If you watched Doug Pederson’s press conference on Friday morning, you saw a combative head coach forced to answer questions that are out of his area of expertise.
Doug’s in a tough spot. I get that.
“He has a stress injury, evolved over time and he requires no surgery!” Pederson said, raising his voice after another question about Carson Wentz on Friday morning. “I’m not answering more questions about it. We’re playing the Rams in two days if you guys haven’t figured it out. He’s listed as questionable and that’s the way it is.”
But since he was the only representative from the team available to answer questions following the news that the franchise quarterback has a fracture in his back, Pederson is the guy who had to stand up there and take those questions. That’s what led to some of the contentious back-and-forths you saw Friday morning.
De facto GM Howie Roseman was not available. Neither was owner Jeff Lurie or anyone from the medical or training departments. When Andy Reid was head coach, the organization would sometimes bring out head trainer Rick Burkholder to explain complex injuries, in rare cases even with plastic models of body parts. That hasn't happened in years since.
Carson Wentz and Nick Foles were also not made available this week.
“I’m the head football coach and so I get the pleasure of coming up here,” he said. “That’s my job, that’s what I have to do.”
It’s not much unlike the position Sixers coach Brett Brown has been in recently with Markelle Fultz.
Perhaps one of the biggest sources of frustration for Pederson on Friday were questions about the medical staff. He claims his comfort with the medical and training staffs is still “high” because of their communication, but the medical staff has come under fire recently. And possibly for good reason.
There have been several instances this year where it has appeared players have either regressed or have gotten re-injured, with Wentz being the latest. There have been enough eyebrow-raising cases this season to at least wonder about this staff.
When Pederson was asked about some players whose injuries seemingly regressed this season — Darren Sproles, Tim Jernigan, Jalen Mills, Sidney Jones — this was his response:
There’s a fine line with guys can return to play that have an injury. And there’s a fine line of how far you want to push an athlete to test him, to see where he’s at physically, through his protocol. We have a protocol, each athlete has their own based on injury. We have to measure where he is, Stage 3, Stage 4, however many stages there are in that protocol. And for these athletes, one, internally, they want to get back out on that field. Sproles wants to get back out, Jalen wants to get back out, Tim wants to get back out, the guys you mentioned. So we’re going to put them through sort of our own internal test. There’s a fine line to how much we can push. So sometimes in that pushing from whether it’s doctors, it could be the trainer, the player himself, there could be setbacks. We’re trying to see where the athlete is. That happens. That happens with everybody in the National Football League. That happens. But I don’t think we’ve had a setback, a step back with any of them.
This offseason, the Eagles made several changes to their medical staff and training staffs. They replaced former head trainer Chris Peduzzi, who stepped down after the Super Bowl, with former Titans assistant Jerome Reid. The Eagles also made several changes to their medical staff, including the hiring of Stephen Stache as head physician after moving on from former head doctor Peter DeLuca and internist Gary Dorshimer, who had both been with the team for about 20 years.
Pederson didn’t answer the question on Friday when asked why DeLuca and Dorshimer were fired.
“I’m not even going to comment on that either,” Pederson said gruffly.
No one else will either. Because of that, after Pederson’s contentious press conference on Friday morning, we’re still left with more questions than answers.
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