Carson Wentz, Eagles' receivers forced to develop chemistry on the fly

Carson Wentz, Eagles' receivers forced to develop chemistry on the fly

There’s no way to replace all the time they’ve missed. No way to squeeze an entire offseason of practice time into just a few days.

The Eagles’ receivers all of a sudden showed up at work on Monday and had a new quarterback, and the transition from Sam Bradford to Carson Wentz is going to take time.

There’s no way around it.

“I remember when I was young, it seemed like things were flying all over the place,” veteran tight end Brent Celek said of Wentz. “So the people around him, we just need to elevate our game and help him in any way possible. Be in the right place at the right time so he can rely on us. ...

“It’s hard to give him any advice ... because this is going to be his first start in an NFL game, and I know that crowd is going to be roaring, so I’m sure he’ll be amped up a little bit. But after a few plays he’ll settle down and be himself, and we’ve got to have some success, help him out.”

Wentz did not practice from Aug. 12, the day after he broke two ribs in the Tampa preseason game, until this past Monday, when he was cleared medically and also took over the reigns from Bradford.

Now he’s the starter for the regular-season opener against the Browns on Sunday.

How tough an adjustment will it be?

Jordan Matthews won’t use that word. He doesn’t believe in it.

“I don’t like to say the word tough, you know?” said Matthews, who didn’t practice with Wentz until this week. “You go with what you got. And it happened, so all you’ve got to do is always look at the positives, and the positives are that everybody here believes in Carson. Top to bottom, that’s the feeling.

“You can kind of feel it, Carson’s ready. This game’s not too big for him. We’re excited for him, I’m excited to go out and play with him. It’s shocking because you aren’t ready for it, but at the end of the day, obviously it’s a business and once teams started having some quarterbacks going down, some quarterback issues, you could read the writing on the wall.

“We were the one team that had two quarterbacks who can be looked at as franchise guys and then the thing was we just drafted the guy everybody thought was a franchise guy in Carson. So once he came out in spring camp and showed everybody that he was mentally and physically prepared, then when that situation happened, yeah, you’re shocked, but you kind of understand.

“We get a first-round pick, it makes sense. Trust me, I’m the main person who wanted Sam here. I wanted him to come back, and glad I got to spend some more time with him, but you have to still deal with the facts and the facts were that we were able to get a first-round pick out of it and they knew Carson was ready, so when something like that happens, hey, you go with who you got and try to win a game.”

Wentz was working with the third-stringers most of camp when he was healthy, and those guys — Paul Turner, David Watford, Cayleb Jones, Marcus Johnson — are either on the practice squad or no longer with the team.

So the main group of receivers— Matthews, Josh Huff, Nelson Agholor and Dorial Green-Beckham — plus tight ends Celek and Zach Ertz has a lot of catching up to do.

“Get in early and work with him, come in early, stay late,” Huff said. “It’s definitely hard. It’s like you started work for the first time and they gave you a desktop full of work and they expect you to finish it in a week. But that’s something you’ve got to do as a professional. Get down the chemistry and make sure we’re right for Sunday.  

“I got some work with him during training camp but after that I really haven’t gotten any with him. Hopefully, we don’t have those growing pains, but if we do, that’s expected. But Carson’s a smart dude. I don’t think it’ll be too much for him to handle.”

Celek has played with Donovan McNabb, Michael Vick, Nick Foles, Kevin Kolb, Mark Sanchez, Vince Young, A.J. Feeley, Mike Kafka, Matt Barkley, Trent Edwards and Bradford.

So Wentz will become QB No. 12.

“It’s an adjustment but I don’t think it’s that big,” Celek said. “We’ve been practicing with him for some time now, and I’m sure he’s getting more and more comfortable being out there with us.

“We as receivers need to be in the right spot at the right time to make it easy for him, and then we’ve got to block for him and keep people off of him so he can make easy throws. Do what we do and do it well.”

For Green-Beckham, Wentz is his third starting quarterback in a month. He was in Tennessee with Marcus Mariota until he was traded to the Eagles in mid-August, and just as he was starting to build up chemistry with Bradford, Bradford was shipped to the Vikings.

“We don’t have too much time, so we have to take advantage of practice and after practice and try to get the timing right,” DGB said. “Not being here during OTAs, it hurts, but after practice is the only time we have to get ready.”

Matthews is entering his third NFL season and already on his fourth quarterback.

He played eight games with Foles, 10 games with Sanchez and 14 games with Bradford.

“It’s different but it’s something I’m used to,” Matthews said. “When I was in high school I played with five different quarterbacks. At Vanderbilt I played with six different and I think this will be my fourth different in three years in the NFL.

“So I still approach the game from the aspect of, I’ve got to make sure I do my job better than anybody so that whatever happens around me, I’m still there for my teammates, whether it’s the quarterback, whether it’s new receivers coming in, whether it’s an O-line that maybe I have to get open quicker because of timing.

“Anything like that, I’ve got to make sure I handle my job. So yeah, sometimes it’s a challenge, but at the same time it’s something I’m really used to.

“It does make it exciting when you know you’ve got a guy who is in there who can play and a guy who’s going to be here a long time in Carson, so I’m as excited as everybody.”

Where Doug Pederson's aggressiveness as a play caller comes from

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Where Doug Pederson's aggressiveness as a play caller comes from

We’ve always known Doug Pederson is a naturally aggressive play caller.

