Philadelphia Eagles Head Coach Doug Pederson - Conference Call with New Orleans Media - Wednesday, January 9, 2019
What has Darren Sproles meant to this team?
“He has been a tremendous leader, an impact player, both on and off football field for us and a great mentor to some of our young running backs and just by the way he practices, the way he goes about his business and I'm excited for him now that he is back and playing so it's definitely a shot for us in the arm. (It) kind of gives us the breath of fresh air in the backfield.”
Do you get a sense of how special this is coming back to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome after missing the first game, given what he did for the Saints for three seasons from 2011-13?
“Yeah I mean for him coming back there it's definitely something special. He spent a lot of time there and for him I know he missed the first game. He's excited, he takes everything in stride, but I know he's excited and looking forward to it.”
What’s Malcolm Jenkins brought to the team on and off the field?
“Malcolm's been a tremendous leader, whatever he's doing off the field whether it be through the league or through his foundation or the things that he's working on here in the City of Philadelphia. He's just a tremendous leader. Then of course, in the building just (an) impact player, again another one that was really stepped up and when things looked a little bleak for us earlier in the season, (he) just really stood up and held himself, plus others accountable and that is what you need from your top guys and he has been that way for us.”
Did you see Jason Peters’ statement about the Saints running up the score?
“I saw it in my media notes that I get every day, but I didn't really think much of it. I mean we didn't play well and we didn't stop the Saints that day and I would probably do the same thing. I mean you got to keep playing the game. You have to play for 60 minutes and we didn't do a good job stopping them obviously and so no I didn't think that was the case at all.”
What has been the key factors in the ability to stop these elite pass rushers you’ve been facing lately?
“Well I tell you, the key factor’s just the individual player, whether it’s Lane Johnson or Jason Peters, big V (Halapoulivaati Vaitai) just those guys just understanding and studying the film during the week and understanding the D-ends or D-tackles that we’re playing and trying to get a feel for pass rush moves or whatever it might be and then just working out in practice and trying to get some extra reps if they can and these guys have done an outstanding job and we had Kahlil Mack last week and kept him off the quarterback and just they embrace it. They rise to the occasion, rise to the challenge and we have another fine defensive end this week in Cam Jordan and our guys (have to prepare for him). It’s just every week there's someone new and they embrace it and they look forward to the challenge.”
Situationally in the red zone, the Saints are very good on offense and the Eagles are very good on defense. How do you think this plays out?
“Well you know football games come down to about one, two, or three plays a game and situational football is an aspect of that and I think it's something that I know Sean, Coach Payton, I know myself we put our teams in these positions to work in practice and not only just this week, but back In OTAs, back in training camp and you have to prepare your players that way to understand that these situations can win or lose a football game for you. Our defense, we weren't as good in the beginning of the year and we're getting a little better now towards the end and of course the Saints offense is tremendous. They are explosive and they do a really good job of scheming you up in those situations too and have a play that maybe you haven't seen on tape, whether it be offense or defense. It is important and you have to make sure that you don't get caught off guard.”
What makes the Saints so dangerous in the red zone?
“The number one thing’s their personnel. They can bring Taysom (Hill) in there and play some wildcat and (have) the ability to run and throw the football down in there which is tough to defend. Obviously (Mark) Ingram’s a beast of a running back, he’s strong and powerful and then they can do so many things with (Alvin) Kamara and just jet sweeps and motions and empties and Michael Thomas he is a receiver that is so big and long. It is just the personnel, the matchups that they can create and that has kind of been their issue and that's been positive. It has been good because they are scoring points and it is an issue for defenses.”
What makes the Mercedes-Benz Superdome so tough to play in?
“I love that place. It's a great atmosphere for football. I remember one of my days in Green Bay and we played (in) the Super Bowl in that stadium against the Patriots and we just remember that day and what an awesome atmosphere it is and of course now in the postseason you know it's the fans are right there on top. And of course having a roof over the top keeps that noise in and it's exciting. It's an exciting city, it's (an) electric city, they are passionate about the Saints and I am from Louisiana so I get I get to hear it from all my buddies back home. But it is a great place. I love the atmosphere, love the excitement. It just kind of gets your juices flowing again.
Did you ever coach here in high school as a high school coach? Did you ever coach in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome?
“I came up one game short of playing in the dome for a state championship. I lost to St. James and lost to John Curtis. Two good programs.”
