Two days before the Eagles host the Rams, head coach Doug Pederson spoke to the media about the offensive line situation — and why he doesn’t blame all of the offense’s protection issues last week on the group —, as well as how things will be different in The Linc without their fans.
Here’s what the head coach had to say:
On the offensive line
Pederson confirmed that Nate Herbig will be the starting right guard again on Sunday, and that he’s had a good week of practice and has earned the role.
“[Matt Pryor]’s done a great job. It’s not that he hasn’t. I just think it’s Nate’s opportunity right now.”
He went on to say that Pryor is also getting work at tackle with Jack Driscoll and Jordan Mailata, so he’s splitting his time between roles.
Later, Pederson was asked about Washington blitzing a lot in the opener and whether that was due to an inexperienced offensive line. The coach laughed and asked why the OL automatically gets blamed for protection issues. He was quick to point out that things also fell on the quarterback, running backs, and even tight ends are in coverage.
On the Rams
The head coach was asked about differences in this year’s Rams team from when they last played the Eagles in 2018. Pederson pointed to the consistency with the defensive coordinator, but now they have a new DC and style, and there’s only one game (Week 1) of film to review.
Personnel-wise, he noted that there are some different faces on defense, but a lot of the same group of guys on offense. There are some similarities, but it’s a new season and both teams have changed, but the still play upbeat, tempo offense that they have to be prepared for. Pederson also called Aaron Donald a “game-wrecker.”
On the game day environment
Pederson said that they did get to see replays on the board still, but there was a little bit of a delay and they had access to instant replays in the coach’s booth, so their process for reviewing those didn’t change.
“Not having our fans there, it is an impact. It’s an impact for our opponents. I’ts an impact from an emotional standpoint for our players. We feed — I’ve said this before, you kind of feed off that energy that our crowd brings. And, walking into The Linc right before kick-off, and see the stadium full is an emotion that’s really hard to explain. It’s definitely going to be missed on Sunday.”
- Pederson is optimistic with both Miles Sanders and Derek Barnett, to get through a Friday practice and bounce back tomorrow and Sunday morning, and be available for the game.
- The head coach was asked about how JJ Arcega-Whiteside was used in Week 1, and Pederson noted that he’s always involved and is going to get targets each week. The touchdown to Zach Ertz was actually targeted for JJAW, but he wasn’t available, so they had to adjust to the tight end. His role will increase each and every week, and he’s also involved as a blocker in the run game and on special teams.
JJAW at the bottom of the screen. Motion w/ Goedert and PA tries to pull the deep safety (Collins 26) into the LoS but safety stays playing pass b/c Goedert's cover defender fills playside.— Benjamin Solak (@BenjaminSolak) September 18, 2020
Meanwhile, *backside* safety (Apke 30) does bite on motion/PA, opening Ertz window. https://t.co/3cgVpBCa0k pic.twitter.com/Oq2Oex889V