Pederson is a laid-back guy off the field but as aggressive as any coach in NFL history on the field.

But where does that come from? How did such a chill dude become such a fearless play caller?

Pederson spoke Tuesday morning about how the way he was raised as a kid in Bellingham, Washington, defined his personality as a coach.

“Growing up with my parents, my dad has some military background, he was in the Air Force, and the way he led our household and raised us as kids … I don’t want to say it was strict but it was a rigid household growing up, so I think I got a little bit of that from my dad,” he said during an appearance with Angelo Cataldi and the 94 WIP Morning Show.

“His aggressive nature in the way he coached us and the way we raised us to stand on our own two feet.

“And listen, I was never really touted as a top athlete, quarterback, whatever, whether I was going into college or coming out of college, so for me there was a little bit of built-up underdog mentality. So for me, that’s where a little bit of this stems from.

“I made up my mind two years ago that really going into this opportunity being a head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles or wherever it might be that you only get one chance and one opportunity to do this so I want to make sure I do it right.”

The Eagles led the NFL with 17 fourth-down conversions last season, and in his two years coaching the Eagles they’ve attempted eight more fourth downs than any other team (53 to the Packers’ 45).

And that doesn’t even include the postseason, where the Eagles were 3-for-3 last year on fourth down, including two of the most celebrated conversions in Super Bowl history.

Including the regular season and postseason, the Eagles’ 20 total fourth-down conversions last year are second-most since the NFL began tracking fourth downs in 1991 (the Jaguars had 22 in 2007).

“It’s calculated,” Pederson said. “It’s not on a whim. It’s not just gut feel. For me, it was trusting my players, trusting my coaches. Out here on this grass, out here on this practice field, putting our players in those situations so when I make the decision during a game there’s no hesitation.

“So when you see Nick Foles come to the sideline and suggest 'Philly Philly,' there’s no hesitation. That’s the play. That’s the one we need. That’s the spark that’s going to help us win this football game, and that’s the collaboration process that we talk about a lot.”

And when a fourth-down attempt fails?

You don’t second-guess yourself. You just put it in the hands of the defense and move on.

“You can’t,” he said. “You don’t. You can’t second guess. You can’t go, ‘Oh man, did I make the right decision?' If you do that, yeah, you’re probably going to be a 50-50 type of team.

“Listen, these decisions are not just fly by the seat of my pants. These are calculated. I listen to some of the analytics, some of the numbers we talk about during the week, the different situation and scenarios that pop up in games.

“These are things that we study and these are things that I study during the week so I can prepare not only myself for the call but I can prepare the team for that situation.”

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Doug Pederson believes 2018 Eagles are deeper than Super Bowl team

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Doug Pederson believes 2018 Eagles are deeper than Super Bowl team

The Eagles won a Super Bowl last season. And then they got better.

Eagles head coach Doug Pederson said Tuesday morning he believes this year’s roster is actually deeper than the one that roared to the franchise's first championship in 57 years.

The Eagles suffered some key losses — Patrick Robinson, LeGarrette Blount, Torrey Smith, Trey Burton, Brent Celek and Mychal Kendricks — but they added guys like Michael Bennett, Mike Wallace and Dallas Goedert along with a huge cast of players who were hurt last year and are expected back healthy.

“I think on paper, if you look at the depth at each position, the depth that we have, it’s definitely the deepest roster in my three years here,” Pederson said Tuesday morning during an appearance with Angelo Cataldi and the 94 WIP Morning Show.

“That’s exciting. It’s real exciting. Because in this league, we’ve got to cut our roster down to 53 in a couple weeks, and the hardest thing is you’re going to have to cut good players and you’re probably going to have cut players that are going to end up on rosters somewhere else.

“But on paper? We’re still missing (injured) Timmy Jernigan, we’re still missing Brandon Graham, we’re still missing those guys, but on paper, it looks like a pretty good solid roster.”

Some other notes from Pederson’s 20-minute interview:

He continues to be vague about the return of wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, who hasn’t practiced this summer. He said no decision has been made on whether Jeffery will start the season on PUP or the 53-man roster

“He’s doing extremely well with his rehab, No. 1, and he’s doing everything he can to get himself ready and to get himself healthy. Can’t wait for the day we get him back.”

He said the final decision on whether Carson Wentz will start the opener against the Falcons in 23 days is up to his doctors

“This guy’s a competitor. He attacked it on the football field when he played and he’s also attacked his rehab. This is something you don’t see every single day, a guy this determined to make it back to the football field. He’s done extremely well. … He’s so determined to get himself back on the football field that I think a lot of the other injured guys are following suit.”

On moving on from the Super Bowl

“It’s one of those things where it’s great in the offseason, it was great to be patted on the back for what we accomplished for this city, for these fans, but right now, this world championship is for the fans. Let them enjoy it. We’ve got to focus on our 2018 season, get ready to go. Nothings going to be handed to us, we’re going to have to go get everything each and every week and that’s why these guys are out here busting their tail throughout this training camp.”

On his biggest concern three weeks before the season opener against the Falcons

“For me, just the health of the injured guys. Where are they Week 1? That to me is the biggest question going into the start of the season. I’m not concerned about the quarterbacks, we have two great quarterbacks, we’re comfortable there. And receiver, with the addition of Mike Wallace, that brings some depth to what we’re doing. But just the health of the injured guys. That to me is the biggest question going into the start of the season.”

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