Eagles’ head coach Doug Pederson was happy to talk about more than just the quarterback situation in Philly when he spoke to reporters on Friday. While he did explain how Jalen Hurts is approaching his second week as the starter, Pederson also broke down some of the challenges they’ll face against the Cardinals’ defense on Sunday.
Here’s what the head coach had to say.
On Jalen Hurts
Pederson was asked how the rookie quarterback has approached his second week as the starter.
“Jalen, he doesn’t get real high, and he doesn’t get real low, he just kinda flat lines just a little bit. And, that’s a good thing, right, his blood pressure stays pretty low for the most part. But, you can definitely see a level of comfort from just being in that position last week, obviously, taking the lead as the starter again this week, taking all the reps at practice and working with players, and just, it’s always a new set of circumstances because of the opponent you’re playing, but he’s done a great job with that and the game plan, and you just see him a little bit more communicating with his guys on the field and having a little more of a rapport, I guess, with them, and a comfort level with them — especially the offensive line guys. But, he’s had a good week.”
The head coach talked a bit about how important leadership ability is for a young quarterback, but looking back at the history of Hurts in big games during college and how he’s been in that leadership role. Pederson noted that it’s something that has been instilled in him from a young age, with his family and football coach father.
“Nothing really shakes him up. He just steps in and commands the huddle.
And it’s things that we talk about, things that I talk to the quarterbacks about all the time, and especially young quarterbacks is, hey, all eyes on me type mentality. You’re the one speaking and giving the direction in the huddle. You command that huddle.
That just comes natural to him I think because of his history and the teams that he’s been on.”
Fellow rookie Jalen Reagor mentioned on Thursday that he’s spent a lot of time after practice working with Hurts and the other young receivers, and Pederson said that the extra work is what it takes for teams to be successful. But, the head coach noted that spending time after practice on the field or getting more reps, is something you see from the majority of the team.
“I do think that the chemistry is beginning to build with them. It’s something that is exciting to see them kind of get on the same page, kind of just dialog through route combinations and things that Jalen is seeing, or Jalen Reagor is seeing and really working on their craft.
I think it’s so important that they do that, because that just carries them, the good ones, right? You think about the Jerry Rice’s of the world and those top receivers and quarterbacks. That is what they’ve done early in their career and really as their careers progressed, they spend that extra time.”
On facing a unique Cardinals defense
Pederson was asked about Arizona’s jet-rushing package on defense.
“It’s a unique defensive call by them. They put all linebackers on the field with their defensive back guys and it’s all speed rush. They don’t bring them all every time, they drop guys out, and they present 8-man pressure looks, 7-man pressure looks, 6-man pressure looks. So, it can be a little bit, challenging, and it is challenging trying to decipher the code. But we do the best we can, we go in with the protection plan that we have, and execute it. Try and eliminate as much confusion as possible. But, yeah, [Jason] Kelce becomes a big part of trying to decipher that code.”
He was later asked about specific challenges that the Cardinals’ defense presents, and Pederson emphasized their multiple front, ability to disguise coverage, plus they’ve got two really good corners. The head coach also named Jordan Hicks, former Eagles’ linebacker, who has been incredibly successful in Arizona and could be able to sniff some things out thanks to his familiarity of the Eagles.
“And they play extremely fast, and these last couple weeks they’ve been able to get after the passer and get some sacks, especially on third down where they bring in a lot of these linebackers as rushers. That’s what presents the biggest challenge just because of their multiple on defense.”
- Pederson said that Zach Ertz can “most certainly” get back to high level on play that we’re accustomed to seeing in these last three games of the season. The tight end is feeling better, which translates to being able to practice harder and get back to where he was.
- The head coach said that Carson Wentz has been doing a great job on the scout team, and it’s exciting to watch him during the team drills be a little more carefree. But, he’s done a nice job and is really getting some good work in with some of those younger guys.
- In terms of personnel, Pederson couldn’t talk more about Darius Slay other than to say that he’s still in the concussion protocol and they’ll have to see where he’s over the next couple days. He also noted that they protected rookie Prince Tega Wanogho since they are thin on the OL and didn’t want anyone to take him — but the head coach wasn’t sure if the late-draft pick would be active on Sunday.
“We haven’t made that determination yet if he’s going to be active on game day, but he’s done a nice job this year. He’s gotten better. He’s improved. He’s understanding everything we’re doing. He’s healthy and feels good.
So just excited for him moving forward and obviously in the future.”
- Pederson also later talked about how exciting it is to watch some of the young defensive players too, especially the secondary guys getting some playing opportunities lately: Michael Jacquet, Grayland Arnold, Kevon Seymour, K’Von Wallace.