Sat, 28 Nov 2020

Doug Pederson: 'I'm proud of those guys in the locker room'

Philadelphia Eagles
19 Oct 2020, 18:12 GMT+10

Dave Spadaro

Head Coach Doug Pederson has his work cut out for him this week. His Eagles team is 1-4-1, an unsightly record for a team with high expectations. The injuries continue to pile up - the offense on Sunday against Baltimore finished with just two projected starters, quarterback Carson Wentz and center Jason Kelce, on the field. There isn't any time for pity, either, as the New York Giants, pumped up after their first win of the season against Washington, come to Lincoln Financial Field on Thursday night for a prime-time game, the first of three consecutive NFC East games for the Eagles.

So, yeah, this is a challenging time even for Pederson, who has guided the Eagles into the postseason the last two seasons after falling into a hole midway through the year.

"This group, every healthy body that we had, played in this football game," Pederson said. "I'm going to tell you, it's tough to win in the National Football League, OK. You guys know exactly where we're at health-wise and these guys battled their tails off today, and still had a chance to tie this football game, really had a chance to win this football game against a healthy, healthy football team.

"So as the head coach, I can stand here and I'm proud of those guys in the locker room. And I know they are going to get beat down this week and that's your (the media's) job. But my job is to encourage them ... I get it, there are no moral victories in the NFL. There are no moral victories at all and we are all graded on wins and losses. But for this team to hang together on the sideline, to not point fingers, to battle, to be in this position with all the mistakes that were made in the first half, really offensively, and then we missed the kick, the field goal at the end of the half, those are the differences in games. Those are things that we're going to learn from and we're going to get better from.' So I'm proud of the guys for the way they battled today."

Pederson also has to figure out how to get the Eagles off to a better start. After falling behind by 17 points early in the third quarter the prior Sunday in Pittsburgh, the Eagles trailed by 17 points early in the second quarter on Sunday and were losing 30-14 before mounting a comeback late in the fourth quarter.

How can the Eagles get off to better starts? It's one of the many questions Pederson must answer in a short period of time.

"We dropped a big third down, turnover. We dropped a touchdown. We missed a field goal. It's self-inflicted wounds," Pederson said. "It's things I've been talking to our team all week about, right? And when you're playing good football teams, like the Ravens are, you can't make those mistakes. Can't do it and with the amount of injuries that we do have - look, I'm going to stand here and tell you that we are not going to make excuses. The guys in the locker room are not going to make excuses. And so that's what happened.

"There are enough things in this game, too, to point at from decisions I made to execution on the field. We didn't get the job done."

Then there are the injuries. Oh, the injuries. Let's look at them, position by position ...

Running back

Miles Sanders left Sunday's game with a knee injury and did not return. Obviously, his availability is crucial for an offense looking for every bit of offense it can find. Backups Boston Scott and Corey Clement have not been productive through six games.

Tight end

Dallas Goedert remains out with an ankle injury and now Zach Ertz is a concern. He came limping off the field in the fourth quarter on Sunday with an ankle injury and did not return. Jason Croom, promoted from the practice squad, caught a 3-yard touchdown pass and Richard Rodgers had three receptions for 31 yards.

Offensive line

Rookie Jack Driscoll (ankle) started in place of the injured Lane Johnson and left the game with an injury in the fourth quarter and Brett Toth, who has been practicing for a week with the Eagles, finished the game. Right guard Jamon Brown started for Matt Pryor, who is on the Reserve/COVID-19 list, and Brown struggled. Will Johnson return on Thursday night? It would be fantastic. Maybe the Eagles can get left tackle Jason Peters back. Maybe not. Maybe Isaac Seumalo can play on Thursday. We will see. It would be such a boost to get Seumalo back at left guard and move Nate Herbig back to right guard. The offensive line is a mess.

Wide receiver

It sounds like DeSean Jackson (hamstring) has a chance to play on Thursday night. Maybe Alshon Jeffery (foot) as well. We will see. Jalen Reagor (thumb) remains out.

Defensive line

Vinny Curry played for the first time since early in the season on Sunday, but the Eagles lost defensive tackle Malik Jackson during the game with a quad injury.

Linebacker

Two starters are out - T.J. Edwards, who is on Injured Reserve with a hamstring injury, and Duke Riley, who has a rib injury. Rookies Davion Taylor and Shaun Bradley had some significant snaps on Sunday for the first time.

Cornerback

Avonte Maddox has been out since suffering an ankle injury against Cincinnati. The hope is that he's back soon. He's been a limited participant in practice. Thursday would be a great time to return to the lineup.

Safety

Marcus Epps missed Sunday's game with a rib injury just as the Eagles welcomed back Will Parks to the secondary. One in, one out. That's the way it's been all season for the Eagles, although the "outs" have far outnumbered the "ins."

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