Eagles’ Pederson: ‘We know our division is down’

The NFC East has turned into the NFC Least this season. After six weeks, every team in the division is below .500. The division is a combined 5-18-1, and there’s a very good chance that the winner of this division could end the season below .500. 

On Thursday, the New York Giants(1-5) travel to Philadelphia to battle the Eagles(1-4-1). If the Eagles win, they are on top of the NFC East. If the Giants win, they will be a 1/2 game behind the Cowboys for the top spot in the division. Every game in the NFL is big, but this is a division game, and being that it’s highly unlikely any of these teams will get a wild card spot, this game becomes even bigger.

However, according to Eagles head coach Doug Pederson, this game is no different than any other game.

“Every week is heightened,” Pederson said on Wednesday. “The sense of urgency each week to win a football game, right? We understand where we are, the sort of the hole we dug ourselves into, and it’s all about just one-game-at-a-time mentality. You don’t want to look past the Giants. This is a good football team coming in here Thursday night, and we have to be prepared. It’s a short week, we came off an emotional game this past Sunday with Baltimore, and we got to turn around and play. So, the sense of urgency each week is always there, and again it’s a one-game mentality, one opponent at a time…

“We know our division is down, and maybe it’s up for grabs. All I know is we’re going to focus on one week at a time, and I think that’s all I can ask of our players. This is a short week. The New York Giants coming to town, it’s a good football team. I know their record doesn’t show it either, but these guys are good on defense, they’re good on offense, and got really good special teams. So, we have to prepared to win this game come Thursday and play hard.”

Giants safety Logan Ryan knows the importance of this game, and according to him, it’s pretty close to a must-win game for New York.

“The division games matter, and we’re tying to win it,” Ryan said on Tuesday. “Like I said, the history of the years prior, this is my first year playing in the NFC period. I have been in the AFC for seven years. It is what it is. Our division is winnable. We have to go out here and win some games in our division to put us in a position at the end of the year to strike.

“That’s what we’re doing week in and week out. You prepare hard to put yourself in position to win the game. At the end of the game, I think three or four games this year have come down to the final drive. Our record can swing either way. We found a way to win last week. We need to find a way to win this week. It’s probably going to be a close game. I’m looking forward to the opportunity of that.”

At this point, both teams are not very good, but somebody has to win it, and ultimately, somebody has to win the division. The winner of Thursday’s game will put themselves in a good position to do just that.

Eagles’ Pederson: ‘We haven’t put four quarters, or we haven’t put two sides together’

The Philadelphia Eagles fought hard against the Steelers on Sunday. After being down 31-14 in the third quarter, the Eagles were able to cut the lead to 31-29 in the fourth quarter. With an opportunity to take the lead, Jake Elliott missed a 57-yard field goal, and the Steelers would march down the field and put the game away after Chase Claypool’s 35-yard touchdown reception as the Steelers would defeat the Eagles 38-29 at Heinz Field.

After five games, the Eagles have not played a complete game. Yesterday, the offensive came to play and put up a season-high 29 points, but defensively, the Eagles gave up a season-high 38 points. The Eagles inability to put together a complete game on both sides of the ball is one reason they are 1-3-1.

“We haven’t put four quarters, or we haven’t put two sides together, really, three phases, when you think special teams, as well,” Pederson said on Monday. “Listen, there’s enough when you watch the tape again today, there’s enough football plays offensively, defensively and even on special teams — we need to be better in the kickoff return game. There’s enough plays out there that we have to continue to show our players and continue to teach and coach. With the amount of players, new players, new faces, young guys that are playing, every game is a new game, and so we’re continuing to coach and get these guys ready to play and try to have complementary football.

“If the defense struggles, the offense needs to pick it up, right? And if the offense struggles, the defense needs to pick them up. So we’re building towards that and we continue to work to hopefully put that all together.”

It’s a good year to be in the NFC East, and even with Philadelphia being 1-3-1, they still are only a 1/2 game behind the Cowboys for the top spot in the division. If the Eagles were in any other division, they would be near the bottom, but all that is irrelevant, according to Pederson.

