The Eagles were back at practice on Saturday, and head coach Doug Pederson spoke to the media about the left tackle position without Andre Dillard and their future plans for the quarterback room. He also talked about the team’s work on social justice issues, how being a head coach is more than just football these days, and how he’s learning from his players.
Here’s what the head coach had to say:
On the team’s work on social justice
Pederson was asked about his role in working with the social justice committee, and he said that he’s focused on his players and their well-being.
“Quite frankly, there are times when sports get put to the side, because of some of these issues. It’s the on-going conversation that we’re going to have here. We began dialogue last week, we’re going to continue the conversations.
As a leader, as the coach of these guys, it’s my job to listen, to help facilitate, to support. And, that’s where we are right now. A lot of our players are black players, are hurting from the standpoint of this is close to home for many of them. So, for me, it’s about understanding, it’s about learning, it’s about gaining knowledge, and then being able to support our guys.”
Some of the players mentioned earlier in the week that they were going to meet on Friday to discuss one action of solidarity in the fight for social justice. Pederson said that he has some idea of what the team and the organization, and he was planning to have a follow-up conversation today with the player committee as they make final decisions.
“I do know this though, that the guys feel strongly about practices and games, and being out there, and doing their job. But, at the same time, we want to make sure that if something is done, that we do it in the right way.”
Earlier in the week, players mentioned that in one of their meetings, Pederson shared about his upbringing and how had a lot to learn when he got to college and the NFL.
“My upbringing, I didn’t have many black families in my community, in my high school. I grew up primarily in a white community, and it wasn’t until I really went to college that I was around black athletes, and their families. I told my team, I don’t understand where a lot of these players grew up, and some of the life struggles that they’ve gone through at early ages.”
Pederson went on to talk about how some of his dearest friends are his former teammates, black teammates, and that it was about getting to know them, hearing their stories and where they come from, and their upbringing. It’s about learning their culture and lifestyle, which was different from him.
“And now being in this role as head football coach — quite frankly, I think the role has changed, because now, I am the head coach and dealing with football, but also we’re dealing with life issues and life struggles that a lot of our players go through on a daily basis.
It’s more than football. For me, it’s listening to them and trying to understand them more, and to have a clearer picture of what they go through when they leave this building.”
On Andre Dillard and the LT position
The head coach confirmed that Dillard was injured last week in practice, and will eventually end up on injured reserve. Pederson said it’s unfortunate because the second-year player had a really good offseason and was having a really good camp.
“He’ll get better. He’ll heal from this and be ready to go.”
Jason Peters is in the conversation to move to left tackle, but Pederson said there are some young guys as well who could step in that role, including Jordan Mailata, Matt Pryor, and even rookie Jack Driscoll (no mention of Prince Tega Wanogho). He also noted that they still like Peters at right guard, and they have a few days to evaluate things before roster cuts and the regular season.
Regarding the lack of experience from those potential players, Pederson quipped that he didn’t have much experience as a head coach until he was one, and at some point they have to trust these guys. He also pointed out that Pryor has game experience as a starter and in big situations.
Pederson also mentioned that they are also looking at the possibility of bringing in someone, and that could be a veteran player.
Later, he agreed that having Peters and his experience gives them a little more flexibility and time in evaluating the younger guys, because he can always step into that role if needed.
On Carson Wentz and the QB room
Pederson said that they are still discussing the potential of breaking up the quarterback room and quarantining a quarterback during the season. He noted that with the COVID protocols in place and how well they’ve been working, they’re all in the same room right now — albeit socially distanced.
The head coach was also asked about the maturation of Carson Wentz, not just over the offseason, but in the past month or so, as well.
“He’s really come in and really embraced this football team, embraced this opportunity — and really embraced this opportunity with the social injustice, with bridging the gap between himself and his black teammates. And that’s all part of being a leader, and he’s really done an outstanding job there.”
Pederson went on to say that Wentz spends a lot of time talking to the younger players. For the coach, it’s encouraging for him to see the QB embrace all those parts of his role, especially going into his fifth year.