Eagles’ head coach Doug Pederson spoke to the media on Wednesday morning before practice and before Thanksgiving. He talked about Jason Kelce and his incredible career, and quite a bit about his messaging to Carson Wentz and the rest of the team, and how he blocks out all the noise.
Here’s what the head coach had to say:
On calls to bench Carson Wentz
For Pederson personally, he notes that he doesn’t listen to the radio or read print media, because his focus is on the team and helping the team get better and improve. He understands that his job is also to make tough decisions with the roster and who does and doesn’t play, but every coach and player has a ton of pride.
He knows that everybody outside of the building has their opinion, and he respects that, but he has to do what he feels is in the best interest of the team.
When asked if Wentz was still the starter, Pederson said that he is the starter for Wednesday’s practice, but wasn’t yet looking ahead to Monday. But then agreed he would say that Wentz is their starter on Monday.
REPORTER: You’re not making that move, right Doug, to a different quarterback?
PEDERSON: Not today on Wednesday. No.
REPORTER: Okay, possibly for Monday?
PEDERSON: Um, I’m focused right now on getting better today. I mean, we’re looking at — I would say ‘No’, no.
REPORTER: Carson’s your starter for Monday?
Later on, his hesitation to answer was pointed out — and that the hesitation would likely be blown up —, and he said confidently that Wentz is his starter.
Pederson also talked about how they went back and looked at film from 2017 and 2018 to see if they could identify any differences, as well as looked at the play calling to make sure that he’s putting the offense in the best position to be successful.
On his messaging to Carson Wentz
Pederson said that it’s specific between the QB and head coach, but he wants to make sure the offense as a whole understands that message. Even though the focus is on him and the quarterback, each position group can have specific messaging, because they all have things they need to improve.
He continues to talk to Wentz and all the quarterbacks, and notes that everyone, coaches and players, have to understand that the things they’re doing and the mistakes they’re making can’t happen. As far as simplifying the message at this point in the season, he admitted there’s some of that, but they’re also keeping things simple for some of the younger skill players — especially now when there’s fatigue and their bodies are sore.
On Jason Kelce and his career
Pederson confirmed that Kelce is sore, but he’ll be fine and they expect him to play on Monday night. If he does play on Monday, it would Kelce’s 100th consecutive start.
“I tell ya, this guy, I got so much respect for him as a football player on and off the football field. He’s somebody that does things right all the time, and his game might not be perfect each week, but this guy, he practices and plays hurt, he gives of himself for his teammates, he’s a great leader — not only in the offensive line room, but I think on this football team. It’s one of the reasons I make him a captain every year. And, the team respects that, and the team looks at that.
I know over the years, probably in his career, we try — whether it’s in the media or the team, we try and find ways to move Jason Kelce on, but I tell you what, I love this guy. What he can do as a center. How he can get to — how he moves, how he gets to second-level defenders, how smart he is in protection. It’s amazing to me. I’ve never really been around a player, an offensive lineman of his caliber that does what he does, day in and day out, and a ton of respect for Jason.”
- Pederson was asked about the run game not being as productive in the fourth quarter, and he attributed it to them often having to play from behind and going to more of an air attack. But, sticking to the ground game — something he admits is one of the things working with the offense — in the fourth quarter, is something he’s looking at.
- Pederson attributed Travis Fulgham’s lack of production recently to how defenses are scheming him, and they’ve seen top defenders and corners going to his side of the field more often. But, that’s something that Fulgham has to understand will happen and he has to focus and practice hard and fast to prepare for that kind of coverage.
- The head coach said that Zach Ertz is trending in the right direction, he’ll be practicing on Wednesday and they’re optimistic that he’ll feel well afterward. As it pertains to whether they’ll use more 12 personnel once he’s back in the lineup, Pederson admitted he likes 12 personnel with Ertz and Dallas Goedert, and Richard Rodgers has been a good complimentary piece with Ertz out. So, they could add some more 12 or 13 personnel into the game plan, but the head coach also likes 11 personnel and getting some young skill players involved.