“Our division, what are we, still a half-game back? Look, it is what it is,” Pederson said. “I’m going to pull out my inner [Patriots Head Coach] Bill Belichick and say I’m focused on Baltimore.”

It might not take much to win the NFC East. With the Cowboys losing QB Dak Prescott for the rest of the season, and the struggles that New York and Washington are having, maybe the Eagles are the team that can take control of the division, but that won’t happen until this team figures out a way to have a complete game on both sides of the ball, which they will need to do if they want to beat the Ravens on Sunday.

 

Eagles’ Pederson: ‘Finally overcame some of the mistakes yesterday to put ourselves in a position to be in first place in the NFC East’

After four games, the Philadelphia Eagles have not been very good, but they play in the NFC East, and after beating the 49ers on the road 25-20 on Sunday night, Philadelphia(1-2-1) is now on top of the division. 

While it’s hard to call any game in Week 4 a must-win, Sunday’s contest was pretty close to that for Philadelphia. According to Eagles head coach Doug Pederson, the team felt relieved after defeating San Francisco.

“The guys were excited in the locker room, high-fiving, jumping around, hugging each other, what you would expect after a win,” Pederson said on Monday. “I think these guys have been obviously beaten down the last few weeks, not only by our opponents, but by what they are seeing and reading and being talked about outside of the building. I think you can just see the relief, right, or just kind of getting that win.”

The first quarter of the season is in the books, but even with all the lows, there still is hope in Philadelphia. On Monday, Pederson reflected on the first month of the season. 

“I think the one thing that’s really stood out this first month is just how resilient this football team is,” Pederson said. “We have not played our best football; I don’t feel. We’ve kind of shot ourselves in the foot in the first three, four weeks here.

“Finally overcame some of the mistakes yesterday to put ourselves in a position to be in first place in the NFC East. But there’s a long road ahead. We’ve got to learn from the first four weeks, but at the same time, learn from it and carry it forward. We’ve just got to keep working, and this is what I appreciate about our guys is they come to work every day no matter what the circumstances, no matter what the situation. They practice. It’s always been a next-man-up mentality, and they go to work, and that’s what I’ve learned, and that’s what’s going to carry us these next four weeks.”

Injuries have hurt the Eagles in the first month of the season, including injuries to both tackles on the offensive line and injuries to their top two wide receivers in Jalen Reagor and DeSean Jackson. Furthermore, Carson Wentz has struggled in the early part of the season, but the Eagles have found a way to stay afloat at this point. 

The Eagles by no means have solved all their issues. Plus, their next two games are against Pittsburgh and Baltimore, which means Philadelphia easily could be out of first place in NFC East by next Sunday. However, for now, they lead their division, and they still have time to fix what’s wrong. 

 

Eagles’ Pederson: ‘I’m still going to maintain the aggressiveness’

Eagles QB Carson Wentz started fast against Washington and had Philadelphia up 17-0 in the second quarter. However, near the end of the first half, he threw an interception that set up Washington’s first touchdown. In the third quarter, with the Eagles up 17-7, Wentz threw his second pick, which set up another Washington touchdown. 

Wentz(24-42, 270 yards, 2 TDs, 2 ints) and the Eagles would not score another point and would fall to Washington 27-17  at FedEx Field on Sunday. On Monday, Eagles head coach Doug Pederson talked Wentz’s interception before the half.

“After looking at the tape, it’s kind of how I felt and what I saw, live and in-person yesterday in the game,” Pederson said. “We just missed. We missed on a throw. The throw was — came out of his hand after watching the tape kind of slowing things down. Looked like it came out of his hand, ball could have slipped a little bit coming out of his hand. It was left inside. So it happens. Those are things that are going to happen. Especially when it’s warm, and it just is part of the game. It’s just going to take place.”

Many felt the Eagles were too aggressive against Washington, especially right before halftime when Wentz’s pick helped Washington score their first points of the game, but according to Pederson, Philadelphia will continue to stay aggressive.

