The Eagles finally got their first win of the season on Sunday night against the San Francisco 49ers, and head coach Doug Pederson spoke to reporters following the win, as well as on Monday afternoon back in Philadelphia.
Pederson said that it was a little bit easier playing on the road without fans in the stadium, because they were able to hear everything. They still had to handle the travel — getting on a plane and staying in a hotel — but the players were not allowed to leave the hotel, and there were no fans, family, or friends allowed. It was like they took the NovaCare Complex and their safety measure on the road.
Here’s what else the head coach had to say:
On Carson Wentz’s performance
“Very gutty. He played very well. And, you know, he played inspired. He led the football team tonight for the win. I mean, quite frankly, it might not have been perfect, but he gutted out several plays tonight and my hats off to him for just continuing to battle, and continuing to stand in there and make some tough throws and some tough decisions. He did a nice job.
This was really, more importantly though, a team effort, a team win tonight.”
Pederson mentioned on Monday that it’s huge for Wentz, and for the team, to pull out a win against a team that was in the Super Bowl last year, in a game where they had to travel across the country, and play on Sunday night. He went on to say that just to get the taste of winning again was important, and Wentz played better and more physical on Sunday.
“This is big.”
The head coach was also asked about Carson Wentz going out wide against a DB, and he said that the QB knows that he has to protect himself in those situations. But, as far as getting a little handsy with the defender, Pederson said for the most part it was mostly a little friendly fire between the two.
On the WR group
“I thought these guys, both in the run and pass game, played physical.”
Pederson pointed out John Hightower’s big catch, Greg Ward Jr. making some critical plays on third downs, and Travis Fulgham’s catch and touchdown. He talked about how they’re playing with some young players right now, and they have to crawl before they run, which is where they’re at — but they are a talented group, and Carson Wentz is excited to play with them.
The head coach was later asked how things might look as the get some of the injured players back into the mix. He said that he hopes they’ll have some tough choices to make once guys are ready to return, and that the group out there now continues to get better.
On Travis Fulgham and Alex Singleton
Pederson was asked about the two young players who stepped up and made huge impacts on Sunday. He explained that with Fulgham, he’s flashed in practice, and with the injuries at the wide receiver position, he’s been able to get some extra work in.
“I think he’s got a good relationship with Carson on the football field, and it’s something we can continue to build on his performance. I thought he played well. We’ll look at the tape, obviously, on the ride home.”
And then in Alex Singleton’s case, Pederson called him the “unsung hero,” and explained that he’s a four-quarter, core special teams player and a backup role player on defense.
“He just battles. He comes to work everyday, he’s always in a great mood. He’s excited, he’s excitable. Guys rally around him, and I was happy for him to get that Pick-6.”
On the offensive line
“They played well. It wasn’t perfect.”
There were some gains on third downs that they can recognize a little better, but that comes from reps and experience. Overall, though, he said the group played tough.
Pederson was asked about Jordan Mailata specifically, and his development at left tackle. He explained that when Mailata first came to Philly, everyday he came into the building he had something new to learn. The head coach said that the former rugby player has grown so much with his understanding the game of football and how to play the game, as well as how to execute within the offense and scheme.
“I thought there were some really good things yesterday by him.”
Pederson also said that when Mailata is 100 percent accurate with what he’s doing on a specific play, he’s such a big guy that it’s hard for defenders to get around him. Mailata is still a work in progress, but he’s come a long way and they’ll continue to develop him.
On Jalen Hurts and Adrian Killins
“I think it’s important to find ways to use all our players.”
Pederson explained that they’re still finding creative ways to use Hurts. He had the one dropped snap, which can’t happen, but he was able to get some snaps in. With Killins, the head coach noted that they can utilize his quick speed and quick twitch to their advantage.
He noted that they’re in a unique situation — with injuries and the roster makeup — where they really have to find a way to use everybody and get everyone involved in the game plan.
T.J. Edwards and Rudy Ford both left Sunday’s game with hamstring injuries, and Pederson said that it’s looking like they’ll both miss some time. He doesn’t really know how long they could be out, but it’s looking like they’ll miss some.
Lane Johnson’s ankle was sore early on against the 49ers, and that’s why he left the field. Pederson explained that it’s something that takes time to loosen up and get warm, and there were a couple plays early on where Johnson just didn’t feel right. The head coach was honest about how something like this is going to linger — they’re at a point in the season where everyone is sore, and there’s just no time to get the rest they’ll need to get everyone 100 percent healthy at this point.
As far as Miles Sanders not being in on the final drive of the game, Pederson was quick to say, “Miles is fine.” He went on to say not to read into anything, notably Corey Clement getting those late-game carries — Clement is schemed into the 4-minute offense since he’s a little bit of a bigger back, powerful, more able to run through tackles, so by game plan design he was in at the end of the game.
- Pederson didn’t want to spend a lot of time talking about why he decided to go for 2 points after the first touchdown, and it was just something he elected to do and they executed it.
- He noted that first place in the NFC East sounds really good coming out of the first four games, but they have a lot of season left to play.
- The head coach said that this team doesn’t quit and it’s a resilient group. Despite having a tough road game across the country and on Sunday night, the players found a way to rally.
- Pederson said the mood on the flight home was exciting and “electric”. This is a group, he noted, that’s been beaten down by opponents, fans and media, and now they have a chance to celebrate. He said it was a great team effort, and all their hard work and preparation throughout the week paid off.