. He thinks it’s a good change up and a good way to go tempo and fast, and Pederson thinks they’re getting closer to being able to do that a little bit more.