“As far as the aggressiveness goes, I’m still going to maintain the aggressiveness,” Pederson said. “Look, as I said this morning, a 17-0 lead or a 27-10 lead, in any football game in this league is not enough, and you have to continue to maintain aggressiveness. You have to — especially when you have momentum, right, and it’s kind of on your side. You’ve got to use that to your advantage, and my thinking at that time, too, was to try to get points before half with the ball to start the third quarter. We’ve done that many times here where we’ve scored and then come out and scored touchdowns to start the third quarter. That’s a lot of my mindset in these games.”

Another issue in Philadelphia’s 27-17 loss to Washington was the offensive line, which surrendered eight sacks. At times, Wentz did not have a lot of time, and sometimes, Wentz held the ball too long, which Pederson addressed.

“We still have to continue to address him(Wentz) and to address those issues,” he said. “It’s part of the football game. We just have to keep talking that it’s okay to throw the ball away. It’s okay to dirt the ball on a screen pass or something of that nature and look; it’s something that we’ve just got to continue working through. There is a fine line, obviously, as we know, between the aggressiveness, but at the same time, we want to be smart.”

The Eagles’ offensive line has to play better. Hopefully, they can get RT Lane Johnson back next week against the Rams, and Wentz has to get the ball out quicker if he wants to last for the whole season. If those things don’t happen, it could be a long season for the Eagles.

 

 

Pederson on Ertz: ‘He’s helped us win a lot of games around here’

Eagles Pro Bowl TE Zach Ertz is not happy with his contract situation, and he made that very clear on Thursday.

“I’m an emotional guy when it comes to football,’ Ertz said via The Athletic’s Zack Berman. … “It’s been frustrating at times, it’s been difficult. I said all along I want be here for the long run.

‘I don’t know if for sure that feeling is mutual. I’m going to play this year like it’s my last year.”

The three-time Pro Bowler has two years left on his contract and is hoping to get paid like tight ends George Kittle(five-year, $75 million) and Travis Kelce(four-year, $57 million) did this offseason. According to reports, Ertz turned down a contract extension during the season and has shut down negotiations at this point. 

The 29-year-old Ertz is scheduled to make $6.6 million this season and $8.5 million in 2021, which is bargain when you consider his production. Ertz has led Philadelphia in receptions each of the last three seasons and holds the NFL record for most receptions(116) by a tight end in a season. 

No matter the contract situation, Eagles head coach Doug Pederson is happy to have Ertz on his roster.

“Look, I’m not going to get into a ton of this because my expertise is not necessarily the contract stuff and those types of issues,” Pederson said via a video call on Friday. “All I know is Zach Ertz is a tremendous football player; he’s a great person, love having him on this football team. He is a leader, and he’s helped us, gosh, he’s helped us win a lot of games around here. He led our team in receptions, and he’s a big part, he’s a valuable part of what we do offensively, but also as a team.

“I’m excited that he’s here. I’m excited that he’s an Eagle. He and I, we get along extremely well. I love having him. We game plan for him. I just hope we can put all that behind us and move on to football.”

Ertz is one of the best tight ends in football, and he happens to be Carson Wentz’s go-to guy. Regarding his contract, he has earned a raise but based on his reaction, he’s clearly not happy with the Eagles’ offer.

Let’s see how this one plays out. 

Eagles’ Pederson on Wentz: ‘He’s aggressive; we have to maintain that aggressiveness’

In four seasons, Philadelphia Eagles QB Carson Wentz has proven many things. He has shown the ability to play at an MVP level, which he did before getting injured in 2017. He had demonstrated the ability to carry a team, which he did last season when injuries decimated Philadelphia’s wide receivers, and because of the play Wentz, who threw for 4039 yards and 27 touchdowns in 2019, Philadelphia found a way to win the division and get a home playoff game.

Unfortunately for the 27-year-old Wentz, at times, health has been an issue. While he played all 16 games last season, he did get injured in the wild-card game, and Philly would ultimately lose to the Seahawks.

As he enters his fifth season in the league, Wentz will get his weapons back in wide receivers, DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jeffery. Also, he got some help in the draft when the team selected wide receivers Jalen Reagor(first round), John Hightower(fifth round), and Quez Watkins(sixth round). According to Eagles head coach Doug Pederson, Wentz is doing a good job of leading the young players.

