Eagles’ head coach Doug Pederson spoke to reporters on Friday one last time before their game against the Saints — and Malcolm Jenkins — on Sunday. He talked about what he expects from Jalen Hurts in his first start, and how Carson Wentz has handled things this week at practice.
Pederson confirmed that Jason Peters elected to have season-ending surgery on his toe, and Nate Herbig will be the right guard on Sunday.
“I’m going to tell you something: It’s an injury that we’ve known about and he’s literally battled through it. He’s done everything he can for this football team. I appreciate him a lot. He means a lot to me personally, not only on the field, but off the field as well, and so he’s going to be missed.”
Here’s what else the head coach had to say:
On Jalen Hurts
Pederson said that the team has responded well to the quarterback changed, and supporting whoever is the guy is what teammates do.
He noted that Hurts is a natural leader, something they knew about him from his college coaches at both Alabama and Oklahoma. The QB is stepping out and talking to the guys, talking to Jason Kelce to understand everything. Pederson said that Hurts is asking really good questions from coaches throughout the offense to get as much information as he can.
“But he’s doing a nice job.”
As far as what Hurts needs to do Sunday to be considered successful, Pederson emphasized ball security and how he executes the offense. The head coach acknowledged it’s his job to get the plays to Hurts in a timely manner, and the quarterback has to be able to communicate, get out of the huddle, get the snap and score points.
“I’m looking forward to him playing and seeing what he can do. Again, we all know this is going to be a really good test. It’s going to be a test for our offense, for our whole team, not just him.”
On Carson Wentz
Pederson confirmed that Wentz will be the backup on Sunday — something he wouldn’t commit to earlier in the week.
“He’s handled it like a pro. He’s gone out to practice, you see him, he’s taking reps obviously with the service team and providing a really good look for our defense and has done a great job in helping Jalen. He’s been involved in the meetings and just what I expected.”
The head coach was asked how he assures Wentz that he’s a part of the team moving forward, and Pederson said that it’s a two-way street. Both sides have to take ownership over how things were going, and they have to continue to collaborate and talk through it.
“I said this earlier in the week, and I’m going to continue to say it: I truly believe that he can get back to the type of quarterback that he was even a year ago.
I just think we can get him there, and I look forward to that opportunity.”
On playing against Malcolm Jenkins
Pederson talked about how the Saints use Jenkins in many different defensive roles — half-field safety, quarter safety, dime linebacker.
“He’s a great blitzer, a great open-field tackler. He does well in coverage on bigger tight ends, and just really, I think settling into his role.”
The Saints defense as a whole has gotten much better as the season has gone on, and Pederson pointed out that you can see Jenkins great communication on film. That leadership is something Pederson kept pointing to when asked what Jenkins meant to him.
“Well, on the question of Malcolm, what he meant to me and this organization, to me he meant the world really, because he was a staple on defense, No. 1. He was a leader on my player committee. He does a lot of things in our community here not only for the Eagles organization, but for himself personally and marketing his brand.
All the things he does off the field that we’ve seen him do, just a tremendous leader. Guys just gravitate to him and just a really good person.”
The head coach was asked about Malcolm Jenkins’ comments this week about feeling undervalued in Philly, and Pederson acknowledged some of the ugly business decisions they have to make every year. He noted that great players come and great players go, it’s just the nature of things.
- Pederson confirmed that he is calling the plays on Sunday.
- The head coach joked that they can’t really get much younger at the wide receiver position, with John Hightower, Jalen Reagor, and Travis Fulgham, but that Quez Watkins has a good rapport with Jalen Hurts and could be an option this week. JJ Arcega-Whiteside is also back in the mix and has worked with Hurts quite a bit.