Given your West Coast Offense routes, you come from systems where a fullback was typically utilized a lot and I noticed that you do not have one on your roster. Your last stop in Kansas City you had Anthony Sherman. What has gone into the evolution of a fullback and why is this position sort of fading out?
“Gosh, I think you have to go all the way back to high school. You don't see many of these fullback type bodies in high school. Everybody is running the spread offense and it carries over into college. Even if there's a tight end out there that has that body type, they either keep him as an inline blocker on the line of scrimmage or he ends up turning into a hybrid receiver type guy. It's just hard to find those guys. Sometimes you can take a linebacker maybe or maybe a smaller defensive end that kind of fits that mold that’s a little athletic and make him into a fullback. Nowadays you're seeing so much spread offense, 11 personnel, utilizing more tight ends, (and) things of that nature (that) has kind of taken the place (of) that fullback position.”
What does Golden Tate add to your offense and just in general how would you describe the kind of depth and diversity of your weapons on offense?
“Golden Tate, he came to us just adding depth and we had a pretty good receiving corps (already) with Alshon (Jeffery), Nelson Agholor, Jordan Matthews, and now Golden Tate. It just adds value there obviously with Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert, but he brings juice. He brings energy. He's a really good short, intermediate type receiver. He's strong after the catch, something that we haven't seen around here. He's just a pro. He's a pro about his business and we're excited to have had him and each week keep trying to find ways to give him the football. Obviously, there’s no greater play than last Sunday night. He's been a great addition to our team.”
Does that fourth down play kind of sum him up as a player? Just kind of knowing what he's got to do and getting it done?
“It's a great example of who he is. He's a quick twitch guy. He's strong to the ball. He's got really good, strong hands. He rarely goes down on first contact and so that's kind of who he is, that type of play. It was definitely fun for us and good to see that execution.”
What has Zach Ertz meant to this team this season with the numbers he has put up?
“He is a great leader. He's a mentor to Dallas Goedert and kind of taking him under his wing. Of course, he's got a great relationship with not only Carson Wentz, but Nick Foles. He just loves to work. He loves to be coached. If I can make him better today, we find certain things that we can help him whether it is route running or blocking technique. He has been a big part of our offense and, as a quarterback, you kind of look for those tight ends from time to time because they're usually the ones that are closer to you than the receivers are, but yeah great leader, tremendous athlete, good tight end, and we're happy to have him.”
Obviously, Drew (Brees) has been doing this for a long time. Is there anything that stands out about this year in particular?
“Listen, I appreciate really really good quarterback play and his career kind of sums it up. He broke some records this year and congratulations to him on that. It is just amazing that these guys just continue to play at the level they do and Drew is one of them. Tom Brady, you may look at Aaron Rodgers, these guys, Philip Rivers, he is still playing too. It is fun to watch. A lot of respect for him and what he's sacrificed to be in this position. He comes to work every day with the right frame of mind. He wants to be coached. He wants to get better and learn and study and help his team win and that's what you appreciate about guys like that.”
Drew (Brees) turns 40 on Tuesday. Is it kind of crazy to think that a guy is about to turn 40 and he’s playing this well?
“Again, it's a credit to him. How well he takes care of his body and does things right on and off the football field. He's smart with the football. One of the things you see with him is he's going to get the ball out of his hand. He's no dummy. He's not going to take those unwanted hits. He is just going to find the open receiver and go right there and get the ball out and does a great job of that. To be playing at 40’s a tremendous accomplishment. I’m sure he would tell you that he probably has a few more years left and I would agree.”
It seems like Fletcher Cox has stepped up his game, especially over the last couple of weeks. How good has he been playing and how important is he to your team?
“Fletcher has been another one on the D line has been real consistent. We haven't had Tim Jernigan pretty much the whole season and so he's really taken it upon himself. Naloti Ngata has missed a couple games. Fletcher has been the steady D-tackle in there and done a really nice job. It's been a steady year for him and a Pro Bowl year. It seems to get better not only each year, but each week. He's another one that wants to be coached and coached the right way and he's a great leader in the locker room. Again, another one that you love to watch on gameday.”
What were your impressions of the Saints offensive line in the last meeting and just with the way they've been banged up lately? Have you been kind of keeping an eye on their fitness?
“They blocked extremely well. They kept Drew clean and then of course the ability to run the football. They did a nice job. Sometimes you're not going to have all your starters or guys are going to be banged up, but you can see the attention to detail. They move well. They work as a unit. It's a good group. It's a good, solid group and it'll be a big challenge for our defensive line.”