“With Carson, just he’s got another set of skill guys around him, a young group of guys,” Pederson said via a video call on Sunday. “What I’ve seen and what we’ve talked about a lot is his leadership with those guys, kind of carrying over what he did last year with those young players and how he can kind of shape and mold [them], which is great to see because these young guys are asking him questions when they are in there with him, and that’s something that Carson has embraced and will continue to embrace as the leader of the team.

“For Carson, it’s just a matter of running the show, running the offense, running the team. He’s going into his fifth year. He knows how to play this game. He plays it just like a professional. He knows how to play. He’s aggressive; we have to maintain that aggressiveness, and I think with just continuing to teach and maybe part of the injuries that he’s gone through in the last couple of seasons are things that he can learn from.”

With the big contract(four-year, $128 million) in hand, Wentz now has to find a way to stay healthy. He’s an elite quarterback in the NFL, and last season and 2017 showed that. Now, he must continue to grow as a leader, which has been questioned in the past. However, year five gives Wentz another opportunity to change the narrative and lead the Eagles to the playoffs and beyond.

Eagles’ Pederson: ‘We expect some really big things from Greg(Ward)’

In 2019, Philadelphia Eagles WR Greg Ward was thrust into the spotlight after injuries decimated the Eagles’ wide receivers. 

Ward, 25, who was cut by the Eagles before the start of last season but was re-signed to the team’s practice squad, had 28 receptions for 254 yards and a touchdown in 2019. While the numbers are not eye-popping, the converted college quarterback showed he could be a fairly dependable slot receiver for Philadelphia.

However, the Eagles stocked up on wide receivers in this year’s draft. Philadelphia selected WR Jalen Reagor in the first round and grabbed wideouts John Hightower and Quez Watkins later in the draft. Also, former second right pick J.J. Arcega-Whiteside is in the mix, and DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jeffery will be back from injury.

After a promising 2019 season, Eagles head coach Doug Pederson expects big things from Ward in 2020.

“I’ve always liked Greg,” Pederson said on Wednesday via a video call. “He’s been on our practice roster. As a young player, we activated him. He played last year, as you mentioned, did well.

“The one thing now as he goes into this season, he’s in that rotation, in that starting mix for us. It’s just a matter of him embracing every day, getting better. Being a former quarterback, he understands our offense. Being in our offense, he knows the concepts and the routes. He and [QB] Carson [Wentz] have a really good feel for one another.

“I think for him now it’s just a matter of continuing to get better each and every day and putting in the work. We expect some really big things from Greg. He can also be a leader. He can be a leader of that group. Him and [WR] DeSean Jackson, [WR] Alshon Jeffery, these guys, they can be leaders now and mentors to these young players.”

Last season, Philadelphia started the year with five wide receivers on its roster, but most teams keep six. Because of his contract, Jeffery($11.5 million guaranteed) will probably be on the team. Jackson, Reagor, and Arcega-Whiteside will probably grab the other three wide receiver spots, and you have Watkins, Ward, and Hightower in the mix. 

There will be a lot of competition among the Eagles’ wideouts, but without a preseason, Ward could have leg up on the younger wide receivers, and even though Pederson speaks highly of Ward, you could see a scenario where Ward is traded or cut, especially if the younger guys impress right away. 

Eagles’ Pederson on whether NFL can keep players safe: ‘I’m extremely optimistic’

Philadelphia Eagles head coach Doug Pederson has tested positive for COVID-19, the team announced on Sunday. At this time, the 52-year-old Pederson is asymptomatic. According to Pederson, he will run the club “virtually,” and Eagles running backs/assistant head coach Duce Staley will assume the day-to-day activities in the building.

On Monday, Pederson addressed his positive test for COIVD-19 and how he will handle the team while in quarantine.

Pederson: First of all, I appreciate everyone’s well wishes. I had a lot of text messages and phone calls the last 24 hours or so. I know this virus affects people differently, and I am very respectful and mindful of that. I also want everyone to know that I feel great, energy level is high. I really have no symptoms whatsoever, and I am very fortunate because I do know and understand that this virus attacks people a little bit differently. I have been in great communication, constant communication, not only with our medical team and doctors, but also my staff and the team itself.

