One day after the Eagles fell to 1-2 with their second straight loss, head coach Doug Pederson met with the media to discuss the struggles Miles Sanders and JJ Arcega-Whiteside have experienced, his approach to a short practice week, the lack of sacks and many other topics.
Here are five takeaways from Pederson's presser:
The plan at defensive end
Even with zero sacks from the defensive ends, Pederson said there's no plan to change the rotation. So far, Brandon Graham has played 152 of a possible 194 snaps, Derek Barnett 145, Vinny Curry 66 (many of them inside), Josh Sweat 48 and Daeshon Hall and Shareef Miller haven’t played any.
You can make a case that Hall deserves a shot based on his outstanding play in the preseason and the current group's struggles, but it doesn’t look like that’s imminent.
“I think we’re still early in the season,” Pederson said. “We’re way too early to start making too many knee-jerk reactions on personnel.”
'Guys are extremely sore'
With the short week, Pederson said the Eagles’ one practice this week — on Tuesday afternoon — will be a light walkthrough, similar to the one the team had last Wednesday. He wants his players off their feet as much as possible.
“With the short week, to have a normal practice schedule and go out and bang around, it’s hard,” he said. “Guys are extremely sore today and tomorrow, and then we leave on Wednesday. I’ll do walkthroughs and a lot of mental reps, things like that, this week to prepare for Thursday.”
Finally some good injury news
Dave Zangaro has more in his injury report, but at least there was some good news on Alshon Jeffery, who Pederson seems to think has a good chance to play Thursday night.
The Eagles desperately need DeSean Jackson back as well, but getting Jeffery back — if he can run — will take a significant amount of pressure off Zach Ertz and Nelson Agholor, who the last two games have been the only really legit receiving options for Carson Wentz and as a result have been doubled constantly.
The risk is that Jeffery comes back too soon, aggravates that calf injury and is out even longer. If he plays, they better be sure he's not at risk of aggravating that thing.
It's not the injuries
I like that Pederson didn’t use injuries as an excuse for the last two losses.
The one thing for me that stands as the head coach in the last couple games are the self-inflicted wounds,” he said. “The turnovers, the penalties, things that have cost us yards or cost us points obviously in these two games. If we just eliminate that — take the injuries aside — we have a chance to win both football games. If we just make the plays that kind of come our way. Make those plays, then maybe we’re talking a different story. … (Injuries) are not what’s keeping us from winning these two games. … We just have to get better. It’s about what we do each week, not so much what our opponent does. If we do the right things, we’re standing here maybe 2-1 or maybe 3-0.
Even though the Eagles have been hammered pretty good by injuries on both sides of the ball, Pederson is absolutely correct in not using them as an excuse.
I feel like it sends a bad message to the team, kind of takes them off the hook, when you blame everything on injuries.
What about Sanders and Arcega-Whiteside?
Pederson insisted he remains confident with both rookies, even though both have had their issues — Sanders with two fumbles Sunday and Arcega-Whiteside dropping a potential game-winning TD pass in the final minutes.
We drafted both those guys for a reason, to come in and help us win games,” Pederson said. “Both of them have had opportunities early in the season to play and I think it’s a great experience for both of them. JJ’s going to get better every time he takes the field, just learning the game. Learning how to prepare mentally, how to study defensive backs, what are the tendencies of defensive backs. All of that is part of becoming a professional. That’s what these guys are learning. Andre (Dillard)’s learning the same thing. But both these guys are going to be fine. I’m excited about their futures and how they can help us win.
It's a tough call sometimes between playing young guys who may be mistake-prone and risking a blow to their confidence by getting them out of there and letting them sit for a while.
Pederson seems to be firmly in the camp where you keep playing the young guys and try to let them play their way out of whatever funk they're in. It's laudable. But at some point, if they're costing the team wins, you need to change up.
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