Eagles’ head coach Doug Pederson spoke to reporters on Monday following the teams victory over the Saints, and talked about who the starting quarterback will be (at least this week), and gave some unfortunate news on the injury front.
“After going through the film, and looking back even to last week, and the preparation and everything, I’m going to continue with Jalen [Hurts] this week as the starter.”
- Rodney McLeod is going to miss the rest of the season with an torn ACL.
- Avonte Maddox will also miss time over the next few weeks.
- Josh Sweat is going to be okay, he was just chipped by the running back on his right side, but he’ll be fine for this week’s game.
- Darius Slay is in the concussion protocol, so he can’t comment further on that.
Pederson said he’s hopeful that Michael Jacquet and Grayland Arnold could come back, or at least get back on the practice field this week, and that their injuries are a little less significant than Cre’Von LeBlanc and Craig James.
Rodney McLeod was one of the vocal leaders on the team this season, and now that he’s going to miss the remainder of the year, Pederson was asked how they’ll fill that void. The head coach said that he challenges players every week to be leaders, regardless of their years in the league, but he noted that he expects guys like Jalen Mills, Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham, Vinny Curry, and even Darius Slay to step up and bring some of the younger guys up to speed and pull the defense together.
On the team’s performance on Sunday
Pederson confirmed that after watching the film, Jalen Hurts played well in his first career start, and was a big part of the success they had on offense, but he noted that there were a lot of great individual performances on both sides of the ball.
“Josh Sweat, Javon Hargrave, and Fletcher Cox had a big game, big sack. We had two defensive takeaways in the game. So, there were a lot of positives coming out of the football game, and I just didn’t want to say, ‘Hey, it was all about one guy.’”
The head coach agreed with some of the players’ post-game comments about the flow of the game being different. Pederson said that their goal is always to keep the defense off balance, and on Sunday they were also able to stay ahead of the chains and do well on first down. He noted that they didn’t have many 2nd-and-long situations, but admitted they got into some issues with penalties on 3rd downs. Pederson also gave credit to the offensive line on Sunday for blocking well and doing a good job against a tough defensive front.
In the second half against the Saints, Pederson said that it was more about shooting themselves in the foot and not executing, rather than about New Orleans making adjustments to better defend Hurts. He admits that he doesn’t want to run Hurts 18 times a game, but they’ll also utilize his talents as they need to.
On Hurts not being sacked and the OL
“One of the things that Jalen did well when he was out of the pocket and there was no where to run or no where to throw, was that he threw the ball away, right, and that just helps your offensive line. It doesn’t put you in a bad situation. It doesn’t put you in a 2nd-and-long situation or 3rd-and-long situation.
I think, looking at the offensive line, I mean really, across the board, they all played extremely well. It wasn’t perfect. I think Jack Driscoll played extremely tough and physical against a really, really good defensive end. And then [Jordan] Mailata did a nice job on the left side, got beat a couple times, but overall showed some promise there, and showed improvement there. I thought Isaac [Seumalo] and [Jason] Kelce and, really, [Nate] Herbig there in the interior part really did a nice job, not only in the run game, but also in pass protection.”
On his success with backups
It was pointed out that Pederson is 11-2 with his backup quarterbacks during his tenure in Philly, and the head coach admitted it’s something he thinks about. He noted that it’s not just with the Eagles, but you can point out different teams who have had success with their backup quarterback — including the Saints in the past with Teddy Bridgewater, and currently with Taysom Hill, who was 3-0 until Sunday’s game.
“There’s just not necessarily a lot of film out there on these guys. I think, as playcallers, is you put plans together, maybe you keep things a touch smaller, you keep the verbiage down a little bit, maybe you pull back — or pull plays you’ve used earlier in the season —, time on task. All sorts of things kind of play into that. And then, of course, you gotta take the backup quarterback himself, you know. He’s getting an opportunity to play, tends to play well, and you always see what’s going to happen the next time out.”
Pederson went on to say that he and Carson Wentz have a great relationship and they’ve had good communication about the situation. Overall, when he looks at the season, he thinks about the amount of adversity he faced all season and tried to make things work.
“There’s no issue with Carson and I. I look at, maybe what I do, or how I call a game, maybe I can approach it a little differently moving forward that way. But, that’s something I haven’t — listen, teams have a lot of film on your starter, they have ways to prepare for your starter, and they can take away certain things, and we’ve got to be able to compensate for that. But, there’s been no issue between us.”
He later said that one of the things he appreciates about Wentz, is that he has control over the offense, and gets in and out of bad plays, and plays that aren’t conducive to the defense they see on any particular snap. They’ve had success when Wentz has utilized that kind of responsibility over the offense.
Pederson noted that they just wanted Hurts to go out there and play during his first start, so he didn’t have the freedom to change things — similar to how things were for Wentz in his first season.
The head coach also disagreed that they had given Wentz too much freedom, and whether that has led to some of his struggles. He acknowledged that there is a fine line, however, and you don’t want to put too much on the quarterback’s plate.