One of the things I learned this offseason is I can still run the team virtually, and that’s what I have been able to do today, even yesterday, holding staff meetings, things of that nature, team meetings. I also want to reiterate the fact that I’m very comfortable and confident that the protocols that we have in place at NovaCare are for the best interest of the football team and all those that enter that building. It still is a very safe environment, and one of the things that we all need to learn and what I need to learn, taking away from this, is obviously we need to protect ourselves when we are in the community away from the building, continue to wash our hands, wear our mask, do the social distancing that medical teams and doctors have prescribed.

So obviously we’re taking this very seriously around our building, and in our everyday lives, and again, we need to continue to do so. We understand that things like this are going to happen. I have been able to talk to my staff about contingencies not only with players, but also with staff members. I mentioned I believe last week when we got together about this.

So I’m not going to speculate on a timetable for me, I treat it just like players, so I’m not going to speculate on that. When I’m back, I’m back. With that, we will open up for questions, and I hope everybody is doing well and staying safe.”

Q. Glad you’re feeling well. We’re all concerned about you. It sounds like you know that you contracted this outside the NovaCare Complex. Are you pretty confident that that’s the case and what gives you that sense?

PEDERSON: Respectfully, I’m going to say this one time, and I’m going to leave it at that. It’s something that I don’t necessarily want to comment on for myself or speculate on for anyone else. I’m just going to reiterate the fact that I feel very good about the safety of our building and the protocols that we have in place. That’s one thing that I do know and going through this has reinforced that for me at this time.

Q. Glad you’re feeling well and at least showing no symptoms as of now. Talking to some of the players yesterday, they said your message to the team is it’s not just about one guy. When we talk about the contingency plans for the players and for both you coaching virtually, I am curious what you’re trying to tell the guys right now, because it is inevitable, maybe not you testing positive again, but it is inevitable that these players will test positive at some point during this season? 

Pederson: You’re exactly right, and that’s been my message, really, all off-season, when we went virtual way back on March 12, March 13. The message still is we have to protect ourselves, not only in and around the building, but outside the building, as well.

But you know what the thing is, too, is that it’s never been — since I’ve been head coach in Philadelphia, it’s never been about one guy or one group of guys. It’s been about everybody. This is no different. I’m fortunate that this is happening at this time of our season, our training camp at the beginning, and not necessarily say in October, November, where you could miss games. It’s a matter of just protecting each other and our goals don’t change. We’re going to continue to press forward one day at a time.

Q. I know you want to do as much as you can virtually, but does assistant head coach/running backs coach Duce Staley take on a bigger role inside the building, and what is going to happen with that kind of structure? 

Pederson: I do everything I can virtually. I just finished up a bunch of player meetings, group meetings this morning already. Guys are getting ready for a walk-through on the field and yeah, [assistant head coach/running backs coach] Duce [Staley] being the assistant head coach, he just assumes my role, the day-to-day activities in the building.

So he and I talk every single morning. I give him, through communication with him, give him sort of my thoughts on where I’m leading and what I’m thinking, and then he carries that message forward. He’s done a great job so far and will continue that going forward.

Q. Obviously you’re at home. Are you quarantining from the rest of your family, or are you getting the rest of the family tested? Are you concerned about that at all? 

Pederson: Yeah, I’m quarantining away from my family. I’m making sure that I keep my distance from them, and wear my mask, wash my hands, do those things while I’m here at home.

Q. You said last week that there are contingencies for everyone in the organization. How much thought had you put into this possibility before it happened, and does this affect or change the way you’re going to plan those contingencies going forward? 

Pederson: Great question. For me, I have thought a lot about the contingencies and this doesn’t just happen, — I thought, actually, I thought about this quite a bit over the summer, if something like this were to come up, not only with me, but with any of my staff or any of the players.

This is why I feel really, really good about my staff, the guys that I have in place to carry the torch, so to speak, in somebody’s absence and of course in my absence at this time.

The same way with players. I guess you treat it just like if a guy were to get hurt and they are going to miss some time, and you have to have the next guy prepared and ready to go, and this is no different.

Q. I imagine that you have taken safety and had protocols when you are outside and not at the facility, and you got the virus. Does your perspective change at all on your confidence about the NFL and you guys being able to have a season safely and keeping everybody healthy?

Pederson: My confidence hasn’t changed at all. I’m extremely optimistic. I feel like we’re going to play; I’m confident that we are going to play. It’s unfortunate. Like I told my team last night, this virus, it holds no prejudices, right. It doesn’t matter. It can affect any one of us. I’m sure many of you have had family members or people you know or loved ones affected by this virus. So that part of it doesn’t matter.

It’s just the fact that we have to abide by the protocols that are in place. They are in place for a reason, for our safety. Our building is a great place to be. It is a safe place to be for our players and coaches and all who are involved.

So I’m looking forward. It’s full steam ahead for me. I’m itching to get back in the building at some point and be around our players and get these guys ready for a season.

Eagles’ Pederson is confident Peters can transition to guard

Jason Peters is back with the Eagles. The 38-year-old Peters signed a one-year deal to return for his 17th season(12th with Philly) in the league. However, without Pro Bowl guard Brandon Brooks(Achilles), and with LT Andre Dillard in place, Philadelphia needs Peters to slide over to the guard spot. The nine-time Pro Bowler, who played in 13 games in 2019, made his mark at tackle, but now, he must learn a new position.

According to Eagles head coach Doug Pederson, Peters should be able to make the transition to guard with minimal issues. 

“We had many conversations with Jason,” Pederson said during a video call on Monday. “We took a look at our roster obviously and felt that where Jason is and the type of player he is, obviously his leadership on the football team, that the transition would be relatively easy. I’m not going to say it’s going to be easy, but relatively easy, for him being a veteran guy moving into that guard spot, and quite frankly, we love where Andre is at. He’s had a tremendous off-season.”

Former Eagles OT Tra Thomas recently gave his thoughts on Peters to guard. According to Thomas, it won’t be easy.

“The skill isn’t the problem, it’s the wear and tear on the body,” Thomas told 97.3 ESPN Radio “If you are getting beat up out there playing defensive ends, you’re definitely going to get beat up playing offensive guard when you’re dealing with defensive tackles.”

“Everyone just thinks you can mix-and-match and just move around – it’s not that easy, to just move to different positions like that,” Thomas stressed. “Especially when you have been in a left-handed stance for so long, its takes a long-time to get that muscle memory to change.”

It’s going to be challenging to replace Brooks, but the Eagles are banking on Peters to get the job done. Time will tell if that is the right move.

Eagles’ Pederson on Hurts: ‘I’ve been really impressed with his progress this spring’

When the Eagles selected QB Jalen Hurts in the second round of this year’s draft, it surprised the whole league. At this point, Hurts will probably be the third-string quarterback for Philadelphia in 2020, especially with the virtual off-season activities due to COVID-19, which won’t allow him to get time on the field until training camp. 

However, even with things going virtual, Eagles head coach Doug Pederson has been impressed by what he has seen from Hurts.

“With Jalen, it’s something — with young quarterbacks, you always have an idea or an understanding of where they are, not only at the beginning of your off-season but at the end. You take things slower with young players,” Pederson said on Tuesday. “You take things a little bit slower so that they can understand the terminology. They can call a play in a huddle and teach them everything else that goes along with it. The one thing we — as we’ve talked, even in this meeting here, is just not having them on the grass. But his growth from a mental standpoint from the beginning of the off-season to now has been very good.

“His ability to recall plays and recite plays and put them — one thing [Passing Game Coordinator/Quarterbacks Coach] Press Taylor has done is put him into a huddle situation where he’s calling plays and being able to just spit that back to him. He’s done that at a really good, high level, and now it’s just a matter of once we get him on the grass, he has to do it for real and go from there. But I’ve been really impressed with his progress this spring.”

Outside of maybe some gadget plays here or there, don’t expect much from Hurts in 2020. Barring something major, Nate Sudfeld will be the backup to Carson Wentz. But, even though Hurts has not hit the field, progress on any level is good.